Most advice on home improvement centres around spending loads of cash on new fitted kitchens in the latest style, converting lofts or basements in living areas, building extensions or redecorating from top to bottom. But supposing you don’t want to go to that much trouble, or don’t have the budget for such massive undertakings?
You may be surprised to realise that (providing the basics are functional and reasonably modern, such as the central heating system and home security/safety) many buyers want a property that suits their lifestyle more than they want the latest in gadgets or decor fashion.
Bearing that in mind, here are the top home improvement strategies when you’re thinking about selling – or just want a home that’s nicer to live in.
Light and Space
There’s nothing worse than dark, cramped rooms for making you feel breathless and trapped. We can’t all have large, sunny, south facing rooms all through the house though, so some of us need to get creative.
- Use mirrors – they work like magic to bounce light around and make a room feel bigger. Place them opposite windows, at the end of passages or hallways, in alcoves and behind shelves.
- Respect windows – the main source of daylight is the window, so keep the panes spotless, the curtains or drapes neat and light around small windows, and don’t clutter up the sills with too many objects.
- Have furniture with legs – it may sound daft, but having furniture that’s raised off the floor gives an illusion of space because your line of sight travels beneath it. It also allows light to filter through so shadows are less dense.
- Extend colour – most skirting boards are painted a different colour to the walls, and often this works well. However, if you’re decorating a narrow hallway you can give the appearance of greater width by taking the wall colour right down to the floor, or even bringing the floor colour up to dado rail height. It works because the continuous colour fools the eye.
Clutter is your enemy, whether you’re hoping to impress a buyer or just want a more restful living space. There are various ways to keep on top of possessions:
- Use double-duty furniture — storage furniture all over the house helps keep every room neat and tidy. In living rooms, go for occasional and end tables with drawers or shelves so there’s somewhere to hide the electrical gadgets and cables we all have so many of. In bedrooms, add extra shelves or shoe racks in wardrobes, and invest in ottoman style beds that have cavernous storage space beneath the mattress.
- Self storage — an option overlooked by many, having a self storage room or locker nearby provides out of home space where you can put things not immediately in use. Anything from seasonal clothes and linen, spare guest beds, gardening tools over winter, kids toys, or furniture you want but don’t have room for at present are all prime candidates for self storage.
Updating and refreshing works wonders, but some updates are worth more than others for the effect they have on the living space and the value placed on them by buyers.
- In kitchens — replace cabinet doors instead of having a whole new kitchen built. New worktops give an instant facelift, as do modern sink fixings or even the sink itself.
- In bathrooms — whitening the tile grout makes a huge, fresh difference and is much quicker and cheaper than retiling. New shower screens or doors along with new bath and sink taps instantly lift and transform bathroom fittings.
- In bedrooms — keep the floors clear of clutter and learn to dress beds with pillows and runners. You’ll impress buyers if you’re selling but, most importantly, your modern-looking, tidy room will lift your own spirits every time you walk in.
- In living rooms — avoid clutter to keep surfaces clean and polished. Update curtains and soft furnishings or rugs. Those large expanses of fabric can have a massive impact on how a room looks and feels.
- All around the home — pay attention to the little things such as doorknobs or handles (on actual doors and on cabinets) and light fittings or lampshades. Those small details might not mean much individually but they work together to lift the overall impression.
Home improvement is an ongoing, constantly changing project. One that you can never truly say is ‘done’. Fashions and trends come and go, but the foundations of cleanliness and tidiness (and ways in which we can make achieving both easier) remain constant.
Drew writes for Black Brick Buying Agents.