Buying a new-build home comes with many advantages, including your ability to select the features, finishes and upgrades that best reflect your style and personality. The best upgrades are ones that increase the value of your home, boost the aesthetic appeal of a room or feature, and in some cases, improve functionality. We asked Empire’s Senior Decor Manager, Christina Crupi, for what upgrades help increase the value of your home.
Whether you’re currently choosing your own upgrades at Empire’s decor studio or are looking for small, inexpensive changes to transform the look of your home, read on to discover easy home upgrades that are always worth it.
1. Upgrade your countertops to elevate the look of your kitchen
Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most used rooms in a home, so replacing standard builder countertops for stone is a great way to give these spaces a custom look and feel. Granite, marble and quartz are among the most popular stone countertops, and with countless styles to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one that suits your needs and budget.
The toughest natural building stone, granite has a dense grain that makes it near impervious to staining, which is why it’s a top choice for a kitchen or bathroom. In addition to its consistent color and texture, granite is also low-maintenance and scratch resistant, and comes in a variety of colors that range from light neutrals to near blacks.
Characterized by deep veining, marble is one of the most beautiful natural stones. However, marble is porous — meaning that oils and stains can seep into the stone — making it better-suited to a bathroom, or even a fireplace surround.
Like granite, quartz isn’t porous, so there’s no maintenance required to keep these countertops clean beyond wiping them down. Just be sure not to place hot pots and pans directly onto quartz countertops, as they can be damaged by excessive heat.
2. Give your home a modern update with new pulls or knobs
An easy way to take a tired space from drab to fab? Switch up your existing knobs or pulls for something new. Whether giving your kitchen or bathroom a modern look or transforming the look of old dressers, cabinets or even doors, this is an easy and inexpensive refresh that has a big impact.
3. Replace standard light fixtures for ones with personality
Light fixtures needn’t be only functional — a statement lighting piece can be one of the most transformative elements in a space, giving rooms atmosphere and interest. “Don’t be afraid to take risks with what you choose,” says Christina Crupi. “Lighting can easily be changed, so get creative and be bold with your choices.”
PRO TIP: Always ensure that the light fixture you’re eyeing is suited to the space being considered. A good tip to remember is that the bottom of a light fixture should hang 30 to 36 inches above the height of a table or countertop, depending on your ceiling height.
4. Upgrade your fireplace mantel to create a standout feature
The fireplace is often the focal point of your living room; upgrade the mantel to complement and enhance the look of the living room and pull the space together. “This is a personal must,” says Crupi. “There’s nothing more comforting than the ambience of a fireplace in a family room. It also allows you to add personal touches with decorative pieces on the mantel.”
5. Boost your home’s visual appeal by changing wood stair pickets for metal ones
Metal pickets boost the visual appeal of any staircase, and they’re far more versatile in design styles than their wood counterparts. Another added benefit is that they can visually lighten up the look of a staircase or hallway, thanks to their more slender profiles.
6. Make cleanup easy by adding a backsplash
Not only is a backsplash easy to install, it’s one of the most inexpensive upgrades for your kitchen or bathroom. There are also a lot of merits to having a backsplash in the “wet areas” of your home — a backsplash protects the walls beneath them, prevents stains and water damage, and makes cleaning quick and easy.
7. Replace carpet flooring for hardwood for a more sophisticated look
Hardwood floors are vastly preferred to carpet for many reasons — they have a timeless look, they complement any design style, are easier to maintain, and are far more durable than carpet, which collects dust and eventually becomes worn. “There are so many wood species to choose from, including red oak, maple, hickory and walnut,” says Crupi. “Be sure to research which is the best for your lifestyle.”
The most expensive wood floor type, solid hardwood floors are known for their beauty and longevity, and are so named because they are 100 percent wood. Hardwood floors can last a lifetime, barring unusual circumstances, like flooding, which can damage the hardwood beyond repair. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished more than once.
Engineered hardwood is a thin layer of solid hardwood layered on top of a plywood base. Engineered wood is more moisture-resistant than solid hardwood floors, however, it’s thin surface layer means that it can become scratched or chipped easier than solid wood floors.
Made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures, laminate is more moisture and scratch-resistant than solid or engineered hardwood. It is the easiest to install and is the least expensive of the three flooring types, however, some lower qualities of laminate may have artificial-looking wood grain textures.
8. Personalize your faucets and taps to help pull a room together
Much like light fixtures, replacing your faucets and taps is another small design change that can go a long way. It can quickly become one of the most attractive elements in your home — who wouldn’t want to look at a beautiful fixture while washing your hands or cleaning up after dinner?
9. Add crown moulding for greater architectural interest
Crown moulding is one of the best ways to boost architectural interest in your home, whether used to elevate the look of a room or embellish a transitional area (like a hallway).
Want more design inspiration? Be sure to read our blog for more great tips, tricks and ideas, including how to pick your home finishes like a designer, how your obsessions can help you design your home,, and how to budget for your decor plans. You can also learn more about what upgrades Empire offers at our Decor Studio.