DIY remodeling, home improvement, home remodeling, home renovation, DIY home improvement, home improvement projects

Whether you’re planning on putting your home on the market today or a few years from now, it’s a good idea to invest in some home improvements that will add value to your home and make it easier to sell. While you can certainly hire a contractor to do some renovations, the costs for such projects can really add up and many homeowners can’t afford the expense. Fortunately, there are some relatively simple home upgrades that you can do yourself to maximize your home’s value before you sell. Here are six of them.

Upgrade your lighting

Prospective buyers really like a well-lit home so trade in those dark curtains for light, airy window treatments. Clean skylights so more sunlight is able to get through. If you’ve got old, dated light fixtures, swap them out. You can install a nice chandelier or a modern ceiling fan in just a few hours. In addition to ambient lighting, install some task lighting and accent lighting as well.

Low maintenance landscaping

Prospective buyers care a lot about curb appeal so they’ll like a well-landscaped yard. However, they also know a landscaping burden when they see one and many yards require a lot of upkeep. Since prospective buyers don’t want to invest a ton of time and money into maintaining the landscaping, it’s a good idea to go low-maintenance. Consider using beds of mulch instead of grass where possible and choose drought tolerant plants. A water-saving irrigation sprinkler system is a good idea as well.

Wood floors throughout

Home buyers are starting to move away from floor-to-floor carpeting which used to be quite popular. Now most prefer wood flooring throughout the communal areas at least and sometimes even in the bedrooms. This is a DIY project that’s a little more challenging but if you take time to educate yourself, you can remove the carpet and install wood flooring or laminate yourself.

A fresh coat of interior paint

There are few DIY projects as easy as painting your home’s interior. For just a few hundred bucks and a couple of weekends of your time, you can completely change the look of your home’s interior and add considerable value to your home.

Stainless steel appliances

Kitchens tend to see the best return on investment so it’s a good place to spend your remodeling budget. Upgrading to stainless steel appliances is one of the safest investments you can make since everyone loves stainless steel.

New and improved bathroom

After the kitchen, the bathroom is going to be the most important room in the home for prospective buyers so it’s a good idea to spend some time and money remodeling it. The average homeowner can’t do a complete bathroom makeover on his/her own but most are capable enough to swap out hardware and fixtures. Replacing the knobs and pulls on the cabinets and drawers as well us installing a new faucet and shower head are relatively small improvements that can make all the difference. Also consider re-grouting the tub/shower and installing a tile backsplash.

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home improvement, home remodeling, home renovation, DIY remodeling, home remodeling

Whether you’re looking to do a major renovation project or just do some minor repairs around the house, do-it-yourself projects are a great way to save money. But what starts out as an attempt to save money can result in you actually spending even more than you would have if you had just hired a pro in the first place. If you haven’t done much DIY work in the past and you want to try your hand at it, here are some tips for starting out so you don’t end up costing yourself more than you save.

Start small

If you’re not very experience with DIY home improvement projects, then you should probably start with a smaller-scale project. Think installing a new front door as opposed to building a deck for the backyard or tiling a backsplash in the kitchen. Successfully completing a smaller project will give you the confidence to go on and try your hand at bigger ones but if you undertake a major project first and fail miserably, you may give up on DIY forever.

Plan carefully

You need to start out with a clear idea about what you’re hoping to achieve. Then, start figuring out which materials, tools, and safety equipment you’re going to need. Figure out the step-by-stop process you’ll need to follow to complete the project correctly.

Follow instructions exactly

This might seem like a no-brainer but many homeowners skip steps they don’t understand or feel are unnecessary. This is a recipe for disaster. Find accurate step-by-step instructions for the project and follow those instructions to the letter.

Make a budget

Once you’ve calculated all of the materials and tools you’re going to need, create a budget that keeps track of the costs for all of these things. Figure out if a given project is going to work with your budget. It could be that a job will require many tools that you will never use again and so it makes more financial sense to hire a professional who already has the necessary tools.

Get required permits

Some projects, especially those that involve adding onto your home such as building a front porch or a deck in the backyard will require a permit for the city. Find out if the project you’re undertaking requires a permit in your city and then fill out the necessary paperwork to obtain any required permits.

Get licensed pros for jobs that require it

You should plan on hiring licensed professionals for any plumbing or electrical work and for any project that will require major structural changes to the home. All of these jobs require a license and doing them yourself without a license is not only dangerous but it may be illegal. You can still do the bulk of the project yourself if you want but bring in a licensed pro when it’s needed.

