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Show your home some love for Valentine’s Day

“Love has various lodgings; the same word does not always signify the same thing.” — François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), better known by the pen name Voltaire, French Enlightenment writer, essayist and philosopher, “Abuse of Words,” Philosophical Dictionary (1764)

Well, yes, it’s coming. Next week. Florists, chocolatiers and Hallmark will be celebrating Valentine’s Day — and then some of us may feel guilty for the entire year if we don’t participate, too.

So I have a solution for Valentine’s Day, whether you “celebrate” or not. Here is a love fest you can celebrate all year: Love where you live.

You don’t have to send candy or a card, and your investment will most certainly pay off.

The local real estate market is changing, but it may not be where some of us need it to be quite yet. We may not be in a position to sell our houses or rent them to cover our expenses. So my proposal, as always, is to dig in and make the most of it. If you show your home a little love now you’ll be in a much better position when the market turns to your advantage.

Without spending a fortune there are many projects you can do yourself with basic skills. You can spiff up your house for you to enjoy now or to put on the market someday.

Let’s look at a few places to consider.

Because kitchens are critical to the sale of any property, start there.

According to ARA Content, “a few simple do-it-yourself projects in your kitchen can update the space without the expense of hiring professionals. Plan ahead, rent the right tools and get advice in order to complete your project on budget and on schedule to enhance the value of your home.”

n Update the flooring by adding ceramic tile to an outdated kitchen.

n Remove old or outdated wallpaper and paint a neutral color.

n Add crown molding to bring in a touch of luxury. There are many styles and materials to choose from.

n If you want a new look for existing cabinets, repaint or restain for a huge impact.

n Updating cabinet hardware is easy and an inexpensive detail.

n Change out faucets and light fixtures for a new fresh look.

When I moved into my home, I did — well, had somebody else do — most of those things. It’s amazing what a difference each will make.

And did you know that most people still ask to see utility bills when considering a home purchase? Make your home more energy efficient for yourself and show smaller utility bills to any potential buyers.

The U.S. Energy Department offers some basic, easy suggestions for saving energy and lowering your bills.

n Take advantage of natural lighting and heating. Open draperies in the winter to let in natural light to heat up the rooms and close in the summer to keep cooler.

n Change out your light bulbs for more energy-efficient ones.

n If new appliances are in your future, be sure they’re energy efficient. Remember, too, that microwaves and toaster ovens are cheaper to use than full-sized ovens or stove tops. So if they can handle the food you’re preparing, use them.

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.

So, however you choose to celebrate Feb. 14, with flowers and cards, or a paintbrush and wallpaper steamer, make it a joyous occasion with many happy returns.

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 creativemuse@cox.net.

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