Here you are, ready to embark on a remodeling project that will finally take your home to the next level. Your Pinterest board is loaded up with a dizzying array of paint swatches and decor ideas. You’ve been to the home improvement store so many times that the employees know you by name. You have every tool, tile, putty, brush, tape, and fastener you could possibly need.
You’re so ready it hurts.
This was me ten years ago — except for the bit about Pinterest (they only launched five years ago). I thought I had every little step accounted for and I was so wrong that it’s actually kind of funny.
Well, funny when it’s not soul crushingly depressing.
We remodeled our home for two reasons — we wanted to increase resale value and make our home a more stylish place to live in the meantime. We managed to fail on both fronts. When we reflected on our errors, here are the four things we found ended up ruining our good intentions:
We decided we wanted our master bedroom and bathroom to have an open floor plan — since they’re so popular. In order to make that happen, we had to take out the closet. Yes, you read that right. A master bedroom with no closet.
Needless to say, the appraiser dinged us quite a few points for that misstep. Having learned absolutely nothing, we also removed the closet from the half bathroom…..and one of the bedrooms. Crazy as it seems, apparently, people want somewhere to put their stuff. We tried to reasoning with the appraiser, but he insisted that the majority of people really want closets in their house.
If you’re thinking about tearing down some walls to open up your floor plan, be sure to leave the closets in. I know the linen closet in the hall doesn’t seem like too much of a loss, but where are you going to put all of your guest bedding? The bathroom?
Trends are fun — but most of them aren’t timeless. One place you really want to avoid trends is in the structural parts of your house (e.g. taking out your closets). Paint is nice and easy to change, but wood paneling, brick walls, colored fixtures, and other built in customizations can scare away potential buyers. A sleek new toilet would make the bathroom pop. If your budget permits, check out what Toto toilets are available. If you need some classic ideas, check out old magazines and articles to discover design elements which have endured the test of time.
We spent our entire remodeling budget on the inside of the house and completely ignored the exterior. And, if I’m being honest, the outside of the house could have really used some help. Rust brown trim isn’t the hippest of colors.
If the exterior color of your house is fading, peeling, or dated, painting it is a good place to start your improvements. And don’t forget your front door — a new coat of paint, stain, or just plain replacement can transform the look of your home.
And then there are the seals! You’d be surprised how many things are stripped, rubberized, or caulked on the exterior of your home — and how often these seals need to be replaced. Install door sweeps at the base of all exterior entry doors, fit garage doors with a bottom seal constructed of rubber, and fill utility openings in the foundation and siding with urethane expandable foam. This will help fight seasonal insect infestations and increase the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
During our remodeling project, we ran across a few things we figured we could skimp on. One of those elements was the skirting boards throughout the entire house. Twenty years of dogs and kids had absolutely destroyed them — think chips, gouges, and corners torn off. Rather than replace them, we decided to slap on a new coat of paint and call it good. I mean, who really looks that hard at skirting boards anyway?
Turns out, I do. All.the.time.
Once the new floors went in, and the walls had a lovely neutral color on them, those beat up skirting boards stuck out like a sore thumb. The appraiser noticed them right off the bat (of course he did).
We learned a lot from our first remodeling project — enough that our mistakes can be a lesson to others. Remember friends, avoid the trends, don’t cut corners, and for Pete’s sake, leave your closets alone.
Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or delve deeper into her internal musings at InstantLo