A listing for a lemon of a house has turned into sweet, sweet lemonade.
The description of a decrepit home on Avoca Avenue in Zephyrhills, FL, that was listed for $69,000 mixes scathing accuracy and a serious sense of humor.
The tongue-in-cheek presentation has paid off in a big way. The listing of the woebegone home has racked up hundreds of thousands of page views, and what’s more, an offer is now in place.
“I find it so funny, because my husband always told me that I don’t tell good jokes, and I tell him I’m like the funniest person I know. This has just been the greatest vindication. Everybody keeps calling and texting and emailing saying that they thought it was hilarious,” says Philippa Main, the listing agent responsible for the property description that people can’t stop sharing.
We spoke with Main about her savvy marketing skills, and have highlighted a few of our favorite passages of her lively prose.
‘Here it is, literally the worst house on the street!
‘The seller has done the hard work of cleaning up the almost half-acre property (it only took 7 dumpsters!), so now is your chance to take it from here.’
The idea for a listing description that faced the home’s ugliness head-on came to Main after seeing the property for the first time and discussing the reality of the situation with her client.
Both of them had hoped that the home would be in a sellable state after the tenants moved out and the lot was cleaned up. The reality was far different.
So Main, who majored in public relations in college, approached her client and suggested a way to get some eyes on the listing.
She knows that listing details sometimes stretch the truth, and she also knows all about the frustration generated by unmet expectations—for home shoppers and agents alike.
“The funniest and the most annoying part of being a real estate agent: If we see in a listing they’re describing this ‘great natural light’ or this ‘open-concept floor plan’ or ‘tons of storage,’” Main says. “We get there, and it’s, like, a single, creepy lightbulb you would see in one of those interrogation movies. And that’s it.”
She decided to embrace the dark side of this Sunshine State calamity.
“I just wanted to make sure that I got ahead of all of the questions about the condition, and just kind of put it all out there for everybody,” she notes.
‘The roof leaks, the floor creaks, and there’s a terrible draft, but this 3 bed, 1.5 bath home is very open concept. And by that we mean the inside is open to the outside, because several of the windows are broken.’
The “open-concept” crack is something Main doesn’t take all the credit for. Her inspiration came from an unlikely source, “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
“There’s an episode where SpongeBob and Squidward do Opposite Day, and so SpongeBob’s version of selling the home is pointing out all of the worst things about it,” she says. “As soon as I walked into this property, I heard it in my head, and I was, like, ‘Oh, here we go!’ I sat down and kind of approached the listing with that kind of sense of humor, and the absurdity of the whole situation.”
‘There is a large, sunny window in the kitchen … and absolutely nothing else—a wonderful feature for someone interested in a bright reading space (and ordering takeout for every meal).’
The kitchen description came to her after the overzealous junk haulers took a bit too much off the property, which once housed old mattresses, old TVs, hundreds of tires, and much more. They were told to take everything away.
“When I walked into the home, I didn’t realize that, for some reason, the junk guys had taken things very literally,” Main says.
“They took out all the kitchen cabinets. I’ve seen kitchens missing a lot of things, but this kitchen has one positive element that I can highlight, and that is it.”
‘Now I know you’ve heard of a detached garage, but have you ever heard of a detached foundation?! Because that’s what you’ll find here in the large bonus room. And if you’re looking for a house that screams, “I’ve got bizarre and ominous energy!” then, honey, stop the car, because you’ve found it right here, conveniently located off of US-301.’
The major foundation problems and the location near a major highway were two pieces of information Main says that she really needed to convey to potential buyers.
“I feel like this has gone viral and a lot of people are laughing at just kind of the surface level,” she says. “But I actually did try to include important details for those who are truly interested.”
‘And whether you like to turn up the heat or keep it cool, it won’t matter here, because there is no HVAC system.’
Main says the lack of a heating and cooling system is crucial information for any potential investor to know, since it is a must-have in Florida and constitutes a huge expense.
‘Oh, and don’t forget about the brick chimney that perfectly epitomizes how we all feel after 2020—about to collapse and going nowhere (literally, there is no fireplace inside the house).’
A chimney without a fireplace?
“I looked and I couldn’t find inside where there was a fireplace,” Main says, adding that it’s difficult to ignore the crumbling chimney when walking around the property.
“When you actually go in the home, you realize: ‘What is even the point of this chimney?'” she says. “I just feel like it adds to the whole ominous energy. Like, ‘Why is it here?’ And you’ve got to throw a reference to 2020 in there, because why the heck not?”
‘What else can be said about this one-of-a-kind opportunity? It’s not in a flood zone and will be conveyed with clear title! But we don’t have a survey and the Seller has never seen the property, so buyers are strongly encouraged to do their own due diligence.’
Main says her client signed off on the listing, and she made sure it was compliant with the requirements of all local and national organizations.
My clients “are so laid-back. They’re such fun guys. They were basically, like, ‘This is so funny, this is great! We’re happy that it’s getting the attention.’ But at the end of the day, their whole thing was they knew I would get it sold, one way or another,” she says.
‘And if you’re not interested in crying yourself to sleep every night while you rehab this home, might we suggest tearing it down and building a brand-new one in its place? The neighbors would likely thank you.’
Evidently, the publicity worked. After fewer than 10 days on the market, there’s a pending offer. Main was not at liberty to disclose whether the buyers do plan to cry themselves to sleep every night with a rehab or please the neighbors with a teardown.
Main is taking in stride her newfound fame as the author of what some are calling the best listing description. Her sense of humor hasn’t taken a dent.
“My phone started ringing off the hook,” she says, “and I was just, like, ‘What is happening?’ I will tell you this: I would never want to be a famous person, because this is a lot of work.”
If the kitchen is the heart of the home, what does it say when yours is falling apart? Outdated fixtures, old appliances, or a dysfunctional layout might have you daydreaming about a full kitchen renovation—but how much will it cost to remodel your kitchen?
Before you begin your kitchen remodel, you might want to consider why you’re remodeling, how much work it will require, when you’ll schedule the renovations, and how you’re going to pay for it all, not to mention the obvious: if, ultimately, it will add value to your home.
Why Should I Remodel My Kitchen?
Zillow Housing Aspirations Report , 76 percent of Americans said they’d prefer to spend on upgrading their home rather than using the money as a down payment for a new home.
Homeowners remodel for different reasons, but it’s important to consider the cost, have discussions with your spouse or partner around the kitchen table, and evaluate what the average return on the kitchen remodel will be before diving into plans or spending a large portion of your overall home renovation budget.
Do you plan to live in your place a few more years and enjoy your new kitchen, or strategically upgrade for a more appealing home sale in the near future? The answer will probably influence where and how you spend money on your kitchen.
What is the Average Return on a Kitchen Remodel?
