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30 Budget Kitchen Updates That Make a Big Impact

Sprucing Up Rooms

30 Budget Kitchen Updates That Make a Big Impact


Ready for a mini-makeover? These quick-and-easy ideas will give your kitchen a new look in no time, whether you can spend a lot, a little or nothing at all.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.


Photo By: Kristen Forgione

(1) Free: Repurpose a Rug

If your kitchen’s looking a little drab, try bringing in a rug from another room to add color and, more importantly, pattern. “Updating with prints and patterns is one of my favorite ways to add a current take on any space,” says designer Kristen Forgione. “To take it one step further, work in textures as well. We always think about the scale (size) of the print, pattern or texture and work that scale around the space to create more depth. For a balanced look, keep the prints neutral with one or two color variations. For a bolder look, pile on that color and keep your texture quieter.”

From: THE LifeStyled COMPANY



Photo By: Chip Pankey

(2) Free: Style Your Shelves

Existing open shelves or glass-door cabinets are the perfect opportunity to give your kitchen a new look. Clear everything from the shelves, and then add decorative (and useful) items — keeping everything within a limited color palette as much as possible. In this project, neutral tones tie the reclaimed wood floating shelves and trim in with the white cabinetry and glass backsplash while also marrying the rustic and modern styles of each feature.

From: Beckwith Interiors



Photo By: Dave Remple. Design By: Lisa Robazza, Lisa Robazza Design

(3) Free: Create a Coffee Bar

You’ve seen them in magazines and on TV, no doubt — built-in coffee bars complete with a sink, fridge and lighted shelving, like this one that Lisa Robazza designed “to utilize an awkward space under a stair in a small kitchen for a client who entertains often.” All those pricey perks are nice, for sure, but you can get the same effect for free. Just reorganize a corner of your kitchen (ideally a spot near your sink) so that all your coffee-making supplies are together: The machine on the counter, mugs or cups in a cabinet above, and filters, pods or grounds in a drawer underneath.



Photo By: Terracotta Design Build

(4) Under $50: Add Color to Cabinets

A fresh coat of paint is a relatively easy way to update cabinets that are sound and functional but less than lovely looking. You’ll have to remove all the hardware (number doors, drawers, knobs and pulls so you’ll know how to replace everything correctly), clean and sand all surfaces, then paint with two to three coats of a premium-quality self-priming paint, like HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams Ovation Interior Latex Paint, $29 per gallon.

From: Terracotta Design Build



Photo By: ERIKA BIERMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

(5) Under $50: Create a Focal Point

In a long or awkwardly shaped kitchen, adding a bold focus at one end of the room can help the eye move through the space, de-emphasizing its flaws. Window treatments are one way to get the job done — if you have a window at the end of the room — or, if you’re working with a sink, consider a bold new light fixture. “Lighting over a sink should not only be decorative but also functional,” says designer Debbie Talianko. “Be sure to install the fixture so that the beam of light is in front of the person standing at the counter, not pointed straight down at their head. This eliminates shadows and offers the best type of task lighting.” Check the sale sections of sites like lightinguniverse.com and lampsplus.com for bargains well under $50.

From: Debbie Talianko



Photo By: Michelle Ruber

(6) Under $50: Warm Up With Color

“Kitchens are truly the heart of the home,” says designer Michelle Ruber. “They are the room where people gather, foods simmer and conversations flow. Using color to induce that warmth draws people in, and creates a space where people feel comfortable, and therefore want to linger.” You can give your own kitchen a warm and colorful personality by painting a wall or two in a rich shade of yellow or earthy green, or by adding a few accessories in warm metallic finishes like copper, rose gold or bronze.

From: Encircle Design and Build



Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

(7) Under $50: Go High-Contrast

A quick fix for a dark kitchen: introduce some bright white. A pure-white mat around a favorite photo or a few white serving pieces displayed on existing shelves can add just enough relief from the otherwise-moody palette. Head to a local craft store for a pre-cut photo mat, which shouldn’t set you back more than a few dollars. Target or HomeGoods are great sources for simple white accessories; pay attention to shape, since it will stand out against a dark backdrop. Designers Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer also used modern track lighting to great effect in this space. “Against the paneled ceiling, it draws the eye upward in the narrow space, making it seem larger,” they say.

From: Lauren Levant



Photo By: Michelle Drewes Photography. Design By: NEAT Method

(8) Under $50: Label Those Shelves

“When organizing a pantry, categorize, contain and label,” say the professional organizers at NEAT Method. The organizing part doesn’t cost anything but time; you will, however, have to shell out a few bucks for a label-maker or stick-on labels. Look for labels you can wipe clean and reuse, like the chalkboard labels shown here, widely available for $10 and under, like these from amazon.com.

