July 2, 2021

Sometimes, less is more

Whether studio apartment, small house or suburban dream home, there are simple, cost-effective ways to remodel without skimping on style or functionality.

Most American homeowners spent an inordinate amount of time the past 12 months becoming hypercritical of their personal space. Now that vaccines are making human interaction more appealing, and stimulus funds are rolling in, it is tempting to go whole-hog with renovations.

Homeowners often forget that renovations can snowball – and more stuff costs more to maintain.

Moving too quickly on remodels can be a zero-sum game. No matter if money is burning a hole in your pocket, make decisions that are both diligent and thoughtful. You will thank yourself down the line.

Do not get suckered into paying for things you do not need. Assess the space. The solution might be a simple floor plan change or furniture re-arrangement. Make sure the space is laid out for maximum usability.

When determining priorities, identify projects that have the lowest cost with highest impact. Transform and re-energize with minor improvements such as lighting, a fresh coat of paint, or new cabinet hardware.

Next, consider the furniture. Many items can be repaired, re-upholstered or resurfaced. Do not let these practical upcycling options fall by the wayside.

You do not need new items just because you have extra space. An open kitchen counter is a blessing. The latest gadgets may look cool, but are they essential to functionality?

In the same vein, people have a habit of buying too many chairs and huge sofas anticipating company and end up with a crowded look.

But think twice if you are on the verge of a life change. Make a realistic projection of how long you plan to stay in the home and how your family’s needs might change.

It is important to plan, stick to a budget, and map out a timeline that works for your schedule to avoid having to cut corners. When you feel rushed or want to seek out a cheaper alternative, your renovation plans can go awry.

Make sure to get proper inspections and permits and disconnect electricity or plumbing if necessary. You may see yourself as a Ms./Mr. Fix-It, but sometimes it is OK—to call in the professionals.

Among new homeowners, the biggest regret in ownership is facing unanticipated costs.

In a recent survey, more than 20 percent of millennial homeowners said they felt the costs of homeownership were too high, especially for maintenance and repairs. Experts suggest establishing an emergency fund for these contingencies, rather than splurging on luxuries.

It is important for new homeowners to know the age of major appliances and home systems such as HVAC, water heater, driveways and roofs. That way major replacement expenses can be anticipated and budgeted for based on the lifespan of these systems.