Let's assume for a moment that your home is in great shape, it's healthy and efficient, and you've been diligent with all of the required maintenance from foundation to roof peak. But no matter how well maintained your home is, there's a good chance you have your eye on a few areas that could use an update. The question is, where do you start?
Most people have heard that you will get the best return on investment by renovating the kitchen, bathroom or basement - and for the most part it's true, based on what we generally value as a society. But answering the question of where to start and what to do is a little more complex than assessing the return on investment of your renovation plans.
Market conditions, how long you plan to live in your home, location, current design trends, and of course your budget must all be considered before making a decision. Trust me, I wish there was a simple formula you could put all the variables into that would guarantee the best possible outcome, but the truth is there are so many possible permutations that it just isn't that simple. The key is to make a decision that makes sense for your specific situation, taking all of the variables for your specific situation into account. At the end of the day, if it's what you want and what makes you happy, you've made the right decision.
For me, it's not the rooms that have been updated that make a home interesting and beautiful, but the details within those rooms that create visual interest. Everyone wants to create a unique space that feels comfortable and elicits compliments from guests and visitors. Unfortunately, so many homes lack those unique details. It would be simple for me to say go home and renovate your kitchen, bathroom and basement, but simple doesn't do it for me. Apart from ripping out cabinets and tearing up the floors, here are a few less invasive ideas that can have a big impact without breaking the bank.
Walk around your house and look at the ceilings. If they're flat, white and they lack detail, you're not alone. Ceilings are an often ignored detail and that's unfortunate because you have the same amount of ceiling as you do floor, so there's lots of room for improvement. Crown moulding is a good way to add some visual interest, but without spending a lot of time or money you can take it a step further. Adding colour, trim, false beams, or creating a coffered ceiling can have a huge impact on the look of your room and create a lot of interesting details to keep your eyes entertained. Ceiling details done well are also timeless!
Walls are another often ignored place in your home. Adding wainscotting or creating wall panels will break up large flat surfaces. The design possibilities are endless, and panelled walls are more resilient than drywall if you have children or pets. The key to creating eye-pleasing wainscotting is all in the planning - draw out your design on the wall, including any panelling, trim and baseboard to assist in measuring and cutting the pieces to make it all work. MDF or pre-primed pine are good materials to use and can be attached to the drywall with glue and brad nails. DAP paintable caulking and a damp sponge ensure that your panels look seamless after painting.
There are so many options for baseboard and window and door casings, so why do we see so many homes tiny, boring trim? Without ripping out all of your existing trim, you can upgrade the look by adding backbands (trim that sits on the edge and side of your casing), a cove moulding, quarter round or other shoe mouldings to the baseboards.
Interesting and well-planned trim details throughout your home are the kind of custom details that make visitors (and potential buyers) take notice. There really are no rules when it comes to trim, so use your imagination to create something amazing.
At the moment, I'm creating custom trim pieces from solid pine using a table saw, a router and an orbital sander - it's simple, but different. Don't be afraid to mock up a few different options before deciding on the final product.
When it comes to kitchens and bathrooms, most people plan on replacing cabinets and flooring, but there are other options that are less expensive and just as effective. Engineered flooring can be installed over existing floors to change the look without getting in too deep, and there are a wide variety of great products and designs available. Float a new floor over a solid base of ceramic tile, and you've added some warmth, softened up the floor and created an entirely new look. In an ideal world, flooring is installed all the way under cabinets, but by removing the kick plates you can retrofit with accurate measuring and cutting.
Consider removing and replacing your cabinet doors with different doors, or have your existing doors and cabinet faces refinished. And don't forget to change the hardware; that alone can make a significant difference. If your cabinets are in good shape, a bit of elbow grease (and some caulking or hole filler compound) can easily renew them. You can even change the layout of your kitchen by reusing your existing cabinetry - taking it all apart carefully is the key.
Countertops and Tiling
If your cabinets are in good shape, installing a new countertop and backsplash could be on the menu. There are so many options when it comes to countertops, and it really comes down to your budget and what you like. When the countertops are off, it's a good time to prepare the backsplash area for new tiles - it's often easier to remove the entire surface including drywall, and replace it entirely. Starting with a new, perfectly smooth surface makes it much easier to install new tiles. When it comes to backsplash tiles, the sky's the limit. Sure, there are great ceramic, porcelain and natural stone options, but there's also glass, wood and metal. Anything that will stick to the wall with mastic or thinset is an option, so be creative, and seal it well!
When you're looking for a project, just remember that it's all in the details. If you're sitting in your favourite chair looking around the room, your eyes are bored - and you're not up for a huge reno, it might be time to add something small with a big impact.