A Guide to Home Renovations

Living space with fireplace and mountain views

Home renovations 101: How to decide where to splurge and where to save.

I’m often asked what the best bang for your buck is when it comes to updating or renovating a home or even just a room. I love answering these types of questions because there is an art to renovating or decorating to maximize your resale value and overall appeal. There are certain items or areas that are worth an investment and others that can look just as good with a less expensive fix.

How to Decide

First, you need to answer the following question: How long do you plan to own the property and what are you hoping to make on your investment? This will help to determine how much money to invest and whether or not you should completely renovate or just perform a facelift.


Three words: “Brand. New. Roof.” = major appeal (MLS# 1285787).

If you plan to own the property for a while, I would suggest investing money into things such as windows, insulation, a new roof, or furnace. This requires a larger financial investment but secures your investment long term and has a great return on investment since buyers value these upgrades the most.

If your property doesn’t need major improvements but you want to make a cosmetic impact, then consider some basics. Updating or refinishing the flooring, removing popcorn ceilings or stripping wallpaper are all messy projects but make a big impact.

Paint! Did I say paint? Yes, I did. Paint makes the biggest impact and is the most affordable improvement you can make to any home or condo. Choose a palate that aligns with the type of property you have. For example, light pastels are not conducive to a ski home, so leave those for the beach house.

I’m not afraid of bold colors even for resale either. You should choose a group of colors that complements each other and then repeat those colors throughout the home. Some may be bold accent colors and some more neutral—have fun with it. However, beware of the paint’s undertone. You know what I am talking about—the paint you loved in the store and on the wall up until the sun changes and now it’s lavender or pukey green. Colors can change with light, which I find appealing unless the undertone is not a color you want or like.

home renovations

MLS # 1242170: Note how the chosen paint and chandelier warm up this home located in The Peaks.

Staying within the same family of warm tones or cool tones can help. Make sure you take into account the color of the wood in your home—it’s like another paint color and needs to blend with your palate. If you are afraid to choose the color on your own, go online and find some ideas on the various paint sites, or hire a paint consultant or talented friend. The right paint color can transform a house and elevate your design for very little money. We’ve all seen the renovation shows when they paint the cabinets and change the hardware and it’s a new kitchen.

Light Fixtures
I’m a big believer in using hanging lights, semi-flush, floor lamps, etc., to further your overall room design. This is also where you can save money. There is very reasonably priced lighting available, so put in the time into finding the style, size, and shape that best fits the space. Changing light fixtures and other fixtures makes a huge impact. If you are unsure about this, stick with one color of finish like brushed nickel or polished chrome. If you have the skill, these can be mixed, but be careful. Consistency is always a safe bet.

home renovations

The right chandelier or light in any space can make an instant impact (MLS # 1253760).

Then there is the actually decorating, which can’t go without mention. Here is where you can again save money. With places like HomeGoods and even the big box stores, there are reasonably priced rugs, art, frames, drapes, and the all-important bedding.

home renovations

A little pop of color combined with coordinated touches can go a long way as is the case with this lovely condo (MLS # 1260283)

Making an update to your vacation home or primary home can feel daunting, but by answering the simple questions like how long you plan to own the property and what do you hope to make on your investment will help you determine how much money to invest. My motto with any renovation or even a quick facelift is “find a way to do what you love at any price point.”

About the Author
Sunday River Real Estate
Sunday River Real Estate is the official agency of Sunday River Resort. Contact us at 207-824-5051 or at [email protected].