Photo By: Miro Dvorscak

(9) Under $50: Put on a Tuxedo

One of the hottest trends in kitchen design right now is “tuxedo” cabinetry — or two-tone cabinets, usually a darker color on the bottom units with a lighter shade or white on top. Black and white is a classic combo, but gray and white or blue and white create a similar, but softer effect, as in this kitchen. “The two-tone color scheme complemented the stained original pine floors in this over-100-year-old home. And going lighter on the upper cabinets kept this smaller sized kitchen feeling light and open, without sacrificing storage,” says designer Carla Aston. You can get this of-the-minute look with one can of paint — if your cabinets are already white, just paint the lower ones.

From: Carla Aston



Photo By: D2 Interiurs

(10) Under $100: Pick a Piece of Art

A single splashy piece of artwork — a flea-market painting, a poster, a photograph — adds instant character to the kitchen. To add a splash of color to this space, designer Denise Davies of D2 Interieurs hung a vibrant framed print above one end of the counter. Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend a fortune on art to get this effect. Try Etsy for a wide range of files — many are under $5 — you can download and print at the local copy shop, then head to IKEA for a RIBBA frame: the largest size is only $18, and they come in three colors and with a pre-cut mat included.

From: D2 Interieurs



Photo By: Ryan Garvin

(11) Under $100: Hang Open Shelves

New cabinets are the most expensive part of any kitchen update. Minimize your investment (or replace unattractive upper units) by hanging open shelves. “They will make any kitchen feel larger, and you can accessorize the shelves to add a unique touch of your personal style,” says designer Lindye Galloway. Have reclaimed wood planks cut to size and mount on wall brackets, or choose “floating” shelves, widely available for under $50 per shelf at Home Depot, IKEA and amazon.com.

From: Lindye Galloway



Photo By: michael j lee

(12) Under $100: Show Some Shade

Window treatments do not have to break the bank — search online for “bamboo blinds” or “woven blinds” for many options under $100. Blinds to Go and Smith & Noble carry similar products at slightly higher price points. And, take a designer’s advice when sizing and hanging: "Sometimes less is more with window treatments. Adding natural texture can go a long way. Woven shades are a great stand-alone look or can easily be layered with drapery panels. One of the biggest mistakes can be covering too much of the window. Whenever possible allow the natural light to be your friend and frame the window,” says Tiffany LeBlanc, the designer of this kitchen.

From: Tiffany LeBlanc



Photo By: Melissa Brandman

(13) Under $100: Brighten With Lighting

A single pendant over the island or peninsula can take a space from okay to OMG. For the most contemporary look, seek out styles with geometric shapes and patterns and warm metallic finishes like the one shown here. Shop for bargains on overstock.comwayfair.com (check the sale section), or, scour garage sales, then pay an electrician to rewire the fixture for you — you’ll likely still come in under $100.

From: Serendipite



Photo By: Michelle Drewes, MichelleDrewes.com

(14) Under $100: Make it Match

Sorting the contents of your pantry or kitchen cabinets into categories — baking supplies, grains, cereals, etc. — is the first step to an organized storage space. But for maximum efficiency, you’ll want to transfer everything into matching (clear) bins, and baskets, each with their own label. This makes it easy to find what you need at a glance, and creates a sense of visual order in the space. “We typically purchase all of our bins, baskets and labels from The Container Store,” say the professional organizers at NEAT Method. The Good Grips 10-Piece POP Canister set by OXO, $99 from The Container Store, is similar to the canisters shown here.



Photo By: Ann Lowengart

(15) Under $100: Hang Up a Valance

Even if you have no sewing skills to speak of, you can still add style at your kitchen window with an eye-catching valance. You can buy a premade valance and rod, like the Sweet Jojo Designs Trellis Valance, $22, and Threshold Curtain Rod Set in Nickel, $24, from Target. Or, find fabric you love (check out spoonflower.com for fun, modern patterns, about $18 per yard), and then use iron-on fusible web like Dritz Stitch Witchery, $4 for 20 yards at amazon.com, to hem the edges and create a pocket for a curtain rod. Slide onto the rod and voila: almost-instant elegance.

From: Ann Lowengart



Photo By: Carolynne Arnold-Plowmnam From a Seed Interiors

(16) Under $500: Find a Fab Faucet

“The sink and the faucet are often the central focal point of the kitchen, so why not make a bold statement with a distinctive faucet?” asks Carolynne Arnold-Plowman, who designed this rustic kitchen. You can easily find a graceful new spout for under $100 (for a traditional look, try the Delta Windmere Two-Handle Faucet in Chrome, $70 from faucetdirect.com). But if you want the matte black finish used in the kitchen shown here — which is among the boldest and trendiest looks in hardware and plumbing fittings right now — be prepared to spend more, at least $250. And you may want to swap out the rest of your hardware to match, bringing you closer to $500.



