Make the most of what you've got

A few things you can do without needing to reach for the blueprints.

  • Before you start

    Not only do improvements make your house more appealing to you, they can make it more appealing to others, adding value to your home.

    Be aware of your home’s likely ceiling value – the most you’ll likely be able to ask when you sell it. There is little point in splashing out on premium fixtures and fittings unless you’re sure they’re adding what you’ve paid for them to your home’s ultimate value. Unless of course, you just really want them!

  • Invigorate the exterior

    Wooden front doors and window frames need painted for practical as well as aesthetic reasons, but while you’re at it, consider what can be achieved with a sanding block and brush, and what paint scheme would bring your home bang up to date.

    On a wider scale, think of the colour of any rendering or pebbledash.

    Brightly coloured houses look great at the seaside but might make your home a bit of an acquired taste otherwise.

    Repave scruffy paths or driveways. Rid your walls of excess ivy. Prune any giant hedges or trees blocking the light from reaching your living room.

  • Keep in character

    Emphasise original features if you’re lucky enough to have them – cornice work, ceiling roses, fireplace, tiled floors – they don’t date. If they’re buried away behind carpets or plasterboard, release them!

  • See the light

    Tasteful lighting can transform a home, making it much more welcoming and maximising the appearance of the space you have. This is especially true of recessed lights and uplighters. A single bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling isn’t always up to the task.

    At this stage you could consider whether you want to install energy-saving bulbs or low-maintenance LEDs – more expensive to buy, less expensive to use.

    Mirrors, meanwhile, open up a room, reflecting light and giving the illusion of more space.

    You could even install a periscope light, a reflective funnel which intensifies natural light and channels it into the room below. 

  • Crank up your kitchen

    The worktop is the easiest thing to replace to bring a kitchen up to the mark.

    Trying to keep up with the latest kitchen styles may prove to be an expensive pursuit.

    If you have traditional wooden cupboard units they can be sanded down and repainted every few years to keep things fresh, and readjusted if they’re starting to get a bit wonky. Changing the handles on cupboards and drawers can also give them a new lease of life.

  • Banish your boring bathroom

    A white sink, bath and toilet will stand the test of time.

    Although original features should usually be maintained where possible, make an exception in the case of avocado green bathroom suites – they’ve got to go!

    You don’t need to replace the whole suite – taps and things like the toilet seat are easier to replace and a cost-effective improvement if you don’t want to buy a new bathroom.

    Bigger tiles, meanwhile, are easier to fit and mean less grouting to keep clean.

  • Cut the clutter

    When moving out of a house in the past, you may have looked around and wondered why you didn’t keep it this clean and clutter-free when you still lived there.

    Take old clothes, books, DVDs to your local charity shop.

    Take old furniture to the recycling centre or give it away via your local Freecycle group. Try to make the best use of your cupboards and banish anything you don’t use every day to the storage space.

    It can make a house a much more enjoyable place to be.

  • Spruce up your space

    Any outside space is precious – a yard, a balcony, a garden. It may already be your sanctuary from the world.

    But if it isn’t, why not? What could you do to make it more inviting?

    If you have a patch of garden with sparse grass, maybe transforming it into decking or a patio might bring it to life – and require less maintenance too.

    You may be able to borrow money to fund home improvements - either through a personal loan or an equity release - if your mortgage provider values your home as being worth more than your outstanding mortgage you may be able to borrow up to the amount of that extra value.

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