The truth is you may have a difficult time recouping the total cost of a kitchen remodel in a home sale. When it comes to making money off of a kitchen remodel, the best bang for your buck may be less costly but visually impactful minor renovations: things like replacing the fronts of cabinets, upgrading countertops, replacing fixtures like faucets or lights, repainting, or putting in new flooring.
According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report 2020 , the national average return on investment (ROI) for that work is approximately 78%. An upscale remodel, on the other hand, yields a 53.9 percent ROI on average.
If you’re looking at a kitchen renovation solely to add value to your home in a sale, you might want to consider other upgrades that are higher in return and lower in cost, as well. In a Zillow survey , 58 percent of buyers said having their preferred style of kitchen was “extremely or very important to their home-buying decision.” Thus, if you’re considering selling your home in the near future, small, strategic updates instead of a full-blown kitchen remodel could potentially help the sale of the home.
How Much Should I Spend on a Kitchen Remodel?
The budget for your remodel will vary widely based on the amount of work you want done and the quality and cost of the materials you choose. On average, homeowners spend between around $22,000 for a minor kitchen remodel up to $116,000 for an upscale kitchen remodel. With such a wide range to consider, it might be wise to think about what your budget is before calling in contractors.
Consider what overall changes you want to make to your space. Will the kitchen remodel be a simple update of appliances, or do you want to change the entire layout and design?
Once you have an idea of what you want in mind, consider how to budget for it. What items or updates are must-haves in your kitchen remodel? What could be removed if the tally for your overall kitchen renovation ends up being too pricey? A prioritized list of updates or changes with the estimated cost for each project attached can be a helpful guide when trying to stay on budget within a certain price range.
Deciding how much you want to spend on your remodel is entirely up to you. If you’re looking for guidelines, HGTV recommends spending between 6 and 10 percent of the value of your home to get the best ROI.
But even the best planned budgets might go awry, so including a line item in your budget for unexpected expenses can help down the line. Use our Home Improvement Cost Calculator to get an idea of how much your kitchen remodel will cost.
Where Can I Cut Costs Remodeling My Kitchen?
If you’re trying to keep costs down on your kitchen remodel, keep in mind that certain design choices are likely to drive the budget up. In a full-scale kitchen remodel, new kitchen cabinets are typically the biggest expense, generally accounting for 20 to 40 percent of the project budget. If you’re looking to cut expenses in your kitchen remodel, you might consider trying to refinish or reface your existing cabinets, as well as adding new hardware for a more modern look.
10 to 12 weeks ; however, note that’s simply an expectation. The reality could be very different, and the time of year will also come into play.
A recent kitchen remodel can be a big selling point for potential buyers if you intend to sell your house in the next few years. Renovating your kitchen also can be a way to add functionality to a home you plan to live in for years to come.
When beginning the process of plotting out your kitchen remodel, set a budget and prioritize what facets are most important to you. Look at the average return on a kitchen remodel investment and also consider how much of the work you potentially can attempt yourself versus what you’ll need to hire a contractor to do.
While cabinet finishes, new appliances, and fresh countertops can be exciting, setting aside a budget often is not. If it looks like your ambitions could outspend your budget, you might consider taking out a personal loan.
Personal loans from SoFi have low interest rates available for those who qualify, and offer fixed monthly payments. These 100% fee-free unsecured loans might be just the recipe to getting your perfect kitchen.
Find out more about using a SoFi personal loan to update your kitchen.
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Are we nearing the end of the stream of reality TV–ready homes with all-white kitchens and gray tones everywhere? If this year’s New American Home® is any indication, then you can bet on it.
The annual show home constructed to display the most exciting new amenities, styles, and technology is a big departure from the luxury residences of the previous few years.
Instead of a sprawling house in the suburbs with seamless indoor-outdoor living and a drool-worthy infinity pool, this year’s three-story home is in the downtown Winter Park, FL, corridor. It has a more industrial, urban vibe with bright, colorful interiors—no all-white vistas to be found.
The boxy, 5,536-square-foot house built on the site of a former office building and a parking lot is not for sale at this time. It was revealed this week as part of the annual International Builders’ Show, which took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So what are our favorite elements of 2021’s New American Home? Let’s dive in.
We love: The playful kitchen
The showstopper of the three-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom home is easily the kitchen. It’s positioned on the open third floor to allow more natural light into the space. And instead of crisp white everything, this kitchen mixes darker walnut woods with brighter colors and an assortment of finishes. It connects to an outdoor terrace outfitted with bright orange pops of color.
The floor-to-ceiling walnut and glass china cabinet is a gorgeous way to show off dishware. The terrazzo-patterned quartz island brought the different elements of the kitchen together.
“It just seems … people went through a period where their houses were either white or gray and they didn’t have a lot of the warm tones,” says the architect of the project, Phil Kean, of the Phil Kean Design Group in Orlando, FL.
The group also constructed the home and did the interior design.
“We’re going to see people warming up their facades and their houses,” Kean adds. “A lot of people spent the last year at home, and color really helps the spirit.”
We love: The warm wood
We also admire the darker, walnut wood used throughout the home—in the flooring, the kitchen cabinets, the floating staircase, and more. The same wood in the kitchen was also laid down in the bedrooms, providing continuity throughout the home.
It’s a welcome departure from the gray-toned flooring that’s become ubiquitous over the past few years.
“Some woods have too much yellow to them, and some woods have too much red in them,” says Kean. Walnut is “a really good wood for having those midrange tones, and it goes with everything.”
We love: The gridded windows
We’re also fans of the New American Home’s oversize, gridded windows. Reminiscent of industrial warehouses, these beauties bathe the property in natural light. Transoms above the windows add interest and let in even more light.
“On clear nights, you can see the fireworks from the theme parks,” Kean says of the top-floor windows.
We love: The eco-friendly features
The various environmentally friendly features are also impressive. Solar panels were installed on the roof, helping the home to generate its own power. It’s also Energy Star–certified and EPA Indoor airPLUS–qualified.
The home also features a system that monitors the air quality inside the home and brings in fresh air when needed. That could come in handy in the middle of a pandemic!
“It’s set up to be a super energy-efficient home,” says Kean. “We generate more energy than we use in a day.”
This year’s home also includes an art gallery entrance, a room specifically for pet dog(s), and a three-car garage. The second floor is devoted to the master bedroom, master bath with a walk-in closet, and exercise room. The top level boasts a great room and music room with 14-foot-tall ceilings.
While there’s so much to love about the New American Home, there are also a few things we could live without.
We could do without: The bedroom’s padded leather wall
We love that the designers behind this home took some bold chances. But we ultimately aren’t fans of the padded brown leather wall in this bedroom.
The tufted accent wall is intended to be an extension of the headboard. Unfortunately, we think it makes the bedroom feel heavy. The work nook at one end of the room—although a luxury in the time of COVID-19—gives the room a hotel vibe. And hey, maybe hotel living is a dream come true for you, but we were hoping for something a little warmer and more personal.
