Forget collagen or chemical peels. If you’re like many, it’s your home that really needs a facelift. This quarter, Americans are expected to spend $171.1 billion on home improvement, according to research by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. While that number is staggering, it’s still 2.5% less than what homeowners spent in the fourth quarter of last year. Blame modest home sales and a dip in consumer confidence.
Still, if you’re one of the millions looking to spruce up your space, there are plenty of luxe touches you can use to update your abode without sinking your bank account.
Before you head to Home Depot, first determine your reasons for renovation. Those looking to sell should start with the kitchen, says Taniya Nayak, president of Boston-based firm Big Design and host of HGTV’s Designed To Sell: Washington, D.C.
If you can’t afford to renovate your entire kitchen, and your appliances are in fine condition, install a refrigerator covering. These are custom-made shells that affix to your refrigerator, and if desired, your stove, for a more streamlined look. Many styles also have shelving on the sides to store dry goods. The Fuoko 6 Refrigerator and Oven Cabinet from Linea is one example. This model features an aluminum frame and sheet-metal doors faced with mahogany-tinted cherrywood. Installation and materials will run from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on whether or not you have to knock out existing cabinets to fit the refrigerator cabinet. These shells are not cheap – Linea’s is just under $10,000 – but it should pay off when it comes time to sell.
An update can be applied to the bathroom just as quickly; here, homeowners are creating more spa-like spaces. Dawn Tuskey, president of Downers Grove, Ill.-based IHM Remodeling, says that adding a new shower head is an easy way to renovate without rerouting the plumbing system. The Grohe Freehander has two shower heads and a pivoting handle to easily switch from overhead spray to side spray, as well as two different spray settings, depending on the preferred level of water pressure.
Another simple and affordable way to luxuriate the bathroom is to install a sub-floor heating mat. You can do the installation on your own if you have experience lifting tiles – it can be accomplished over a weekend. But novices should hire a professional remodeler; labor costs will set you back about $1,300. A Honeywell floor heater will run $200-$1,000, depending on the bathroom’s square footage.
If your goal is to impress guests, spruce up the areas they’re most likely to frequent. If you’ve got recessed ceilings in the living room, Nayak suggests coating them with a layer of metallic paint. The luxurious finish will pop, without being over-the-top.
Guest rooms benefit from frequent bedding changes. Switching out your duvet cover each season will leave the room looking fresh. To cut down on bedding costs, buy duvets in the same color scheme – that way, you can keep just a few sheet sets.
Want to make a more sweeping change? Opt for a dimmer switch. Nothing’s better, cheaper or easier than introducing soft light throughout your home. Dimmer switches are installed and used just like a conventional wall switch, but they save money and energy by using less electricity and putting less strain on the light filament.
Whatever you choose, it’s important you don’t skimp on quality, even when pinching pennies. What you save at the register now may cost you later. For example, a handcrafted rug is a better choice than a machine-made rug, says Gretchen Schwilk of Steven King, Inc., a Boston-based custom and handmade carpet distributor.
“I always recommend a smaller, handmade rug over a larger, machine-made one,” she says. “Something that’s made by hand has an inherent value and better chance of resale.”
By Laurie Sherman for www.forbes.com.
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