Consult with a contractor

For larger scale projects, you should always consult with a contractor no matter how confident you feel in your abilities. You can do the work yourself but it’s worth paying the contractor for a consultation. This will help the project to go more smoothly.

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home improvement, home remodeling, home renovation, bathroom remodel

The average bathroom remodel costs nearly $18,000. Despite the high cost, it’s still one of the most popular remodeling projects that homeowners undertake. If you’re wondering how the smallest room in the house is one of the most expensive to remodel, here’s a look at the average costs for some of the more common remodeling projects in the bathroom:

  •     New cabinets: $4,700 to $7,000
  •     New shower: $3,000 to $4,800
  •     New countertops: $2,800 to $4,100
  •     New bathtub: $2,600 to $4,100
  •     New flooring: $2,500 to $3,600
  •     New lighting: $1,100 to $1,700
  •     New toilet: $340 to $480

It’s easy to see how quickly the cost of a bathroom remodel can skyrocket. Throw in custom cabinetry and high-grade materials like marble for the countertops and a bathroom remodel can be quite expensive. So before you undertake a bathroom remodel, here are some things you’ll want to consider.

Where to save

Since cabinets tend to be the most costly project in the bathroom, it’s the first place you should look to try and save some money on the remodel. Rather than gutting existing cabinets and installing new custom cabinetry, you should consider salvaging what you already have. A fresh coat of paint is cheap and it can give your bathroom a whole new look. Another option is to reface the cabinets which is when you leave the existing framework as it is and install new cabinet drawers and cupboard doors and new hardware. The same goes for the shower/tub and sink as well. Instead of installing a new shower/tub or a new sink, update the hardware in those areas.

Where to splurge

Probably the best place to splurge when it comes to a bathroom remodel is a nice countertop. It’s important to have something that not only likes nice but is easy to clean and will last for years and years. Granite and marble are two popular options but they tend to be the most expensive. If you’re trying to stretch your budget, you can go with a surface material that’s very compact and durable and also easy to clean that simulates the look of natural stone materials. Quartz is a bathroom counter material that’s really grown in popularity in recent years.

Getting the most out of your investment

One important thing to keep in mind with a bathroom remodel—and any kind of remodel—is that you’re not flushing the money down the toilet. A remodel is an investment into your home and one that can add considerable value to your home if you do it right. The average return on investment for a bathroom remodel is around 66% which means you’re getting back about two-thirds of what you spend when you eventually sell your home. If you’re very careful about the projects you choose to do, you can recoup even more of your costs for the remodel. Keep in mind that the more luxurious the remodel, the less likely you are to recoup the costs. Stick with simple, practical upgrades that are sure to please prospective buyers and you can be pretty confident that the money you spend on your bathroom remodel is well-spent.

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home décor, home improvement, interior design, interior decorating, interior design ideas

Everyone needs to get away every once in a while but vacations can also be stressful. Sometimes you just wish you get have a getaway without actually having to go anywhere. Well, perhaps you can. Here are some getaway looks you can achieve with your next interior decorating project. You can deck out your entire home, just your master bedroom, or a guest room or family room, it’s up to you.

The Caribbean

Who wouldn’t love the feel of the Caribbean in their own home? Easy, breezy, and fresh is the name of the game with this look and there are several things you can do to achieve such an atmosphere. Use cream-colored linens for the upholstery and window treatments; this is the primary color for the space. For contrast, have some bright accessories that are azure or coral. Stone flooring is a nice touch if there’s room in the budget. Go with a sea-grass rug, hurricane lanterns, and limed-oak furniture if you want to add to the theme. Avoid clichés like seashells, fish nets, and captain’s wheels.


If you want to go for a Greek aesthetic, you’ve got to have white, and lots of it. Have white walls and polished concrete floors. Choose furniture that contrasts white with walnut and choose accessories that are marble or brass. Accent colors such as turquoise or navy work well if used sparingly such as with throws, rugs, or pillows.

African Safari

This look isn’t for the meek. African décor is all about bold colors and stylistic choices. You’ll want to pair earthy tones with metallic and create contrast with textures by alternating between rough, natural textures and smooth ones. Use drum tables and other African-inspired furnishings and accessories. Avoid animal print as it just looks clichéd. A bold black and white diamond pattern is always a good choice for this look.

