When you’re looking for a new house, look for diamonds in the rough; a solid, affordable home that got overlooked by fellow house hunters because of a few ugly features. It’s hard to ignore a first impression, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying a house is avoiding a home simply because of a cosmetic faux pas.
A house’s initial curb appeal, while sometimes hard to overlook, isn’t permanent. There are a number of cheap and easy improvement projects you can tackle to drastically transform a home that may be suffering from some outdated design issues. Here’s our list of nine easy fixer-upper projects you should look for when house hunting.
1. Limited Dining Space
Look outside to expand the dining space. Creating a functional entertaining area outdoors is easier and cheaper than remodeling a dining room indoors because you don’t need to worry about walls, ceilings, windows, plumbing or electric wiring. You can create a beautiful outdoor dining area on a budget with some patio furniture, decorative solar lamps and flowing curtains. As an added bonus, open-air dining spaces are hot home commodities. Real estate agents report that outdoor kitchen and dining areas can boost resale value.
2. Dated Front Door Hardware
Add new front door hardware. Revamping door accents will provide substantial returns. It’s easy, taking most users 20 minutes to an hour or two at most and relatively cheap. Start with the doorknobs, replacing standard cylinder knobs with decorative curved handles. Then, choose a matching doorbell or door knocker to enhance the look and add new house numbers in an updated style that flow with the rest of your new hardware.
3. Popcorn Ceilings
Remove the ceiling yourself. Though it takes some elbow grease to remove the puffy texturing, getting rid of a popcorn finish is a relatively simple and inexpensive project that can add value and class to your home. Before you get started, you’ll want to get a small sample of the ceiling tested for asbestos, especially if the ceiling was done before 1980. Once you’re sure that you’re asbestos-free, you can dig into the removal. Simply spray the ceiling with water, give it some time to soften with the moisture and then gently scrape away the texturing until you’ve got a smooth, flat surface.
4. Cracked Interior Trim
Repair, don’t replace, the offending sections. Interior painting is often the first thing homeowners tackle when they purchase a home. The trim, on the other hand, doesn’t usually get the same attention. Damaged trim can cheapen a space, but many homeowners balk at the hassle of purchasing and installing new trim throughout. Luckily, small cracks or chips in molding and baseboards can be easily repaired with wood putty, primer and a fresh coat of paint.
5. Neglected Landscaping
Spend a weekend beautifying the front yard. A freshly cut and edged lawn adds instant curb appeal, but you can take it a step further by finding a good balance between grass and plants. Pops of color in bright flowers or unique shrubs add to your exterior, as do container gardens and pots filled with foliage lining your entryway. If you do it right, you’ll see a nice increase in value when it’s time to sell.
6. Gaudy Bathroom Fixtures
Add a new finish to unattractive fixtures. Outdated fixtures typically come in a builder-chosen shiny gold or brass and they can mar an otherwise beautiful bathroom. Buying and installing new fixtures will require a decent amount of effort and money, not to mention a familiarity with plumbing protocol. A cheap and simple alternative is painting the fixtures in question with a combination of primer and universal spray paint. Several popular paint brands offer muted metallic finishes that can provide subtle elegance without a huge price tag.
7. Drab Ceiling Fans
Refresh old fans with a clean new coat of paint. Ceiling fans visually complete a room, but they’re often overlooked when it’s time to renovate. Giving the ceiling fan a bit of attention to help it coordinate with the rest of the room can really revitalize an area. To get started, see if you can flip or paint the blades for some color variation and finish the job by spray painting the metal base.
8. Plain or Boring Windows
Don’t be deterred by smudged panes hidden under dusty blinds and invest in DIY window décor. There are plenty of ways to inexpensively upgrade home windows. Simply adding a wood valance to the top of your windows can introduce great style to a room and it’s also pretty easy to make coverings or curtains from affordable, everyday items and fabric. Depending on the type of windows you have, you may also be able to give the frames a new paint job to accent the color scheme of your interior space.
9. Ugly Flooring
Liven up the flooring with a fun painted pattern. Old linoleum or vinyl flooring may not be your first choice, but installing entirely new flooring can be an expensive endeavor. Fortunately, a can of paint can easily fix an ugly flooring issue. Though it will take time to prime and seal the existing floor, the finished product will take the room to a new level. Don’t be afraid to have fun with the pattern. Painting stripes instead of one solid color, for example, can give a room personality and make it feel bigger.
Never overlook a house just because of a few easily remedied issues. There are plenty of small upgrades and home improvement projects you can tackle to add huge value and personality to a home.