By Design

A renovation checklist: Will upgrades be worth it?

by Patricia M. Cove
Posted 1/26/23

The real estate market appears to have cooled somewhat. But no matter what the market trends are, there always seems to be an interest in renovation.

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By Design

A renovation checklist: Will upgrades be worth it?


About a year ago, the real estate market was so hot, a building could sell in a few hours. Although the market still seems vibrant, it also appears to have cooled somewhat. But no matter what the market trends are, there always seems to be an interest in renovation. The absolutely perfect home is a rarity.

In my experience, buyers always want a bigger kitchen, a state-of-the-art bathroom, or roomier closets. But there are important questions to answer when considering costly renovations.

Are you planning to live in this home for a long period? Will these “upgrades” be improvements that most people will appreciate, or are these the kind of changes that will only appeal to you? And especially, will this renovation actually add value to your home?

Naturally, renovations will follow the latest trends. “Service areas,” the true core of the home, come out on top. Home buyers are always interested in handsome, hardworking kitchens, especially those with an eat-in area, and quality, time-saving appliances. Kitchens with well thought out cabinetry, in either a classic or European style, will get attention. Buyers also appreciate commodious bathrooms, one for every bedroom, plus a powder room. And there never seem to be enough closets. In fact, turning a smaller bedroom into a walk-in closet is a real draw.  Whatever you spend on these improvements ups the value of your property and gives you the edge in a competitive market.

There are other changes that won’t cost a king’s ransom, but can be worth their weight in gold when the time comes to sell. Improvements as inexpensive as relocating an awkward doorway or closing in a porch are often more cost effective than a major renovation. Replacing a small window with a larger one in order to get a garden view will open up an existing space and provide a lighter, airier, and considerably larger feel.

Greenhouses, although still popular, could be replaced by a sunroom. A spare room could become an exercise area. Minor architectural changes can also have a huge impact. Removing a poorly designed drop ceiling to expose existing beams not only upgrades the space, it creates a more modern aesthetic. The addition of crown molding is a moderately priced project that adds so much more interest to any room.

All of these changes will appeal to 90% of  buyers down the road. But if you are planning on putting your home on the market, keep in mind that 10% of buyers may be looking for just the right home that would enable them to create the house of their dreams. Speaking with a realtor can be extremely helpful in determining what the market looks like, and if there are potential buyers out there who are looking to purchase a home “as is.”

One last thing to remember when renovating: keep major elements classic.  Whether traditional or modern, classic designs using quality materials are much stronger selling points than turning your kitchen into a 2001 Space Odyssey, or your master bath into Marie Antoinette’s boudoir. You can still achieve these aesthetics with paint color, wallpaper and accessories, but permanent renovations should always remain quintessential, especially if your home is going on the market. 

So, if you are considering some changes to the home you will reside in for the next 20 years, or the one you will say goodbye to soon, take care in considering the “upgrades” you want to make. Talk to a professional regarding the equity you are looking for, and keep those changes classic. You will not only be creating surroundings that you will love, but one that others will love as well.

Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill, and can be reached through her website: