They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but the living room is becoming more important than ever. We’ve spent a lot more time at home lately and we’ve come to appreciate comfortable, inviting living spaces that allow us to gather together, relax, and maybe watch some of our favorite binge-worthy shows.
Because the living room is now a major hub, you can bet that buyers are paying closer attention to this space. Here are a few improvements that will impress buyers, help increase your marketability, and maybe give you a little boost in value.
Let there be light
Studies show that light has a significant impact on our physiological and psychological well-being. So it’s no surprise that natural light appears at the top of many buyer ‘must-have’ lists.
To ensure your living room is filled with as much mood-boosting vitamin D as possible, ditch the heavy fabric curtains, and instead go for lighter linen or cotton options. Also, move furniture a few feet away from any windows or glass doors to allow light to flow through the room.
If you have an old, solid front door near the main living area, consider replacing it with a door that has a window to brighten things up. Not only will the added light impress buyers, but replacing your front door can also come with a significant return on investment (ROI).
“In addition to improving natural light, homeowners should also take a look at their lighting fixtures,” said Doug Petroff with Petroff Appraisals. “Replacing old and dated fixtures with something more modern and trendy is a relatively inexpensive project and something most homeowners can easily do themselves.”
Refresh the walls
A new coat of paint can make all the difference in the world. And because the goal is to help buyers envision themselves in the space, nuetral colors are your best bet. But neutral doesn’t always mean boring. Today’s neutrals include grays, taupes, shades of white, black, and even some pastels.
Open things up
Size can impact the feel of room. Main living rooms should be open and big enough to accommodate the whole family.
But Petroff says homeowners should consult a professional and run a cost-benefit analysis before tearing down walls.
“Opening things up can get expensive pretty quickly,” he said. “In a first-floor living room you’ll likely be dealing with a load-bearing wall, and that can dramatically increase costs and the scope of work.”
Swap out the flooring
Stepping into a living room with dingy carpet is an immediate turn off for almost every buyer. But replacing old carpet with new carpet may not be the smartest move. Most of today’s buyers prefer hard surface flooring, like hardwood or luxury vinyl plank (LVP).
According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Remodeling Impact Report, new wood flooring ranked 4th in projects that most appeal to buyers. And when it comes to ROI, NAR says a hardwood flooring project runs about $4,700 with an estimated return of $5,000 (106%).
Show some flexibility
Pre-pandemic, a living room might have only served as a hangout or TV-watching spot.
“We are starting to see a bit more value in the homes that offer versatility,” said Petroff. “If your living room is adaptable and can serve other needs that is a big bonus. For instance, does it have an area where a buyer could add some built-ins and create a workspace? Or a place where they could add shelving or cabinets to store toys, school supplies, etc.?”
Pay attention to your neighborhood
When taking on any renovation, it’s important to consider what is typical for your neighborhood. If most homes in your area have smaller living rooms with dated finishes, focus on only a few crucial updates that will help your house stand out, but keep your costs down. On the other hand, if you live in a more upscale area and your house is the shabbiest on the block, you’ll need to invest some money to bring things up-to-date.
And Petroff says homeowners should also consider how long they’ll be in their home before they start tackling projects.
“If you’ll be selling in the near future, I might focus on things like paint and lighting that will give you the biggest bang for your buck,” he said. “However, if you are staying put for the next few years, you might want to install hardwood floors or add built-ins to make your living room more inviting and versatile. Just keep in mind that in many homes, the living room is seen right when you enter, so in terms of marketability, you want a space that is appealing, functional, and comfortable.”
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