Cosmetic Upgrades that Sell Homes

Installing new hardwood floors or gutting an older kitchen to install new cabinets and counters can dramatically alter the appearance of a home.  However, these projects can also be expensive and involve many hours of labour along with the associated dust, noise and household disruption.  Extensive upgrades can help garner top dollar, but, in other cases, cosmetic changes are sufficient to attract a buyer.  Consider these simple, effective upgrades and ‘refreshes’ before investing thousands in home renovations.

Walls are main elements in any room so their colour creates an impact.  Intense, bold colours typically produce equally strong reactions in people: they love them or hate them!  You may like bright blue but potential buyers may only envision how many coats of primer will be required to cover it.  Stick to a neutral colour palette such as taupe, cream and white to appeal to a wide range of home shoppers.

Paint colour is just one consideration.  Have you noticed the state of your walls?  Bathroom surfaces can often become coated with a film consisting of hairspray, fragrance chemicals, soap, oils from candles and even mould that grows in moist environments.  Smoke, oil and tiny food particles can discolour kitchen walls.  Wash the walls in the kitchen and bathrooms with a solution of dish soap, vinegar and water.  Then rinse with fresh water.  Dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks.  While cleaning, if you notice chips and holes, fill with drywall filler, sand then finish with layers of primer and paint. 

Floors are the next largest element in a room.  To get them in good condition, steam-clean carpets, scrub tile and grout and make hardwood sparkle.  Rather than sanding and refinishing hardwood, which can be a dusty, expensive undertaking, consider using polish or restorer.  For un-waxed, polyurethane-finished floors, look for water-based polyurethane/urethane restorers that will bring back the lustre.  These products are available at hardware stores and hardwood floor retailers.  If you are unsure of the finish on your hardwood, which is common in older homes, consult a manufacturer or hardwood retailer.  If you don’t have time to clean and apply restorer to your entire room, polish can instantly provide a nice, temporary shine.   Polish is available where cleaning products are sold.  To keep your floors looking beautiful and reduce scratches, attach gliding pads onto the bottom of chair and table legs.  Remember to vacuum them occasionally and replace them at least once a year.

If you have pets, use a deodorizing carpet cleaner, vacuum often and open the windows frequently to help remove odours and allergens.  During open houses, it is best to ensure that your pets are removed from the property for the safety and comfort of open house visitors.

Although your furniture is likely not part of your home package, it can still have an impact on buyers.  A favourite, worn-out leather chair or a stained couch can leave home shoppers with a poor impression.  Sometimes steam-cleaning can improve the appearance of fabric furniture or you may wish to replace some pieces.

Enhance the sense of space and light in your home by paring down your belongings to the essentials.  Visit a professionally-staged show suite at a new condominium complex or flip through home décor magazines to get ideas.  You will notice that minimal items are carefully chosen for display on shelves, tables, countertops, a fireplace mantle, etc.  A bouquet of fresh or high-quality, artificial flowers on a coffee table is a nice touch.  Put personal mementoes, photos and everything you have on your refrigerator into storage.  Keep in mind that potential buyers will want to see your closet so don’t pile all your extra belongings there.  The fewer items you have in your closet, the larger it will appear!  Light also adds to the sense of space.  If your closets are not wired, consider adding a battery-powered light that you can turn on prior to showings.

In general, adequate, warm lighting will best showcase your home.  Open the blinds and curtains, use warm LED or florescent bulbs and consider upgrading light fixtures.  Replacing a fixture can be an inexpensive project and relatively simple–especially when a helper is available to hold the fixture while the other person manages the wires. 

Now that your home is bathed in soft light, you might notice something amiss with walls.  Are they devoid of artwork perhaps?  If you have artwork, does it consist of a random collection of items picked up from garage sales?  Preparing your home for sale is a great reason to explore the art world.  Photographs, illustrations,
3-dimensional artworks and giclée or original paintings can add new life to a room.  If you want to make a bold statement, rent artwork.  Galleries that sell original pieces will sometimes have rental programs.  They rent in hopes that the customer will fall in love with a work and purchase it, although you are under no obligation.  
Whether you buy or rent a stunning, one-of-a-kind artwork or frame a beautiful print, consider using light to give it a high-end appearance.  Recessed lights in the ceiling are ideal, although installation may require the assistance of an electrician.  Another option is a fixture specifically designed to overhang artwork; these are often available at lighting stores, frame shops, and artist supply stores.

These changes may be merely cosmetic but you will be amazed at the transformation.  Potential buyers will be impressed as well!