When homeowners take the plunge into home improvement projects, the initial steps can seem overwhelming. What projects will you be able to complete in your budget? What are tasks you can do yourself?

Most importantly, which projects will offer the biggest return on your investment.

Today, it’s impossible to not think and talk about the value of your home. Even if you’re planning on spending many years in the residence, it’s inevitable that someday, somebody will reap that investment reward. This may be your children, or even grandchildren. Real estate continues to be one of the greatest ways to build and pass along your wealth. 

This conversation becomes even more important when you’re living in an established neighborhood or city. Take San Francisco, for starters. In the past few decades, the city has seen a dramatic increase in home sale values. In fact, it’s near impossible to buy a reasonably priced home today in the Golden Gate city. At best, long-term residents hold onto their properties like gold. Making subtle improvements may not even be on your radar.

But for the rest of us, improvement projects can offer substantial value.

This leads us to the next question. With dozens, if not hundreds, of projects to choose from, how can we be sure we’re making the investments for our homes. Rest assured, there’s plenty of research out on the topic. Research that aligns well with the projects I’ve undertaken in the 20+ years I’ve been in this business.

Take a look at the top improvement projects you can do for your home!

  1. Front Yard / Curb Appeal

We’ve written about this topic in the past and can’t stress enough on the importance of this subject. This is the one of the best and easiest ways you can improve the value of your home. Simple solutions to try? Trees are always in fashion. They provide shade and a lovely aesthetic to your yard. What are a few other things on your list?

  • Add a walkway leading to your front door
  • Paint your door and install a modern handle
  • Hire a landscaper or research hearty, perennial plants that will offer multi-seasonal appeal

Keep in mind that your front yard will be the first image any buyer will notice. And even if you’re home is not on the market, you’ll be able to enjoy the improved landscaping each day! 

  1. Aim for Light Spaces

Nobody likes to live in dark, cold places. Consider painting the walls in a warm hue or keep it classic with a neutral shade. Recessed lighting is also a great investment, providing an elegant lighting solution during the evening hours. This an be a great time to check the windows in your home as well. In a future post, we’ll talk which structural projects are worth your investment. But updating your windows you’ll save money on your heating bills while investing in your future. 

Clean with lemons

  1. Upgrade your Floors

Wood floors are a classic for a reason. Making the investment to refinish or install hardwood floors can be a great addition to your home now and in the future. Many people prefer hardwood due to their ease of maintenance. And it’s far simpler to throw down a rug than struggle to keep a carpeted room clean. This can be a great option especially for homeowners who live in older homes. There are few better surprises than finding original  hardwoods underneath three layers of carpet. 

  1. Remove Outdated Features

In addition to upgrading your floors, take an audit of your home and make a list of any outdated, or even trendy embellishments. Popcorn ceilings, paneled walls, rooms with accent walls. All of these styles negate the value of your home. When in doubt, always strive to update your home with classic details. What’s trendy today, will be outdated tomorrow. This rings equally true for when you’re painting your walls. While you may love that shade of red, if you’re not planning on inhabiting the house for a substantial amount of time, it may be in your best interest to choose a shade that’s more appealing to the majority of people. Plus, it’s far easier to paint over a neutral shade than a bolder hue. While you may think there’s nothing worse than a white wall, research may disagree. A white wall invites the prospective buyer or renter to make that space their own. When confronted with a previous shade that’s chosen by the owner, it’s harder for prospective buyers to imagine that space as their own.

  1. Focus on the Bathroom (& Kitchen)

Research shows time and time again that these two rooms offer the biggest bang on your investment. Think about it. Most people spend time in both of these rooms each day. It’s natural that residents would want these rooms to be efficient and elegant. A few ideas to try? Both rooms benefit from similar updates: crown molding, updated countertops, new fixtures, a new coat of paint.
While all of these upgrades will add value to the rooms, another component to consider is the layout. Making each room look great while also functional is absolutely essential. You wouldn’t want to work in a kitchen that offers limited counter or sink space. 

Additionally, while you may not think it feasible, hiring a contractor who can assist you with larger projects, like removing walls or moving staircases can pay off big-time in terms of value. It may not be in your best interest to create a floor that’s completely open concept, but removing one wall to offer sight lines to the back of the house may be a good solution to consider. And with all projects, you’ll be reaping the benefits of a beautiful and functional space. A brilliant bonus that continues to pay itself off in value.

No matter what project you decide to embark on, what’s the first step you should consider? Research. Comparing the costs, timeline, and the necessary skills that are needed to complete this project are always easier to plan out in advance. When in doubt, hire a professional who can help you make the best decision for your room.