Whether you’re looking to sell your home or simply want to improve it for your own living, most homes could benefit from a bit of home renovation. That’s not to say that large-scale remodels are required – not at all! Depending on your home situation and circumstances, you could of course get as massively involved in home renovation as you want. But even small, strategic tweaks or fast DIY projects can make huge differences in the value (real and perceived) of your space.
The following is a room-by-room guide of home renovation ideas that will add significant value to your space. They will appease potential home buyers or simply make your own surroundings more beautiful and functional. Either way, you definitely come out the winner with a few well-chosen home renovations.
HOME RENOVATION IDEAS: EXTERIOR
While many of us might be tempted to spend our renovation efforts primarily on our home’s interior, it’s the exterior that will play a key role in the overall curb appeal (and, consequently, desirability) of your home in general. Here are a few things you can do to add value to your home’s exterior.
Upgrade the front door area.
“Don’t underestimate the power of a front door. People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house,” says ERA broker Kristin Willens. The front door is the primary and ultimate transition space of your home. It’s also a critical part of any visitor’s first impression. Spruce up this exterior entry by painting your front door, upgrading your house numbers, replacing your front porch light fixture, tossing down a new door mat, or simply conducting a thorough overall cleaning of the front of your home. Why? Because “a welcoming entrance will definitely increase your home’s bottom line” – Diynetwork.
Tidy up the lawn.
We’ve all come across the house whose patchy lawn and overgrown bushes make you cringe, or at least feel vaguely uncomfortable. An important element of home renovation is a tidy lawn and landscape. Trimmed and edged grass, pruned shrubs and bushes, and an overall feeling of kempt-ness will go a long way to making your home enticing.
Create spaces to build life memories.
Specifically, we’re talking about a deck, a patio, a gazebo – someplace where you and family and friends can gather and be together, quite contentedly, for hours on a warm summer’s evening. If it’s covered, that’s all the better, because natural elements have less of a sway on your ability to use the structure.
A gravel area like this with a couple of places for seating is another beautiful “destination spot” in the yard for conversation and creating wonderful memories.
Trim, prune, and/or plant those trees.
Who doesn’t love a shady yard? Or, at least, parts of a yard that are shaded? Tree presence and health is so vital to a home’s appealing exterior. Plan for the future by planting a shade tree or three (which can also, a few years down the road, help to reduce your cooling costs by as much as 40%). Remember that tangled, unkempt trees and shrubs can obscure views and make even a lovely house feel less than desirable.
Install low-maintenance landscaping.
Not only will low-maintenance landscaping save you money initially, the appeal of a “well-oiled machine” as far as lawncare and maintenance is significant for future homebuyers. This is definitely an exterior home renovation that adds value, both for yourself and others. For example, if you live in a dry area, opt for plants that are native to your region and/or are low-water and drought tolerant.
Build a raised garden bed.
If you’re into gardening, a raised garden bed is the thing to install into your landscape! It is not only easier for growing plants (vegetables or flowers, herbs or fruits), but it’s much less time-consuming to maintain than an in-ground garden. Plus, it looks decorative and is easier for harvesting. This is a definite value-adder for a home’s exterior, as people are looking more and more toward self-reliance, organic produce, and delicious homegrown tastes.
HOME RENOVATION IDEAS: INTERIOR ENTRYWAY
Once someone has passed the threshold of your home, they’re in the official entryway. This will look different for most homes – some homes have obvious, walled-off entries. Others have a mere slip of rug to designate The Entrance. Some entries are hallways, others are rounded. Whatever shape your interior entryway takes, here are some home renovations that will help it look its best.
Welcome the light.
Your entryway may or may not have an official window or source of natural light. If it does, be sure this natural light penetrates the entryway fully. If your entryway doesn’t have direct natural light, take lighting matters into your own skilled hands. Opt for an interesting and beautiful lighting fixture overhead, or soft-wattage wall sconces nearby. Whatever you do, make sure that the area can be well-lit at any time of day or night.
Update entryway fixtures.
This is home renovation advice that could (and probably should) be applied throughout your house, but we’ll address it first at the onset of your home: the entryway. Outlet covers, switch plates, doorknobs, even hooks and knobs are all fixtures that may be present in your entryway and beyond. This may seem like a boring thing to work on in the name of home renovation, but it’s this sense of updated continuity throughout your home that will make it look and feel more expensive and seamless.
Prioritize a seat.
Whether it’s a single chair, a pair of chairs, or an entire bench, the effective interior entryway will have something to sit on. This is for ease in putting on/removing shoes, of course, but it’s useful in other ways as well. A place to temporarily drop a bag or a stack of books, or even just to offer your talkative neighbor to sit during those 2-minutes-turned-half-hour drop-ins.
Install (faux or real) wainscot.
