February 28, 2018

Resale Value vs. Enjoyment: Tips For Making Home Remodeling Choices

We all want to make smart investment choices. Whether it’s a college savings plan or a home improvement project, the goal is to get the greatest rate of return. As a designer, too often I see homeowners over-think decisions about their home remodeling projects: Approximately 90% of the jobs that I quote, the first question that I’m asked by homeowners: “Is this worth it for resale?”  What’s crazy is that a lot of people stress over resale value when they actually have no intention of selling their home in the near future.

Certainly, if you plan to sell your home within the next five years, then resale value is something to consider. But your personal taste and the enjoyment of your living space should be the most important piece of the investment puzzle. After all, it’s your home and your money—design it for you. Here are a few rules to keep in mind as you make remodeling decisions and finish selections:

Make it yours. Your remodeling choices should reflect your lifestyle and your personal likes and dislikes. One of the leading questions that I get on bathroom remodels: “Do I need a bathtub?” Today’s trend is installing large, walk-in showers in lieu of tub and shower combinations.

The real question is: “Do you use a bathtub?” If enjoying a relaxing bath is part of your routine, then keep the tub.  If the existing tub in your bathroom goes unused—and especially if you have a bathtub in another room in the house—then by all means, eliminate it and gain more space for what you do love.

Personal style rules. Your style and taste should always trump the notion of choosing “safe” or “neutral” fixtures and finishes. While I don’t advise going with hot pink walls, if pink is your color, then find ways to incorporate it into your design through textiles and accents. More often, I find that when people are looking at new homes, they like to see homes that have personality—maybe that’s because it helps them to picture themselves living in the space. Going too neutral doesn’t always equate to universal appeal.

Be your own trendsetter. When I meet with customers on kitchen remodels, most what to know what other people are incorporating in their designs. Right now, the trend is quartz over granite for countertops. There are fabulous quartz options available, but if you are one who really likes the look and functionality of a granite surface, then that should be your choice.

Painted cabinets in gray—the entire kitchen or just the island—is in.  But what if beige or chocolate brown is your go-to color? Again, make the space yours by using the colors that make you happy and suit your style.  

Texture is another hot new trend that is finding its way into both kitchen and bathroom remodels by means of flooring, tile, and sinks. If you want to touch on that trend without fully committing, you may choose to add textured hardware to your cabinetry for an inexpensive update—it’s one that can be changed down the line (or swapped out by a new owner should you sell your home).

Let it be. I have many clients who update their kitchen or bathroom before they put their house on the market. Often, they have old or outdated cabinets and want to replace their laminate countertops with a new granite surface. What they don’t realize is that the cost of new granite will not yield the same rate of return (i.e., they can’t increase their asking price by the same amount of money they’ve spent on the granite). What’s more, there’s a good chance the new homeowners will make their own design changes anyway, so my advice is to keep that money in your pocket.    

Along those same lines: Do your homework before listing your house. You don’t want your house to be the most expensive on the block, so if you are planning on putting your house on the market in the very near future, keep pricing and value in mind before you invest in costly remodeling projects.

Don’t try to please everyone. Some homeowners get so consumed with resale value in making their remodeling decisions that they completely bypass their own wants and needs. No house is going to be a perfect fit for every buyer—after all, that’s why most people look at multiple houses.

While none of us can see the future, if you plan to stay in your home long term, then you should remodel it for you. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to please everyone else. At the end of the day, you want your house to be your home.  

The Best is Yet to Come,

Beth Orr Schroeder

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