Photo By: Tessa Neustadt

(17) Under $500: Create a Gallery Wall

“Our goal with this kitchen was to really open it up and brighten it to be a fun and inviting space for our client and his children,” say designers Dorianne Passman and Thea Segal. “The gallery wall across from the island gives the kitchen a whimsical energy. Bringing art into the kitchen makes it more of a living space and less of a solely utilitarian space.” To create your own art gallery, select favorite photos, postcards, children’s art works, menus — anything that delights you and your family — frame, and hang. There are two keys to a cohesive look: The frames and the composition. Your best bet is to choose frames that match or all fall within the same color family (like the variety of simple wood frames shown here). To arrange a perfect composition as painlessly as possible, roll some brown paper onto the floor, then arrange your frames on top. When you’ve found an arrangement you like, trace each frame on the paper, cut out each shape, and then tape (use blue painter’s tape to avoid damaging the wall) into place on the wall. Move around until you’re happy with the spacing. Mark the spot where you’ll hammer in the nail or picture hanger on the paper with a pencil, then nail right through the paper. Tear away the paper, hang the pictures, and admire your gallery.

From: Dorianne Passman & Thea Segal



Photo By: Jennifer Hughes. Design By: Elizabeth Lawson, Elizabeth Lawson Design

(18) Under $500: Update the Hardware

Chrome, nickel and stainless steel finishes will never go out of style, but warm metallics offer a fresh, modern look. For a quick update, consider replacing your lighting, faucet or cabinet hardware with products in gleaming brass or bronze like the ones in this chic space. “The updated satin brass cabinet hardware is really striking against the simple shaker cabinets,” says designer Elizabeth Lawson. No need to replace everything at once — mixed metals are on-trend, too. So just try one at a time. Delta Faucet’s Trinsic Pull-Down Faucet in Champagne Bronze is $377 at build.comHickory Hardware’s Metropolis Satin Rose Gold Cabinet Pulls are $9 each at doorhardwarecenter.com; Savoy House Morland Adjustable Wall Sconces in Warm Brass are $150 each at lumens.com.

From: Elizabeth Lawson



Photo By: Anjie Cho

(19) Under $500: Build a Bar

Actually, there’s no building involved. Do as architect Anjie Cho did in this fun kitchen and living area and use a pre-fab unit to create a bar area. “We wanted to use furniture rather than a built-in to create a more open feel. It's also more flexible and can be moved around, and it saved us some money we could focus on elsewhere. The homeowner also loves entertaining so we used chalkboard paint behind the bar to share the menu of the evening,” she says. For a look similar to the one in this space, try the Signature Design by Ashley 14-Bottle Wine Bar, $233, or for a more rustic look, the August Grove Irwin 24-Bottle Hanging Wine Rack, $423, both from wayfair.com.

From: Anjie Cho



Photo By: Andrea Schumacher

(20) Under $500: Have Fun With Wallpaper

“Unanticipated components elevate routine spaces,” says designer Andrea Schumacher. “The hand painted silk wall covering we used in this client's kitchen was custom, down to the last butterfly.” Silk in the kitchen? Yes. “We sealed the one-of-a-kind wallpaper to protect it from the wear and tear of everyday life.” Gorgeous as it is, you don’t have to splurge on custom silk wallcovering or worry about sealing it. Add a splash of pattern with a paper designed for use in the kitchen (so it’s water-resistant and scrub-able), like the leafy Dixon Blue Floral Leaves or classic Flourish Pink Cameo Fleur, $90 per roll, or exotic Maisie Coral Batik Flower designs, $140 per roll, all from Brewster Home Fashions.

From: Andrea Schumacher



Photo By: Joni Spear

(21) Under $500: Go Big on Color

For a bold impact, pick a single accent color and repeat it around the room in window treatments, small appliances, furnishings and accessories. If your color is red, and, like the owners of this kitchen designed by Joni Spear, you want to make your space “more inviting and less formal,” consider the following: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, $430, kitchenaid.comRiviera Side Chair, $228 each, serenaandlily.com; and Threshold Gingham Pillows in Ruby Ring, $22.50 for two, target.com.

