Paint, paint and more paint.
Dig out those old gym shorts and roll up your sleeves—because the number one way to add value to your home is to paint it.
“I call it an emotional change,” says Daryl Calfee, owner of Penny Lane Properties, which specializes in renovating old houses. “It’s the hands down best return-versus-cost improvement you can make.”
Statistics show on average, just painting the exterior of a home can improve its value by five percent—that’s a large chunk of change. Painting the inside is also effective, especially for those who plan to sell their home in the new year.
“A well-chosen palette that brightens, refreshes and even smells new goes a long way with buyers,” Calfee says.
Painting is also the number one recommendation from Josh Redmond, local real estate agent who also renovates homes to sell or rent, and Owen Hurst, who has years of home renovation and woodworking experience. Since 2014, the two have partnered on more than a dozen local renovation projects.
“We use ‘Repose Gray’ for a reason. It works in any space, large or small, with any style or color,” Redmond says of their preferred paint color, adding that it is a true gray that doesn’t pull from other colors such as blue or purple.
A neutral paint color is ideal when considering a home’s resale value, which Redmond says is something he’s often asked about when homeowners are considering home renovations.
“It’s helpful to know if the time and investment you make in your home will increase the value for potential buyers down the road,” he explains. “If you enjoy the changes, and they can improve the home, that’s a win-win.”
For those with no plans moving in the near future, see our sidebar with much brighter recommendations.
2021 Colors of the Year:
Inspiration for your next project
Illuminating and Ultimate Gray, Pantone
Aegean Teal, Benjamin Moore
Urbane Bronze, Sherwin-Williams
Passionate, HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams
Aqua Fiesta, Glidden (accent)
Another exterior update that can drastically increase the value of your home is landscaping, one of the building blocks of impeccable curb appeal.
“It’s the first thing that gives people a ‘wow’ factor within seconds of pulling up to your home,” Redmond says.
For many homeowners, a landscaping update might not be a massive overhaul—just a few loads of mulch and a sunny Saturday’s worth of work.
“Start by trimming existing bushes and plants, rake out all clippings and leaves, make sure to pull weeds and spray weed killer for the future, then put down a good landscape fabric, if you haven’t before. Finally, when all else is done, you can mulch,” says Dan Vollmer, associate broker with REMAX 1st Olympic and home project enthusiast, who adds that removing dead trees should also be a priority.
If you need to plant brand new bushes, shrubs or small trees, consider your house style and architecture—for example, if there’s not a lot of interest in the front, you would choose higher plants or shrubs. Your local nursery can help you make selections.
According to Lynchburg Living gardening contributor Ashleigh Meyer, the biggest problem for most who DIY their landscaping is planting too deep. “The root collar needs to be about two inches above the existing grade. This is right where the stem transitions into the first/highest root,” she says. “You also want to make sure the hole you’re planting in is nice and wide so that roots spread out rather than encircle the stem.”
Change out light fixtures and/or hardware.
Older light fixtures can really date a home, says Vollmer—but new ones don’t have to break the bank or require an expensive bill.
“Shop local stores and online sites for great deals, and try to stick to the same finishes throughout,” he explains.
Along with your fixtures, consider changing out your door handles and hinges too. “There are lots of options and styles for this,” says Cole Rice, REALTOR with Lauren Bell Real Estate. “Brushed nickel, matte black, oil-rubbed bronze, even gold—it’s coming back!”
Here’s are some of the best-selling fixture styles according to Houzz.com.
Oil-Rubbed Bronze Industrial Chandelier
Beaded Farmhouse Chandelier
Mid-Century Modern Geometric Pendant
Natural Brass Vintage Pendant
Refinish wood floors.
They are often the “ta da” discovery of home reality shows—the moment when gorgeous hardwood floors are unearthed below faded linoleum or lime green carpet. If you have hardwoods that have seen better days, now may be the time to shift your home improvement focus down.
“Refinished wood floors are worth their weight in gold,” says Calfee. “Walking into a home with refinished wood floors immediately gives a high-end feel and the reflection of light brightens the room.”
Calfee says you can expect to pay around two to three dollars per square foot to have your floors professionally refinished or you can rent a sander and products yourself from ACE Hardware locally. Keep in mind while this is not an extremely difficult DIY project, it is time intensive and requires multiple steps to complete.
Call Out Box: According to Calfee, if you want a more natural look, use water-based poly. If you want higher shine/gloss, use an oil-based poly.
DIY a new backsplash
According to Hurst, one of the best ways to make a big impact in your home is to go for a new kitchen backsplash—and to try it yourself.
“I originally taught myself how to do it years ago by watching YouTube tutorials—there are so many out there and really good ones to learn from,” he says. “If someone is willing to take on the project, they could do it in one weekend and have a big impact for a pretty low cost.”
Hurst installed a traditional white subway tile in his own kitchen when they renovated last year; he and his wife love it for the simple, classic look and how the white tile brightens their space.
It’s also the best option for beginners. Subway tile is typically very affordable and is the easiest to install in Hurst’s opinion.
Become a master of plaster.
Before there was drywall, there was plaster—a material most likely used in homes built before the 1950s. If you have an older home, this refresh project is for you.
“Repairing plaster walls offers an organic texture and elevated value that sometimes drywall lacks,” Calfee explains. “Ceilings can and will be a pain, so covering them with drywall at times makes sense if they are too far gone to repair.”
If you want to add subtle texture and value to drywall, Calfee says use Roman Clay. It’s simply applied with a putty knife and will give your walls a subtle marbling texture.