Whether you’re thinking of selling your house this year—or just like the idea of a return on your investment (who doesn’t?)—certain ROI home improvements can not only make your house look better, but also increase its market value. “The value of making a home improvement varies significantly by two dimensions: your current home value and your location,” says Beatrice de Jong, broker and consumer trends expert at Opendoor, whose home improvement calculator can help you determine which renovation and remodeling projects might have the biggest impact on your house’s value. “Understanding how much a project could potentially add to resale value is the first step in determining whether or not the investment will pay off,” she adds. Read on for a few DIY projects that have proven their worth.
“Your entryway or foyer can be an incredibly important place when it comes to the value of your home, as it sets the entire tone for the rest of the space,” says Toronto-based interior designer Ali Budd. “Invest in beautiful tile and gorgeous lighting. Make sure the closets are done perfectly with a combination of hanging shelves and drawers. Typically, doors throughout the house should be consistent, with the exception of the foyer. Take this moment to do something special, like paneled wood, applied molding, and gorgeous hardware.”
According to de Jong, buyers can attach anywhere from roughly 5% to 12% more value to a home with a well-maintained landscape. The space doesn’t have to be large, but it does have to be well thought-out. Budd suggests incorporating four main elements: a place to eat, a place to lounge, lighting, and greenery for both beauty and privacy. “Mature trees can be hard to come by and are expensive, but even simple latticework with greenery intertwined can offer a lot of privacy between houses and add a big green punch,” she says. If you’ve got the budget, Budd also recommends installing ground lighting. “And, if your budget doesn’t permit it,” she says, “don’t underestimate the impact of some pretty string lights.” In the front, de Jong says, consider installing window boxes, “and don’t forget about your front door,” she says. “Make sure it has a fresh coat of paint and maybe even a seasonal wreath.”
“That sense of calm that comes with knowing there’s a place for everything is unmatched,” Budd says. “The biggest non-aesthetic question our clients ask is, will I have enough storage?” In living areas, freestanding cabinets with drawers allow for fast cleanup, especially for families with small children. In the kitchen, tall full-depth cupboards with pull-out shelves make for great pantries, as well as storage for dishes and small appliances. “They can also make your kitchen feel double the size,” Budd says. One caveat, she notes: “Open shelving is display—not storage.”
A freshly painted room will look bright and refreshed—and is fairly easy to do on your own. “Paint changes everything!” says Portland, Maine–based interior designer Heidi Lachapelle. “Whether it’s picking the right shade of white or just reapplying what was there before, paint cleans everything up instantly.” For an easy, modern approach, she suggests painting the ceiling, trim, and walls all the same color and sheen. “With time and patience, even novices can make a fresh paint job look professional,” de Jong says. “You don’t need a ton of equipment, and there are tons of online tutorials that go into great detail. Light neutral colors have the widest appeal, and add significant value to a home.” Opt for higher-quality paint if you can, as low-quality paint chips more easily and will require more coats—and don’t skip the primer!
According to an Opendoor survey, 50% of prospective home buyers said that outdated kitchen appliances are their biggest turn-off. De Jong recommends replacing older appliances with new, stainless-steel ones. “Buyers will pay a higher price for a move-in-ready home,” she says. But smaller changes can go a long way too. “One quick and easy upgrade is to change out the kitchen hardware and light fixtures to ones made of metal, such as black matte or satin brass,” says Austin-based interior designer Christine Turknett. “These finishes are typically found in custom homes, so choosing these will elevate the overall look and feel.”
Bathroom renovations generally cost 3% to 8% of a home’s value, but a DIY job can make it even less than that, dramatically increasing your ROI, says San Antonio-based designer Shawna Percival. “Simply painting cabinets and replacing mirrors can make a huge difference,” she says. “Take it a step further and update the lighting and plumbing—bonus if you match the finishes on these fixtures.” It is possible to replace your own sink, Lachapelle says: “Just be mindful of what type of sink you currently have and choose the same in a new one, to make for a seamless swap-out,” she says. “That is, single or double hole, deck-mounted or wall-mounted.” As Turknett points out, since bathrooms typically have a small footprint, even little changes can go a long way.
Wood flooring is a smart home upgrade that will always add value. According to Realm, which provides data on ROI home improvements that yield the highest values, new flooring averages a 342% ROI. “New flooring can elevate the look of your home overall and solve other design problems, like providing a continuous line of sight to spaces that previously felt disconnected,” says Marc Bacher, the founder of flooring brand Stuga, who says that, if you have some basic DIY skills, installing your own floors is more doable than it sounds. “The hardest part is the scale of the project; it’s pretty life-disrupting to move out all your belongings for the duration of your installation,” he says. “Otherwise, DIY installation is a great option for increasing the return on your flooring investment by removing the labor expense. Just be sure to read the manufacturer’s installation guides and ask questions ahead of time. And don’t forget to buy good knee pads!”