English country house

If you want to feel like you’re vacation in the English countryside, you can go with the country house look. To achieve this, mix more traditional materials such as tweeds and linens with unexpected uses of colors. For color, stick with organic colors that match what you’d see in nature such as greens, browns, and grays. Have plenty of flowers (real ones!) incorporated into the space. Natural materials like wool are inherently calm and are always a good choice. You can use some agricultural vintage pieces like a milking can as an accessory but remember less is more and you don’t want the space to come across as a cliché.

Southern France

Southern France is where you go to relax and just enjoy the rustic beauty of the area. If you want to go with this look, the interior will need to reflect that laid-back feel. Use plenty of linens in muted grays and creams. Texture is very important for this look so go with smooth, stone floors and contrast that with a driftwood coffee or end table.

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home improvement, home remodeling, home renovation

Many jobs around the house can be done yourself. If you’ve got a minor remodeling project or some maintenance that needs doing, you can save yourself some money by doing it alone. But there are also many projects that should be left to the pros. If you’re going to bring in a remodeling contractor, it’s important to treat him/her well. Here are six things every contractor wishes you knew.

You don’t have to be an expert

Contractors can appreciate the fact that homeowners care a lot about their homes. And many homeowners will have done a lot of research about the project they’re having done and will have a lot of input. That’s fine. But don’t forget that the contractor is the expert and you’re the homeowner. Feel free to give a detailed explanation of what you want but don’t tell him/her what to do. Leave the expertise to the expert and get out of the way.

Declutter before the contractor arrives

This is good for you and the contractor. It’s good for you because you’re not paying the contractor for basic cleaning up which you are perfectly capable of doing yourself. It’s also good for the contractor who is probably quite busy and wants to get right to work. If you know that the contractor will need to access a certain area, move furniture or any other items out of the way so he/she can set up a ladder or do whatever it is they need to do.

Don’t involve him/her in spousal disputes

If you’ve got a spouse or significant other, decide as a couple what you both want before you call up a contractor. The worst thing for a contractor is when the husband wants one thing and the wife wants another. So get on the same page and then bring in the contractor. Don’t put him in the middle of a domestic dispute.

Keep pets out of the way

If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be out of the way. If it’s a longer, larger project, that may mean temporarily re-homing them with a close friend or family member. If you can restrict them to a section of the home or yard where they won’t be in the way, that’s fine too. During the course of a project, the contractor may be going in and out to fetch tools or materials and they don’t want to be responsible for a dog that tries to escape every time the door opens.

Add-ons aren’t free

Contractors don’t work for free. If you brought them in for one specific task, don’t expect them to do some minor side project without charging for it. Be up front about what you want from the beginning and if you find another task for the contractor, ask him/her what would be the charge for taking care of it.

Communicate the details

Contractors can’t read minds, unfortunately. Don’t leave it up to the contractor to know what it is you want. It’s a good idea to have a sit-down with the contractor before work begins to outline exactly what it is you want in great detail.

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home improvement, remodeling tips, remodeling ideas

Before the national housing collapse in 2007, it was a lot easier to make decision about home remodeling. Pretty much any money you were putting into your home to improve it was a wise investment. But nowadays, it’s a whole different story. While some projects can recoup a pretty good percentage of the original cost, other remodeling projects recoup very little and are not a sound investment. So it’s important that you do you research before making any remodeling decisions. For the past 14 years, Remodeling Magazine has been tracking cost recoupment figures on remodeling projects and publishing the results in an annual Cost vs. Value Report. Based on trends tracked in 2015, here are some guidelines to follow when choosing which remodeling project(s) to invest in.

