Do you love your home but find it is looking rather dated? Perhaps you’re considering selling and want to raise your property’s value? Either way, it is time to take the plunge and modernize your home. Always think about the resale value of your renovations, says Colleen Brome, a ReMax realtor and interior decorator.
“You don’t want to put in thousands of dollars worth of renovations that aren’t going to pay off once you decide to sell,” says Brome, a 30-year veteran of the industry.
Here are some home improvements that will increase the value of your property.
New or replacement fireplaces
The wood-burning fireplace is as nostalgic as the famous Norman Rockwell’s 1927 Tea Time painting of a couple sipping tea by the roaring fire. But today, that painting would be in front of a high efficiency fireplace. Wood-burning ones are more toxic, polluting, less efficient and sometimes dangerous. Most popular for new construction and retrofits is by far the gas fireplace.
A gas fireplace is one of the most desirable assets a home can have, both for resale value and for setting the tone and ambience. “Besides the aesthetics of a gas fireplace, it’s a lot less maintenance and can increase the value of your home when you go to sell it,” Brome says, adding that on the West Coast, home owners are going for the contemporary, often linear, gas fireplaces.
Gas fireplaces have made huge advances in popularity thanks to recent increases in efficiency as well as advances in design. A gas fireplace delivers the best of both worlds – all the comfort without the mess and maintenance.
High-efficiency fireplace inserts
According to Robert Koby, owner of Vancouver Gas Fireplaces, gas fireplace inserts’increase a fireplace's efficiency.
“They are installed in existing masonry fireplaces or approved metal fireboxes,” adds Koby. “Most inserts are efficient heaters and are available with a number of features such as fans, thermostatic control, ceramic fiber logs for a realistic glowing effect, and a variety of trim options.”
Completely wall-integrated gas fireplaces are the most widespread by far, adds Koby.
To retrofit an older gas fireplace that doesn’t emit heat can run roughly $4,000 to $5,000. “That because it usually involves replacing the whole unit and cutting into the tile surround,” adds Koby. “The manufacturers are coming out with retrofits that you virtually only see the glass, you don’t see the metal or trim.”
Many of interior designer Patricia Gray’s clients are installing frameless units.
“This allows us to have the non-combustible material (stone, marble, tile etc.) to come to the edge of the fire opening. It eliminates the heavy black trim,” says Gray, who runs her own design company Patricia Gray, Interior Design. “More often than not, clients are asking for bronze glass crystals and a linear burner, rather than logs.”
One of the costliest and most important considerations is what flooring to put down. Selecting flooring that is durable, attractive, easy to maintain and healthy can be overwhelming because of the endless choices available today.
Brome adheres to the rule of threes when discussing flooring options with clients: never more than three different flooring materials in your home. The reason is simple; more than three and your home will look too busy and choppy.
“It’s all about flow. If you think of your flooring as the canvas for the rest of your décor, then imagine a seamless flow from room to room,” she adds. “Nothing creates that look better than choosing the same type of flooring throughout the common areas.”
If you have a small home or room, avoid using carpet. Carpeting can make the room look smaller. Laminate wood or hardwood is a much better choice because it tricks the eye into thinking the room is larger. Tiles can also fool us into believing the room is bigger than it is. Also, choosing horizontal lines to the floor will emphasize its width.
Lighting is often overlooked because people don’t realize the potential it has to transform a space. Lighting creates ambience and welcomes guests to your home. Often, new lighting dictates the tone for the rest of the home. Over the years, technology has provides us with endless choices to define our space.
At the forefront today are LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). Functional, energy-efficient and safer than their forefathers, LEDs dominate the industry and are what builders are putting in new constructions. When planning your renovation, change that old hallway light fixture for an LED that will not only save you money but look fabulous as well.
Faucets and Hardware
Another often forgotten elements of design is faucets and hardware. Although chrome still dominates the market, gold-coloured finishes and brass are back. And the brass is not the brash colour that was in vogue in the ’70s (think brass beds), but more a 21st-century brass.
“There’s a resurgence of brass but it’s a champagne, brushed brass that is elegant,” says Brome. “Trends come and go and even though some people shudder at the idea of gold hardware, there are some really beautiful gold-finished hardware and faucets that are more muted and sleek looking.
However, silver colours and modern shapes are still the most popular, Gray says. “When it comes to lever handles, the most requested are those with square back plate, polished chrome, satin nickel, stainless steel.”
For a clean, uniform look, Gray suggests home owners have matching door hardware throughout the home.
Finally, both Brome and Gray suggest that your renovation wish list begin with functional upgrades that make your home a healthier and more comfortable one, and then choose improvements that create a more modern, aesthetically pleasing home that will attract buyers when the time comes to sell.