What Interior Home Updates Provide The Best ROI?

Posted on

We’ve all been there… checking out the latest HGTV home renovations featuring dream kitchens, bathrooms, and basements seemingly designed with no financial constraint in mind.  I guess it must be totally normal for the common homeowner to drop six figures getting their property up to date?  That is just not reality, people.


When we go out on client consultations, we often encounter one of the following two scenarios.  Either we have the recent home buyer/owner who is looking to refresh their interior space so they can start enjoying it.  These clients are on a limited budget and are conscious about making update decisions that are safe bets.  Or, we have the forward thinking seller who is thinking about renovating to differentiate themselves from competing listings once they hit the market.  They are concerned about having to spend more than they will recoup in the sale.


We’ve all heard some of the common big ticket items frequently on experts’ list of improvements that yield a high return on investment: a new garage door, new exterior stone veneer or siding, fully renovated kitchens and bathrooms, a new roof, or new windows. These can return 60% to 100% of the cost.  But these usually take time, and spending thousands of dollars on one item can be downright scary.  What are some more pragmatic, economical cosmetic changes that can be just as effective at making a difference?  What can you do inside the house, specifically, to spice it up?


The kitchen is often the focal point of a home, and adding a tile backsplash can be eye catching.  The porcelain and ceramic subway-style tile found at the big box stores looks just fine, is relatively easy to install, and is very cost effective.  While you’re working on that backsplash, have you considered painting your cabinets or replacing the hardware/pulls?  Bonus advice: if you have an appliance fail, always replace it with a stainless steel one, even if you have white or black currently.  They are universally appreciated and have long been the industry standard, not to mention the next owner of your home will probably want the entire kitchen to look uniform if they upgrade the remaining pieces.  


Throughout the entire property, replacing dated light fixtures can make an enormous impact. And while you’re at it, swap out those circa 1983 yellowed light switches and outlet covers for new white ones (these are literally 50 cents a piece!).  Another easy fix is to make sure all the doorknobs match. Don’t do that funny thing where the outside facing knob is chrome and the old one hidden inside is brass. Not cool.  


If you have a laundry area or mechanical room with a concrete floor, tiling that space is well worth it.  You can even paint the tile and incorporate a stencil pattern for a truly finished look.  On the subject of flooring, replacing old carpet can pay big dividends in terms of refreshing a room, especially if you have pets to achieve some odor control.  


Last but not least, and often overlooked, it might be time to ditch the second-hand dining room table with banged up chairs and the sofa set from college.  Updating furniture, and painting or repurposing other pieces can transform your space without maxing out the credit card.


With where the market is right now, people are not typically buying fully gut rehabbed homes that are in perfect condition.  When looking at making some changes, be realistic and don’t sweat the really small stuff (you’re not really thinking of painting the inside of your guest bedroom closet, are you!?).  Pick your battles.  You can only spend so much to be on par with the comparable houses in your immediate area and actually get that money back.  Almost every DIY home project has been covered ad nauseam on the internet, and we can help point you in the right direction to make some updates that will really pay off, without breaking the bank!