  • Aim to cover your costs. Before the housing market crash, you could invest heavily in your home and expect near 100% returns on pretty much any project. Some projects could actually make you money. Now, pretty much any remodeling project will cost more than it earns you. But many projects are better investments than others. Consult the most recent Cost vs. Value Report and try to choose projects that have the best recoupment rates.
  • Smaller projects focusing on essentials yield the best returns. One good rule of thumb to keep in mind when remodeling is that it’s the smaller scale projects that really serve a purpose that recoup the most from the original cost. An upscale outdoor deck or a gourmet kitchen used to be safe investments but now you’ll just lose a lot of money. Something like a new front door or garage door on the other hand, can recoup almost 90% of the cost.
  • Upgrade rooms and spaces, but don’t go overboard. Minor remodeling projects whether it be in the kitchen, bathrooms, or bedrooms are usually a pretty sound investment. But major remodels where you gut everything and build from scratch or really upscale remodeling projects tended to lose a lot of money.
  • Think about improvements that make the most sense given your neighborhood. It’s important to keep the value of other homes in your neighborhood in mind. If you live in a middle-class neighborhood where the average home goes for about $300,000, it doesn’t make much sense to drop $100,000 on an upscale kitchen remodel.
  • How long will I stay post-renovation? Keep in mind that the longer you remain in your home post-renovation, the more you get out of your investment both in terms of the added value to your home and in enjoyment of your remodeled home. But if you’re remodeling for the sole purpose of trying to sell your home, or if you just know you’re going to be moving out in a year or two and plan to sell, then you’ll want to think very carefully about which projects you do and which projects you avoid.
  • How will this project affect my property taxes? Finally, remember that some remodeling projects can result in higher property taxes. It’s a good idea to check in with your local residential taxing body to determine what the before and after property tax rates will be for your remodeled home. If you know a real estate broker that has a lot of experience in your neighborhood you may want to talk to him/her as well.

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home improvement, interior design, storage solutions

Everyone has that one friend or family member whose house is always tidy. What’s their secret? Do they have superpowers? It’s possible, but more likely, they’ve just discovered storage solutions that work. Adequate storage is the real secret for a tidy home. So here are some storage solutions for each room in the house.

The bathroom

Bathrooms tend to be small so it can feel like there’s never enough space there. Create more space by installing an over-the-toilet storage rack. An over-the-door hanging rack for towels and a magazine rack for bathroom reading are also good ideas.

The kitchen

A kitchen, no matter how big never has enough storage space but you can create a little more space by installing double cabinet shelves to double the surface area in each cupboard without physically adding any space.

The pantry

Use a stackable can rack or other food storage organizer to make things easier on your pantry. You may not be able to add space but by being creative about how you store things, you can fit a lot more into the space.

The laundry room

Install a wall-mounted storage unit that can hold your ironing board, mops, and brooms. Here they’ll be easily accessible while still out of the way. It might also free up some space in a utility closet elsewhere in your home.

The entryway

The entryway is the biggest clutter culprit because it’s where everyone drops their things when they come in. Get a shoe bench to store all those pairs of shoes and it’s a place for people to sit to put on shoes as well. Hang some coat hooks on the wall if you don’t have a coat closet by the entryway.

The master bedroom

There’s plenty of unused space under the bed so why not make use of it? You can spend some money on a bed with built-in storage where you can store spare sheets or other bedding. If you don’t want to replace your bed, you can get some long, but not too tall plastic bins to slide under the bed.

The master closet

Invest in some closet organizers and additional rods and shelves to make more room in your master closet. Don’t feel like you’re stuck with the closet your home came with. Who knows, it might save your marriage.

The kids’ rooms

Go with a multi-bin toy organizer rather than a chest that your children will have to dig through to find what they’re looking for. Installing some floating shelves is a great way to add space by storing some of their toys and books on the walls.

The living room

The living room is where all the belongings that people forgot to put away end up. So have a bin for each family member where miscellaneous items can pile up until it’s full and the owner must put things in their proper place.

The home office

A home office, especially a shared one, can become cluttered quickly with hastily scrawled notes, unfiled papers, and pens that don’t even work (it’s amazing how they multiply). So organize important papers in a desktop file sorter and purchase some inexpensive desk drawer organizers.

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home improvement, interior design, home décor

Windows are an often overlooked feature inside the home. It’s a shame to have beautiful windows and no kind of adornment to show them off. Here are five ways that you can give your windows a touch of charm.

