7 Tips for DIY-ing your Not-Forever Home

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Tastefully decorated living room and kitchen

Transform your space without a costly renovation.

If you’re anything like me, you’re living in a smaller place while you wait to buy the house of your dreams. And if you’re even more like me, you’re always looking for new projects to make your house feel like a home. But if you aren’t living in your “forever” home yet, is it a good idea to invest a lot of money in projects you won’t be around to enjoy? Or to let your unique tastes have free rein when future homebuyers might not share them?

If you’re going to move at any point in the near future, it’s a good idea to plan for whoever will live in your home next. This doesn’t mean you can’t paint, remodel, or do projects that will make you happier while you’re there, just that you should consider whether those changes will appeal to potential buyers when it’s time to sell.

I’ve compiled a list of tips and possible DIY projects that won’t break the bank—and that you don’t have to undo when it’s time to move. This article isn’t about fixing up and flipping a house. It’s about indulging your creative side with some around-the-house projects while being practical about the future.

1. Consider the value of your home.

Before you do anything, remember how much you paid for your home and how much you’re likely to resell it for. A kitchen renovation might make you happier for the next couple of years, and if you’re set on it, more power to you. But if your home’s asking price will be about the same as what you originally paid for it, you might want to keep saving for that big remodel until you’re in your forever home. That way you can enjoy your hard work for much longer.

Take your community into account, too. Do some research on what makes a “good” location. If it’s an up-and-coming neighbourhood, investing a little now might turn into a bigger return when you sell. But if home values have peaked around a certain amount, you might have trouble selling for the price you want if it’s much higher than other homes in the area. So if the average home in your community sells for $420,000 and you bought yours for $440,000, it may not be the best idea to do an expensive renovation now.

(Here’s a tip: if you look up your community here on YEGisHome, you can see the average listing price in that community.)

2. Get things organized.

You don’t need to tear down walls and restructure your home to make the space work for you. Instead, improve the way you use what’s already there. Sure, knocking down a wall would definitely help make a small pantry bigger. But it’s more budget-friendly (not to mention more satisfying) to figure out how to make the current space work for you.

There are lots of proven ways to sort out your space. One way to do this is by adding an organizer to a closet. One of mine came with full-width wire shelves placed at awkward heights, which made it difficult to hang clothes. I swapped it out for an organizer with clothing racks and a small amount of central shelving, which worked for us and would likely work for whoever lived there next. It even matched the hardwood floor, so it felt like part of the room.

3. Invest in your furnishings.

Instead of customizing the house itself, you can change out the items inside it. For example, if you want to add some colour to your living room but aren’t able to paint, consider buying wall art or a few throw pillows. You could even splurge on a couch, an accent chair, or a coffee table that draws the eye. All of these things can express who you are, but they can be changed out easily and you can take them with you when you move.

Don’t want to commit to a single look? It’s easy to swap out smaller items to satisfy your inner DIY-er. Read up on simple design tips. Update the look of a cushion by changing its cover, whether you buy one or are handy enough to make it yourself. You could also have a gallery wall with a few framed images. For example, I have a large picture frame in my dining room displaying my latest hand-lettered creation. When I get bored of it, I just make a new one and add it to the frame.

4. Focus on your finishes.

Finishes are a great opportunity to upgrade the feel of a room. In the kitchen, you could start with the sink fixtures or cupboard handles. You could do the same in your bathroom, plus overlooked items like the toilet paper holder and shower head. (Investing in a nice shower head? Never a mistake.) Pewter and gunmetal finishes look great, but my personal favourite is brushed nickel. It looks great but isn’t too expensive, depending on the brand.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you could change up the cabinets by replacing or painting over the existing doors to go with those brand-new handles. Light wood or painted cupboards are big right now, but with the right combination of colour, darker ones can look great, too. Framed glass doors are also a good option, as long as the contents of the cabinet are organized.

5. Add a little wow to your walls.

If you’re looking to paint, think carefully about your colour choices first. Research colours that might make (or break) your resale value. People either love or hate vibrant or trendy colours, and if they hate them, that bold shade will prove difficult to paint over. Soft or neutral shades might not get your creative juices flowing, but they’re classic choices that never go out of style. If you downplay the colour palette in your home, it’s a lot easier for potential homebuyers to imagine what it would look like with their own stuff in it.

You could also paint a single wall in the colour of your choice. This would give you the pop of colour you want without being overwhelming, and when you’re ready to move, painting over it takes far less time. Or, if you’re looking for a different kind of feature wall, you could try shiplap, wallpaper, wood pallet, or wainscoting (although some of these can be fairly trendy). There are inexpensive ways to mimic these looks, too, like using imitation shiplap or board-and-batten.

6. Don’t forget the other two surfaces.

If your floors leave you feeling a little flat, there are ways to fix it. You can refinish an existing hardwood floor, or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can pull up your carpet to put in your own hardwood. (Sorry, it’s not likely to be hiding under there already.) You can also replace linoleum with tile. Whatever you do, be sure that it either isn’t expensive or adds to your home’s value in a way that you’ll see a return on.

Take a look at your ceilings, too. Many people don’t tend to think about their ceilings as another DIY-able surface, but it can draw the eye and make a good impression. You could remove your popcorn ceiling, update a drop ceiling, or cover it with shiplap, wood planking, or just a coat of paint for a different look. While you’re up there, if you are or happen to know a certified electrician, you could consider changing out your light fixture as well.

7. Steer clear of hot trends.

While it’s good to keep an eye on trends and make sure your home feels current, don’t cater entirely to a very modern trend. For example, butcher block countertops were big a few years back, but interior designers are moving back to the classics. If you follow a trend, your home could look out of date by the time you’re ready to sell.

None of the websites linked to in this article paid for placement or in any way influenced the writer’s decision to link to them. They aren’t partners of, endorsed by, or otherwise affiliated with YEGisHome. The opinions in this article are given by the author and don’t necessarily represent the opinions held by YEGisHome.ca.