In an otherwise unremarkable entryway, wainscot adds a definitive touch of style, architectural interest, and aesthetic appeal. There are plenty of tutorials out there to tackle this home renovation yourself, and the end result is inviting and pleasant.
Maintain an intuitive place for shoes.
These days, it’s polite to remove one’s shoes upon entering a home, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. The trick comes when you don’t know exactly what to do with your shoes once they’re off your feet. At the entryway, having an obvious destination for removed shoes is helpful and welcoming to everyone – it removes the barrier or embarrassment of uncertainty. (You could even build this bench seat-with-shoe-storage combo yourself pretty easily.)
Have hooks available.
Hooks are one of the most useful components of an effective entryway. They hold coats, jackets, hats, keys, umbrellas, shoulder bags, purses, sacks, whatever you’ve likely got in your hand, a hook will probably hold onto it, even if just for a minute.
Hang a mirror.
It’s always nice to have a last-second chance to check yourself out before leaving the house or answering the door. A mirror by the front door is a thoughtful and useful inclusion to the entryway. As an added bonus, mirrors bounce light around a space like nothing else, helping to keep your entryway looking vibrant and spacious.
HOME RENOVATION IDEAS: LIVING ROOM
Let’s take a step into the living room. This is the space where the family, well, lives. While we’d all love a brand new contemporary sofa or that eye-catching armchair, those things aren’t always in the budget. The good news is that there are still plenty of ways to renovate the living room inexpensively and effectively.
Use neutral paint colors.
“One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is paint! Freshly painted rooms look clean and updated – and that spells value”- Diynetwork. Neutral colored paint tends to appeal to the widest range of people. Great news: painting a fast, inexpensive, and relatively easy way to “renovate” your home cosmetically. Although the actual cost of this home renovation is low, the subsequent look is more expensive and stylish.
Organize your living room.
We might associated organization with places like the home office or kitchen, but the fact is that organization looks great in any room in the house. An organized living room will have much less clutter than a disorganized one, which in turn makes it look cleaner and even bigger. The most important takeaway from this paragraph might be those two words – cleaner and bigger. Those two traits tend to spell value.
Make it light and bright.
We probably all know this instinctively, but sometimes we might forget it outright: having sufficient lighting in a home is critical to its feeling comfortable and welcoming. All other things aside, even the humblest of living rooms will feel fresh and cheerful if there is adequate lighting involved. Your living room (and home in general) will feel warmer and more welcoming. Wall sconces, floor lamps, art lights, tabletop lamps, and even overhead lighting fixtures are all ways to make the space lighter and brighter – an excellent home renovation option.
Bring in the green.
Perhaps this is less a home renovation idea and more a decorative option, but even so – a very fast and easy way to add value to your home is to incorporate a couple of houseplants. The green that they add is refreshing for just about any color palette, they add oxygen to and remove toxins from the air. Also, “if your thumb is far from green, ask [the nursery] which plants are hardest to kill” – Goodhousekeeping. When in doubt, stick with plant life that’s native to your area.
Rearrange furniture for better flow.
Not only will the living room feel more welcoming and comfortable overall, but better flow generally equals a more spacious look. Having your living room feel bigger simply because you moved the sofa away from the wall, for example, is one of the fastest and easiest types of home renovations. Bonus that it has such great aesthetic and functional results, too!
Display interesting, meaningful photos and/or artwork.
One thing is certain: the living room that feels genuine is the living room that people will gravitate toward. Artwork and photos are a primary way to get this feeling. Keep it to your taste – if you love eclectic style, choose artwork that reflects this. If your life revolves around family, install a black-and-white photo gallery wall.
HOME RENOVATION IDEAS: KITCHEN& DINING ROOM
“Improving your home is a solid investment at any level – but… a great place to start is by upgrading either the kitchen or bath”- Diynetwork. While a kitchen renovation might seem overwhelming and expensive, it doesn’t have to be either. Even the smallest of kitchen updates will add major value to your home. Modest updates, in fact, “can be your best bet for a big return, netting, on average, an 80-85% return”.
Give the kitchen cabinets a facelift.
Of course, you could buy new cabinets to renovate your kitchen, but this might not be necessary to give you the look you want. Depending on the condition of the cabinetry that you’re starting with, you might look into painting or staining your kitchen cabinets for an immediate and relatively inexpensive facelift. As we’ve discussed already, paint instantly freshens a home’s look, and this is true not only on walls but on kitchen cabinetry as well. “White cabinets will brighten the room, don’t usually go out of style, and are easy for future owners to repaint if they want something different” – Investopedia.
Another alternative to painting the cabinetry is to cover your kitchen cabinets with some fun wallpaper. This isn’t a universal solution, of course, and one that would probably not be advisable to anyone looking to sell their home, simply because wallpaper is such a personal preference.
Replace the kitchen countertops.