From: Joni Spear



Photo By: John Gillooly/PEI, Design By: Liz Miller, E.R. Miller Interiors and Furnishings

(22) Under $500: Add an Island

A center island is number one on many kitchen renovators’ wishlists, but a large, built-in island doesn’t always fit the budget or the space. No matter, freestanding islands perform the same functions, adding counter prep space and storage, but usually require less floor space and cash — as designer Liz Miller found in her own home. “The freestanding island was a must in a small kitchen with two little kids. When we need more space, to say, have an impromptu dance party, or when we have friends over, we just push the island against the side wall to open up the room,” she says. A quick online search for “freestanding kitchen island” turns up multiple options under $500, including the Crosley Natural Wood Top Rolling Kitchen Cart/Island, $370, from bedbathandbeyond.comOrleans Butcher Block Carmel Kitchen Island in Gun Metal, $345, from homedepot.com, and the Darby Home Co. Pottstown Kitchen Island with Wood Top, $389, from wayfair.com.



Photo By: Haris Kenjar

(23) Under $750: Cut a Rug

Differentiating each room within an open-concept floor plan can be tricky: All too often such spaces feel exposed and disjointed. Designer Kenna Stout not only created the flowing layout in this home, but took care to make the kitchen feel warm and inviting — with the help of a boldly patterned woven rug. Prices on rugs have come down dramatically in the internet age, and it’s possible to find a high-quality design in long-wearing wool for well under $750. Examples include the Darya Rugs Shirvan Onita Rug, $647 for 5’x8’, from rugsusa.com, and the Kala Printed Rug in Midnight, $499 for 3’x5’, from potterybarn.com.

From: Kenna Stout



Photo By: Luciana Corwin

(24) Under $750: Triple Up on Lighting

If one gorgeous pendant light makes a style statement, three make a splash. Choosing fixtures with clear glass shades helps keep sightlines through the space clear, an especially important consideration if the kitchen is open to an adjacent living or dining area. Here, three fixtures to consider ordering in triplicate: Glass Jug Pendant Light, $99 each, from shadesoflight.com; the Birch Lane Sutton Pendant, $189 each, from allmodern.com, or the Addie Pendant in Clear, $199, from ballarddesigns.com.

From: Luciana Corwin



Photo By: 2id Interiors

(25) Under $750: Bring in a Bistro

In a tight galley kitchen, there’s often not enough room for an eat-in banquette or full-size dining table. Don’t sacrifice reading the newspaper over soft-boiled eggs: Do as the designers at 2id Interiors did in this small space and add a bistro set to an unused corner — the 20” Marble Eero Saarinen Tulip Style Side Table, $174, and a set of two Eames Style Molded Plastic Dowel-Leg Dining Chairs, $110, from polyandbark.com.

From: 2id Interiors



Photo By: Bill Stengel

(26) Under $750: Weave Threads of Color

To unify an eclectic style and a lifetime of collections, designer Heather P. French used bright, sunny yellow in her clients’ kitchen. The boldest use of the color is in the barstools, which turn the island into a convenient gathering space. Find your own bright stools at sears.comFlash Furniture 30” High Backless Yellow Barstools are $56 each.

From: French and French Interiors



Photo By: Chipper Hatter. Design By: Kristianne Watts, ASID, LEED AP, KW Designs, LLC

(27) Under $750: Add Character

If your house is builder-basic, consider applying a little surface interest. New crown moldings and baseboards or shiplap paneling on the walls can give a space its own rich personality. Prices on these materials vary, and unless you’re handy they’ll require professional installation. Another option: Apply reclaimed wood to the island base like designer Kristianne Watts did here. “We reclaimed boat wood from Indonesia. With the original paint still on each plank, it brings an authentic feel to the space,” she says. Depending on your source, the wood could be free, but, again, you might need to hire a pro to install it.



Photo By: Pure Design Interiors

(28) Under $1,000: Add Splash to the Backsplash

“When my clients' cabinets and countertop are in great shape, changing just the tile backsplash can refresh the whole kitchen. Using a detailed mosaic, like the one shown here, instantly boosts the 'wow' factor in any kitchen,” say Deanne Bridenstein of Pure Design Interiors. Decorative tiles range in style and price, but it’s easy to cover an entire backsplash, including installation, for less than $1,000 if you shop carefully. Lowe’s and Home Depot both carry a range of styles from about $10 per square foot; assuming a kitchen with roughly 30 square feet of backsplash, you’d still have $700 left over for grout and installation. Or, pick a pricier tile and install it yourself — a fairly simple DIY job if you’re patient and careful.