We could do without: The glass staircase handrails
The floating walnut staircase—complete with lighting underneath each tread—is splendid, but we have issues with the glass handrail that frames it. Although the glass keeps things feeling open and contemporary, we think it cheapens the look.
Plus, we’re dubious about the functionality (safety first!). This staircase could be better served with a handrail or other material that’s not attempting to be invisible.
We could do without: The lack of outdoor space
The New American Home in years past has flaunted its outdoor spaces: luxurious terraces with fire pits, infinity pools, and breathtaking views. For many of them, the outdoor space was the star of the show. That isn’t the case here; in fact, this home doesn’t come with much outdoor space at all.
To be fair, the team behind the New American Home did as much as it could with what they had—there’s a balcony or terrace on each floor. And this home was designed for a more urban environment, where walkability is key. But with folks cooped up due to COVID-19, a big backyard has practically become a pandemic survival essential—and we’re feeling the void in this home.
Homeowners insurance is essential to protect what may be your most valuable asset — your home. But many people ask themselves, “how much homeowners insurance do I need?” It’s a valid question — buy too much and you’re wasting your hard-earned money. And if you don’t get enough coverage, you’ll be wishing you had more after the fact. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to figure it out. Follow along to learn how to calculate “how much home insurance do I need?”
In this article
Different home insurance coverages
It’s time to brush up on your home-insurance speak. Let’s break down how home insurance works to figure out what exactly you’re paying for.
Dwelling coverage: Covers the home’s structure, such as the walls, roof and other buildings or structures on the property. It’s the portion of your home insurance that covers the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home if it burns down, for example.
Personal property coverage: Covers your belongings within the home. Kitchen cabinets, flooring, furniture and other items are considered personal belongings. A good rule of thumb for deciding what personal property you have is to consider everything within the four walls and roof of your home.
Actual cash value: If you file a claim, you’ll receive the current market value of the item, with depreciation and age deducted from the original purchase price. It may be harder to replace something you lost unless you find a second-hand version of it.
Replacement cost: If you file a claim, you’ll receive enough money to buy a new version of the lost items. Replacement cost is more expensive but is much easier to deal with in a claim.
Personal liability coverage: Gives you financial protection for legal proceedings and the money for a defense if someone is hurt or suffers damages to their belongings on your property.
Loss of use: Pays for your living expenses if you’re unable to inhabit your home.
[ Read More: The Complete Guide to Homeowners Insurance ]
How much coverage do I need for home insurance?
Now that you have an idea of all the moving parts of a home insurance policy, it’s time to answer the most common question: “How much homeowners insurance do I need?”
Figuring out the dwelling coverage amount may be the hardest. Some people figure the home’s market value is the answer: “Zillow says my home is worth $400,000, so that should be my dwelling amount.” Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. Your dwelling cost should be the actual cost of rebuilding your house from scratch if it was burnt down to the ground.
Your home’s value may be higher or lower than the actual cost of rebuilding it. For example, if you live on a hillside, rebuilding your house may be far more expensive than a beachfront property built on a flat parcel. A house on a slope may require proper foundations to be set, erosion accounted for and addressed, and more. Chances are, a beach house’s resale value is higher than a rural hillside home, but rebuilding the beach house may be easier and cheaper.
To calculate the dwelling amount, do some research on what the average cost per square foot of rebuilding a home is for your area and multiply it by your square footage. Your insurance agent may suggest adding 10-20% to the estimate to be safe.
Personal property — AKA your stuff — is easier to set a number on, although it takes time to arrive at a total. Most insurance companies will designate 50-70% of your dwelling’s declared value for your personal property. For example, suppose you have a dwelling amount of $500,000 to rebuild your home. In that case, your policy may set your personal property to $250,000 to $350,000 total.
To confirm the limit is enough, do a walkthrough of your home, listing your contents, including the materials used, such as granite countertops or stainless steel appliances, and assign a rough value. While you’re at it, take a few extra seconds to do a video tour of your home or photograph your more valuable goods. If you ever suffer a loss, having photo or video evidence of the contents of your home (and their condition) will help you speed the process along and get paid faster. Don’t go overboard on valuing your goods — you may need to present receipts for the items if you ever file a claim.
Add up the values for a rough idea of your personal property amount. If you fall within your policy’s limits, you’re good to go. But if your home’s contents are higher than 50% to 70% of your rebuilding costs, you’ll need to speak with your insurance company.
[ Read: Types of Homeowners Insurance ]
Also, note that most insurance companies set other limits on personal property value. Suppose you have a few high-value watches, an expensive engagement ring, a designer bag obsession, a significant amount of electronics and computers or an art collection. In that case, you’ll need to buy a scheduled personal property endorsement, even if the items don’t go over the personal property limits. The endorsement names and lists the expensive items. Your insurance company may ask you to have the goods professionally appraised to determine their value.
As mentioned, personal liability insurance is more focused on legal and financial protections. If someone is hurt in your home or their property is damaged, personal liability coverage steps in to pay their medical bills or cover the cost of a lawsuit judgment, as well as pay for your legal fees (within limits).
Lawsuits are expensive these days. It’s not unheard of that someone could win a five- or six-figure judgment (or higher) if a homeowner’s dog bites them or they slip and fall when visiting. According to Marsh Private Client Services’ personal liability coverage estimator, you may want to bump up the amount if:
You host parties and dinners at your home regularly, increasing the odds a guest can get hurt in your home.
There’s a trampoline or pool on your property. You may be liable even if someone wasn’t invited to use them.
You’re worried about what your teens say on social media, which could be considered libel or slander.
You have dogs, especially breeds considered to be more aggressive and bite.
Tips on getting the best home insurance coverage
Choosing the best home insurance coverage is often based on finding the right coverage at the right price. Once you know “how much home insurance do I need”, it’s time to search for the best and cheapest homeowners insurance. Four ways you can save on coverage are:
Shop around: To find the best value, get quotes from several top home insurance companies to compare rates and coverage options.
Raise your deductible: A homeowners claim should hopefully be a rare occurrence. Therefore, raising your deductible to $1,000 or more could save you enough on your premiums over time to make it worthwhile. Consider an amount equal to the higher deductible in an emergency savings account, so you’re not financially strapped if you have to pay the deductible.
Stay on top of changes: Do a homeowners insurance audit every couple of years. Look for changes in building costs in your area to adjust your dwelling policy limits. Review if you’ve added more high-value items (or sold some) and adjust your personal property amounts accordingly.
Bundle insurance: If you’re happy with your home insurance company, insuring your vehicles with the same company could earn you a decent discount on both home and car insurance. Not to mention, it will simplify your life when it’s time to pay your premiums or find your coverage declarations.
[ Read: The Average Cost of Home Insurance ]
Too long, didn’t read?
