Everyone wants to turn their house into their dream home, or at least make small updates here and there, but that’s often easier said than done. Whether you’re upgrading your space or gearing up to sell, renovating your home is a big undertaking and financial decision. U.S. homeowners spend $400 billion in total on home improvements and repairs, according to a recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
That said, completing home remodeling and improvement projects can add a lot more value to your house, make it more attractive to potential buyers (should you put it on the market) and allow you to enjoy your home more. To truly boost your entire home’s value, consider a couple of these upgrades.
1. Don’t Underestimate the Kitchen Remodel
Kitchen upgrades perceived as “modern” — like stainless steel and quartz countertops or Shaker cabinets — can bump your home’s sale price by 3% to 7%, according to Consumer Reports. No matter what kitchen renovations you choose to make, though, do your research before signing on the dotted line. “Consult with real estate brokers and architects in the area that you live,” said Sidney Torres, host of CNBC’s “The Deed.” “Go see the past work of the contractors before committing to one.”
Average Cost: Including appliances, the average kitchen remodel costs homeowners about $23,512. Smaller revamps — like a combo of painting, refinishing the fixtures and adding a backsplash — range between $10,000 and $15,000.
2. Choose Classic Hardwood
It’s a fact of life that people love the warmth, durability and timeless style hardwood floors add to a space — that goes for both buyers and home dwellers. And as a bonus, a new wood floor can add up to 2.5% to the sale price of a home, according to Realtor.com.
Average Cost: Roughly $4,518 for all new wood floors, or about $1,669 for a hardwood refinish.
3. Bedeck Your Yard
The beauty of a deck is that it increases your living space without adding any walls to your house. To keep things on a budget, shoot for under 500 square feet — that’s plenty of space for your new grill and all the outdoor furniture you could want.
Average Cost: A 200-square-foot deck can be done for under $5,000, but plan for an average cost of $7,000 if you want something closer to 500 square feet.
4. Give the Master Bath a Boost
For a typically small space, there’s a whole lot of remodeling to be done in the bathroom. Go big with a full remodel of your master bathroom, including new fixtures, tub, flooring, cabinets, countertops and lighting, or trim your budget by just focusing on a few essentials.
Average Cost: The average bathroom remodel runs about $10,342, but by focusing on your bathroom’s trouble spots, you can pare that down to about $3,500 to $7,000.
5. Give Your Windows a New Outlook
Foggy, out-of-fashion windows can hurt your home in numerous ways, from hampering your curb appeal to reducing the light that comes in and even dragging down your energy efficiency, maybe even letting in outside air. If you’re selling, keep in mind that young buyers especially value eco-friendliness — but just about everyone wants to let a little light in.
Average Cost: Spend about $209 for professional cleaning, or go all out with a new window installation for about $5,213 for your entire home.
6. Freshen Up Your Exterior Paint
Giving the exterior of your home a fresh look could make a world of difference. You just can’t beat the cost-effectiveness of exterior paint. Plus with paint, you really have unlimited options — if you can imagine a paint color, it exists.
Average Cost: Heartier exterior paints exceed the cost of interior options, but not by much — the national average cost to paint a house is a little over $2,809, though you should account for $1,500 or more added on if you have a two-story home.
7. Be a Shut-In for Once
When it comes to homes that catch our eyes and hearts, the devil is in the details. That’s where new shutters come in — for very little investment, you can upgrade your home’s overall exterior look. If you choose to add plantation shutters to your home, they will not only increase your home’s value, but they’re also energy-efficient.
Average Cost: Spend about $200 to repair your existing shutters or about $1,001 to $3,258 for completely new wood shutters for your entire home.
8. Liven Up the Landscape
Landscaping is among the most effective home improvements you can do to generate the biggest return on your money. It creates curb appeal in spades and also can help prevent expensive potential damage, like fallen tree limbs and mold. Think of it as a safety net mixed with some green marketing that can increase your house’s value by up to 5%, according to Consumer Reports.
Average Cost: You can put in some attractive landscape for a little over $1,000, or invest in the whole front-lawn package for about $3,232.
9. Gear Up the Garage
The garage door probably isn’t the go-to improvement when you think about upping your curb appeal. However, replacing the often-neglected garage door can net you a nearly 98% return on investment, on average, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report. For those who don’t have garages, consider taking on a project like renovating other extensions of your home such as a shed.
Average Cost: This upgrade runs around $1,091.
10. Install a Patio
Summer barbecues, evening wine tasting with the breeze in your hair and safe spaces for kids and family pets to roam are priceless. A patio comes at a price, but it’s not a frivolous expense by any means — consider this a mid-level investment for a return on personal happiness.
