If you’ve been living in the same house for a while, you’re not alone.
Homeowners are stuck longer than in the past. According to a Redfin study, the typical homeowner spends about 13 years in their home today, up from about 10 years a decade ago. Home ownership is particularly long in California – homeowners in Los Angeles keep their homes for a median of 18.1 years, up from 13.6 years in 2012.
Redfin economists attribute the rise in tenure to a greater number of older homeowners aging in place, a nationwide housing shortage, and more affordable housing payments for those who recently refinanced at a lower mortgage rate.
However, if you’ve owned your home for a while but haven’t updated it, now might be a good time to make some home improvements.
After all, there’s a good chance you’ve acquired a significant amount of equity recently — the average mortgagee saw their home equity increase by almost $57,000 between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021 alone, according to real estate data company CoreLogic. That’s equity you can tap into through a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
Making a few upgrades to your home can modernize your space and make it more attractive to buyers if you plan to sell soon.
Here are five ways to give an older home a fresh feel.
1. Paint old or damaged walls
“Color can make the biggest difference in any room,” says Caroline Harmon, trend specialist at Lowe’s. A fresh coat of paint is especially valuable if your walls are chipped, stained or have other imperfections.
Choosing the right color palette is important. “Earthy colors and toned neutrals are calming and easy to mix throughout your home,” says Harmon.
Another safe bet: “Off-white can give the illusion of more space,” says Emma Glubiak, lifestyle expert at home improvement website The Spruce.
To attract a larger number of homebuyers, it’s wise to avoid colors that elicit a “love-it” or “hate-it” reaction — even if the color is trending on Instagram. For example, mint green is currently popular in kitchens, but many real estate agents said in a recent Zillow survey that buyers would pay less for a home with a mint green kitchen.
2. Give your kitchen a makeover
“Often a kitchen doesn’t need a gut, it just needs a few tweaks to keep it feeling fresh,” says Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design at The Home Depot.
She suggests replacing old kitchen cabinet knobs and drawer pulls with modern hardware, installing a touchless faucet, and installing (or updating) a backsplash. Just make sure the backsplash connects to the countertops, says Fishburne.
3. Replace obsolete lights
Lighting has a big impact. “Not only does it brighten up your space, but it can define the look and feel of any room,” says Harmon. “Lighting is often referred to as the ‘decor of a room’ as it really adds the finishing touch.”
Lighting designs go in and out of fashion, so consider replacing outdated sconces, pendants, and chandeliers if they’re looking dated, says Fishburne. Even if a room is dim, it can be a good idea to replace soft white light bulbs with daylight bulbs.
She also encourages homeowners to look at their outdoor lighting. In some cases, a fixture’s finish just needs to be updated with a fresh coat of paint rather than replacing the entire fixture. “Bright brass, for example, is no longer popular,” says Fishburne.
4. Increase containment attractiveness
Attractiveness – how your home looks from the outside – can greatly improve the perception of your home by buyers. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, which evaluated curb appeal based on aspects such as trimmed shrubs, properties with high curb appeal sell an average of 7% more than homes with one less inviting exterior manicured lawns.
Therefore, take stock of your landscape design. “Sometimes people who aren’t gardeners have older homes overgrown with shrubs, plants and trees, and all they need is a good pruning,” says Fishburne.
If you have a green thumb, creating a flower bed or planting trees and shrubs that add volume can make your front yard more inviting. And if you’re looking for landscape ideas tailored to your home, consult a landscape architect — most charge $70 to $150 an hour, according to HomeAdvisor.
5. Say goodbye to the carpet
Surveys show that carpets – a common feature in older homes – have gone out of style.
Ripping up an old carpet should be fairly easy, but replacing or repairing what’s underneath can be more difficult. According to a March 2021 survey by the National Association of Home Builders, the majority of homebuyers said they prefer hardwood floors, with 32% saying hardwood floors are a “must” in the main living area. Therefore, if your home has carpeting, especially carpeting that is noticeably worn, consider hardwood flooring.
In addition, restoring original hardwood floors can go a long way. “Hire a professional who knows how to work in old homes to restore your floors to their former glory,” advises Mallory Micetich, home care expert at Angi, the home services website formerly known as Angie’s List was known.
On a budget? Consider laminate, which is typically less expensive than real wood and easier to maintain.
More of money:
5 home improvement projects that are easy and affordable
5 affordable ways to boost your home’s appeal before it’s sold
Spring Home Buying Guide: Will the Hot Housing Market Finally Ease?