From: Pure Design Interiors



Photo By: Drew Kelly

(29) Under $1,000: Bring in the Beauty of Wood

In this neutral galley kitchen, designer Antonio Martins eschewed the ubiquitous stone countertops in favor of warm, homey butcher block — a material that is at once stylish and functional, and in perfect keeping with the home’s cozy, cottage look. Replace your own worn counters with butcher block for $20 to $60 per square foot, installed. If you plan to cut directly on the surface, go with an oiled finish and treat regularly with food safe oil; if you’ll always use a cutting board or want a shinier finish, opt for a varnished style.

From: Antonio Martins



Photo By: Nathalie Tremblay

(30) Under $1,000: Create Drama Without Color

To maximize space in a 1960s bungalow galley kitchen, designer Nathalie Tremblay chose appliances carefully and stuck with a very simple black and white palette. White counters and cabinets appear to float on the black floors. A black pendant over the dining table draws the eye through the space to a large-scale black-and-white photograph, and a clear, black-rimmed glass lantern pendant over the sink repeats the motif in the workspace. Give your own kitchen some black-and-white sophistication with slate-look floor tiles, like Janeiro Slate Tiles in Montauk Black, about $2.75 per square foot, from builddirect.com; a black dome pendant like the Matte Black/Matte Gold Astro 1-Light Bowl Shaped Pendant, $230, from build.com; a landscape photograph like photographer Beth Wold’s Alaska Wall Art, $192 for 20” x 30” print, from etsy.com; or a classic lantern like the JVI Designs Oil Rubbed Bronze Four-Light Lantern with Glass, $450, bellacor.com.


By Amanda Lecky On January 13th, 2020
Renovations That Don't Add Resale Value To Your Home

Home Renovation

Renovations That Don't Add Resale Value To Your Home


Renovations must make dollars and sense.
PHOTO BY RUSTIC VEGAN ON UNSPLASH

Amanda Lauren Contributor
Real Estate
I write about real estate, décor and design.

While your home is the place you live, it’s also the most expensive investment that most people will ever make. And when you're trying to re-sell, the wrong renovation can have a long-term cost you probably didn't think about at the time.

The number one mistake sellers make when renovating, says Broker Alex Lavrenov of Warburg Realty, is only considering their own taste and needs within the home and choosing renovations that do not provide any value or benefit to the future homeowner.

Anything too personalized or stylized can really turn off future buyers, especially if they will need to do an additional renovation. “A buyer may not want such a traditional scheme or a super sleek modern kitchen. They often see what the seller sees as upgrades as something they need to fix or undo, therefore taking away the value,” explains agent Allison Chiaramonte of Warburg Realty.

Many homeowners have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to creating their dream space, especially if they are renovating a fixer-upper because they don’t believe they’ll sell their home anytime soon. But it’s important to keep the value of renovations in mind no matter what. A job transfer, major life changes, the economy and unforeseen events can mean homeowners need to sell faster than they originally anticipated. Here are the renovations that likely won’t add resale value to a home.

Eliminating Rooms

Changing the layout of a home can be a short-term expense that's a gamble when it comes to long-term value. For example, one major design trend that has dominated in recent years is creating a large master suite. But Jean Brownhill, who is the CEO and founder of startup Sweeten, which matches property owners with contractors, suggests thinking twice in some instances. “In the moment, creating one big master suite from two neighboring bedrooms sounds like a good idea, but it'll take buyers who are looking for a certain number of bedrooms out of the running. For resale, it's always better to have more designated bedrooms, not less.”

Chiaramonte has also seen sellers run into trouble when it comes to changing the layout of a space. “Layout choices such as removing a bedroom or a bathroom for extra living/entertaining space or opening/closing a kitchen can be a gamble from a value-add perspective since the next buyer may not need or want a double-sized living room, but want that bedroom you removed.”

Getting Rid Of The Bathtub

While large, luxurious showers have replaced soaking tubs for luxury bathroom renovations, getting rid of all bathtubs can turn off potential buyers. Depending on a neighborhood’s demographics, it’s important to at least consider keeping one bathtub.

“Families with small children will most likely want a bathtub. Older homeowners will more likely want a walk-in shower for accessibility's sake,” says Brownhill. “Think about your neighborhood demographics and who has been moving in and out. If it's largely an older demographic, building a walk-in shower is probably a good idea. If it skews younger, keep that bathtub.”

Hobby Rooms

While being passionate about a hobby will enrich your life, it won’t do anything for the price of your home. Broker Gerard Splendore of Warburg Realty shares, “Specialized hobby spaces will only appeal to other hobbyists who share your passions, whether jewelry making, pottery, or woodworking. I don’t know if anyone includes a home darkroom anymore but, if it is in the listing description, it may deter buyers from even coming to see the property.”