Knowing the answer to how much homeowners insurance you need takes some research. Break down your amounts into three parts — the rebuilding cost of your home, the cost of the contents inside and the amount you’d need for paying the medical bills and legal proceedings if someone is hurt on your property. If still in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask your insurance company or agent for help — they can provide you with advice on how much home insurance you need.
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With a new year now underway, there’s no better time to give your home a makeover and get off to a fresh start.
While you may not have the budget to do a major remodel, there are still ways to make your home look good on the cheap.
Following are some great options for sprucing up your digs without spending an entire paycheck.
1. Add indoor plants
Whether fake or real, plants add pops of green throughout your home and freshen your space — sometimes literally. Live plants can improve the air quality by removing impurities, as we explain in “9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air.”
Place potted plants near windows throughout your home if you have a green thumb. If you don’t have the time or inclination to care for real plants, look for realistic-looking artificial plants.
2. Create a cozy corner
Consider creating a corner that lets you relax and recharge. Find a quiet space and add a comfortable chair and a small table. Don’t forget a fuzzy blanket and comfortable pillows.
If you enjoy reading, put a small bookshelf and a reading light in the space to make it easier to get lost in your favorite book.
Getting rid of clutter can change the look of your home. You may not realize how having extra stuff on every flat surface and mountains of pillows affects the look and feel of your rooms.
Go through every room in your home and try to clear off most surfaces, leaving only essentials such as lamps or a clock. Remove extra pillows and blankets and get a feel for the room before adding anything back.
Add to your decorating budget by selling items you don’t need. If you don’t clear out enough clutter to hold a yard sale, check out “6 Safe Ways to Sell Your Clutter During the Pandemic.”
4. Swap out your hardware
Adding new hardware to your cabinets is an easy way to change how your space looks and feels. Cabinet hardware is inexpensive — you can even buy it on Amazon if you don’t want to drive to your local home improvement store. It can completely transform the look of a room.
Unless you plan on drilling new holes, your new hardware will need to have the same dimensions. So, before you pick out new handles and drawer pulls, remove one of your current ones.
Measure the screws and, for pulls with multiple screws, the space between the screws. Or, take a piece of your current hardware with you to the store.
5. Change the artwork
After a while, you stop really seeing the art on your walls. It becomes just a part of the decor. But your wall art can set the tone for a room or tie into your color scheme. Mixing things up can breathe new life into a room at a fraction of the cost of remodeling.
If you have framed photos, swap them out for more recent ones. Look through photos from recent vacations and outings and find a few images of nature that you like. Consider blowing them up and framing them to accent your walls.
6. Remix your accessories
Accessories can add a pop of color or an interesting element to a room. Consider switching throw pillows between rooms or pull out any accessories you have in storage.
Add a new throw blanket to your sofa and experiment with arrangements for lamps, candles and other accessories.
7. Change up your lighting
Make sure you have sufficient lighting in all of your rooms to fit your needs. Add lamps to brighten up dark corners or shine a light on frequently used areas.
Switch up your lighting by changing up lamp shades or moving lamps around. If you’re up for bigger changes, consider swapping out hard-wired fixtures, such as entryway ceiling lamps or a dining room chandelier.
8. Install new door handles
Door handles are an often-ignored detail in most homes. However, having just the right hardware can change the look of your house.
For example, if you have old brass-colored door handles and you switch to a new modern look, your doors could get a facelift for less than $100.
9. Rearrange your bookshelves
Updating the contents of your bookshelves can have a big impact on the look of your home. Here are ways to do this on a shoestring:
Group books based on color.
Position knickknacks off-center on a shelf.
Mix up how books are displayed: Place some in horizontal stacks and use them as bookends.
Make a pyramid of books and add a favorite display item on top.
Mix framed photos and art with the books.
10. Add new storage options
New storage options can add color and function to your home. Colorful baskets or boxes on bookshelves or side tables can hide remotes and other unsightly items.
Adding a storage ottoman or bench gives you more functional seating and a place to hide extra blankets or pillows. Spending a little on key organizing essentials can be money well-spent.
11. Change switch plates and outlet covers
It’s the little details that can make a difference in the feel of your room. If you have old or yellowed switch plates and outlet covers, consider updating them with a new look.
Most hardware stores sell them for just a few bucks, so you can update the look of your entire home on a budget.
To add pops of color or extra polish, look for ceramic or stainless steel switch plate options at hardware stores, on Etsy or at Walmart.
12. Give your home a deep cleaning
Nothing beats the feel and smell of a clean home. If you want a great way to update your home in the new year, don’t just wipe the surfaces and give the toilet bowl a quick squirt of cleaner. Instead, consider a deep clean.
Dust the top of cabinets, wash windows inside and out and give baseboards an extra scrub. Throw your pillows and pillow inserts in the washing machine. Don’t forget comforters and blankets.
When you’re done, your house will smell and feel squeaky clean.
13. Add some trim
Crown molding can change a home from ho-hum to elegant. Check out this tutorial on the This Old House website showing how to install crown molding.
If adding crown molding seems a little too advanced, start with window and door trim.
Measure three times before making a cut or installing your trim. If you don’t have the tools, some hardware stores will cut the molding you purchase if you give them the dimensions.
14. Spruce up your couch
Couches are big pieces of furniture that take up a lot of real estate in your living room. An easy way to update the look of your home is by adding a pop of color to the area.
This can be in the form of colorful accent pillows or a new throw blanket. If your couch could use a little more help, consider adding a slipcover.
15. Repaint a room
If you’re looking to make a big statement on a small budget, change the color of a room. With a few tips, you can paint like a pro. Repaint a main area such as your living room or a smaller space such as a bedroom.
Look through design websites and magazines for inspiration. Before you commit to a color, get a sample of the paint (most are $5 or less) to test it out. Put it on a piece of wood and hold it up to the wall to see how it looks in your space. Home Depot is one place to find paint samples and wall colors.
Keep in mind that a paint color when it’s dry can look different than it looks in the can. Also, the shade can look darker or lighter depending on the lighting in your room.
16. Paint your front door
First impressions matter: What better way to make a good one than refreshing your front door?
The color you choose will depend on the trim and color of the rest of your house. Consider going with a bright and welcoming shade such as blue, yellow or red.
Some paint colors even can boost the resale value of a home.
17. Add container plants
Dress up your porch and yard by adding new plants. You can use seeds to start your plants in the spring or dig up a few perennials from your garden and arrange them in pots.
Look for a discount area in your local nursery where you can pick up plants and pots for half-price or less. Container plants are a great way to add a splash of color to your home. You can easily move them around and group them for a bigger impact.
18. Paint photo frames
If you have photo frames throughout your house, consider changing them up. Buying new ones can be pricey, so consider painting them instead.
Don’t stick to safe and boring options such as black and white. Instead, opt for a few bright colors to add interest and brighten up your home.
