New Again – Top Remodeling Ideas to Add Value to Your Home

March 2021 View more


With spring knocking at our doors, this is the time of year when many homeowners begin to think about fresh updates and improvements around the home. Whether a remodeling project is for personal enjoyment for years to come, or to prepare a house to go on the market, there are some home improvement projects that just make the most sense­—and cents—when it comes to adding value.

Regardless of the project, today’s homeowner and buyer are often looking for the same things: lower maintenance, open floor plans, a more organized and less cluttered living space, andmodest square footage. Adding value is about making the most of what you have and being savvy about what you want.


With open floor plans, great rooms, and homework stations all vying for space near the heart of the home, kitchens are the number one remodeling “To do” project when it comes to adding value and enjoyment to a home.

N2013_03_01_126SMALL_pc“Kitchens are a huge return,” says Kay Kellogg, sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who stresses the importance of asking whether a remodel is for the homeowner’s enjoyment or for resale. If it is for resale, most would agree that the holy trinity of stainless steel, granite counters, and attractive cabinets are a must. Another plus might include the addition of an updated floor (wood or tile) or the removal of a wall to open up the space. However, Kellogg cautions against the idea that more is more.

“Don’t over improve unless it’s just for you,” Kellogg advises. “You won’t get your money back.” In fact, adding value with an upgrade or remodel doesn’t always mean a complete overhaul. Even small changes like upgrading hardware or a fresh coat of paint can make a big impact depending on the current design and condition of the room.

Master Bathrooms

Today’s bedrooms have become sanctuaries, suites in which the master bath is often the jewel in the crown. However, when upgrading these rooms, homeowners and buyers are opting for more low maintenance materials, like engineered stone in place of more traditional ones like marble, that require regular sealing.

Another change in recent years is the improved status of the shower in which seldom-used tubs are being replaced by larger, more luxurious showers. Like any room, makeovers don’t have to be big. A fresh coat of paint, changing out hardware and fixtures, like a sink and faucet, can update a space in much less time and with much less money.

Front Entry

Whether it’s the warm welcome for a visitor at the door, or the first thing a prospective buyer will see when they stand on the stoop, creating a good first impression is a value-added project. For those considering upgrades to help sell their home, there may be no better place to invest your money than the front door and entry where prospective buyers tend to linger, observe, and often decide if they will buy.

“If selling, the curb appeal and the first step a buyer takes into the house can be all it takes,” says David Dornbos, realtor with Remax Action in Naperville. “Just put in a new beautiful front door, or a custom one, and they make up their mind.” Ann Stockard, award-winning designer with Normandy Design Build Remodeling agrees. “If you have a dated portico with a dated rail on top, you might want to make it more architecturally current. Or instead of a whole new facade, it may only take new shutters or paint.”


Out of sight, but not out of mind, the basement is another popular upgrade project that can add a lot of enjoyment and value to your home. From entertainment showcase to family hangout, homeowners and prospective buyers are discovering that a well-finished basement is the answer to many demands on day-to-day living.

“I get calls regularly for finished basements,” says Bryan Sebring, owner and contractor of Sebring Services Residential Remodeling. “People want to keep their kids toys there so they can get their home office back, or have the run of the home upstairs. They want their TV spaces and home theaters.” As with all improvement projects, common sense improvements like the must-have basement bathroom and excellent lighting will provide a better return on your dollar than rock-star crazy concepts.

Family Rooms

Another popular space for improvement is the family room. “Basements and family rooms are big ones because that’s where people want to spend their time,” explains Elizabeth Arce, owner and founder of Visually Yours by Liz, a design and redesign decorating company. According to Arce, whether it’s updating window treatments with beautiful floor to ceiling drapes or plantation shutters, changing out hardware, upgrading fixtures, accenting with new accessories or adding some leather furniture, relatively small changes can make a big difference. Fireplaces, often a focal point, are also a great feature to upgrade by covering existing mantles with a wood surround.

Home Office

With more people working from their homes than ever, home offices have never been more popular. These spaces are especially ideal upgrade projects for those with unused bedrooms or for economizing homeowners who want to turn a lesser-used room like a formal dining room, into a more functional space. However, for homes that will eventually be on the market, it is important to retain any closets to ensure that the room can be listed again as a bedroom.


N2013_03_01_015SMALL_pcHand in hand with curb appeal, improving a landscape is also a great investment in both personal enjoyment and added value. In keeping with low-maintenance needs, patios are replacing decks and native plantings help keep yard work to a minimum. With more of us spending time outdoors, outdoor comforts are very popular. From water features to built-in kitchens and fire pits, homeowners and buyers are looking for more ways to enjoy this space.