Give Your Home A Makeover

Making your home attractive doesn't always require major renovations. Changing the colour scheme, repainting, hanging new window coverings and installing new lighting and flooring can help give your home the facelift it needs without breaking your budget.

Improving the "look" of your home not only makes it more attractive and comfortable, but may also increase the market value of your property. If, however, you are hoping to recoup your home improvement costs someday soon, stay away from specialized improvements such as pools, saunas, gyms, greenhouses and dark rooms. These are the types of improvements which -while they may be personally appealing -have little demand and, as a result, little added value.

The wisest improvements in any home are those that bring it up to the standards of other properties in the immediate area. If most properties have garages, central air, home office and fireplaces, these are well-worth adding. Improvements to enhance the exterior of your home -such as fencing, decks, shade trees, shrubs and landscaping -can also add value.

What's your style?
Before you begin your home improvement project, determine your style. It is best to choose colours and decorations and stick to one style. Chances are you won't be replacing all the furniture and fixtures in your home, so try to work any new colour schemes with the furnishings you have. For continuity and to create spaciousness, maintain the same colour scheme throughout the living areas of the home, varying only the accent colour from room to room. Break away from these rules in your personal spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

Don't be afraid of colour
When it comes to home decorating, colour and paint are your best friends. Colours can visually enlarge or reduce the size of a room, and can heighten or lower a ceiling. One of the best ways to update your home is to use paint. Paint can transform dated cupboards and vanities into bright new features in a room. The splashy colours and techniques available can add life to almost anything. You can brighten old floors and even give them a faux tile look using paint and polyurethane. Paint can also do wonders to the exterior of your home.

Take in the view
Do your windows provide a beautiful view? If so, be sure to keep the window coverings light and simple. If privacy is an issue, however, you will want to consider heavier fabric or blinds or blinds that offer privacy while still allowing the light to shine through. There are so many colours and types of window coverings to choose from that you will have little trouble finding something both eye-catching and functional.

Light up your life
Lighting can change the mood of a room. Bright lights stimulate activity; dim lights help you relax. Install dimmers for flexible mood lighting. If you want to create a warm atmosphere, use small pools of light instead of general lighting. The exterior of your home will also benefit from spotlights and floodlights that highlight your garden, walls and other features.

A ceiling skylight will dramatically increase the sense of extra space in a room and let in more light than a window the same size. It can transform a dark area into a brightly lit living space. Ventilating skylights can let in air as well. If your budget is too tight to install a skylight, try adding recessed floodlights to a ceiling or track lighting in areas you want to brighten.

Give the floor a clean sweep
It's amazing what homeowners have discovered under the rug. If your home has old wall-to-wall carpeting, take a peek to see if there is hardwood underneath. Wood floors may only need polishing or sanding down and sealing with polyurethane to restore them to their original beauty. Even when they can't be restored, wood floors can still be rescued with paint.

If you decide on new flooring, consider the wear and tear the room will have. Hard-wear areas like the kitchen and bathrooms benefit from resilient flooring choices such as ceramic and vinyl tiles. You can give any floor extra character by adding inexpensive area rugs, even over wall-to-wall carpeting.

Ask for advice
Many home improvement stores, paint stores, wallpaper outlets, etc. offer free decorating advice. Take advantage of this service during the planning stages of your make over. Ask for samples of paint colours and fabric and take them home to ponder. Above all, take your time and be sure you choose a colour or fabric you will enjoy for a long time.



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