Whether you're interested in dressing up your house to sell it for a higher price or simply spiffing it up for your own enjoyment, there are many enhancements that you might consider, in a wide price range. Here are a few ideas of projects you might tackle yourself -- or that you might hire a contractor to do. Many are drawn from our busy and helpful Building and Maintaining a Home discussion board -- pop in to see what folks are saying and to get answers to your questions from some knowledgeable people. (We're offering a free 30-day trial of our vast and vibrant board community right now.)
1. New cabinet handles
Replacing your kitchen cabinets is not an inexpensive endeavor. But you can give your kitchen a bit of a new look simply by replacing the handles on your cabinet doors and drawers. At Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) or Lowe's (NYSE: LOW ) and perhaps even at your local hardware store, you can choose from an array of new handles, each costing no more than a few dollars. A simple $50 investment, along with half an hour spent with a screwdriver, can spruce up your kitchen. (Along similar lines, a fresh coat of paint and new door knobs and light switch plates can make a room look a lot fresher, too.)
2. Air conditioning
There are more options today regarding air conditioning than were available just a few years ago. For example, look at SpacePak air conditioning, cited on our board by SteveNieters. I don't know enough about it to recommend it wholeheartedly, but I've heard some good things. Here's what the company says about itself: "What makes SpacePak different from conventional air conditioning? Small, 2" flexible tubing eliminates large, bulky ductwork. Small inconspicuous outlets to match any décor. Less humid by removing 30% more moisture. Ultra-quiet cooling and heating. Draftless for even comfort. Quick and easy -- installs in days." There are surely other options to consider, as well.
3. Ceiling fans
If you don't have air conditioning, and even if you do, ceiling fans can serve you well. In the summer they can cool you off by keeping air moving, and in the winter, in theory at least, they can push some warm air down from the ceiling. Watty56 noted that ceiling fans "make a big difference; there are a number of days in the spring and fall when I can get by with out turning on the A/C because of the ceiling fans. Make sure that you get quiet ones for the bedrooms. Even a little noise when you are trying to sleep can be annoying. Just remember that the ceiling fans need to be mounted on a special junction box that is attached to the supports in the ceiling. A junction box that is designed for just a light fixture won't be strong enough to support the fan when it is running."
You read that right -- concrete floors can be stained and look quite attractive, whether indoor or out. This thread addresses the topic and includes a link to a sample provider.
5. Kitchen counter replacements
Fool emma06 started a lengthy discussion when she inquired about replacing her 28-year-old Formica kitchen counters. Recommendations ranged from man-made quartz to leaving the counters alone.
You might tile a kitchen or bathroom floor, or some other surface in your home. The wall in your kitchen that runs between your counters and cabinets, for example, might look nice covered with some ceramic tiles. Folks on our board have discussed how to go about tiling. And SuaSponteMark shared some advice on it, too.
Imagine walking barefoot on a warm floor. That sensation can be yours with a radiant-heat floor. Fools discussed this on our board, and GoofyHoofy even shared photos of his do-it-yourself project installing such a system in his home.
8. A plastic garage floor
On the home board, fleg9bo ignited a long discussion about plastic flooring, saying, "At the home show today I came across a product for the first time -- RaceDeck plastic garage flooring. It comes in one-foot squares that you snap together kinda like laminate flooring. There is a variety of colors so you can make all kinds of interesting patterns. It goes right on top of your old floor -- no muss, no fuss. No worrying about those ugly cracks in the cement." The discussion also touched on paver stones, which can also make for an interesting floor covering.
9. A new toilet
You can buy decent new toilets for not much more than $100 and often considerably less than that. Or spend a little more and get a toilet you like even more. They come in a variety of heights, colors, and styles, with different flushing capabilities and mechanisms. (For an even-lower budget improvement, consider just getting a new toilet seat, which can cost just $10.) Some on our home board seem impressed with the offerings of Toto (OTC: TOTDY), a Japanese company that's apparently the world's largest toilet manufacturer. (Who knew? Not moi.)
10. An alarm
It might seem a little pricey, but you may get a substantial discount on your home insurance, which can make the cost easier to bear. In addition, some systems can also monitor for fires and can call the fire department if you're not home. Lizmonster noted, "The guy who sold me my alarm basically told me it was a good thing to have if your neighbors have one. He said a thief who's looking for a random 'easy' house will be more likely to skip one that's labeled for being alarmed. (I live in a pretty dense neighborhood.) He was also quite clear that if someone wants in your house in particular, an alarm system isn't going to stop them. If I'm to believe him, they can, under some circumstances, be a deterrent. They don't guarantee you protection against anything, though."
If you're up for a lot of interesting reading, check out this long discussion about how to build an ideal house. The thread sports more than 100 posts, featuring many ideas, some of which can be implemented in an existing home, such as argon-filled windows and an outdoor shower.
These are just a few of the many, many improvements one can make to a dwelling. I invite you to share your own ideas and experiences on our Building and Maintaining a Home discussion board. And if you're in the market for a new home or mortgage, click over to our Home Center, which offers gobs of guidance.
Selena Maranjianenhanced her home with doormats and curtains. For more about Selena, viewher bio andher profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money Guide andThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is do-it-yourselferswriting for weekend warriors.