How to Add Value to Your Home

A few weeks ago on Instagram, I asked for suggestions on topics you wanted to see me cover here on the blog, and how to add value to your home was one of them. But before I dive into those details, I have a big disclaimer to discuss…Our living room rug

I truly believe that you should change your home because you want to, not because it may bring you money down the line. It’s important to design and renovate your home for YOU, not for a potential buyer. If you love green cabinets, but you’re afraid of going with green because you want to sell your home in five years…who cares??!! You love it now and if the time comes to sell, all you need is ONE buyer who likes green too. Unless you’re flipping a home for profit, I never think it’s a good idea to renovate or decorate your home for someone else.Casey's master bedroom

However, I do think there are some projects that will help you sell your home and others that will probably never allow you to see a return on your investment. Plus, it can be easy to over-improve your home and spend much more money on your house than you can recoup when you sell it. So today, I thought it would be fun (and informative!) to discuss some projects that will help when it’s time to sell your home!

Improvements to Our Old Condo

The before photos of our living roomFamily room design decisions

Before I get to my list of projects, I want to discuss our old condo and the improvements we made there (you can see the entire before and after in this post). As many of you know, we sold our Chicago condo last April and bought our current home. We put a lot of work into our condo over the four years we lived there, but it was mostly cosmetic changes (besides our guest bathroom renovation). Those changes helped us sell our condo for over $80,000 more than when we bought it! Plus, we ended up getting five offers in one weekend.Guest bedroom beforeGuest room makeover

So, it just goes to show that you don’t have to gut your entire home in order to make some money when it comes time to sell. I’ll share some of the projects we did down below so you can see what I’m talking about.

Improvements to Our Finn Fixer UpperBefore photos of the railings in our homeFinn walking up the stairs

As for our current home, we’ve made sooooo many changes and we’ve only lived here for a year. We basically took this 1921 home, gutted it down to the frame, and are now rebuilding it. That comes at a cost (you can read more about our renovation budget right here), but we feel like it was worth it to us. We ended up buying this house below our budget and then putting money into it to customize it exactly to our taste, not a future buyer’s taste!Office beforeOur home office makeover

Our plan is to upgrade every single space and then we will enjoy this home for a bit before finding our next home to improve. We’re confident that the time and money we’re putting into this home will pay off. Will we get every dollar back? Maybe not, but at least we will be living in a home that is exactly the way we want.The exterior of our home

I also think it’s important to know your neighborhood. There’s only so much money you can get for your house based on its location. Be aware of the value of the properties around your home. You don’t want to invest too much money in improvements which you will never be able to recoup.

Ideas to Add Value to Your Home

The front of our house

Okay, now let’s dive into that list of ways to add value to your home.

Upgrade your KitchenHow to add value to your home

The kitchen is by far the best way to add value to your home. Yes, you could gut it and start over with new cabinets, countertops, appliances…the works! But even small changes will have a payoff.Jan's kitchen beforeFinding a condo in the city and changing up the kitchen

For example, in my mom’s condo she had the existing cabinets painted, swapped out the sink and faucet, replaced the countertops, and improved the lighting. It now looks like a brand new kitchen (you can read more about that process here). Gray and white kitchen

This new and improved kitchen will be a gamechanger when it comes time to sell. And not only that, she loves it!Casey and Finn making plans for Frugal February 2020

In our condo, we opted to keep our wood cabinets the way they were because they were in such amazing shape. But we added a backsplash, got all new appliances, and replaced the lighting. All of those changes definitely helped when we sold our place!

This fall we’ll be completely gutting our current kitchen and redoing the entire footprint of the room. It will be a big investment, yet it’s a must if we ever want to sell this place and get the highest price possible. Not to mention, we’re excited to finally create the kitchen of our dreams!

Focus on BathroomsAdding wood shelves to a bathroom

After the kitchen come the bathrooms. This is another space where it’s worthwhile to spend some dough. But again, you don’t need to gut your bathroom to see a return on investment. Swapping out light fixtures, mirrors, and faucets can go a long way!

Our recent guest bathroom makeover proves that you don’t need to spend much (less than $600) to completely transform the look of a space. While we want to upgrade the shower tile down the line, the improvements we have already made would help us sell our home today!

At my mom’s condo, we spent a bit more money because we swapped out the vanity as well as the mirror, lighting, etc. But we kept the tile, shower, and tub exactly the same. These changes made such a big impact. You can read more about that transformation here.

On the flip side, we completely gutted the guest bathroom in our old condo and we did it all ourselves! This was a great learning experience and I think the updated vanity, tile, and shower were appealing to buyers.Our master bathroom

As for this house, we want to focus a lot of our budget on improving our master bathroom suite. I’m thinking that will be a 2021 project…

Open ConceptBefore photos of our finn Fixer upperOur living room makeover

Another project that could add value to your home is removing walls that hinder an open concept flow. We looked at dozens of homes last spring and there were many where I wanted to immediately take down walls to create a larger kitchen or living space. That’s a big project for the average homeowner.casey and finn in the living room beforeCasey And Finn in the living room after

Of course, we ended up buying a home where we had to take down a large load-bearing wall (more on that saga here) and it came with a hefty price tag. But doing this immediately changed the entire home and made it much more appealing for a buyer down the line.

Refresh Outdated FireplacesThe fireplace in our condo

An outdated tile fireplace can make your living room seem old and in need of a revamp. So, if your fireplace needs a little refresh, I think it’s worth it to spend a few hundred dollars to retile it or build a new mantle (especially if the fireplace is the centerpiece of your living room!). Here are some examples of before and after fireplaces from past blog posts…Jan's living room beforeJan's living room

My mom swapped out the tile and added shiplap to make her fireplace a showstopper! You can see more of it in this blog post.

We DIY’ed the fireplace at our old condo and it was fairly easy for Finn and me to remove the old granite and replace it with marble and trim. This was the first thing you saw when you entered our place, so it was nice to give this area a refresh before selling. You can find the entire tutorial here.

Curb Appeal

New landscaping in the front of the house

Boosting curb appeal is always a good idea! First impressions matter and having a welcoming exterior will definitely go a long way when it comes to enticing buyers. I’m not saying you need to go out and replace all of your landscaping (although healthy bushes, trees, and flowers are always a good idea), but even small weekend projects will make a big impact. Here are a few…

As for bigger projects, putting in a deck or patio is another great way to add value to your home. Just think of it as if you’re creating another room, outside, that is an extension of your home. It’s almost like adding more square footage!

Finish Your BasementBasement before

We looked at dozens of homes when shopping last summer and many of them had unfinished basements. This wasn’t a dealbreaker for us, but we did know that it would be a big investment to finish these spaces ourselves. The home we bought has a finished basement, and even though it needs tons of TLC down there, the fact that it’s finished is saving us big bucks!

We’re planning to remodel the space eventually to make it a playroom and living space that is to our style. This is a worthy upgrade because not only will we enjoy it with Rory, but future buyers will appreciate the extra finished space!

Tackle Some Projects!How to add value to your home

If you know you want to sell your home someday and get the most bang for your buck, I urge you to add some of these projects to your list. You certainly don’t have to spend tons of money gutting every room in your house. Just a few small budget-friendly projects can make a world of to add value to your home

The worst thing you can do is upgrade your home in order to sell. That means you won’t get a chance to enjoy all of that money and hard work you put in! Make a budget and a plan now so you can create and enjoy the home of your dreams (and make a profit down the line!).


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.