Improving Your Home’s Look, Inside and Out

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I recently moved into a pretty dated house, so my plan for the next few months is to work on updating the place. But there are a few problems. For starters, I don’t know the first thing about interior design. Also, I’m not so sure what kind of budget I have. I definitely have some money to spend on this project, but I also want to be smart about what I update so that I get cost-effective solutions. I don’t want to spend thousands on a new coffee table, for instance, while leaving the old ugly paint on the living room walls (it’s salmon pink, if you can believe that). Experts, what can you tell me about sprucing up my new pad?

Buying a home that needs a little bit of work can be a great way to get your dream home for less. On top of that, the process of actually overhauling your home’s look can be a truly enjoyable one — provided, of course, that you know at least a little bit about what you’re doing.

We say “a little bit” because you don’t need to have an HGTV star’s level of DIY expertise in order to transform the look of your home. In fact, you don’t really need to do anything yourself. You can rely on professionals to make the actual changes to your property, while sticking to the big picture yourself. Still, it wouldn’t hurt for you to learn a bit more about the basics of improving your home, at least in terms of what sorts of projects you’d be most interested in.

One good way to start is to establish two things: a budget, and a list of priorities. The budget will be a personal decision, of course, but be conservative and assume that projects are likely to run a bit over their expected budgets. To establish priorities, you may want to make a list of things that you wish were better about the house in general. Rather than saying “I want new paint,” for instance, you could say that you wish the living room felt bigger or that the kitchen was more functional. From there, you could work with a home improvement expert to divine the most cost-effective ways to meet your needs. You may find that repainting a room and adding some wall hangings do just as much to brighten the space as a more complicated project would.

Large surfaces in your home are one place to look for transformative changes. Swapping out beat-up carpet for hardwood, for instance, could make your home more beautiful while also making it easier to clean and maintain. Speak to flooring experts, advise the pros at Palmetto Carpet and Floor Coverings, a company that specializes in flooring in Charleston, South Carolina. You may find that a professional job suits your budget and spares you the pains of a DIY project (which can cost quite a bit if you don’t know what you’re doing well enough to avoid costly mistakes!).

Think in terms of dollars and cents, too. Some home improvement projects are more likely than other to actually increase the value of your home. Check out online resources and speak with experts to find out which improvements also act as investments.

Exterior changes can involve major overhauls like replacing siding, but you can also get away with smaller changes that make a big impact. A colorful door could make your space “pop,” while elegant plantation shutters could transform your aging home into something both modern and classic. And don’t forget about landscaping, which has a surprising power to transform the look of your property without ever actually changing it. Look for low-maintenance plants if you want to avoid paying the landscaping crew again and again, and consider DIY options here, since the risks are lower and won’t affect your home structurally.

Above all, keep learning about your options. Dealing with professionals who handle big-picture changes like renovations and remodels could help you get a sense of the full spectrum of changes that you could make. You don’t actually have to invest in extensive remodeling just because you consulted with someone who does that sort of work. Keep researching online and take pictures of your space to help you visualize big changes, remembering that large areas like walls and floors will be big factors. If you stick to your budget and focus on the priorities that you establish, then you’re virtually sure to be pleased with the results!

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