Overly High-End Renovations

While it's easy for a homeowner to fall in love with a $10,000 fixture, it’s unlikely they’ll see any return on that investment, explains Chiaramonte. “While everyone loves a luxe renovation, sometimes you can go too far from a value creation perspective. Choosing the most expensive door hardware, internal light fixtures, etc, are examples of upgrades that you don’t get your money back on because people can’t see and feel the value added.”

Chiaramonte also says that homeowners often overspend on choices that no one else will notice but them. For example, an all slab marble bathroom doesn’t have a high return in comparison to a bathroom with one slab focus wall and matching tile throughout. “Buyers often can’t see the little details and differences (like slab on one wall, versus throughout) that add a lot to the cost line of the renovation,” she says. “Instead, they are only willing to pay a set premium for the overall effect which can be achieved in a more cost-effective manner. When you do these all out upgrades, they really are personal choices, not true investments.”

Renovations That Are Too Costly For The Location

While sellers can be overly enthusiastic about renovations to set their property apart from comps, this isn’t always a smart investment. “If you buy an apartment in a building or a house on a block that has never had a home sell above a certain price point (whether that is $1 million or $10 million), doing a renovation that puts your home far above that high watermark is a risky move,” states Chiaramonte.

Too Much Customization

Lavrenov recommends avoiding drastic cosmetic or custom renovations, such as wallpaper, fixtures made from expensive materials, or painting the walls with designs. “These types of features tend to be very personal to the current homeowner and don’t necessarily translate into added value for the next homeowner. My recommendation would always be for the seller to save their energy and money because these cosmetic renovations probably will not add any resale value,” he says.

Broker Gerard Splendore of Warburg Realty recently sold an apartment with a closet that was so customized, it devalued the property. The seller worked in retail and likely used one of the store’s designers to come up with a layout that was really only appealing to her. “It no longer felt like a home or a dressing area—it felt like a shop. Drawers covered one wall from floor to ceiling and a ladder was required to see what was in the drawers above eye-level. The new buyer tore everything out,” he says.

Then there are those cringe-worthy renovations that are red flags not to buy a property. Splendore inadvertently took a buyer to the home where the master bedroom featured a prefab redwood sauna in one corner, sitting on top of the wall-to-wall carpeting next to the bed. “The listing agent enthusiastically told us that it was included in the sale. We were not interested.”

But keep in mind that even subtle custom renovations can be a bad idea. Shelving, media consoles, and Murphy beds aren’t worth the price in the long run. “You want to steer clear of adding fixtures that the buyer/future homeowners might actually want to do away with as soon as they move-in or renovations that they feel actually take away from the living space,” says Lavrenov.

DIY Renovations

DIY is a great way to save money on more temporary aspects of a renovation such as painting, switching out hardware, etc, but not for more complex projects. “If you plan to sell your home down the line, avoid completing work yourself that should be done by a professional, whether that's tiling your bathroom or skim-coating your walls,” says Brownhill. “These projects take a level of attention and detail that the average DIYer does not have. If not done professionally, a future buyer will surely notice.”

DIY can also go horribly wrong, turning a home into a money pit. For example, even a project as simple as installing your own dishwasher can be a disaster. If it leaks, it can damage flooring or worse, cause structural damage to the home.

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Amanda Lauren

I am a writer, podcaster, and comedic performer, but more so, an aspiring Eames chair owner. Originally from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I currently live in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with my husband and our two dogs, Lulu and Milo. I am absolutely fascinated by all aspects of décor and design. It once took me six months to choose a soap dispenser and I can’t even remember what it looked like. I like bright prints, southern exposure and any location you can call a “village or town.” There are currently over 100 episodes of House Hunters on my DVR.


By Amanda Lauren On December 19th, 2019
These are the Most Popular Rooms to Remodel – And the Cost for Each

Home Renovation

These are the Most Popular Rooms to Remodel – And the Cost for Each


Homeowners are recreating designer kitchens. ImageFlow/Shutterstock

A new report by Houzz reveals that kitchen renovations are still the most popular remodel – and also the most expensive. In 2018, the kitchen was the top interior room renovation among homeowners who renovated last year.

The report also notes that costs are rising. “Last year’s 10 percent increase in tariffs on imported building materials is clearly hitting consumer pockets in areas such as kitchens and bathroom remodels that are heavily dependent on imports of cabinetry, countertops, ceramic tile, plumbing fixtures and vinyl flooring from China,” Nino Sitchinava, Houzz’s principal economist, tells Freshome. “We expect similar effects to take place in 2019.”