  1. Luxurious fabric. You want your room to look magnificent but not overbearing. So using some luxurious fabrics for the windows treatments will create a look of sophistication and a cozy atmosphere. Some great options include silks, velvets, damasks, fur, leather, and suede. Their unique texture gives the space that luxurious look you’re striving for.
  2. Organic and simple. If simple and natural looking is more your style, you can go with an organic window treatment. Bamboo or wood woven shades look great and can create a really relaxed feeling in your home.
  3. Decorate right on the glass. Traditional window treatments may be too much for a smaller window. The last think you want is for a nice, tiny window to disappear completely because of an overpowering window treatment. Window films that are applied right to the glass are a great option because they provide some decoration while letting the window be seen. Window films come in variety of shades and patterns and are a good middle ground between having some privacy while still letting in some natural light.
  4. Use layers to create dimension. A mistake that most homeowners make is assuming that a single set of drapes or curtains can make any window look great. Often, you’ll want to use multiple layers for the window treatment to really get the look you want. The first layer of the window treatment should focus on privacy more than appearances. For instance, you might have a plantation shutter. The second layer, usually shades, drapes, or some other fabric window treatment is what is going to provide the aesthetics. If your window isn’t facing a busy street or common area where people could look in, then you might go aesthetics all the way with valance, a thin shade, and a more luxurious drape for light control and ambiance.
  5. Bold patterns for a conspicuous design. Every room should have some kind of focal point that draws people’s attention. Usually it’s a large rug or a decorative piece on a coffee table. But a window treatment can also be the focal point of a room. Experiment with large and conspicuous patterns. Don’t feel like window treatments are just about blocking light and don’t think they need to blend into the surroundings. Remember that your window treatments don’t have to cover the entire window. In fact, it’s often better if the window treatment acts more like a frame for your window.

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home improvement, curb appeal

Whether you’re planning on selling your home in the very near future or you’re waiting for the last of your children to leave the nest, it’s important that you keep your home in good shape so that you won’t have any trouble selling it. While it’s a good idea to put some money into upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms, these interior home improvements won’t make any difference if prospective buyers aren’t impressed when they pull up in front of the house. Great curb appeal is important to getting buyers inside your home when you’re trying to sell it. Here are five ways that you can help your home to make a better first impression on buyers.

Be objective

After years of living in your home, you become used to it and you no longer see it objectively. The first step in boosting the curb appeal of your home is developing the ability to see your home as though you were seeing it from the first time. Even if you feel a little weird, walk out to the sidewalk in front of your home and just stare at your house as if it was the first time you ever saw it. Try to see it as prospective buyers would. Are there any glaring problems? If so, make note of them so you can get them fixed. There should be a clearly defined path to the front door, even if you never use it. The porch should be well-lit and the house numbers should be clearly visible from the street. If the garage door or front door are looking worn, you may want to replace them or repaint them as they make a big impression.

Enlist the experts

You can do a lot of the home improvement work yourself but there are some things you may want to bring in a professional for. If you’ve never done landscaping before, then anything beyond mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and planting new flowers might be beyond your abilities. There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t have the expertise for a given project and it’s better to leave it to a pro than to attempt it yourself and do it incorrectly.

Respect the house’s origins

Every house has its own unique style. You don’t want to ruin that as you work on your home’s exterior. Try to make home improvements that accent and complement your home’s original style without trying to transform it into something it isn’t.

Weigh cost vs. value

Cost and value are two very different things. While it’s important to consider the cost of a certain home improvement project, it’s at least equally important to consider the value of that same project. Some projects will cost a lot and won’t give you much of a return on your investment while other projects might recoup nearly all of the cost.

Splurge a little on landscaping

You can make all the improvements to your home you want but if your yard doesn’t look desirable, you still won’t have great curb appeal so don’t be afraid to spend a little on some landscaping work. Have the yard aerated and seeded. Put in some fresh mulch for the planter areas. Plant some new flowers, shrubs, and trees. You may want to consider bringing in a landscaper or a lawn service professional.

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home improvement, DIY tips, painting tips

Painting the interior of a home is one of the most popular do-it-yourself home improvement projects because it’s within the abilities of the average homeowner. That doesn’t mean it’s completely fool-proof however. To avoid a shoddy paint job, here are four easy painting tips you should follow.

  1. Buy the right tools. You don’t need the most expensive painting tools money can buy. But you also don’t want to buy the cheapest tools. Buy tools of decent quality and make sure you have everything you need including things to protect the room while you paint.
  2. Prep your new roller. Before you use your new paint roller for the first time, wrap it with painter’s tape and remove it. This will remove loose particles so you can paint with more precision.
  3. Prep the room properly. You’ll definitely want to cover every surface in the room unless you want paint on it. A think plastic covering is fine for covering furniture but spend a little more on a thicker plastic, or painter’s cloth to cover the floor so it won’t move around on you as you’re trying to work.
  4. Affix painter’s tape securely. Use a putty knife or similar tool to firmly press painter’s tape against surfaces so paint has no chance of seeping beneath the tape and spoiling your hard work.

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