Design and Remodeling Tips to Help Increase the Value of Your Home

This slow real estate market  is the perfect time to think about improvements you can make to your home that will increase the value, as well as help your home show well if you plan to put it on the market in the next few years.

Avoid taste-specific decorating choices that are difficult to change if you plan to sell your home within the next 5-10 years.  For example, a taste-specific wallpaper or wall-to-wall carpeting color.  If you want to add color to you walls, but hope to put your home on the market in a few short years, try painting or wallpapering just one accent wall.  It will be much easier to neutralize when you sell.

Click on photos for large view

The right paint color, used in the right way can make a home show very well and appeal to a wide population

Adding color to one accent wall makes it much easier to neutralize when you put your home on the market. If you use a popular and classic color such as burgundy, it enhances the appeal of the room to a wider population, and is better to keep when you start showing your home.

Stick with the Era of the Home when Remodeling:

A common mistake for do-it-yourselfers and sometimes remodeling companies is to buy the most common materials available in the big box home improvement stores as well as copying the materials and colors used in new homes.  If your home wasn’t built in this current decade, be careful.  You want to stick with the design integrity of your home.  If it’s a classic look, it may never go out of style again, nor will you risk devaluing your efforts.  For example mid century modern homes are now old enough to be cool again.  If you changed some of the classic architectural features to styles that are currently being used in new homes, your home could lose the integrity of its era.   Of course there are updates that usually need to be made.  You just want to be careful about what you change.

Changing the molding in this home back in the 1970’s would have been a big mistake.  I’ve seen many classic older homes that were updated in the 1970’s with styles from that were popular at that time, such as moldings, light fixtures, floor and cabinetry style.  Photo source: Portland Monthly Magazine. Design by Jessica Helgerson.

If you have a mid-century home or older, you especially want to keep the design integrity of the era the home was built in.  This is particularly important in era-specific designed homes.  For example, most homes built in the 1970’s were built with low ceilings, low-end materials, and closed-in rooms.  These aren’t strong era or design trends worth keeping.  We are smarter now about designing homes that are more functional, less claustrophobic, and more appealing by using optimum ceiling heights and opening up kitchen areas, as just a couple examples.

For example, ripping out the stone wall in this mid-century style home in Portland, OR would have taken away from the design integrity of the home.

We are also better now at interior decorating  1950’s – 1970’s homes built with low ceilings…   Check out my tips.

Fabric window treatments: 

Necessary for function – When you use fabric window treatments in place of shades and blinds they are necessary for function, (i.e. for privacy and energy efficiency).  They can be very energy efficient if they are lined, and even more so with interlining.

Functional and decorative draperies can add to the value of your home

Necessary for design – Using fabric window treatments as a decorative element is one of the key items for achieving a professionally decorated interior.  If they are kept somewhat neutral, without strong prints for example, they can be very appealing to buyers if your home is put on the market.  As I always say, a window without treatments is like a poem without words.  Don’t leave your windows bare!

Shades & blinds:

Necessary for function – Shades and blinds are necessary for privacy and energy efficiency needs, whether blocking out the cold or the heat.  Quality shades and blinds are worth the investment, especially when you add up the energy efficiency, and they are very appealing to home buyers.

It’s ideal when you use functional shades paired with decorative fabric treatments. Hunter Douglas Pirouette shades shown here.

Necessary for design – There are decorative shade options that can satisfy both function and design needs, eliminating the need for additional draperies, curtains or other custom window treatments…

The beauty of woven wood shades allows you to use them as both a functional and decorative window treatment.

Fabric shades are another functional as well as decorative window treatment. Here the impact is doubled with custom drapery panels as well.

Kitchen and Bath Updates:

Kitchens and baths are two of the safest investment areas for upgrades if done right.  Additionally, much of the work can be done in increments, as you can afford it…

Refinishing kitchen and bath cabinetry, adding solid surface counters, and updating your knobs, back splash, and flooring are all a sure bet for increasing the value of your home… Just don’t use taste-specific material choices.

–   It’s cost affective and green to change out your cabinetry fronts and/or re-finish them.

–   Updating cabinet knobs can make a huge difference as well.

–   Also consider updating your back splash and lighting.

–  Solid surface countertops:  People still love granite, but like everything else, after a material is used so frequently and widely, we eventually get tired of seeing it.  Consequently, it’s worthwhile to explore other solid surface countertop options, such as concrete, quartz, soapstone, marble, stainless steel, etc.  Tips for affording higher-cost decorating options.


Updating warn flooring is always a good investment.  Choose neutral colors… very important with the more expensive, large-scale items.  It’s worth spending the time to research your options including latest trends, new materials and durability.

Great new leather flooring option

 Cork flooring, a cost-effective and green flooring alternative

For more staging tips, please see:  Is the staging process worth the investment and why wait?

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