Renovations That Get You Bang for the Buck

Our homes are an extension of who we are and how we live our lives. A house is as individualized as the people that occupy it. Some want a hermitage, a peaceful retreat, an entertainer’s Mecca, a meditative cocoon or a beachside paradise.  Whether you are purchasing, selling, investing, renting or house swapping many decorating options exist to create a sense of tranquility, charm and comfort.

One of the many benefits of living, working and playing in Orange County is that I get to mingle with the friendly residents. Folks invite me into their homes and solicit my opinion on décor and upgrades. It’s common for homeowners to put their signatures on a place. The décor should reflect the personalities of the residents. That’s what serves to make a house a home. One of the questions I’m asked most often is what renovations we should do to prepare our house to sell and how much value it will add. Why not do the upgrades in the years prior to selling so you can benefit from the fruits of your labor? If you expect to obtain dollar for dollar return on your investment when you sell, you will be disappointed.

Kitchen and bath remodels will always provide the biggest bang for your buck. Depending on the materials used a kitchen renovation will give you as much as an eighty percent return. It’s like grocery shopping, it all depends on what you put in the bag; granite versus tile, travertine as opposed to wood laminate, etc. These are some suggestions that will enhance the aesthetics and add value to your home.

1)      Scrape the popcorn/cottage cheese ceilings by a qualified company.

2)      Remove the florescent light box in the kitchen. Install a tray ceiling with some recessed lights.

3)      Consider crown moldings and 3-4 inch baseboards.

4)      Replace the original countertops with Corian, quartz or granite.

5)      Install new kitchen cabinets. Glass display inserts are a hit with buyers.

6)      Under cabinet lighting and puck lighting in the glass cabinets brighten the area.

7)      Apply fresh paint throughout. I always recommend Dunn Edwards Nomadic Taupe with bright white trim. You can put any color accessories with this warm, neutral color.

8)      Multiple options in flooring exist today. Hardwood, concrete and travertine tile are just a few of the choices available.

9)      Bead-boarding, chair rails or wainscoting add dimension, charm and style.

10)   Epoxy the garage floor.

While you’re beautifying your home don’t forget to rid yourself of the excesses. Reorganize the clothes and linen closets. Clean out the garage, donate or sell whatever you haven’t used in the last several months. One man’s crumbs are another man’s banquet. Any homeowner can tell you that there will always be budget-busting renovations that you can incorporate to increase the value of your home. Stay within your budget and don’t over improve for your neighborhood. Don’t take on too many projects at one time unless you plan to move out, otherwise you’ll be shaking up your marriage along with the plaster.

Need a contractor, electrician, handyman, interior decorator, or painter? I’m always happy to refer from my list of trustworthy vendors. At this time of year when we are more mindful of having an attitude of gratitude, I thank you, the readers of this column for your thoughtful comments. Your input and suggestions over these last eleven years has been helpful in providing useful real estate advice on a weekly basis.

Susan Saurastri is a Realtor with Star Real Estate. Contact her at 714-317-0664 or

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 2:21 PM
Susan Saurastri | Category: Real Estate News

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