There are plenty of ways to upgrade the look of your kitchen countertops yourself. A quick online search will lead you to a variety of countertop fixes, including this faux concrete tutorial. Aim for something neutral and durable for functionality in this hardest working of spaces.
This one is a simple home renovation that you could probably start, do, and complete in an afternoon, and it will really streamline and update your kitchen’s whole look. In fact, if nothing else changes (like, if you don’t have time to redo your entire kitchen’s cabinetry), contemporary hardware such as knobs, pulls, and handles adds significant value to the kitchen’s look. Sometimes, in fact, this small detail makes even an outdated kitchen feel more charmingly retro than, well, old.
Upgrade your appliances.
There’s definitely a value-added component to a kitchen that has shiny new energy-efficient appliances. You may or may not know that “an appliance with an Energy Star label has been certified by the government to use 10-50% less energy and water than conventional appliances” – Energystar. If replacing them outright just isn’t in the cards right now, go ahead and thoroughly clean each kitchen appliance to make it sparkle as much as it can. (Here are some great ideas for naturally cleaning an oven, cleaning a dishwasher, and cleaning a microwave.)
Remember that any kitchen update = added value.
Even if it’s the smallest of updates, such as a new rug in front of the kitchen sink, home renovations that are undertaken in the kitchen will maximize your home’s value. You can approach this one item at a time – first swapping out the sink rug, then replacing the old microwave, then painting the cabinetry, etc., until your kitchen is like a whole new place.
Create the illusion of space.
Open floor plans are hot right now in home ownership. In general, this concept involves the living room, kitchen, and dining room. If your home currently doesn’t have an open floor plan, you could consider taking out a wall or even a strategic half-a-wall to give the illusion of more space. The modern way of living tends to blur the lines and functions between these three hard-working areas, so it fits today’s lifestyles to have the spaces open to each other.
Install a statement dining room piece.
While most of us probably think “chandelier above the dining table” when we think of a statement piece for the dining room, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the thing. Your renovation could be something as simple as introducing mixed chairs around the dining table, or bringing in a unique chair for just the head of the table, or something else entirely. A “mix of styles and patterns make for texture and visual interest” in the dining room (vogue.com).
Paint or refinish an old dining table.
You wouldn’t want to necessarily paint a beautiful mahogany dining table, for example. Of course not. But if your dining table is somewhat old, shabby, and/or a faint memory of better days, think about refinishing it with stain or in a fresh, neutral paint color. (Or, if you’re not planning on selling your home or trying to appeal to a larger audience, go bold with your dining table color!) The visual effect of a freshened up dining table will impact your entire dining room and beyond (if you have an open concept space).
Freshen up your tablescape.
Whether you’re just wrapping up a holiday season or are simply ready for a change, swap out your dining tablescape for something fresh and new. Especially if you’ve recently refinished your table, this will draw attention to it and create a beautiful focal point. What does an updated tablescape look like? Anything, really. Fresh table linens, fruit-filled bowl, flowers, whatever speaks to you and your season. And a bonus of this home renovation idea is that you can generally shop your house!
HOME RENOVATION IDEAS: BATHROOM
Next to the kitchen, the bathroom is a hot ticket item in terms of home renovation to increase the value of your home. While an entire bathroom overhaul is occasionally needed to really bring your bathroom up to speed in terms of value-adding, it doesn’t have to be the only plan. Here are several home renovation ideas that are less intensive and still bring major value to your space.
Visually increase a tiny bathroom’s square footage.
“The size of your home dramatically affects the value, but square footage isn’t the only space that counts. Visual space … also counts. The key is to make each room in your house feel larger” – DIYNetwork. In the bathroom, you can do this by installing a large mirror to visually double the size of the bathroom and reflect more light. You can also use a monochromatic or neutral color palette, which blurs the hard lines of individual bathroom components and make the space feel airier.
Replace outdated bathroom lighting.
Bathroom updates in general are a good idea for home renovation, and one of the simplest of these updates that you can make is to replace outdated lighting fixtures for something more contemporary, industrial, or anything else that works with your bathroom style. Lighting is key for any space to feel fresh, and great lighting will also add style to the small space. Plus, this is a relatively inexpensive renovation to make.
Install bathroom storage.
As one of the smallest rooms in the house, the bathroom can use all the help it can get in terms of feeling more spacious. Keeping the room clear of clutter is probably the first step you can make toward value-added home renovation here. To do this, consider installing great bathroom storage. Clean-lined floating shelves add an element of modernity without sacrificing precious bathroom square footage. Even a small side vanity storage unit tucked away provides storage in otherwise wasted inches. Clear of clutter, your bathroom will feel cleaner, fresher, and more spacious.
Keep up with bathroom maintenance.
