The appeal of new homes is magnetic. Forget about new car smell — new home smell is much more inviting. The next best thing might be newly remodeled or redone areas in your home. While some projects are costly and time-consuming, they don’t all have to be that way.
Here are six easy ways you can enhance your existing living space.
1. Maintenance first
Every homeowner’s top priority should be to keep the existing structure and systems of the house sound. Spending a lot of money to remodel a kitchen doesn’t make sense if the basement floods after every rainstorm. If you opt to spend your remodeling money on a jetted tub rather than replacing an aging furnace, you might regret that choice if the heating system breaks down in the middle of a frosty winter.
2. Upgrade appliances
Most people put up with the same refrigerator or stove until it dies, whether it is 12 years old or 22. Leslie Sellers, former president of the Appraisal Institute, ranks upgrading appliances as the top kitchen home improvement project for people hoping to sell their homes.
Think about it: If you are buying a home, you want nice appliances rather than something crusted with grime that looks like next month could be its last. However, there is no need to buy nice appliances for your home’s next owner right before you sell. Get them now, so you can enjoy the energy efficiency and updated features. You might be able to sell the old appliances and get a few hundred dollars to offset the cost of the new ones.
3. Improve indoor water features
Adding new, modern faucets and shower heads is an easy home improvement. Some people worry about tackling a plumbing project, but changing faucets is usually simple for anyone who can operate a wrench and a screwdriver. When choosing a new faucet, housedesigners.com recommends that you “take into consideration the shape of your sink, look and color of your countertop, light fixtures and cabinetry to ensure that your faucet's finish complements the entire room.”
4. Start at the bottom
Back when the primary options were carpet or linoleum, replacing flooring used to be a job best left for professionals. Today, a variety of laminate, engineered hardwood, cork, bamboo, tile and even painted flooring options are fairly easy for handy homeowners to install by themselves. Best of all, many of these options are affordable — starting at about $1 per square foot, according to Mary Boone, writing for zillow.com. If you would rather not do it yourself, most places that sell flooring can help you find an installer.
5. Change your cabinet look
The simplest way to upgrade the look of cabinets in your house doesn’t require sanding, staining, painting or any kind of strenuous effort. Just swap out the hardware. New knobs, pulls and handles can make a significant difference in the appearance of drawers and cabinets in any room. In many cases, all you need is a screwdriver. If you are mounting hardware on drawers and cabinets that never had them before, bobvilla.com recommends creating a template to make sure that you can drill holes in the same place each time.
6. Update your décor
This doesn’t have to be expensive. Buying new furniture is always nice, but most people can’t afford it. Think small instead. Start by trying a new furniture arrangement. Look at the pictures you display. Are they recent, or have the same ones been there for a decade? Buy some new bookends. Change an accent rug. Add some live greenery. Not only does it look good, it helps improve indoor air quality. You can make a big difference in the way a room looks for under $100.
The nice thing about do-it-yourself home upgrades is they can be simple or elaborate, depending on your budget and how much effort you want to expend.
Flint Stephens has a master's degree in communication. He writes regularly on business, financial and medical topics.