Small Remodeling Tips that Pay Big Returns
Over the past few years many of us have spent more time in our homes than we could have ever imagined when we first purchased the place. Perhaps you had to adapt your home to become your workspace, too. Or maybe you picked up a new hobby that requires space in your home. Regardless of the catalyst or inspiration, chances are you have a “wish list” of remodeling projects you’d love to have completed. Getting started on those projects can be daunting, though. Do you ever watch those remodeling shows on television? Thanks to TV magic they make massive remodel projects look like they are completed in days, or sometimes even hours. To do those projects in reality, well, it takes a lot of planning, and—let’s face it—a pretty large budget. It’s fun, though, to look around our own homes and fantasize about what we would change or update…if we had access to the expert crews and the seemingly unlimited resources the TV teams have. Luckily, many small remodeling projects can be tackled in a weekend—giving a quick and easy boost to your home. Better still, many of these projects won’t cost you an arm and a leg. So get out your calendar, find a free weekend, and schedule some time to devote to these small remodeling projects. You’ll feel good about your home in no time.
Low Budget, High Impact Remodeling Projects
Choose a Fresh New Paint ColorChoose a room you spend a lot of time in and give it a fresh coat of paint. Paint colors have the ability to change the atmosphere of a room. You can make a large room feel cozier or a small room feel more spacious with the right painting scheme. Paint molding and doorways to add architectural interest to your interior. If you already like a room’s color, consider changing the finish on your walls. Play with different finishes on your surfaces to create a contrasting effect. Whether you choose to change the color or stick with what you have, a fresh coat of paint will make the room feel more polished and less worn.
Update Lighting FixturesLight fixtures are one of the most overlooked elements of a room when it comes to remodeling. Many times, light fixtures become an afterthought. Beyond being functional, lighting fixtures have the ability to set the tone of a room—changing the entire atmosphere. Updating ceiling lights and task lighting offers you an unlimited amount of ways to create the perfect ambiance for each space in your home. Installing dimmers adds another way to change the look and feel of your space immediately. These are perfect for multi-use spaces—for instance when your dining room is an office during the day and a gathering space in the evening. Don’t overlook the impact of lighting on your home’s mood and character. Quality lighting can elevate any room.
Replace the Front DoorOne of the most impactful ways to elevate the curb appeal of your home is to replace the front door. Changing the color or architectural style of your front door can change the entire way you feel about your home as you drive or walk up to it from the road. If you invest in upgrading your front door, you may also want to consider getting a new storm door as well—one that showcases your front door in all its glory.
Swap Out Kitchen Cabinet HardwareIf you are looking to spruce up your kitchen but don’t want to invest a ton of time and money into the project, consider updating the hardware on your cabinets. If your cabinets are in relatively good shape, you can easily give them a little more pizzazz with new handles and knobs. Updated hardware won’t make stained, broken, or beat up cabinets look like new, though. For that you will have to resurface, restain, or repaint the cabinets themselves—also a worthwhile investment if you are willing to put a little more into the project. When choosing new hardware, think not only of aesthetics, though. Also, consider functionality, durability, and practicality. Shiny stainless steel handles may look great on store displays, but do you really want to be wiping fingerprints off them every day? Don’t forget to think of placement, either. Choosing to turn knobs into handles or vice versa may sound like a great idea, but it will leave exposed holes in your drawers and cabinets, perhaps making that project a little larger than you intended. It’s generally best to work with the existing set-up—that way, swapping out hardware is a piece of cake. This project is instant gratification at its finest.
Reglaze Bathtubs and SinksA major bathroom remodel may sound like a great idea, especially when you are staring at your tub and sink thinking that they just don’t seem to ever look as clean as they used to. It’s true: dingy tubs and sinks really can negatively impact the overall appearance of your bathroom. If a major bathroom project just isn’t within your budget right now, there are less costly steps you can take to elevate the bathrooms in your home. Reglazing, sometimes also called re-enameling or resurfacing, has the power to make your sink and bathtub look like new so you can get a few more years before you have to replace them. This process does involve somewhat dangerous chemicals, and is also tricky to DIY properly—so consider using a professional. Doing so will keep your family safe and ensure the job is done right. Hiring a professional to reglaze is still much cheaper than replacing both the sink and tub (think hundreds instead of thousands). Plus, it allows you to try out a local vendor, so when the time does come to replace your bathtub completely, you’ll hopefully have one to turn to instead of searching for someone new.
Install New Faucets on Kitchen and Bathroom SinksAnother way to update your bathroom or kitchen on a smaller budget is to swap out the faucets and hardware on your sinks. Consider doing this concurrently with reglazing your bathroom sink; you’ll feel like you have a brand new vanity entirely! While you are at it, upgrade the shower head in your bathroom too. If you are making your bathroom look more luxurious, you might as well improve the entire experience, right?