19. Add some contrast to bookcases
If you’re not ready to commit to painting an entire room, consider sprucing up your bookshelves. Add a pop of color to the back panel of your bookcases by either painting them or using colorful paper. This can be contact paper, gift wrap or wallpaper with fun shapes and designs.
If you want to do a trial run, cut cardboard boxes to fit the size of each bookshelf opening, and cover or paint it. Place it at the back and add your books and accessories as usual. This will tell you if you like the look before you make a permanent change.
20. Paint furniture
Painting furniture can take it from boring to spectacular. This works best with pieces made of wood, since the paint will stick to it better. Don’t forget to sand it down and strip any lacquer or other shiny coating before painting.
Doing a coat of primer can make your paint go on more evenly and make it more durable in the long run. Start small with a side table or a chair before moving to bigger projects such as a dresser or bed frame.
21. Add path lighting
Upgrade your walkway or garden by adding path lights. This will make the area safer come nightfall and add a little romance.
Look for solar-powered lights, since they don’t need additional wiring.
22. Paint exterior shutters and trim
Bring the exterior of your home to the next level by adding a fresh coat of paint. Depending on your home’s design, a little paint can go a long way.
You can refresh your current color or switch it up to another shade within your home’s color scheme.
Short on time? Focus on street-facing trim for maximum impact.
23. Make a new headboard
Change the look of a bedroom by adding a new headboard. This project can be done for less than $50 while dramatically updating the look and feel of the room.
Either refurbish an old headboard or search for free and cheap materials to keep costs down. DIY Network has six ideas for simple headboards anyone can make.
24. Change your house numbers
Your house numbers can set the tone for your home. From classic to sleek and modern, they are more than the numeric display of your address.
Search for new house numbers online or at your local hardware store. And, for something unique, check out Etsy for handmade options.
25. Add a chair rail
Chair rails add elegance and upgrade the look of a room for less than you’d expect. They are easy to install, but require close attention to detail so they are level throughout the room.
Increase the architectural drama of a room by painting the wall above and below in two different shades of the same color.
26. Paint the ceiling
Most people paint their ceiling a boring white, which is why going for something different really stands out.
Consider a neutral color such as a soft blue or gray to draw the eye up without overwhelming the room.
27. Add mirrors
Strategically placed mirrors reflect light and can make a room appear much larger than it is. If you have a small or dark room that needs pizazz, add a decorative mirror to brighten it up.
Or, add several small mirrors to a dark corner in a main area, such as the dining or living room. Update the look of an outdated bathroom by swapping out the mirror over the sink with one that has an ornate or fun frame.
28. Switch out your window treatments
Add drama to your space by swapping out your window treatments.
Switch up your drapes for a new pattern that ties into your color scheme. If you have blinds, consider adding fabric curtains in some of your rooms for added impact.
29. Rearrange your furniture
One of the easiest ways to make a change on a budget is by switching your furniture around. This could be as simple as rearranging your couch and chairs, or grouping furniture in a way that encourages conversation.
Consider moving some furniture from a bedroom and using it to mix up things in your main living areas. An armchair or a side table from a different room can change up the feel of a room and add a new element.
If you have a friend with an eye for design, ask for ideas on how to freshen your space.
30. Try a theme
Going with a theme can take a room from boring to fun. Whether you opt for the French country look in your living room or a nautical theme in your bathroom, choosing the right accessories is key.
Go with a color scheme to tie everything together and blend it with the rest of your home.
31. Paint kitchen cabinets
If you want to make a big change in your kitchen and you’re on a small budget, paint the cabinets. It will take time and attention to detail, but the end result will be worth it.
Don’t forget to make notes as to which cabinet doors go with which cabinet to make it easier to put back together once you’re done painting. Also, group all the hardware for each cabinet in a plastic bag and label it so you’re not hunting down screws when reattaching the doors.
Considering remodeling? Check out the “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”
32. Change rugs and flooring
The floors set the tone for a room, so switching them up can shake up the feel of your home. Consider adding a soft rug to a bedroom to warm up your feet as you get up in the morning.
Or add an area rug to a living area to define the space and bring in more color and texture. If you’re up for a bigger change, consider refinishing hardwood floors or removing existing flooring and staining the concrete underneath.
33. Add display shelves
Mix up your wall decor by adding display shelves to an empty wall. Shelves are easy to install and can display art, photos, small plants, favorite pieces from traveling adventures and much more.
34. Update your kitchen backsplash
If you don’t have a backsplash in your kitchen, adding one can make a big impact. Even if you’re not handy, there are many backsplash options such as peel-and-stick designs you can add with little skill.
For those who have basic DIY skills, consider installing a tile backsplash that will last longer and protect your wall from water, food grease and damage.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.
When my husband and I bought our home over 2 years ago, I’m been slightly obsessed with adding value to our home. We did a lot of work on the house initially but a lot of it was cosmetic changes I wanted to make to improve the look and feel. After a while, we focused on projects that would actually add value since I know we won’t be in this home forever.
When you buy a house, the value of your area may go up but there are also some specific things you can do to add value to your home yourself. You don’t have to be or hire a contractor to do many of these projects either. So consider starting with a few of these simple projects.
Paint the Walls
Painting is one of the first projects you might find yourself doing when you move in. It’s also a great way to boost your home’s value. We spend around $75 or less to paint a room and DIY it with tools from Home Depot. Experts say that painting the interior of your home can easily increase its value by $2,000.
Plus, depending on which colors you use, painting can make the room seem larger and brighter. Talk to employees in the paint section at the store to get advice and tips on which paint type and color to use. You can also review information online or play around with virtual design tools to predict how the room will look when the job is done.
Replace Your Bathroom Vanity
Homeowners can expect to recoup about 50% to 60% of the costs associated with doing a bathroom remodel. But a bathroom remodel can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of the room, the scope of the project, and materials.
If you don’t have the budget to remodel your entire bathroom, start with a small fix by replacing your bathroom vanity. You can buy one for a few hundred dollars and install it easily. Also, consider other bathroom projects like reglazing your bathtub or install a backsplash.
12 specific things you can do to add value to your home yourself. Click To Tweet
Change Your Cabinet Hardware
Kitchen cabinets need a facelift? Consider installing new cabinet hardware along with repainting your cabinets. It may not sound like a big deal but replacing the handles and hardware for your kitchen cabinets can change the overall look and feel of this often heavily used area of the house.
It’s no secret that updating your kitchen in any way can add value to your house. Kitchens and bathrooms often sell homes. Amazon has tons of affordable kitchen cabinet hardware options to choose from ranging anywhere from $20 to $60.
Trim Your Trees
I have mixed feelings about trees and homeownership. Personally, I would love for my next home to have fewer trees as it would save us money. It has been expensive removing trees from our yard. Yet, I also understand how trees could be great for shade and curb appeal.
According to Angie’s List, a mature tree can add an appraised value of anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to your property. Other sources claim that a tree in front of a house increases the home’s sale price by $7,130. That said, if you have a tree or two that is not causing you much trouble, consider trimming it regularly and keeping it healthy.
