(ARA) - A new home: It's your chance to personalize your living space to suit your taste and personality. Or, so you think. Many builders offer limited options beyond their builders' grade materials.
Luckily, it's easy to add a few easy and inexpensive updates to make your cookie-cutter home stand out from the rest. What better place to start than the kitchen?
"A minor kitchen remodel is really one of the easiest ways you can make the most of your home while also giving it your own personal style," says Danny Lipford, renowned home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated TV show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford. "Plus, according to Remodeling magazine, it's one of the top five projects that will recoup your investment when it comes time to sell."
Lipford recommends these five projects:
If your kitchen is like most, you probably have laminate countertops, since they are available in a variety of colors and patterns and are relatively inexpensive. For a high-end look, update your countertops with a more resistant surface, such as solid surface, a molded resin that mimics the look of concrete ($35 - 80 per square foot); marble, which has natural beauty and is heat-resistant ($40 - $100 per square foot); or engineered stone, a mix of quartz and resins for an extremely durable and fashionable surface ($45 -$90 per square foot).
Does your faucet have a pullout spout with a beautiful finish that coordinates with the rest of your decor? If not, it's time for an upgrade. For less than $200, swap your no-frills faucet for one that adds functionality and fashion.
Fluorescent lighting is a staple for many builders; it's functional and inexpensive. However, it's not very aesthetically pleasing. Try one of these options: Track lighting, which is a fixture that sits close to the ceiling, but features multiple decorative lamps in a row; pendant lamps, which extend down from the ceiling like a chandelier; or mini pendant lamps, a smaller version of a pendant available in a variety of styles and designs.
Are your walls plain slabs? Add color and texture to make a dramatic difference. Painting is the simplest tactic, and by using high-quality paint, in a semi-gloss or eggshell finish, you can additionally make your walls easier to clean. Adding textures with updates, such as wainscoting, crown molding or even a tile backsplash are easy enough for a DIYer, and can be cost effective as well.
If your kitchen floor is more "blah" than "beautiful," it's time for an update. There are many choices available, from high-end hardwood or natural stone to more affordable options like ceramic tile and laminate. With the wide array of colors, designs and textures available, create a dramatic update that fits your budget and your unique design style.