Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

March 15, 2021 · 6 minute read

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Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

Upgrades to a home can include interior or exterior changes, and both can add interest and value to a home. Exterior home improvements can add to a home’s curb appeal and might include fresh paint, an attractive front door, landscaping, or outdoor lighting. Improvements made to a home’s interior might be as simple as updated lighting fixtures, painting or replacing trim, or installing new curtains.

Exterior Improvements

A home’s front door can serve as the focal point of the exterior. To upgrade its appearance, a homeowner could replace the door, or paint it and add new hardware. Decorating the door with a seasonal wreath or another personalized touch can also add to its charm.

Besides a front door refresh or upgrade, other improvements might be a new mailbox, a new porch light fixture, and perhaps some window boxes with plants and fresh flowers that add a bright contrast to your home’s exterior.

Just like with other home decorating activities, certain styles are trending with front doors. Muted gray hues are popular, as are natural wood stains. For people who’d rather have more color, deep purple and midnight blue doors are in style. Low-maintenance materials such as steel and fiberglass are also trending.

How someone landscapes their front yard can depend upon where they live and the climate there. In general, though, modern trends include:

•   Natural landscaping using native plants, creating landscaping that’s eco-friendly and easy to maintain.
•   Pollinator gardens that attract butterflies, bees, and other insects that help pollinate.
•   Edible gardens, including lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, and more. Creativity is key!

Lovely Lighting

Outdoor lighting doesn’t need to be white—filters can add a range of colors. These lights can spotlight key areas of landscaping, highlight where a family likes to entertain, or look attractive for even more curb appeal while providing illumination.

Size-wise, both tiny and boldly large ones are in vogue and, although lanterns aren’t a new trend, they’re still considered stylish.

After a period of all-white being a hot trend, lighting choices such as table lamps or hanging lighting fixtures are appearing more often as dark neutrals in brown, black or gray. They can be used to update the white or ivory choices in a home.

Paying attention to texture in lighting fixtures can add interest and variety. Materials can range from wood to wicker and rattan, and can be crafted in contemporary shapes to avoid an overly rustic look. Also still trending are geometrically designed lighting fixtures, from simple to more complex shapes.

Painting and Wallpapering

Painting rooms in a home can transform their appearance. For a real punch of color, an option might be a deep magenta with teal and ocher yellow, while a neutral look can be created by the use of warm creams and the colors of stones.

Saturated colors like deep greens can make a space feel cozy and welcoming to some people, while others prefer the warmth of cream or stone colors.

Personal taste matters significantly when picking paint colors.

Wallpaper trends also run the gamut, including those with a texture and colors often inspired by landscapes. In this style of wallpaper, expect to see some blues, greens and neutral shades. Wallpaper made out of natural materials is trending, whether that’s grass or straw, wicker or silk. This can provide a more sustainable choice and can pair well with softer lighting.

Throwback styles can add a touch of nostalgia to walls, with styles including art deco and impressionist. These can offer the illusion that walls are covered with pieces of art.

Wow Factor on Windows

In-style curtains often have hues found in nature, from green to ocher, and can also feature flowers, landscapes and more. Geometric prints or two-tone materials may also appeal to some people. Velvet can be used to create a more intimate space.

Using double or triple curtain rods can be used to add layers of window coverings. Then you can add a layer that filters light and enhances privacy, while also selecting curtains with the appearance you enjoy.

Costs of a House Upgrade

The type of house upgrades listed here might be considered a low-end renovation, which could average between $15,000-$45,000 for a 2,500 square foot home. If, once momentum gets going, the low-end house upgrade turns into a middle-end one, the average cost could range between $46,000-$70,000.

If calculating upgrades by the square foot, figure between $10 and $60 per square foot, depending upon what you’re doing (knowing that the room being renovated can cost up to $150 per square foot).

Another cost-related factor is where the home is located. Pricing in urban areas might be twice as high as in rural areas, depending on the area’s costs of living.

Plus, upgrades in older homes may take more time and attention to complete. If the home is officially considered to be historic, there may be guidelines about what changes can be made.

Financing a House Upgrade

Sometimes, homeowners are able to pay for these upgrades out of pocket. This can be true when the costs are relatively small or when money has been saved for the costs of the renovation. This can be the smart choice when possible: no debt, no interest to pay.

A downside to paying for home upgrades with cash may be that the homeowner empties a savings account or cuts corners on the renovations to avoid needing to borrow funds. Or, if an emergency occurs and the savings account was used to renovate, then high-interest credit cards might need to be used to address the emergency.

Friends or family members may loan the homeowner some money for a house upgrade, and might offer better repayment terms than a financial institution would, whether in the interest or the term. If the homeowner has trouble paying the loan back, the personal relationship with the friend or family member might be damaged. There may also be tax consequences if the loan is considered a gift by the IRS, so it can make sense to consult with a tax professional before moving forward with this plan.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) might be another option for a house upgrade. This type of loan allows the homeowner to borrow against the equity in the home to pay for renovations. How much is available to borrow will depend upon how much equity is available and the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) that a lender permits.

For example, if a lender has an 80% LTV ratio, that means the institution would:

•   Appraise the home (e.g., $250,000).
•   Calculate 80% of that ($200,000).
•   Subtract current mortgage balances (e.g., $125,000).
•   Consider what’s left over ($200,000-$125,000 = $75,000) to be equity in the home.

The lender would also consider the financial profile of the borrower when reviewing the loan application. HELOCs often have a low initial interest rate and, usually, the homeowner can choose to pay interest only during the draw period. Initial costs can be high and, many times, the rate is variable with high lifetime caps.

Another option might be a home improvement loan, which is an unsecured personal loan and not attached to the home’s equity. Funding can usually be granted more quickly with fewer fees—or, in some cases, no-fee options.

This may be a good option for people who don’t have enough equity in their homes for their project or who don’t want to use their home as collateral.

The Takeaway

Borrowers who qualify for a low-interest, unsecured personal loan with SoFi can use the funds to renovate their home without needing to put the property up as collateral.

The average time from online approval to funding is seven days, getting money into your pockets more quickly. Because the interest rate is fixed, payments are, too, making it simpler to budget.

Interested in a personal loan? Apply for one with SoFi today.

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