Buying energy-efficient systems may not be the cheapest way to add value to your home, but it’s well worth it in the long run. Whenever it’s time to replace an appliance or system, aim to buy the most energy-efficient version. Last year, we had to replace our washer so we decided to buy an energy-efficient one that uses less water and runs quieter.
New buyers are often interested in homes with energy-efficient appliances already there. Plus, when you buy some of these items, you can get a rebate and earn some money back on your purchase.
Install Outdoor Lighting
Installing outdoor lighting is an easy project that you can do in just an hour or two. You can also stick to your own budget seeing as how there are many low-end and high-end lighting options. Plastic material won’t last long, but it could still look nice and could run you around $40 to $50.
Outdoor lighting can set your home apart from others and make it appear more welcoming and high value.
Replace Your Entry Doors
A new front door can improve curb appeal and be a smart investment, especially if your home’s current door is showing signs of wear. Replacing your front door often adds an estimated 96% value compared to the cost which is pretty high.
Plus, it will add perceived value which is also important among potential buyers. It’s important to realize that while your appraisal should be reasonably high, buyers also purchase homes based on emotional attachment to some of the finishes and changing out your front door can definitely help you appeal to this.
Change a Light Fixture
Outdated light fixtures can take away from the value of your home. Be sure to update your lightbulbs and replace old fixtures as you see fit. You can even consider installing a light fixture with a ceiling fan in some rooms.
Our old apartment had ceiling fans and I miss if because our new house doesn’t have any so this may be a project that we tackle down the line.
Plant Some Perennials
A well-landscaped home has the potential to sell for much more than a home with no landscaping plan at all. The good news is, you don’t have to rush out and hire a landscaping company or landscape architect just yet. Use sites like YouTube or home design websites to brainstorm some simple ideas for your outdoor landscape.
Also, start planting some perennials as opposed to annuals since they will last longer. Perennial flowers and greenery may cost a little more on average, but you’ll get your money back since they last longer and you won’t have to replant every year.
RELATED: Why Can Starting Your Garden Now Save You More Money?
Refinish the Floors
Many people prefer hardwood floors in their main living area so if you already have them, you’re in luck. Consider refinishing your floors to refresh your entire space and add value to your home.
Home Depot has a great guide to help you refinish your floors. The best part is that you can DIY this project with just a few tools.
Small Bathroom Updates
In some people’s eyes bathrooms are what can sell a house. If you have any outdated bathroom changes are potential buyers might be turned off. Now it’s understandable if you can’t afford a full remodel but doing things like changing your wallpaper or even your sink or tub faucet can go a long way to adding value to your home.
Power washing your home can add anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 of value to your home should you decide to sell according to the National Association of Realtors. If your home has never been power washed before, now could be a great time to do it.
Just like other surfaces in your home, the exterior of your home needs to be cleaning thoroughly and it’s also the first thing people see. You can try your hand at power washing your home on your own or you can hire someone to do it for $40 to $5o per hour.
If you live in an older house and want to add value to your home these tips will be ways to do that. They are all reasonable things that you might even be able to do yourself. Some houses could really use these updates and the change should really make a difference. If you’re thinking about moving consider making some of these small changes that can end up making a big difference.
Have you done any of these updates? Are there any that we missed?
If you’re anything like us, then you’ve resolved to make 2021 the year that you finally get organized (after making the same resolution last year, and the year before, and the year before that, of course).
But also, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea where to start.
That’s where having the right tools comes in. Not only can the proper supplies and products make organizing a breeze, but they’ll also make the process—dare we say—fun.
So after consulting with professional organizers from coast to coast, we’re bringing you the eight products you’ll need to finally get your home in tiptop shape in 2021. Go on with your bad organizing self—and have a blast!
1. Dividers for unruly drawers
Are your dresser drawers overflowing with underwear, socks, and other pieces of clothing you’ll never be able to find? Then you just might need a set of these fabric drawer dividers ($22) from Wayfair.
“These are amazing in drawers to create compartments and divisions so everything doesn’t get all jumbled up,” says Liz Jenkins of A Fresh Space. “They aren’t a permanent installation, but for clients who don’t have built-in dividers, they’re life-changing.”
2. Wheeled storage for cleaning products
You know that corner or cabinet of your house that’s stuffed to the brim with cleaning products and other household supplies? Well we’re here to bring those babies out into the light (where you can actually find what you need without creating a brand-new mess).
“We all know that cleaning items come in so many different shapes and sizes,” says Mary Cornetta of Sort and Sweet. “By having extra tall shelving or racks, you don’t have to worry about what can fit and what can’t.”
Stop stuffing all your cleaning products into a pile, and try this Whitmor three-tiered rolling cart ($40) from Macy’s.
3. Pots and pans lid organizer
Speaking of piles, we didn’t forget about the stacks of lids taking up all the space in your kitchen cabinets. Rather than constantly searching for the right lid for your Tupperware containers or pots and pans, you might try using a few of these steel lid organizers ($15) from The Home Depot.
“This is one of our favorite organizing products because of how versatile it is,” says Cornetta. “We not only use it to store lids—which makes them easier to grab—but also baking sheets, cutting boards, trivets, muffin tins, pie plates, and more.”
4. Can racks for your pantry
Nothing can make a kitchen feel chaotic quite like a precariously arranged tower of canned goods—especially during a pandemic, when many of us are guilty of stocking up on shelf-stable foods.
“These can racks help you to see what you have on hand, rather than blindly buying at the grocery store,” says Cornetta. “They also give you a limit to the amount of items you can store at once, thus reducing pantry clutter.”
Bring order to your kitchen with one of these six-tier, double-can racks ($60) from Kohl’s.
5. Not-so-lazy Susan
She might sound lazy, but this little organization wonder is anything but.
“Lazy Susans are a game changer in the kitchen,” says Hannah Hearin of Home Refreshment. “I love these for baking goods or oils, and the one with dividers is perfect for organizing medicine, school or art supplies, and bathroom essentials as well.”
Do yourself (and your cabinets) a favor, and pick up a two-tier Lazy Susie ($25) from Macy’s.
6. Clutter-defying paper shredder
One of the best ways to make more space in your home this year is by ditching all that extra paper clutter like old bills and bank statements.
“For security reasons, it’s a lot better to shred than simply throw out,” says Cornetta. “If you have the time, or teens who need chores, it can save money rather than bringing it to a shredding company.”
Clear your closets of all that extra paper with this PowerShred paper shredder ($180) from Kohl’s.
7. Irresistible label maker
The only reason I don’t have one of these in my house is that everything would be labeled—including the dog (yes, they’re actually that fun). If you’re someone with a little more self-control—and a number of real things to label—you can’t go wrong with adding one of these Dymo label makers ($25) to your toolbox.
