Home Sweet Home

Do This, Not That: Best Ways to Upgrade Your Home (And What Not To Do)

Want to increase your home’s value? Here are our top 5 house projects, inside and out, that will up your home’s value and increase your day-to-day enjoyment of living in it.

What To Do

  1. Kitchen Appliances (energy-efficient)

One of the first home upgrades we think of when someone says “remodel” is the kitchen. Yes, we love the look of those farmhouse apron sinks and stylish cupboards, but nothing beats an all-around appliance upgrade. Appliances are what make a kitchen functional and your time in it enjoyable. These days, refrigerator options range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, and the same for stoves, dishwashers, and other extras (did someone say built-in espresso machine?). 

So what should you choose when upgrading your kitchen appliances? You don’t need to spend your entire year’s salary on a remodel to increase your home’s value. Go with energy-efficient, sleek, and consistent. Make sure your kitchen has a coherent, modern style with unquestionable function, but don’t go all-out. It’s easy to get all kinds of inspiration from websites like Pinterest! 

  1. Bathrooms

If you can find the space for it in your home’s footprint, adding a bathroom will give you the highest return on the dollar. But even if you’re just looking to upgrade your existing bathrooms, doing so will add instant resale value. A new vanity and mirror, or even just a fresh coat of paint, go a long way here. 

  1. Basement 

Finish that basement. You’ll add to the square footage of your house, giving you and the future occupant more living space or even the option to create a room for rent or an apartment for an aging relative!

  1. Energy Efficiency 

Boost your home’s energy efficiency by upgrading insulation in the walls and attic (or installing insulation where there previously was none). You’ll reduce your energy bills and appeal to prospective buyers who are looking to do the same. 

  1. Curb Appeal 

As we’ve mentioned above, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way in making a home look modern and well-kept. Add landscaping to this list for curb appeal. Trim shrubs and plant a couple dozen water-wise plants to bring aesthetic appeal to your front yard. Again, it doesn’t have to be the most elaborate landscaping design and expensive hardscape features. Keep the outside looking good, and buyers assume the insides are just as well-maintained and attractive. 

We’ll also throw in a note about decks, while we’re outside. Decks add square footage without as much of a cost investment as adding another room, so they can be a great outdoor upgrade to increase your home’s value, as well.

Photo: JohnnyGreig via

What Not to Do

Basically, the what-not-to-do list can be summed up as “don’t go deluxe.”

Don’t go all out with the fanciest, most expensive hardware, appliances, and finishes unless it’s just something you can’t live without while you still call this house your home. Most buyers don’t want to pay extra for something they consider unnecessary, so those high-end bathroom fixtures probably won’t add to your home’s overall value.

Getting Started

Remember, these upgrades can increase your own enjoyment of your home while you’re still living in it – so you don’t have to wait until you’re ready to put your house on the market! And you don’t have to go deluxe to see the benefit of these upgrades. If, or when, you sell, you’ll recoup a lot of the cost in the value you’ve added to your home, and in the meantime, you’ll enjoy a little added comfort and aesthetic pleasure.

The Entertainer

Impress Your Guests on a Budget: 6 Ways to Upgrade Your Entertainment Spaces

Whether you’ve become the family’s favourite Zoom host or you’re gearing up for gatherings with your quaranteam pod, adding a few updates to your space will reinvigorate your entertaining style and impress your guests. The best news? The updates we’ve gathered here are all inexpensive but deliver a big payoff. So grab that to-do list and get to it!

Daylight Bulbs

One of the biggest improvements you can make to the feel of your home, both online and in-person, is in the lighting. An outdated, orange-tinted glow will make it hard for your friends to see you on Zoom and make your in-person family feel less energetic than usual. Switch your overhead lights to daylight-style bulbs, and you’ll immediately notice a difference. Your party will pop with this change in ambiance!

Fresh (or Faux!) Flowers

Don’t fresh flowers instantly brighten a room? Whether you’re on Zoom or hosting your quaranteam for a small gathering, having fresh flowers strategically placed is an inexpensive way to make the room feel vibrant and clean – for a Zoom call, make sure to place the flowers in the background so that they don’t appear to be growing out of your head! Can’t afford fresh flowers or don’t want to deal with the mess they leave behind? The good news is that these days, faux versions look incredibly real, and despite their sometimes higher initial cost, they’ll last you for years and years. This roundup has some of the best faux spring flowers available; grab a few varieties so that you can rotate and make your guests think you’ve been flower picking in your free time.

Framed Art

If your Zoom background is looking a bit dull lately, then one of the easiest ways to freshen it up is framed art. Similarly, adding framed art around your house in strategic locations can add character and interest to your home that your guests will immediately notice. If you’re on a budget, think small – instead of buying a large original piece for a wall, purchase a small print from a local artist and refurbish a garage sale frame. Then, add this artwork to the wall surrounded by other smaller objects (think a small wreath, hanging dried herbs, a small mirror, etc.). The original art will be the focal point, but it didn’t set you back hundreds of dollars. If you’re looking for an even smaller scale, create your own images in the colour/seasonal pattern you’d like, print at home, then frame with refurbished items. You can create a vignette of these pieces on a mantel, table, or bathroom wall!

Photo: SteveCash via

Hardware Upgrades

One of the easiest ways to refresh outdated furniture and cabinetry is by updating the hardware. New drawer pulls, knobs, and hinges can change the look of a piece without any paint or demolition. Consider updating the hardware throughout your entire home at the same time to create a unified look; even with the kitchen, two baths, and various furniture pieces, you’ll still come in well under a modest budget. If you have different styles or colour schemes throughout your home, choose one trait to carry through everywhere for consistency. Your space will automatically look more refined and polished with this simple upgrade. Check out this extensive collection of cabinet pulls and hardware, where you can easily sort by finish, colour, shape, and price.

Welcome Mat

Everyone knows that curb appeal is important, but what if you can’t afford new landscaping or exterior paint? For an inexpensive but noticeable upgrade, consider updating your welcome mat. While it may not get a lot of use these days, visitors will immediately notice a clean and inviting front mat (and the delivery drivers won’t mind a fresh space, either!). For an added bit of fun, try one of these interchangeable mats so that you can decorate your front step for any season.

Snack and Appetizer Trays

Nothing impresses your guests more than having specialized items for everyday activities – enter the snack tray! Instead of attending your Zoom family game night with the box of crackers balanced on your lap, take the extra time to organize your snacks and drinks on fun serving trays or plates. These wine appetizer plates are a sophisticated way to show off your elevated food game during a Zoom call or impress your in-person guests with their own easy spot for a drink and a nosh. If you have an assortment of appetizers or treats for the event, use this 3-tiered tray that collapses down for storage later; your food will be on beautiful display, and your guests will be impressed with (what they can only assume is) your extensive collection of hosting tools.

Whether you’re updating your Zoom room or freshening up your hall bath, these tips will let you affordably and easily impress your guests!