Below, Freshome breaks down the most popular rooms to remodel, along with Houzz’s median cost data and the percentages of homeowners who did a remodel vs. an addition.

Kitchen: $14,000

28% remodel/30% addition

“Kitchens remained the most popular and most expensive room to renovate in 2018. In fact, the median spend on kitchen renovations jumped 27 percent in 2018, following a 10 percent increase in 2017,” Sitchinava says.

Some homeowners are looking for ways to expose concrete walls in their home, but Josu Gaubeka, President of La Cuisine Appliances also recommends concrete countertops in the kitchen. “Concrete is definitely in when it comes to kitchens. Even though marble and quartz countertops will never go out of style, what is currently trending is the industrial touch that cement adds to the designs.”


There’s plenty of room in this Kitchenaid Built-in French Door Refrigerator. Image courtesy of La Cuisine Appliances.

No matter the style of kitchen that you have, from the most elaborate in terms of sophistication to the simplest and utilitarian, if you have a stylish appliance in the kitchen, the appliance will certainly make the difference,” Gaubeka says.

Another trend that Gaubeka has observed is having everything out in the open. “Obviously, kitchens with open shelves or storage areas require a lot of order, but it’s also a simpler way to optimize time in the kitchen, since everything is on display.”

The 2019 faucet trends include vintage styles. “Even though the use of vintage faucets is a matter of taste, they are frequently found in many current kitchen designs. It’s part of a new country chic trend that recently became very popular, and works well with farmhouse styles, Gaubeka says.


Guests are no longer relegated to small powder rooms.

Guest/other bathroom: $3,500

25% remodel/27% addition

“Median spend on guest bathroom remodels, the most popular type of bathroom to renovate, grew by 17 percent,” says Sitchinava.

If you’re remodeling your home for resale, the best return on your investment will come from focusing on bathrooms and kitchens, according to Jonathan Self, a realtor at Center Coast Realty in Chicago. “Using a reputable designer can be a smart money saving – and possibly money making – move. Also, depending on how large the scope of work, my pro tip is to factor in the cost for a project manager.”

Even if you have a general contractor and a great designer, Self warns that neither position is really tasked for project management. “Both of them end up getting roped into the job of project managing, and you end up adding more chaos to a chaotic process.”


Bathrooms recreate spa experiences. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock

Master bathroom: $8,000

22% remodel/23% addition

“Median spend on master bathroom remodels, the third most popular room to renovate, grew by 14 percent,” says Sitchinava. Homeowners want spa-styled bathrooms with natural light, open showers, and bathtubs that make you want to soak for hours.

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, transitional bathrooms are the most popular design style. It’s a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with clean lines.

Homeowners are also incorporating some of the 2019 bathroom technology trends, including Wi-Fi/cloud-based digital showers with personal presets to control the temperature, outlets, and shower time. Intelligent toilets with personalized cleaning and dry functions, and a heated seat, can help to create the ultimate master bathroom.


Living areas can recreate the elegance of hotel suites. Image: Pai/Shutterstock

Living/family room: $3,400

21% remodel/23% addition

Whether a formal living room or a more casual living/family room where everyone – including the family’s pets – can feel right at home, homeowners are updating these spaces. Open floorplans that create clean sightlines to the kitchen are also popular for entertaining and keeping an eye on the kids.


Bedrooms are luxurious and comfy. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock

Master bedroom: $2,000

14% remodel/15% addition

Master bedroom remodels continue to be popular as homeowners strive to create a sanctuary. Sometimes, this entails a master suite addition. Other times, it involves remodeling the area, and may include knocking down walls to open up the room. This allows homeowners to create an area for lounging on a sofa or large chairs. Other upgrades include painting the walls, ceiling, and trim, adding a ceiling fan and lighting, and changing out the flooring.


Closets are as glamorous as bedrooms.

Closet: $700

13% remodel/15% addition

Closets, in general, and walk-in closets, in particular, are increasing in popularity, according to Claudio Faria, Director of Ornare USA, which offers luxury kitchen, baths, closets and cabinetry. In fact, he says he’s seeing the highest rise in closet orders. “People are putting more importance into them as the home for all their most valuable possessions. Many are looking for a more retail/boutique design with clear glass doors to showcase their favorite items,” Faria says.

“Others are looking for new solutions for more efficient storage with a more glamorous experience for themselves. That might include dedicating an entire room to also work as a dressing lounge or integrating it with the master bedroom to make it part of the design.”


