Upgrading your home is a good way to increase its value -- especially when we're talking about high-profile areas like kitchens. I don't plan on selling my home any time soon, but I've invested money over the years into making it a better place to live, all the while hoping that at some point, I might see a decent return on my investment.
But while I did, in the past decade, put money into landscaping, a deck, and a finished basement, there are certain upgrades I passed on specifically because I have young kids under my roof. Here are a few that just weren't worth the investment.
1. High-end wooden flooring
Though my home already has hardwood flooring, in the past 10 years, it has largely gotten banged up and scratched -- partly by my kids, and partly due to normal wear and tear. When my husband and I called in a flooring company for an estimate on ripping out our current floors and installing newer and nicer ones, the contractor who came to our home looked me straight in the eye and said something along the lines of "Lady, save your money."
He, too, had young kids at home, and he insisted that he wouldn't even consider updating his own floors until they were middle-school-aged. He was right. My kids have a tendency to race cars, draw, and build things in the middle of my hallway and living room despite having a dedicated playroom in the basement (go figure). Sinking thousands of dollars into a flooring update just wouldn't have been practical.
2. More attractive cabinetry hardware
My husband and I purchased our home as new construction, which meant certain components weren't included in its sale price, like towel racks, window treatments (more on that in a minute), and hardware for our kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. When we finally got around to picking out hardware for my husband to install, I found a really nice design at our local store -- the most expensive option in the shop. My husband was on board, but then we remembered -- little kids and nice things don't mix.
I'm really glad we opted for basic hardware. Now, I don't cringe every time my children yank on a kitchen cabinet or tug too hard on a drawer. Besides, the hardware I initially wanted was pretty specific to my taste, so chances are, we wouldn't have gotten our money back for that upgrade in a sale.
3. Better blinds
My husband and I were pretty surprised to learn that window treatments wouldn't come with our new construction home, and since we were sinking money into other projects, we settled on paper shades for the first year or two we lived in our house. But once those shades started to rip, we knew we'd need real blinds.
I wanted nice-looking shades with a remote control option -- an expensive feature, but a helpful one. My husband insisted that we buy the cheapest blinds we could because our kids would no doubt destroy them. He was right. We've since replaced the blinds in their rooms already, and while my living room blinds have mostly survived thus far, it was smart not to make that upgrade.
4. Nicer bathrooms
The master bathroom in our home has a lovely marble countertop. But our downstairs and kids' bathrooms are far more modest, and for good reason. This way, the kids can destroy those bathrooms and I won't even care.
In fact, the bathroom my kids share is known as our "beater bathroom." It has laminate countertops, the most basic sinks you'll come across, and builder-grade hardware. Most days, the sink is filled with scattered bits of hardened toothpaste, the counters are littered with hair accessories, and the cabinets have mouthwash stains. I'm therefore thankful I didn't spend an extra dime to make it nicer.
Spend your money wisely
Having children shouldn't prevent you from living in a nice home. But if you're going to renovate, know which upgrades are more likely to withstand kid damage than others.
The high-end faucet we have in our kitchen sink has been a pleasure to use these past number of years, and since my younger kids still can't reach it, it was a good buy. My granite kitchen countertops have also fared well despite having doubled as a jungle gym when my twin daughters were younger. The lovely hallway chandelier we bought enhances our entryway, and even the tallest ladder we own wouldn't allow my kids to reach it. And the oversized soaking tub we put in our master bathroom once made for a very fun mock swimming adventure when my kids were cooped up in the house during a winter storm.
The point? Spend your renovation dollars on aspects of your home that your kids won't ruin, or wait until they're a bit older to make those investments. Remember, when you have little kids, most people aren't judging what your home looks like -- they're just thankful to find a patch of toy-free flooring to step on.
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