"An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit." Pliny the Younger (63-113), Ancient Roman, "Letters" (c. 97-110)
It's a very interesting time in the real estate world. Some are finding themselves in positions never imagined. We're not in a position to sell our houses for what they're worth, or can't rent them to cover our expenses. So my proposal is to dig in and make the most of it. The market has to improve eventually, and if you show your home a little love now, you'll be in that much better position when you can sell or rent it.
Without spending a fortune, there are many projects you can do yourself with just basic skills. You can spiff up your house for you to enjoy now, or to put on the market at some point.
Since kitchens are critical to the enjoyment of, or sale of, any property, start there.
There are a lot of easy projects that homeowners can take on themselves. Almost any addition or update you make to your kitchen will add to the bottom line when you sell. And from my personal experience, if you attempt projects on your own, prowl around on the Internet and you can find directions for almost anything you might attempt. Just Google the project and hundreds of responses will pop up.
Here are a few to consider:
1. Update the flooring by adding ceramic tile to an outdated kitchen. Again, from personal experience, this is a project I wouldn't attempt on my own. Tile is heavy, and it needs to be picked up and handled several times in the process. Scout out professionals who will work with you.
2. Update or remove wallpaper or paper boarders and paint. It's time for those apples or bunnies running around your kitchen walls to go.
3. Add crown molding to bring in a touch of luxury. There are many styles and materials to choose from. Home stores will usually cut this to size for you - an easy project on your own.
4. If you want a new look for existing cabinets, repaint or restain them for a huge impact.
5. Updating cabinet hardware is an easy and inexpensive detail.
6. Change faucets and light fixtures for a new fresh look.
7. Backsplashes add fun or elegance, whatever your style, and these tiles are easy to handle and install yourself.
And did you know that most people ask to see utility bills when considering the purchase of a home? Make your home more energy efficient for yourself, and show smaller utility bills for any potential buyers. There are a few simple steps that will lower your bills.
The U. S. Department of Energy offers some suggestions:
1. Take advantage of natural lighting and heating. Open shades or draperies in the winter to let in natural light to heat up the rooms; and close them in the summer to keep cooler.
2. Change your light bulbs for more energy efficient ones.
3. If new appliances are in your future, be sure they are energy efficient ones. Remember, too, that microwaves and toaster ovens are cheaper to use than full-sized ovens or stovetops. So use them.
4. If you are willing to spend a little more money, check your insulation. Adding insulation to your attic floor, basement or crawl spaces is relatively easy and can prevent major heat loss in the winter or help the space stay cooler in the summer.
5. Use ceiling fans. Fans circulate warm and cool air -and assist your heating and cooling systems. If you don't have them, get them. They are inexpensive and fairly easy to install.
A few other easy fixes around the house are, of course, paint and carpet. Paint is easy to do and the biggest bang for your buck. Flooring is a little pricier but if you have tired, worn or out-of-style carpet, it will be to your advantage to spend the money on new or replace it with laminate or tile. Both are great choices.
Potential buyers are not usually looking for a fixer-upper. If you have these projects around your home, invest in one at a time so that when the time comes to go on the market, buyers can see that your home has been loved and has "move right in" potential. And in the meantime, these fixes will make it seem you have moved into a new home. It's a win-win.
Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.