Average Cost: Most homeowners drop an average of $1,772 to $4,821 for a patio installation.
11. Open Your Mind — and Your Floorplan
Creating openness is one of the most crucial things you can do to elevate your home — especially if you have a small space that you want to feel bigger. Consult a structural engineer first, then get rid of those pass-through walls, and think about creating new nooks and flex rooms. This can boost your home’s value by up to 6%, according to Consumer Reports.
Average Cost: Surprisingly, labor costs for removing an interior wall — typically about a five-hour process — only clock in at about $92 to $197 on average, according to Homewyse. Account for up to $300 worth of debris disposal fees, though.
12. Amp Up the Kitchen Appliances
When approaching the kitchen remodel, never neglect appliances. The fridge and stove are what make the kitchen run — outdated versions of these can not only make the room feel old, but they can actually reduce the quality of your food, whether you’re storing or cooking it. Homebuyers are also looking for new appliances that they won’t have to replace in the next couple of years or months. If a full-scale kitchen remodel isn’t quite in the budget, just refreshing the appliances can add plenty of value and efficiency.
Average Cost: You’ve got lots of flexibility here — kitchen appliances range from about $200 to $3,000 each.
13. Build in Some Shelves
Maybe it’s the tiny home craze, but there’s just something immensely satisfying about a space with lots of handy, built-in storage nooks. The good news is, homebuyers think so too — trendy features like Shaker cabinets have a nearly 81% return on investment on average, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report.
Average Cost: You’ll likely pay between $1,200 and $3,800 for materials and labor on built-in cabinetry, entertainment nooks and bookcases, or you can drastically reduce costs by going the DIY route and spending about $150 or less on materials to install yourself.
14. Remaster Your Bedroom
The National Association of Realtors finds that a revamped master bedroom is one of the projects that make owners happiest. While this space is a big home-selling factor, it often is a project people forget to prioritize during a home remodel.
Paint, trim, lighting, flooring and all-new storage solutions can improve your bedroom’s value as well as your comfort, so this remodel is worth considering.
Average Cost: The national average bedroom remodel costs $7,880, according to Fixr.
15. Revive the Driveway
Assessing your driveway is one repair worth budgeting for. One, it’s a utilitarian feature that just about everyone uses to protect that other big investment — the car. Two, having a clean and updated driveway with no cracks improves your curb appeal and can protect your driveway from eroding, not to mention the unsightly look caused by weeds.
Average Cost: To repair a driveway, you’re looking at about $1,500, or as much as $4,500 for a new one.
16. Upgrade the Guest Rooms
Though it makes sense to prioritize the master bedroom, including your home’s additional rooms in the remodel can lend the project a more complete feeling. These smaller spaces will need the same sorts of upgrades as the master bedroom — lighting, storage, flooring and so on — but they’ll cost a little less here.
Average Cost: It’s about $66 per square foot, according to Fixr.
17. Save on Floor Remodels
In general, $600 to $900 spent on new flooring delivers a return of up to $2,000, according to This Old House, so don’t be afraid to upgrade even if you can’t swing hardwood. New carpet and versatile laminate are classic standbys, while newer options like cork or even uber-modern stained cement can help your place take a few steps closer to “dream house” status.
Average Cost: A wood-like laminate install starts at $1,398 and can go up to $4,235, whereas carpeting jobs range from about $762 to $2,522.
18. Reinvigorate Interior Doors, Too
Don’t forget to repair those creaky, non-lockable interior doors while you’re at it. You know, the ones that are warped from the heat or cold, sticking and swelling in their frames? They’re not directly exposed to the elements, so you’re more likely to be able to repair worn-out interior doors rather than replace them altogether.
Average Cost: About $75 to $125 to repair or replace each door.
19. Spruce Up the Second Bathroom
Not every remodel has to be on a grand scale, especially when you have a budget to stick to. Smaller jobs like refreshing the caulk, ditching frosted glass for clear doors and updating fixtures can really tune up an extra bathroom — and that little bit of work could be all that your second bathroom needs for a new lease on life.
Average Cost: Sticking to fixtures and cabinets on the affordable end of the spectrum can keep your bathroom remodel cost to around $2,500.
20. Update Your Staircase
If your staircase creaks every time you set foot on it, consider investing in a recovery effort. A creaky staircase could indicate loose steps or wobbly railings. If you don’t want to skimp on safety but want your staircase to look its best, consider updating it.
Average Cost: At a national average cost of about $305 to $990, including flooring and railings, this is a small project investment with a potentially big payoff.
