10 Affordable Home Redos
10 Affordable Home Redos
Attract buyers with these budget-friendly ideas for updating and decorating a home.
It's tempting for home owners to rethink remodeling and decorating projects when the housing market softens. But rather than leap into upscale kitchen or bath redos - which average $110,000 and $50,000 respectively, according to the latest Cost vs. Value report, you can use affordability as a guiding strategy.
Here are 10 reasonable remodeling and decorating ideas from design pros across the country for home owners getting ready to sell.
Make Rooms Gender Neutral
While women may have made a lot of selections for everything from tiles to faucets and lighting fixtures in the past, design and lifestyle expert Christopher Lowell says that you shouldn't underestimate the opinion of the men in the house.
"Men care about how their homes look," says Lowell, author of "Great Decorating Ideas on a Budget" (Clarkson Potter, 2007). "We tell new clients to remove anything that skews too much toward female taste such as patterned fabrics." Neutral palettes and minimal frills are a couple of other ways to make rooms more universally appealing to both sexes.
Paint Neutral, Healthy Colors
Paint is still considered the cheapest and easiest way to change a room, making it feel cozier, bigger, smaller, or fancier. The trick is to use the right color and finish. The smartest colors, particularly when trying to sell a home, are said to be nature- and spa-inspired, such as putty, deep taupe, or dusty green, Lowell says.
Tina McHenry, color marketing manager for Olympic Paint and Stain, advises considering the newest neutral-gray and applying it on walls and trim for consistency. These days low- and no-VOC paints offer the bonus of a healthier environment. For example, Olympic Paint's Zero VOC and low-odor Premium Interior line comes in 1,600 colors, can be customized, and costs $17 a gallon.
Camouflage Dated Paneling
Wood paneling once covered men's dens and basement recreation rooms coast to coast, but the look now is considered dark and passe. Instead of spending the big bucks to rip it out and repaint, design writer Myscha L. Theriault recommends priming walls with two coats and then painting with white for a cottage look.
For home owners who want something besides white, she also suggests a historic blue or teal.
Modernize the Kitchen
Even when money is limited, home owners can alter a kitchen inexpensively. Repaint dark cabinets white or off-white or replace existing cabinet doors. Replace wrought iron or brass hardware with brushed chrome or stainless steel. Change damaged or older-looking countertops to manmade quartz or granite, which have become more affordable. Lay a new floor with materials such as Marmoleum, a modern linoleum made from recycled paper, says Washington, D.C.– based kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer. Add track lighting but paint the track and heads the ceiling color for a seamless look. Paint a kitchen and adjoining spaces the same wall color to enlarge the space, and then paint ceilings two shades lighter than walls, says Lowell.
Create a Spa-Like Bathroom
Lowell recommends home owners pick one stone such as a travertine — or if that's too pricey, use the same color tile, perhaps in different sizes and shapes. Some other recommendations:
- Keep the palette neutral and avoid fussy details like rope molding.
- Install a mirror from the top of the backsplash to the ceiling, or frame a mirror like a picture.
- Choose oversized, simple hardware in brushed- or matte-finish chrome.
- Opt for plain towels rolled up in a basket rather than monogramming them.
Hang the Right Window Treatment — Properly
Because windows and light is a big selling feature, home owners should use treatments that play up the window shape, style, size, and light and views outside.
"Curtains should be hung about 6 inches above the sash and 2 inches from either side of the frame," Lowell says. "The rod should also be hung close to the ceiling and under any molding."
Don't like the look of curtains? Then consider simple shades or blinds, says design writer Christine Brun, author of "Small Space Living" (Schiffer, 2009).
Dark or poorly lit rooms are another turn-off but easy to correct, even without installing ceiling cans or wall sconces. Owners can buy inexpensive, modern torchiere lamps that have a museum cachet and often can be purchased for as little as $20, Brun says.
If they're willing to spend a bit more, they can add a new, larger window or skylight, says Chicago architect Allan J. Grant. To keep skylight costs down and avoid having to reframe ceiling joists and roof rafters, he advises using designs that fit into a standard joist space.
Anchor Furnishings With a Great Floor
Despite conventional wisdom, floors needn't match wood furnishings. Variety makes a space look less monotonous, says Lowell. But home owners should avoid pickled wood floors since they don't wear well; same goes for dark wood floors in highly trafficked areas.
Intricate detailing should be eschewed since it costs more and might get covered by area rugs or furniture, but stenciling the perimeter can spiff up a room inexpensively and remain in view, Grant says.
Hang Inexpensive but Appealing Art
Art doesn't have to be painted by Monet or Picasso to add interest and color. Theriault suggests putting old calendar or magazine covers in inexpensive frames and lining them up on a wall.
Designer Tineke Triggs, owner of Artistic Designs for Living in San Francisco, recommends any collectible in multiples, such as old-fashioned hand mirrors or tennis racquets.
Improve Curb Appeal
Curb appeal ranks high on buyers' wish lists, so sellers should study their house from across the street and make a list of what needs fixing, says Brun. Plan to set aside 30 percent of a decorating and remodeling budget for outdoor changes, she says.
First, make the front door easily approachable with a wide enough walk, says landscape architect Robert S. Hursthouse, whose eponymous firm is based in Bolingrook, Ill. Add colors to attract attention Professional-style pruning is another good tactic, Hursthouse says. John M. Algozzini, vice president of Kinsella Landscape in Blue Island, Ill., recommends planting perennials and annuals and using some pottery for affordable improvements.