“These are super helpful for families or roommates,” says Cornetta. “Especially when multiple people are using the same items and need to know where to find them and put them back.”
8. Handy closet utility rack
Somehow, cleaning supplies such as brooms, mops, and dusters seem to accumulate at rapid speed and, before you know it, they’re eating up an entire corner of every closet in the house.
No more, we say! Get yourself a few of these Whyalla closet mop and broom organizers ($14) and never compete in ultimate closet wrestling again.
Getting a home improvement project to pay off is notoriously tricky. There’s no guarantee you’ll recoup the money you pour into a bathroom remodel or an outdoor kitchen. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has made completing even minor projects more difficult, as many nonessential construction projects have been halted.
And while it might seem crazy to take on a big-ticket project in a time of economic uncertainty, many home buyers are still looking for turnkey properties with attractive amenities. So if you’re a seller with a house in need of a little TLC, you should focus on relatively low-budget upgrades that will seriously juice your home’s value.
Below, our experts spill on the improvements under $10,000 that buyers are perennially interested in, plus the trending ones whose popularity is likely to last.
Deep cleaning: $500 or less
Scuffs on doors, counters, cabinets, and walls; a ring of scum around a drain; cobwebs in basement corners; toys or tools peppering lawns and patios—these all look bad in the eyes of potential buyers. Luckily, eradicating these blemishes doesn’t take much.
“Deep cleaning is one of the most important things you can do for a little money that dramatically increases your value in the market,” says Heather Wendlandt, a real estate agent with the San Diego-based Team Kolker. “The Magic Eraser and elbow grease can go a long way.”
She says deep cleaning, plus basic paint touch-ups, can increase home values by thousands.
Front-door upgrade: $2,000 or less
Thee front door is the first part of a home that a potential buyer will interact with, so it’s worth lavishing attention on every detail. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or updated accessories like house numbers, door knockers, and attractive lighting are all easy and relatively inexpensive to obtain.
Wilmington, NC–based real estate agent-turned-blogger Rebecca Fernandez says that when she was given a listing that sat on the market without activity for months, a front-door upgrade helped make a difference.
Watch: 5 Smart Upgrades To Help Coronavirus-Proof Your Home
“I convinced the homeowners to provide me with a budget of $500,” Fernandez says. “It was a very small Cape Cod home, painted dark beige, with an unflattering wood front door. To add contrast, I purchased black vinyl shutters and painted the door a dark red. Next, we cleaned up the front lawn and purchased a door mat, flowerpots, and mums, since it was autumn, and we wanted it to have a fresh, seasonal look. After those minor tweaks, with new pictures online and the added curb appeal, we drew multiple buyers and sold the property quickly.”
Touchless fixtures and fresh-air systems: $200 to $5,000
During the pandemic, certain fixtures have become more relevant—and coveted—than ever.
What buyers want right now are touchless fixtures like sinks and toilets that eliminate your need to come into contact with a germ-filled surface, says Scott Campbell, team leader at Cedarburg, WI’s Re/Max. Both of these upgrades cost a few hundred dollars to install around the house.
Another pandemic must-have is excellent airflow.
“Updating mechanical systems and adding a RenewAire system that pulls fresh air into the home every few hours is a huge plus for buyers,” Campbell says. “Ultraviolet air exchanges that help kill viruses are also smart investments and very practical for home showings during the pandemic.”
Better kitchens and bathrooms: $9,000 or less
Kitchens and bathrooms that look outdated or cheap can sink the value of an entire home.
Tracy Jones, an associate with Re/Max Platinum Realty, witnessed firsthand how a kitchen face-lift boosted her home’s value.
“During the years we’ve done some hefty renos, but resurfacing our kitchen cabinets cost less than $4,000. We replaced the cheap-looking plywood cabinets with white doors and custom-built drawer fronts with soft-pull hardware,” she says. “We also upgraded the 1990s Formica countertops with granite for $4,000, creating a modern look.”
Jones believes these upgrades helped them bring in a profit. They bought the home for $189,000 in 2006 and sold it for $425,000 in 2020.
Bathrooms can also make or break a deal.
Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers in Chattanooga, TN, says he helped renovate and flip a home that cost him $80,000 and was sold for $140,000. Of the $15,000 he invested in home improvement, Wright put $9,000 toward upgrades on the kitchen and bathroom, including light fixtures, new cabinets and counters, fresh towels, and new vanities and faucets. All told, he cleared $45,000, primarily through minor tweaks.
Backyard upgrades: $500 to $10,000
Backyards are now thought of as an extension of the home.
“For those in the suburbs, pools, koi ponds, and fountains are newfound hot-selling items,” says Neal Clayton, licensed partner at Engel & Völkers in Nashville, TN. A small water feature that makes a soothing impression can be purchased and installed for as little as $500.
“Fire pits and outdoor kitchens with basic cabinetry are also frequently requested as people find creative ways to expand their living spaces,” Clayton says.
Home office: $10,000 or less
Home offices were on their way out before the pandemic, but they are all the rage now. Converting a room and buying all of the furniture, accoutrements, and shelving cost well under $10,000, experts say.
If you’re on the fence about carving out a home office space, consider this: Many buyers won’t consider a home these days if it doesn’t have a place where working or schooling from home is feasible.
At long last, 2021 has arrived! But since COVID-19 is still with us, you might be itching to make some changes around the house that’ll help you ride out the rest of this pandemic at home in style.
You’re in luck: On this week’s “Fixer to Fabulous,” Jenny and Dave Marrs renovate a house by adding some essential quarantine-friendly upgrades you might like to try yourself!
In the Season 2 episode “Ranch Becomes Family-Friendly,” Jenny and Dave meet homeowners Wes and Kate Walker, whose Bentonville, AR, home is lovely from the outside, but the interior is too small for a family of five, and doesn’t function well for their needs.
Dave and Jenny have $175,000 to give this home some coronavirus-savvy updates to make this family comfortable at home through the pandemic and beyond. Read on to find out which favorite quarantine features you might want to add to your own abode, too.
1. Outdoor seating that doesn’t curb your curb appeal
2020 was all about making the most of small outdoor spaces, so Jenny and Dave aren’t surprised when Kate and Wes ask about adding a sitting space out front.
While Kate says she’d love a front porch, Wes is a bit hesitant. He loves the curb appeal of the house and doesn’t want the look to change too much.
So in the interest of keeping the front of the house looking the same, Jenny and Dave decide to make a small (but convenient) deck by the front windows.
They move some of the greenery from the front yard, making just enough space to build a 30-foot steel deck, complete with a fire pit, just off the front door.
“It’ll be really subtle. It won’t be this giant front porch,” Jenny says, “but it would give them a space where they can actually sit and enjoy.”
When the deck is finished, the effect is of having a front porch without changing the shape of the entryway—they gain seating without sacrificing curb appeal.
