Remodeling your home with resale in mind


Remodeling a home: What should you do? What shouldn’t you do? This is a topic on which everybody and their brother has an opinion. Like interior design, there are basic rules upon which most people agree. But also like interior design, there are clever, talented people who can break these rules and produce a wonderful result. All that being said, here are some basic guidelines I would recommend when remodeling with resale in mind:

Spend money where it needs to be spent.
When one walks into a house, often there are flaws that jump out and scream “ugly” or “God, awful.” Perhaps it’s the worn, smelly carpet or the cracked, moldy shower tiles with prancing ducks. Prioritize these obvious flaws. Get rid of the ugly stuff, the worn stuff, and the horribly outdated stuff. Vintage items are the exception, such as antiques (hardware and light fixtures) or mod materials (retro tile, fixtures and appliances in good condition).

Keep the style consistent.
Don’t treat different parts of the house like they aren’t related to each other. This sometimes occurs when one spouse likes one style while the other likes another. Instead, compromise and choose one style – modern, traditional, rustic, vintage – and have it flow from one room to the other. Kids’ rooms are the exception.

Keep the style consistent with the era of the home.
In general, for period homes (such as turn-of-the century, Victorian, craftsman, mid-century modern) it’s most harmonious to remodel these in the style of the era when they were built. That doesn’t mean everything should look original to the home, but more of a nod to the period. Remodel projects should just feel “right” in the home, not incongruous or awkward.

Invest in the proper level of finishes and keep the quality level consistent.
Different price points of homes call for different levels of investment: You shouldn’t put an $11,000 sub-zero frig in a $250,000 home, nor should you put a $49 facet in a $2,000,000 house. Once you determine your proper investment level, don’t vary too much from this place. Buyers like consistency and it’s a turn off when one part of the house looks like the owners ran out of money. Finishes in the basement are the exception, though in our market I still recommend matching the quality level of upper floors.

Don’t use strong colors in permanent ways.
Once I went to an open house where the beautiful new home featured a very navy-blue kitchen: navy backsplash tiles, navy countertops, navy island cupboards. I listened to the folks coming and going. One summed up most people’s opinion: “Well, you’ve got to love navy to buy this house. Otherwise, forget it.” Why finish your home to appeal to only a small subset of the population? If you love navy, add it in art, drapes, throw rugs, and accessories, not in permanent parts of your home. As boring as it sounds, stick with neutrals in finishes for the best resale results.

Select one light neutral paint color.
Even though paint is easily changed, I would advise against strong, vibrant colors, internally or externally. Most buyers don’t even want to deal with having to repaint. If you love colorful walls, then by all means have them while living in your home. Just plan on repainting before you put your house on the market. Using one light neutral color makes a house feel more spacious, flowing and light-filled.