Remodeling without major construction can really change the look of your place
By Jared Fiel
Linda and George Raw have lived in their Fort Collins house for two years, and, like most of us over the last two years, they have seen a lot more of their house than they ever intended.
“It was just looking simple and plain,” Linda says. “I wanted something more finished.”
Many other people are in a similar situation these days. The housing market is too tight to move. Contractors are too busy to call you back. So folks are turning to smaller upgrades to make their home more personal and comfortable. The Raws called Sarah Bashore of Hixon Interiors to help out.
“Staying in your house and making it the place you want to be is making a lot more sense…both on budget and on time,” Bashore says.
While Bashore does what she calls the “big stuff,” meaning major remodels with intense work, she says the biggest part of her business these days is people who just want to make their current space a little nicer. “I do construction. But right now, even the contractors I work with are slowing down even when they give estimates because they know they can’t get to it for months,” she says.
The top thing Bashore suggests, wallpaper, may seem a little dated.
“Certain age groups hear wallpaper, and they cringe because sometime in their history they had to remove poorly installed wallpaper and it did damage to the dry wall and it takes so much time,” she says. “But properly installed wallpaper is not a nightmare to take down. It is the fastest, biggest impact. For all levels and all cost points, there is a wallpaper out there for you.”
It certainly worked for the Raws. “We love it,” Linda says. “She showed us three choices, instead of 200, like if you go to a showroom. And immediately we all gravitated to the same one.”
Narrowing choices is part of Bashore’s job. She says the supply chain issues that have hit the industry make it important to find samples that she knows she can get for clients immediately.
“For the second bedroom, she showed us the wild design first,” Linda says. “I think she was a little surprised that we loved it. All of this has made such a big difference for us.”
Of course, whenever you are remodeling a house, there is always some thought about resale value. Kevin Hawkins, a Realtor with The Group, Inc., says he brings an interior designer with him when he meets with people looking to sell.
“We kind of have to do a good cop-bad cop thing,” he says. “But people want to get the most they can for their house.” (See sidebar on top fixes that sell.)
Bashore agrees but says a home that is well designed will sell no matter how wild and crazy some of the remodeling can get.
“If you go bold, have a professional do it with you. It can help sell the house even if it’s not their style,” she says.
While most of her long-time clients prefer to have Bashore design and get the contractors in to do the work, she says some millennials are coming to her to get designs and leads on materials so they can do the work themselves.
“A lot of people I work with travel a lot and that is super fun and they love to see new places. But I like to make places where people say, ‘I can’t wait to get home,’” Bashore says. “It’s the place that recharges you. The place that makes you 100 percent.”
That is what Barbara Paddack of Fort Collins was looking for. She and her husband moved into their home 20 years ago. They had been planning to do some changes before the pandemic hit, but that was all put on hold. During that time, her husband passed away and she later decided to “make the house more my own.”
Bashore worked out changes that included refinishing the wood floor, window coverings, paint, new counters and some cabinet hardware.
“I just love how fresh and bright everything is now,” Paddack says. “This is such an uplifting place to be now.”
Fixes that Sell
The Group, Inc. of Northern Colorado recently sent out an article about some of the top home improvements you can make that will increase the value of your home. NOCO Style talked with one of the partners, Realtor Kevin Hawkins about these suggestions.
Make minor updates to the kitchen
“I had one client who had these old maple cabinets.
All she did was paint them and it completely updated the look of the kitchen,” Hawkins says. “You don’t need new cabinets.”
A minor kitchen remodel has the potential to recoup about 71 percent of your investment.
Upgrade the appliances
Upgrading appliances can definitely make a difference on offers from buyers. “Normally you get your money back plus some,” Hawkins says. Take advantage of holiday sales for the best deals on new appliances.
Make changes to the bathroom
The Group says, “Because it is a small, contained space, a bathroom can easily be updated with a few swaps and a weekend or two of hard work. You don’t even have to rip anything major out to see a huge difference in your bathroom. Simply give it a fresh coat of paint, install new light fixtures, re
place the mirror, update the towel holders, replace the faucet and knobs, or paint the floor tile. And if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious (and if you have the budget), you can swap out the vanity, redo the tiling, or replace an outdated toilet or bathtub.”
Hawkins addsthat he had a client who had a light fixture in a bathroom where the light was just hanging down on a wire. He says a $30 fixture gave the room an updated look and helped it sell.
Luxury plank flooring is also an easy and classy fix to most bathrooms, he says.
Finish the attic or basement
“Ever since COVID, more people are working from home and they want to envision a space where they can work,” Hawkinssays. He has a stager help prepare homes for buyers. A standard piece they are adding now is a small desk set up. “Ten years ago, nobody wanted to think about working at home,” he says. “Now it is the rage.”
Hawkins says that multigenerational houses are also in demand now. He says adding a small kitchenette to an attic or basement could show the appeal of using it for an aging parent who might need to move in.
Boost curb appeal
The Group says, “First impressions are everything! Make sure your house is putting its best foot forward, for both guests and passersby, by making a few changes to the front of your home. Boost curb appeal by swapping out house numbers, updating your mailbox, adding up lighting, painting your front door or installing a flower box.”
Hawkins knows this is one of his weaknesses. “This is the No. 1 reason my wife needs to pick out our next house,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve never picked a pretty house for us. But for my clients, this is huge.”
Give the interior a new coat of paint
“The No. 1 thing you can do in a home is paint,” Hawkins says. “It’s the most economical. Most people don’t even mind painting themselves, but it makes such a big difference.”
The Group adds, “It’s mind-blowing what a fresh coat of paint can do. Whether or not you’re selling your home, you can transform the entire interior of your home by painting it a different color. Consider a neutral hue to appeal to the widest range of people—or opt for more bold colors in a few smaller spaces, like a half bath or a bedroom. Use this opportunity to patch up any nail holes or other imperfections with some spackling.”
Hawkins says he had a seller who was putting a house on the market in the $900,000 range and it had all older brass and gold fixtures around the house, which gave it a very dated look.
“Fixtures make a huge impression,” he says. “I told them that if they spent $1,500 on new fixtures, it would close the deal.”
Elevate your home by upgrading a few fixtures, like door handles, drawer pulls or even faucets and light switch covers. And if you’re on a tight budget, you could simply spruce them up with a coat of spray paint. There are a variety of different spray paint finishes, from matte to “hammered” that will completely transform the texture of your fixtures—and make them look brand new.