By Terri Williams On December 19th, 2019
How To Make Your Living Room Look 10 Times Bigger in 10 Minutes Or Less

Sprucing Up Rooms

How To Make Your Living Room Look 10 Times Bigger in 10 Minutes Or Less


Decorating a living room is a lot like putting on clothes, except you have to commit to one “look” for at least a season—maybe even longer. Because, well, home furnishings can be really expensive! But if you think about this analogy, you can actually exploit it for the better. In the same way certain items of clothing can accentuate your best features, decorative accents and strategies can also play to a living room’s advantage.

Want to make your small space seem bigger? These seven tricks will help you gain a few inches—or just look like you did—in just a few minutes. Seriously! Here’s how to make living room decorating magic.


Maximize the Effect of Mirrors

Mirrors are not just for selfies! Strategically place a big one opposite your windows and watch your living room double in size. Okay, maybe not double—but the optical illusion is real, as seen in this Brooklyn Heights studio. Mirrors throw light around a space, and that’s always a good thing when it comes to opening up a room. Glass and lucite furniture can have similar effects, as well.


Undress Your Windows

Traditional curtains can feel dark and heavy. So let the sun shine in with lighter drapery fabrics. Try a set of sheers in lieu of blackouts in a living room (you don’t really need anything that opaque outside of your bedrooms anyway). Or forgo window treatments altogether, so natural light can really stream into your space. This will make your room appear brighter and bigger almost immediately.


Make the Perimeter of Your Room Pop

The easiest way to make your living room feel more spacious? Move all of your furniture that’s leaning against the walls out a few inches, if possible, like this homeowner did. Giving pieces like sofas, bookcases, and chairs that little bit of breathing room will help the whole room feel less cramped and more airy.


Work Your Walls

If you don’t have high ceilings, no worries. Fake it ‘til you make it by mounting some shelves or a piece of art in the top half section of a wall, as seen in this home. This will draw guests’ eyes upward, creating a sense of loftiness without any major construction. Mounting your curtain rods a little higher than your window frames can fool the eye this way as well.


Edit, Edit, Edit

Apply the Coco Chanel rule to your living room: Instead of taking an accessory off before leaving the house, edit those small decorative pieces out of your living room entirely. Minimalism is definitely having a moment, so let go of tchotchkes you don’t use or books you don’t read. Aim for fewer, larger objects, even in small spaces. The more you can clear off surfaces and tabletops, the bigger your room will seem.


Get Rid of Cords

If you haven’t hidden your messy electrical wires, get on that. In ten minutes’ time, you can install a raceway with drywall screws to hide your television cord. Zip ties and eye hooks can be used to control cables around a desk or entertainment center. If you don’t want to DIY a solution, you can bring in a charging station for your devices. Fewer wires means less visible clutter, which creates the illusion of a more streamlined space.


Add Stripes

Vertical lines can be slimming because they elongate the silhouette. That same logic can apply to a living room, when you roll out a striped rug or use striped curtains, as this Argentinian homeowner did. Just make sure the lines are running vertically to maximize this effect with minimal effort.

So it’s not impossible to gain space in your current living room layout without renovating—it’s just a challenge. But any of these tips should help you live a little larger in your small living room.

by Danielle Blundell


By Danielle Blundell On December 19th, 2019
Make merry with a late-in-the-year home sale

Selling During The Holidays

Make merry with a late-in-the-year home sale


You may have fewer people viewing your home during the fall and winter months, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fewer offers. Compared to selling a home in the spring when there are more homes on the market, selling during the final months of the year can often be a successful endeavor.

With careful planning and a few helpful tips, you can showcase your home and find time to enjoy the season too. Here are tips to help you through a late-year sale:

Weekends are for showing. Homes show better during the daylight hours, but as the days get shorter, the work week gets in the way for many buyers. However, this can work in your favour if you are selling a home late in the year. Show your home over the weekend during the day and leave it the evenings to enjoy outside social events.

Get help with the cleaning. You’ll need to keep your home sparkling clean for showing, so this might be a good time to spend a little extra money on a housekeeper. Alternatively, have the whole family pitch in daily to pick up, wipe clean, dust and vacuum. Many hands make light work.

Trim a smaller tree. Opt for a smaller Christmas tree and decorate sparingly to make an impact while not taking over the room. Be sure to store wrapped presents out of sight.

Strip out the clutter to make merry. If you’re selling during the holidays, it’s critical to clear out and store away all household clutter and personal items. Once the decks are clear, you can accent with a few tasteful and carefully placed decorations.

Leverage tradition to create a warm, homey atmosphere. Plump pillows in cream and golds and soft earthy colored throws coupled with red and woodsy greens accents provide seasonal touches that draw directly from nature. This kind of decorating is easy on the eye and attractive to any buyer.


By Realty Express On December 11th, 2019