21. Make Over Your Front Door
If you’re renovating your home with the intent to sell, don’t underestimate the first impression your front door makes. According to former ERA Real Estate learning team consultant Kristin Wellins, people often make up their minds in the first seven seconds of seeing a house. Make an immediate statement with a new front door, or save big by sanding and painting the one you already have. If you pair this with a couple of other small projects like upgrading lighting fixtures, your house can look refreshed in no time.
Average Cost: $469 to $723 for the door and the labor to install it, according to Homewyse.
22. Replace Your HVAC
This is one home improvement project that will have you feeling the difference. Not only will your home feel better thanks to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrade, but it will also be more energy efficient — which can save you money in the long run. After completing this project, 77% of homeowners have a greater desire to be home, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Average Cost: Replacing your HVAC is estimated to cost between $4,000 and $12,000, according to Thumbtack.
23. Revitalize Your Roof
Whether you’re playing catch out front or just cruising by, it’s pretty hard to miss a roof. Roof replacements typically recoup about 61% to 68% of the costs, depending on the material used, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report.
Average Cost: Installing a new roof costs between $5,000 and $10,000 on average.
24. Refresh the Walls
Painting your interior walls is one of the smallest home improvement investments you can make, but it can still bump your home’s value by up to 2%, according to Consumer Reports. Painting is a perennial DIY project that really fills the space with your unique personality, though if you’re planning on selling, sticking with neutral colors is the safest bet.
Average Cost: You can repaint a room DIY-style for about $250, or hire a crew to re-do the whole place for an average of about $1,800.
25. Lighten Up
Windows are only one half of the lighting equation. With options ranging from smart lighting to recessed lights to traditional lighting fixtures, you can overhaul your home’s lighting in many different ways.
Average Cost: Installing recessed lighting costs around $175 to $225, not including the materials. Basic pot lights cost $20 to $60 per light on average.
26. Dim It Down
For a cozy vibe, consider installing a dimmer switch for those new lights. The good news is, you don’t have to do a full-on lighting refresh for this project — dimmer switches can be installed at any time, and the installation only takes a few hours.
Average Cost: You’ll spend an average of about $100 to $200 per dimmer switch installation.
27. Take Back the Backyard
If you’ve already re-greened your front yard, think of what you can do to differentiate the backyard space. While the front yard has to have curb appeal, the backyard is more of a private sanctuary, so consider equipping it with features that are both comforting and distinct. Adding an improvement like a pathway adds functional value to your yard, as does any improvement work on a backyard fence.
Average Cost: In terms of projects that add character, a backyard pond usually runs about $3,005 while installing an arbor, pergola or trellis costs an average of around $3,600.
28. Switch Out Your Light Plates
If you’re working with a smaller budget, here’s a great, budget-friendly fix: Swap out your tired light switch plates. Designer plates — from warm wood to sleek stainless steel — can match your paint trim or lend an entirely new vibe to the room.
Average Cost: Depending on how fancy you go, you can nab six plates for a little under $70 or a bit over $210 on average, including the costs of labor and supplies, according to Homewyse.
29. Create a Gateway to the Outside
Welcome more light and get easy access to your backyard by installing a sliding glass door in place of a wall. Opting for some glass between you and your yard — rather than brick, for example — makes your space feel airier and might just encourage you to get a little more sun.
Average Cost: It will cost you about $1,100 to $2,700 to install the sliding glass.
30. Expand Altogether
If your home renovation plans take on a grander design — for example, if you decide you want to include more rooms for your growing family — expanding the space altogether is a viable option. In terms of return on investment, expanding the square footage of your home packs the biggest punch.
Average Cost: As a rule of thumb, budget for $80 to $200 per new square foot.
More on Saving Money on Homes
- How We Got the Best HELOC Rates
- Clean Your Home Using These Cheap and Safe DIY Cleaners
- We Sold Our Home in 6 Days — Here’s How
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
Unless otherwise stated, all cost averages were sourced from HomeAdvisor.
About the Author
Dan is an honors graduate of western Kentucky’s Murray State University and has been a freelance writer and full-time creative since 2009, in addition to co-founding and co-owning two active media production businesses – one for the west coast in Los Angeles, California, and one for the east in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an independent creative professional with a scroll-like resume of both blue collar and white collar experience and a longtime business writer, Dan has been fortunate enough to publish with the likes of Chron.com, Fortune, The Motley Fool, Career Trends, Bizfluent, MSN Money, Legal Beagle, San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate, USA Today, Builder’s Capital, Salon.com and Zacks.com, among others. He’s also offered his words to such diverse brands as ASUS, Kellog’s, Discover, Sony Pictures, Samsung, Linksys, LIVESTRONG, Office Depot, Canon Inc., Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation and Verizon, as well as frequently writing in the fields of entertainment, travel, fitness, lifestyle and fashion.