Probably one of the least glamorous or exciting of home renovation ideas is to tackle the basics. The stuff you know needs doing but that you’re just not that excited about. Fix that errant toilet fill valve, caulk around the tub, tighten up the lighting fixture. “These kinds of fixes go a long way toward value. … ‘People think they have to put in a lot of money to see a big difference, and they really don’t’,” says Jessica Gopalakrishnan with HomeGain.
Update the easy stuff.
Some upgrades are pricey and labor-intensive. If you’re looking to sell your house, it might not be worth it. But a great way to amp up the cosmetic appeal of your bathroom is to update the easy things (think: generic, cheap, outdated, or broken) to create a cohesive, contemporary space. Swap out old frosted glass for a more modern, clear option. Replace dated or broken vanity hardware for stylish, clean-lined knobs and pulls. You can even change out a grimy or dated bathroom sink faucet for pretty inexpensively, which makes a huge visual improvement in such a small room. How about putting on a new toilet seat? New towel rod or toilet paper holder? Easy as can be. “Sometimes the upgrade can even be more energy efficient, increasing not only the aesthetics of your home but ‘greening’ it up as well” –Investopedia.
Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning.
This doesn’t have to be rocket science. You can even use all-natural ingredients to give your bathroom a complete floor-to-ceiling scrubbing. Clean the tile grout, remove any rust stains, make the mirror and other glass sparkle, clean the bathtub, sweep, scrub countertops and toilet, wash the bath mat, and you’re in business.
HOME RENOVATION IDEAS: BEDROOM
Last but not least, let’s take a look at the bedroom in our home renovation efforts. While it might seem easy enough to purchase a bed-in-a-bag, throw that on the mattress, and call it good, there’s so much more you can do to turn your bedroom into one of your favorite spaces in the house.
As you start to renovate your bedroom, don’t forget to “be brave. Be yourself. And have fun!” – Elsevier.
Choose neutral colors.
We’ve already discussed this with the living room renovations, but it’s just as important in the bedroom as anywhere else in the house. This particularly rings true for those looking to sell their home. For these individuals, real estate broker Reba Haas says, “Get out of your personal taste”. Sure, you may love your bold red accent wall in the bedroom, but not everyone will. Neutral colors in the bedroom will add a soothing, oasis-type atmosphere that increases the intimacy and relaxation of the space.
Brighten up bedding.
If you don’t have or use one already, you might think about adding a duvet (aka “comforter”) to your bedding. Fresh bedding is one of the easiest ways to introduce a new style and feel to the bedroom and provides an instantaneous pick-me-up. Be creative in your bedding choices, though. Don’t feel like you have to be matchy-matchy with it. Choose color combinations that you love but that might require custom pairings. Mix and match patterns, prints, solids, and texture. Also, keep pillows to an appropriate number – they shouldn’t take up the entire bed!
Install a headboard.
Just like shoes complete an outfit in the fashion world, a headboard completes a bed in the home renovation and design world. Even the simplest, humblest, even dowdiest of beds will look put-together if it has a headboard accentuating it. If you’re short on square footage, you could easily DIY a wall-mounted headboard to get the look without sacrificing space. Or, while we’re thinking creatively, you could paint or stencil a “headboard” directly onto the wall for an even faster transformation.
Double-check your window treatments.
Have you become “blind” to the cheap plastic blinds in your bedroom? Do you not notice the dust layers on the tops and sides of drapes that you never open or close? These don’t add aesthetic appeal, and they certainly don’t add value. Take a hard look at your window treatments, and see if there isn’t a lighter, brighter, and perhaps simpler alternative. These days, natural light is all the rage, and scaled-back window treatments are a popular way to get it.
Kick out the clutter.
This is a popular topic for home renovation because it’s one of the most challenging and overlooked for many people. After living in our homes, we start to fail to notice the clutter that builds up around us, and our bedrooms are no exception. Have you lost the top of your nightstand to books, magazines, and miscellany six months ago? How about the top of your dresser? Do you have a pile or three of shoes, clothes, or outerwear piled on that chair in the corner? Take a few minutes (or a couple of hours) and clear it out. All of it. Even if it just means you transport said clutter into a style-savvy container.
Throw down an area rug.
Even if your bedroom already has carpeting, tossing down an area rug is a fast and simple way to create an instantly stylish look. “One warning: be sure to choose one that’s large enough to tuck under the bed and at least one other piece of furniture. A too-small version makes the room look smaller” – Forbes. This is a great way to create a more intimate and cozy space within a larger bedroom as well.
Update lighting with strategic choices.
Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to lighting in the bedroom. Not everyone needs or wants a bright, blaring center bedroom light fixture. Perhaps the best way to renovate the bedroom is to consider various, more subdued options. Look at your nightstand(s) for a place to update lighting, or bedside wall sconce task lighting. If you’ve got the space, a floor lamp near a corner chair creates a cozy and inviting little bedroom nook. Dimmable lighting lets your bedroom adapt to every type of activity and need.