2. Home decor that feels like a vacation
Sometimes flooring can be forgotten, but Kate and Wes really want to make sure their floors stand out.
“We keep coming back to a terra-cotta floor,” Kate says when Jenny asks what kind of look they want in the kitchen.
While terra-cotta tiles aren’t necessarily typical for modern renovations, Jenny likes the idea, saying that it’ll give the house a Mediterranean aesthetic. In a pandemic when it’s not easy to travel, it’s the closest these two might get to a European escape!
In fact, Jenny embraces the flooring style and even uses terra cotta in both the kitchen and the new master suite, which they convert from a garage.
“The hexagon shape makes it really unique and different,” Jenny says when the tile is installed. “The patina is gorgeous. It just feels like you’re on vacation at a spa off the coast of Spain.”
3. Plenty of kitchen storage
During a pandemic, plenty of kitchen cabinets for all those home-cooked meals is a must—and with unique kitchen floors, Jenny wants to make sure the cabinets complement the look.
So instead of choosing a typical white cabinet, Jenny decides on a rich green color that will not only bring out the red in the terra cotta, but also add to that old-world European character with its dark, moody shade.
Dave approves of Jenny’s dark green choice.
“It’s a statement,” he says. “There’s tons of light in here now so I feel like you can go darker.”
4. A spacious and beautiful pantry
In addition to kitchen cabinets, Jenny knows how important pantry space can be—and that it should be beautiful, too. To deliver, Jenny uses a flower drawing by Wes and Kate’s young daughter, Reese, to create a custom wallpaper. It looks great, and Jenny notes that this detail will be extra special for the family.
“Every time they go into their pantry, for years and years to come, they’ll be able to say, ‘Reese drew this,’” Jenny says.
Plus, to add a kid-friendly feel, Jenny and Dave decide to make a secret “spy room” complete with a desk at the back the the pantry—the perfect hideout for the Walkers’ two boys.
5. A home-school/homework room that’ll grow with the kids
At the beginning of the pandemic, families scrambled to set up home-school spaces and work-from-home offices, but this family was ahead of the curve—they were already home-schooling, so the kids already had a workspace!
Still, Jenny and Dave want to update the kids’ home-schooling room so that they can enjoy it for years to come.
“The homework room for the Walker kids is basically going to be a room that’s going to grow with them,” Jenny says.
So they add some paneling to the wall with built-in chalkboards for each of the kids. The decor is youthful but isn’t so kid-focused that it looks like a nursery. The space is bright and beautiful, and it can be used for years to come.
“You know, you’ve got to do your schoolwork. You want to have a happy place to do it,” Jenny says.
Drew and Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers” know that nearly all of us could use more space (particularly as the pandemic drags on and on). Now that the new year’s first episode of “Celebrity IOU” has arrived, they’ve broken out their top tricks for opening up a small house without breaking the bank.
In the Season 2 episode, “Rainn Wilson’s Surprise,” the Scotts meet the actor Rainn Wilson, of “The Office,” who wants to give his beloved nanny, Leslie, a living-room makeover.
Leslie’s Los Angeles home could definitely use it, given that the space is seriously dated and undeniably cramped. With her kids (and nieces and nephews) often running around the house, Wilson knows that this living space needs to be more kid-friendly, too.
Read on to find out how Drew and Jonathan open up this small living space, which might inspire some upgrades around your own home, too.
Remove kitchen cabinets to open up more space
When Wilson brings Drew and Jonathan to Leslie’s home, one of the first things the brothers notice is the kitchen’s cabinets.
The row of cabinets blocks sightlines to the living space and makes the kitchen feel separated from the rest of the house. Jonathan explains that the style is typical of the era the home was built in, but says it’s not a great feature for those who are making the meals.
“Whoever’s in there, all of a sudden, it feels like a cave,” Jonathan says.
So, the brothers remove some cabinets and, to make up for the missing cabinet space, add smarter storage to the rest of the kitchen (like adding lots of drawers to the island).
In the end, the kitchen is beautiful, functional, and flows with the rest of the living space. Leslie will never miss those cabinets!
Create more storage with built-in benches and hutches
Wilson knows that Leslie and her children could always use more storage.
“One thing is, there’s a lot of kids bouncin’ around in here,” Wilson tells the Scott brothers when they first tour the house.
Luckily, the brothers have a solution to help this family organize its stuff: stylish built-ins.
Drew and Jonathan add some built-in benches under the living room window, providing plenty of storage space under the seats. Then, they expand on the built-in dining room hutch, making it twice as big, for holding twice as much.
These two built-in storage solutions are perfect, because they don’t take up space, as a bulky piece of furniture would, and they leave the whole room open as a kids’ play space. It’s a great workaround for this family’s storage issue.
Brighten beams to make a room seem taller
Jonathan and Drew like the wood beams in Leslie’s living room, but they worry that the dark color makes the room feel more closed in.
“From the moment we walked in, we noticed the dark beams and that high, recessed, rough-ridged ceiling. It was sucking the light out of the space,” Drew says.
But the color isn’t the only problem. The brothers notice that this room doesn’t have any ceiling lights, which makes this room even darker.
So Jonathan and Drew paint the beams white and add white shiplap-style ceiling panels.
“Not only do they add brightness,” Jonathan says of the panels, “but they’re also going to be dropped down to accommodate new recessed lighting.”
In the end, not only does the new color make the space feel brighter, but the added lights literally light up the room.
Large doors make a small house feel bigger
While Leslie’s living room is laid out well, the space is relatively small. Although the brothers can’t add to the square footage of the house, Jonathan has the idea to expand the living space by improving the flow into the back patio.
“We could do something really cool with these sliders,” Jonathan says of the existing doors. “We could swap them out for, like, collapsible glass panels. They could flow in and out. It would be great.”
The brothers open up the walls and install large, collapsible window doors from two sides, making both the family room and dining space open onto the backyard.
To complete the effect, they update the patio by adding new flooring and new furniture. In the end, the living space feels twice as big!
Don’t go overboard with too much white
While the Scotts know that it’s important to brighten up a space, they also know that with the walls, ceiling, and kitchen all in white, the space could use some contrast. So they redo the white fireplace with a unique brown finish.
“This is just made out of marble powder, lime, and sand,” Jonathan says, as he applies a clay mixture to the fireplace face.
Some techniques, he says, come from Italy, and from different regions of Europe, but this one, from Morocco, is called tadelakt.
The light-brown color looks perfect in the space. The finish adds dimension without darkening the area, and the modern fireplace shape is much better suited to children, because there’s no mantel to climb on or base to trip over.
Best of all, this modern fireplace looks clean and elegant.
“I love that it looks like a five-star hotel,” Drew says of the new finish. “That’s the kind of feature you want to have.”
When Wilson finally brings Leslie and her family back to the house, she’s amazed by how spacious and elegant her living room looks. Let this serve as a reminder that just a few small changes can make even small spaces feel huge.