Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

By Kelly Boyer Sagert · June 29, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Four Ways to Upgrade Your Home

Upgrading your home doesn’t have to involve a full renovation. There are a number of light lift projects that can give your home a whole new look and feel, and even increase its resale value. Exterior upgrades, like fresh paint, a new front door, and better landscaping or outdoor lighting, can add to your home’s curb appeal. Indoor improvements, such as updated lighting fixtures, paint, or wallpaper, can give the interior of your home a more up-to-date, high-end look. Here are four ways you can upgrade your home without breaking the bank.

Exterior Improvements

A home’s front door is the focal point of the exterior. To upgrade its appearance, you might 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 exterior improvements you might consider include 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 color.

Front door styles that are currently trending include bold colors (from rose to deep greens and rich blues), natural wood stains, and more glass (such as custom inserts and floor-to-ceiling sidelights).

How you landscape your front yard will depend upon where you 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!

Recommended: 15 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for a Winter Open House

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 you like to entertain, or look attractive for even more curb appeal while providing illumination.

Size-wise, both tiny and boldly large lights 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 for interior lighting, table lamps and hanging lighting fixtures are appearing more often as dark neutrals in brown, black, or gray. They can be used to update the white, cream, or gray 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.

Recommended: Guide on Remodeling Recessed Lighting

Painting and Wallpapering

Painting rooms in a home can transform their appearance. What colors are trending? Grey and pale pastel tones are becoming less popular as homeowners begin to favor brighter shades, such as vibrant, saturated hues, often combining them with warm neutrals and earthy tones for an inviting balance. However, unless you’re planning to sell some time soon, personal taste is what matters most 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.

Wow Factor on Windows

In-style curtains often have hues found in nature, from green to ochre, 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.

Consider using double or triple curtain rods 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.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Replace Windows?

Costs of a House Upgrade

The type of house upgrades listed here might be considered low-cost or low-end renovations, and can average between $15,000 to $40,000 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 $40,000 to $75,000.

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.

Recommended: Renovation vs. Remodel: What’s the Difference?

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.

You might consider a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to finance a house upgrade. This type of loan allows you 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. However, there may be upfront fees and the rate is often 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, or sometimes no, fees. 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

There are a number of ways you can upgrade your home that don’t involve tearing down walls or putting on an $150,000 addition. Lower-cost upgrades may still require spending more cash than you have just sitting in the bank, however. Plus, you may not want to deplete your savings in order to upgrade your home.

If you’re interested in learning more about using a personal loan to finance one or more home improvement projects, SoFi could help. SoFi’s home improvement loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

Find out if a SoFi home improvement loan is right for you.

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