With just a little bit of money and effort, you can greatly increase the value of your home — if you know how to renovate cleverly. For starters, painting and lighting can make a huge difference when renovating your home. You should also be smart about where you’re purchasing materials for your home upgrades.
I recently purchased an older home, and the first thing we did was paint the walls a lighter gray color and repaint the ceiling and baseboards. We added recessed lighting in the kitchen and TV room on our own, and I got a great deal from Costco on a new faucet for the kitchen and lights for the bathroom.
For more easy home renovations, I talked to real estate experts about upgrades you can make to your home that will really pay off. Find out which home renovations will increase the value of your home and pay you back.
Refinish Your Flooring
- Cost: $1,829
- Value added: Up to $2,834
Refinishing your hardwood floors can be a cost-effective way to make your floors look and feel brand new. According to Mallory Micetich, Home Expert at Angi, “homeowners can expect to pay an average of $1,829 but this will vary depending on the size, shape, and style of your hardwood. Refinishing floors can give you an ROI of at least 55%, so it’s considered a great project to take on if your floors are looking a little dull.”
Hardwood floors can enhance your home’s value by as much as 3%. Prospective buyers typically prefer flooring that is free from blemishes such as stains, cracks, or holes. If your hardwood floors require maintenance or an upgrade, refinishing can be a great alternative. In fact, according to Opendoor’s 2023 Home Decor Report, around 50% of homeowners are likely to refinish their current floors instead of replacing them.
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Add Crown Molding
- Cost: $1,249
- Value added: Several thousand dollars
“Crown molding is a decorative finish that can add character to any room. On average, installing crown molding in a home will cost homeowners $1,249,” according to Micetich. “Crown molding should be treated like a paint job — more isn’t always better, and it should be added to add dimension to a room. From an ROI viewpoint, the best rooms to add crown molding to are typically the primary bedroom, bathrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms. I recommend keeping it simple and selecting a minimal design to keep the resale and ROI value high.”
Add Closet / Creative Storage
- Cost: $2,031
- Value added: Up to $3,250
Storage is something that is not usually the first thing buyers look for in a home, but can be a big plus when highlighted during an open house. Looking for wasted areas of space and adding easy-to-use closet or creative storage can give your home the extra value needed for a sale without the need for a big remodel or renovation. This can add a few hundred dollars for small storage ideas, to a couple of thousand dollars if separate rooms are created with easy-to-install partitions.
Update Your Kitchen Hardware
- Cost: $300 to $600
- Value added: $2,000 or more
“Changing cabinet hardware to a more contemporary style can actually make a big aesthetic difference to the overall style of your kitchen,” said Jonathan Faccone, a real estate developer and investor at Halo Homebuyers. “At a cost of $300 to $600, this is an easy DIY project that can return $1,000 or more in value. The job will take the average homeowner about two to three hours.”
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Replace Laminate Countertops With Granite or Quartz
- Cost: $2,400 to $4,000
- Value added: Up to $8,000
“Granite and quartz are always big marketing sellers,” said Faccone. “Replacing a laminate countertop with a trendy granite or quartz countertop is a great way to modernize the kitchen. A nice granite countertop can run around $40 to $50 per square foot — so total costs will likely be $2,400 to $4,000 — but the return will typically be double that if tastefully chosen. Some of the prices I gave were the prices we get. Retail prices could be very different. For example, quartzite/quartz/granite have costs that vary depending on the grade/color chosen. We typically put quartz in for about $40 per sq ft. For the same quartz, it can cost $50/$60 retail, if not more. There are so many variables to account for.”
Add a Subway Tile Backsplash
- Cost: $400 to $600
- Value added: Up to $1200
“There are a ton of tile backsplash options to choose from, but a homeowner can never go wrong with the ceramic or glass subway tile,” said Faccone. “I love this option because it’s very cost-effective, it’s an easy design pattern to execute — which makes it less labor-intensive — and buyers always love the fresh designer look of subway tile. Big-box stores sell a variety of ceramic and glass backsplashes for around $6 to $10 a square foot, so you’ll likely only spend $400 to $600 on materials. You can pretty easily take it on as a DIY project, which should take about one to two days, or hire out to a contractor at a cost of $500 to $1000. This will return at least double the investment.”
Upgrade Your Bathroom Vanities
- Cost: $300 to $600
- Value added: Up to $1,800
“Upgrading your bathroom vanities is a great and affordable way to upgrade the style of any bathroom,” said Faccone. “You can easily find a more contemporary-looking vanity that includes the sink and natural stone countertop as an all-in-one furniture piece for as low as $300 to $600. If you know a little bit about plumbing, you can install the new faucet and connect the plumbing yourself. You can also hire a professional for only a few hundred dollars more. If tastefully chosen, you can easily triple your investment.”
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Paint Exterior Doors and Shutters
- Cost: $75 DIY, $100 to $400 hiring a professional
- Value added: Up to $100
“Exterior doors and shutters are an important part of your home’s curb appeal. The front door especially is the first thing your guests, or potential home buyers, will see. Painting the front door is a cost-effective option that will make a big difference on your home’s curb appeal. We recommend choosing a color that not only complements the exterior, but also sets the tone of the interior style,” according to Yasmine El Sanyoura, Home Designer at Opendoor.
Repainting the exterior doors and shutters is an easy DIY project that can cost as little as $75. However, if you want to ensure that the doors are correctly sanded and sealed, hiring a professional may be necessary, which can cost between $100 and $400 per door.
Clean and Update Your Front Porch
- Cost: $20 to $200
- Value added: Varies
Front porches come in different shapes and sizes. Some have stairs that raise the porch and entry above the ground level. For these kinds of porches, stairs and railings are essential for making the house look good from the street.
According Sanyoura, “Design is all about the details, and that of course rings true for front porch design. Small changes like lighting, house numbers, door hardware and even doorbells can have a lasting impact on the appeal of your home’s front porch. Update these exterior fixtures to both add character and elevate your curb appeal. Don’t forget the greenery! Bring in nature with some potted plants to brighten the porch.”
Reglaze Your Bathtub
- Cost: $1800 to $2500
- Value added: $5000 (or more)
“My absolute favorite home renovation literally takes overnight,” said Kristina McCann, the founder and owner of Chroma Realty. “Whether I have clients selling an as-is fixer or a cute place in good shape, I always recommend they have the bathtubs and showers powder-coated to a nice, bright white, and have them remove any cruddy shower doors in the process. The whole upgrade costs about $1800 to $2500 per tub and lasts for about 15 years. It makes your bathroom look as though you spent double or triple what you actually spent on the upgrade.”
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Pave Your Walkway
- Cost: $530 to $555 to DIY, or $900 to $950 to hire a professional to pave
- Value added: Up to $1,425
“Paving your walkway can make a huge difference in your home’s overall functionality and appearance. It can make your home easier to access while adding some visual interest to your landscaping,” said Micetich. As a bonus, paving a walkway, when combined with some other basic landscaping improvements, can lead to an ROI of 83%. “On average, it costs $1,800 to install a concrete walkway, but the price can vary depending on the size and material of the walkway. Paving a walkway can be complicated, so I recommend bringing in an experienced pro for this project.”
“It’s very hard to say what the improvement value can be these days. The costs have jumped significantly, but home prices continue to rise,” Faccone states, “Because of the inventory issues were are still facing, someone could simply pretty up their home in various ways and that will bring tremendous value back.”
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Gabrielle Olya and Maria Concepcion contributed to the reporting for this article.