Create a New Kitchen BacksplashPerhaps a full kitchen remodel is currently out of reach or not entirely necessary at the moment—you just want the kitchen to look new but functionally it’s fine. You can easily give it a facelift by adding a new backsplash behind your range. There are a ton of ideas out on the internet for easy do-it-yourself kitchen backsplashes. While we definitely recommend doing some internet surfing to get some inspiration, we also recommend considering the pros and cons of each option before starting your project. Many of the ideas out there are very temporary, making it easy to try out new looks before committing to one. But if you prefer not to have to redo your backsplash every few years, consider a more permanent solution. If you don’t consider yourself extremely handy or crafty, recruit a DIY-warrior friend to help! Either way, this project is a low-cost one that will give your kitchen new life.
Invest in Your Home with a HELOAN or HELOCIf those smaller, lower budget home improvement projects don’t feel like they will be enough to give your current home new life, perhaps it’s time to consider a larger remodel investment. If you have equity built up in your home, now may also be the time to consider a home equity loan (HELOAN) or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to tackle some of those bigger updates to your home. These projects will likely require the help of a professional, but most of them should not be multi-month ordeals that will cost you more than $10,000. Instead, consider these medium-size remodeling projects that will pay off big when you eventually sell your home in the future and will make you feel better about living in your home now.
Add a Deck and Expand Your Living Space into the YardSince we all have been spending a little more time at home, it has left many of us wishing for larger homes, more flexible and usable living spaces, and just room to spread out and stretch our legs. During the warmer months here in Southeast Wisconsin, maximizing time outdoors is also a must. Accomplish both by extending your functional living space into the yard. Add on a deck or expand an existing one to accommodate room to dine, lounge, and play on a daily basis during the summer months. Not only does a well-built and well-cared for deck allow you to make the most of summer days and nights at home—it will also increase the value of your home.
Contract a Landscaping Professional to Improve Your Curb AppealIf you’re going to be spending more time in the yard than ever before, make sure your landscaping is just right by contracting the services of a professional. Landscaping is so much more than just aesthetics. A professional landscaper can help you plan the perfect back and front yards based on your family’s needs and desires. They can help create more privacy, change the overall atmosphere, and cultivate your yard into a place you want to spend time enjoying. Think through all of the different activities you wish you and your family could enjoy in your yard. Consider what is currently stopping you from doing those things, and don’t forget to contemplate how much time or money you are willing to invest in upkeep and maintenance. The right contractor can make that all happen. Consider it an investment well worth your while.
Update Your Garage DoorWhile building out your yard’s landscaping can take some time, there is one change that you can make in a day that will have a large impact: updating your garage door. This is similar to updating the front door of your home on a somewhat larger scale. Since the scale is larger, the impact is larger. Think about it—your garage door makes up a large portion of the exterior of your home. In fact, studies show that just updating your garage door is impactful enough to raise the value of your home more than almost any other single exterior update. Not to mention, it looks awesome when you pull into your driveway every day! You deserve to feel that good about your home.
Replace your RoofObviously, if your roof is leaking it’s time to replace it. Otherwise, roof replacements are not often projects that homeowners consider when they are thinking about investing in their current homes…unless their home insurance agency reminds them that many policies do not cover roofs over 20 years old. While that is true, upgrading your roof can have other benefits. You can’t underestimate the aesthetic difference a new roof can make if you decide to change the material or color. Upgrading your roof also allows you to take advantage of new technologies that weren’t available when your current roof was installed. These technologies have the ability to make your home more energy efficient and even improve the air quality within your home.
Replace Old, Drafty WindowsSpeaking of improving energy efficiency and air quality in your home, replacing old windows is a must. Doing so not only will improve the value of your home and save you money on your electricity bill, it will make your home more comfortable. Many modern windows not only help you maintain the temperature of your home, they come with enhanced security and noise reduction features. If someone within your home suffers from allergies, there are even options to place blinds and shades between glass panels in order to reduce the amount of dust and allergens in the air. And don’t forget, front-facing windows have the power to dramatically elevate your home’s curb appeal.
Ready to Get Started?While we may not be able to pick up a hammer or a tape measure and help each one of our customers complete their home improvement projects, we are dedicated to helping each one of them figure out how they are going to finance those projects. Whether you just want to talk through your options or you’re ready to start the process for a HELOC or a HELOAN, our helpful and knowledgeable local loan officers are here to help. Just make sure to send us the before and after pictures of your projects! For projects small, medium, or large—who doesn’t love a good makeover story?
This post was originally published in October 2014. It was last updated in March 2022.