Decorating & Design

March 3, 2009

Smart Investments

A few key upgrades can improve the marketability of your home, increase its value and help to sell it quickly. Here are five renos — from minor to major — worth the effort:


The exterior of a house is its first impression. The roof represents 30% of what is visible, so it can be a big selling point if it’s in good condition, especially on an older home. Black topping a faded driveway will also improve a home’s curb appeal.


Consumer reports show that homeowners see an 85% return on the cost of renovating a bathroom, making it the most important room to upgrade prior to selling. Consider upping a bathroom’s wow factor with luxury features such as marble counters or flooring and high-end showerheads. Replace outdated mirrors and fixtures, and swap coloured sinks, tubs or toilets with white models. Wall sconces positioned on each side of a vanity mirror are more flattering than overhead fluorescent or globe lights. Create a spa-look by sticking to neutral colours for walls and accessories.


You don’t need to install all the bells and whistles of a cook’s kitchen, but replacing older appliances with the best models you can afford will significantly increase the attractiveness of your home. Inadequate cabinets in cheap or trendy materials turn off potential buyers. If yours need to be upgraded, opt for quality finishes, hinges and sliders. Doors should have room to fully open and drawers should pull out smoothly and feel solid. Replace worn countertops with a highly regarded material such as granite, Corian or stone composite in a neutral colour. These add contemporary shine and give kitchens the luxe appearance potential buyers are looking for. Avoid countertop tiles applied with grout, which might need repairs and appear grungy in a couple of years.


Replacing worn carpet or flooring increases the hassle-free quotient of a home. Swapping outdated wall-to-wall carpeting for hardwood flooring or laminate makes spaces look larger and more elegant. Light to mid-tone oak or maple hardwood suits most tastes.


A fresh coat of paint is an easy and cost-effective way to improve a home’s overall appearance. Avoid trendy or bold colours in favour of soft neutrals. The idea is to create a fresh, pristine backdrop in which potential buyers can easily picture themselves and their possessions.

Still need help?

Speak to a local real estate agent or appraiser for helpful advice on improvements that add value to homes in your particular neighbourhood and in general.