Will it pay for itself when you sell the house?
That has been the traditional rule for deciding whether or not to remodel. Even if you plan to stay in the home, it is helpful to consider what value a project will add if the house is sold.
“My grandmother used to say you should always have your house ready to sell,” says Diane Poff of Roanoke, an interior designer and home stager who has also sold real estate.
If you do decide to remodel, Poff suggests a good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 15 percent of the value of the house on a kitchen or seven percent on a bathroom.
Some best steps for a kitchen are to update appliances and invest in a high-end countertop.
If you are redoing a bath, keep the walls and fixtures simple and neutral and plan for a shower and a tub; perhaps a ceramic tub. Have your design fun with the accessories such as the shower curtain and window treatments.
A June website poll by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) found that 56 percent of homeowners care most about functionality, which includes placement of electrical outlets and light switches.
It is important to consider how the space will be used in the future, too. If the children are young, space is used one way. When children are grown and gone, that space has other functions. When remodeling, it helps if you think about how the space can be converted when family circumstances change.
In general, remodeled kitchens and baths bring the most return on investment, says Daniel Hurst, vice president with Building Specialists Inc. of Roanoke.
“A kitchen is the heart of the home and not only needs to have a warm welcoming feel, but it needs to be functional. If you are remodeling a kitchen on a budget, many times painting the existing cabinetry and adding new solid surface counter tops will give the room a totally new look,” Hurst says.
New appliances always give an older kitchen a facelift and by going with Energy Star, you will not only save on your monthly bills, you could be eligible for tax credits.
The back splash in a kitchen is also a great place to make a statement without robbing the bank. Try using an exciting high-end tile for accents to a medium-priced tile.
Making design selections is important. The more you personalize your project, the more difficult it will be to find a buyer when you are ready to sell, Hurst advises.
When redoing a bath, consider giving the room a spa-like feel. The same rules apply here as in the kitchen, however. Pick a medium or low-priced tile or stone for the majority of the room and then add a high end accent tile or stone that can be used sparingly.
In-floor heating for the bath has become popular. It gives the ultimate in comfort, but will add to the budget.
Outdoor living also has earned more attention from homeowners who are choosing to stay home to entertain. Patio, outdoor living rooms and outdoor kitchens are getting increasingly popular. With the economy struggling, consumers are choosing to save money by staying home more.
Another option for at-home entertaining can be a theater room, either in a basement or an extra room of the house. These can be fun to put together.
When planning a remodel, here are some details to think about:
• Where do you want electrical outlets, telephone jacks and cable hookups?
• What type of lighting is required – perhaps you’ll want to add a skylight or recessed lighting?
• How can you blend the design boundaries of new living space into existing living space?
• What are your current and future storage needs?
• What are universal features that can accommodate the needs of a broader range of people throughout their lifetimes?
Remodeling to Stay Put At Home
Two years ago, Bob and Carolyn May of Salem went shopping for a smaller home. They had lived for 30 years in a five-bedroom white brick house situated on two acres near Roanoke College.
“We had decided to downsize, but wewouldn’t leave Salem,” Bob says. His business, Countryside Classics, is in Salem and so are many of their friends.
Well, the couple still lives in that Red Lane house, only it has undergone a major facelift .
“We couldn’t find anything we liked better,” Bob says.
The couple called on Anne Bryan Larson of Grand Interiors, who also has the interior design firm, Anteriors Limited. Larson, who also lives in Salem, had helped the couple decorate the Red Lane house once before and done the same for a house they used to own at Smith Mountain Lake.
The Salem house has the feel of an English country house with its expansive rooms and many windows and a second floor hallway that won Bob’s heart the first time he saw the place.
“When I came up these stairs and saw this view, I was hooked,” he recalls. The hall is large enough to accommodate a reading area and work space in addition to entrances to the bedrooms.
Other special points about the house include stainless steel kitchen cabinets, a huge living room with great light and a garden room that runs the full length of the back of the house and opens to an ultra-private and enchanting patio and garden.
In other words, the house already had great bones. The project enhanced those.
Among major changes were the addition of central air, replacement of casement windows with Pella windows and the installation of custom plantation shutters. Granite counters were added, as were new appliances. The kitchen cabinets were removed and dismantled, sandblasted and finished with baked-on white paint.
Bob and Carolyn like pastel colors and wallpaper. A den finished in cherry was painted white to brighten it. Old wallpaper was removed and new paper installed throughout the house. All upholstered furniture was redone with fabrics coordinating with the wallpaper. This included redoing several sofas.
New bed linens were sewn for the master bedroom to match the updated wallpaper there. Some bedrooms still are being redone.
A leather sofa and chairs purchased from Grand Interiors for the den adjoining the kitchen is the only new furniture. The leather enhances Bob’s collection of framed fishing flies tied by Lillian Danielson, who is said to have tied flies for Teddy Roosevelt. A small selection of mounted fish is displayed over the den fireplace; they are souvenirs from Bob’s worldwide fishing trips.
Larson says her role was to manage the flow because her clients knew what they wanted. Some of her special touches include dining chair seats covered with fabric matching the wallpaper, and placemats created from the same pattern.
“The only thing Bob and Carolyn would have done differently was to move out during the remodel,” Larson says. At one point in the project, there was no place to cook, and Bob was sleeping in the attic and Carolyn on the downstairs porch.
“We’re comfortable,” Bob says. “It’s a little more house and upkeep than we wanted, but we love it.”