Improve This, Not That – 3 Smart Home Improvement Alternatives

by Jonathan DeesingOctober 27, 2017

Whether you’re considering selling your home or you just need an update for yourself, prioritizing home improvements can be a headache. For home sellers, you need to balance projects that won’t break the bank yet still add value to your home and appeal to buyers. Even if you don’t plan to sell your home in the near future, it’s still good to find projects that last and add value to your home.

If you’re dreading an upcoming project or if you don’t think you can afford it, you might be in luck. Here are three unique ways to approach home improvement projects with a big impact and low cost.

The Kitchen – Paint and a Backsplash Instead of New Cabinets

New kitchen cabinets are a great way to completely redo the feel of your kitchen. They can add storage, maximize space, and even be matched up with an overlay refrigerator. Unfortunately, most kitchen remodels offer a bad return on investment (ROI), not to mention the logistics of tearing up your entire kitchen for an extended period of time – no one likes washing dishes in the bathtub.
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Instead, consider simply repainting the kitchen or cabinets themselves – a new lighter finish is trendy and can brighten the entire room with a modern look. Not enough? Installing a tile backsplash only costs around $1,000 and can add an attractive accent.

While you’re at it: Update outlets with USB ports and new wall plates – buyers will love it if they can charge their iPad while watching a cooking tutorial.

The Yard – Xeriscape Instead of Fixing the Lawn

A lush green lawn is not only great for curb appeal and home value, but also for anyone who enjoys spending barefoot time in their yard. But is that fight still worth fighting? With many parts of the country facing drought and coming off the hottest summer on record, the battle to keep your lawn green may be one to concede.

Instead, look into xeriscaping – not to be confused with zero-scaping, which features very few plants. Xeriscaping is gardening with a focus on reducing water waste with plants and landscaping that relies solely on natural water sources. As a result, xeriscaped plants are slow growing and require little maintenance.
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A recent study found that last year, more than a quarter of homeowners moved to reduce the size of their lawns. Low maintenance yards that save on your water bill are a win-win, especially when it saves you the pain of replanting sod or trying to get fickle grass seed to take. What’s more, with so many former renters entering the real estate market, a low maintenance yard will definitely be a selling point.

While you’re at it: If you’re tired of maintaining a flower or vegetable garden, don’t just leave a pile of dirt. Plant a few native shrubs, add a cool rock, and spread out some bark dust to spruce things up.

The Bathroom – Paint and Update Fixtures Instead of Remodeling

Bathroom remodels have some of the worst ROIs of any home improvement project. They’re costly, intrusive, and can take months. Everyone appreciates a beautiful, updated bathroom, but few buyers prioritize it when shopping.
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Instead of emptying your wallet on a brand new bathroom, find small, cheaper improvements that can make the room feel fresh and new. A fresh coat of paint can bring a dingy bathroom into the 21st century, and a new showerhead can make a huge difference. Recessing shelves and cabinets into the wall in between studs take a little demolition work but is definitely cheaper than a full remodel. It also lets you reclaim space in a smaller bathroom while combating storage issues.

While you’re at it: Replacing fixtures like towel racks and making sure they match your cabinet hardware can give your bathroom a fresh swanky look.

Improving Your Home Improvement

When considering home improvement projects it can be hard to figure out the best one to tackle. The high cost and inconvenience of many projects can leave homeowners in limbo, unsure of what project to prioritize. If you find yourself wondering the best way to add value to and improve your home, try to think beyond the traditional projects and find those that are cheap, easy, and valuable to homebuyers.

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About The Author
Jonathan Deesing
Jonathan Deesing is a home improvement and real estate writer who has written for Auction.com, Modernize, and Apartment Guide. When he's not fixing up his duplex he splits time between running and beekeeping.

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