How to make your house a home

Top 9 Home Improvements I’d Make Today

September 8, 2016 by Michelle

Sears Home Services sponsored this post featuring the top 9 home improvements I’d love to make to my house today.

9 home improvement tips to help make your house a home. What should you update to maximize the value of your house and get the most enjoyment from it?

I love my house. Truly, I do. It’s why we bought (overpaid for?) our house, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I wouldn’t change about it today if I could wave a magic wand. We’ve been slowly but surely making changes since we moved in, knowing that we have a long list to make this the “perfect” home.

Of course I’d blow out my kitchen and make it two or three times its current size, but our house can’t support that. Instead, we aim for more realistic changes to get more comfortable in our house. That’s why we tore down the old tiny garage that wasn’t safe to park in and replaced it with a three car garage that fits both cars and “stuff” beautifully. That’s why we’re getting our roof replaced and gutters rehung.

But there’s more to do yet.

The good news is that spending money isn’t just throwing money into a sinkhole. There is a return on the investment. While I may not recoup 100% of the money I put into updates and improvements, I’ll have the enjoyment of the changes, and it will make it that much easier to sell my house when the time comes. Of course, some improvements give a bigger bang for your buck than others…

home improvement projects with high return on investment

Of course Sears Home Services can help with many of the changes I want to make, and I love that they have offers available for many of these updates that make it more financially feasible to do sooner rather than later. Anytime I can use a discount for home improvements, I’m happy!

Top 9 Home Improvements That Make Me Wish I Had a Magic Wand

Replace the vinyl siding. Some of the things are silly and simple, but others will take more time and energy. When we built the garage, we also took the deck off our house to make room for the necessary driveway. That made some of the sloppy flaws from the previous owners more apparent. The vinyl siding on our house has to go one day, and probably sooner rather than later. It’s only 12 years old, but when you paint the deck and paint the side of the house at the same time…. I’d love to give my house a little brighter color, too. Nothing too obnoxious, just a little sparkle.

Don't paint your house when you paint the deck

Build a bigger closet. This seems silly, right? Well, we have a 1925 house, so storage is at a premium. People just didn’t have “stuff” then, and there aren’t many closets in the house. We have a relatively large foyer for the house, but our front closet has just one door… though it leads about eight feet to the side. We can’t access half the closet without pushing inside. Instead, we plan to make it a walk in closet by moving that wall out about three feet and adding a second door to make it easier to access. Finally, we will have a place to store shoes and our vacuum and all those other things that need a home. Interesting concept – we would even have a place to hang guests’ coats, which we can’t readily do now because of the setup!

Change out the front door. This is a big one for me. Our front door doesn’t just have side lights, it has a huge window in the front of it. That means anyone walking up on our front porch can see almost our entire first floor. A curtain doesn’t really work there, and the door also has ugly brass knobs that I want to replace with a keypad entry system. Of course, the keypad entry system isn’t the same size or setup as the current lock. Changing it would leave holes in the door if I just switched that out. This is part of a much bigger project that is a few years down the road though since we may move the location of the door, so we’re holding off for now.

Replace the front door with the big window

Switch out the screen door. A couple years ago, we were part of a project on home improvements, and we got a new screen door. I love being able to open the front door. Or I do on the 3 days a year in Chicago that it aren’t too humid, too hot, or too cold to let fresh air inside. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the same quality screen door we installed in our last two houses, and we can tell. When we redo the front door, we will absolutely be redoing the screen door to be the one that closes well. And knowing how the wind blows, we will change the opening orientation of it. Trust me, you don’t want to know how many times we’ve replaced the closing mechanism on the door because my son opened it too far or the wind caught it and bent it.

Replace the windows. I’m sitting in my family room right now, and I can hear insects through the kitchen window. I check constantly to see if it’s shut properly because I shouldn’t be able to hear it them that readily. When our house was gutted and remodeled in 2005, a lot of things were done “builders grade” special. It’s readily apparent from the brass and chrome bath fixtures to the orange grout that doesn’t match the tile, the person who did this just used whatever they had on hand and was cheapest. The windows aren’t in the best condition. I’d love to improve their insulation and help keep my house comfortable all year with no leaks!

Replace the window treatments. When we moved in, we changed up many of the window treatments. We added blackout shades in the bedrooms, replaced the cheap and icky ones in the bathroom, and swapped out the completely ratty ones in the office and back door. We left some of the nice wooden blinds elsewhere in the house, as well as the Roman shades in the family room and kitchen. The Roman shades aren’t my style, and the dust they attract in the kitchen grosses me out. Plus, the previous owners’ cat chewed off all the adjustment cords on the wooden blinds. I keep saying I need to get those restrung, but well, that’s still on the to do list.

Don't let cats chew on your blind cords

Blow out the family room. The biggest change we want to make is to increase the physical size of the living room. Our house is fairly small, and we’re good with that. We chose to downsize, and we live having less “stuff” everywhere, but the family room is the one area that feels cramped and makes it harder to entertain guests. If we could take the side wall and simply push it eight feet out, we would be in heaven. This would also give us a ton more light inside the house. I love the idea of making it feel more open and airy – and bigger. We have a wrap around porch. Luckily, we wouldn’t need to add to the roof, but we would need to add a foundation. This isn’t a cheap change, but it’s one we’re definitely saving up to make before my kids are older and we’ll start thinking about moving!

Add a patio. When we built the garage and removed the deck, we didn’t add a patio at the time, knowing that we have other projects we need to focus on. That means we wheel the grill out from the garage every time we want to use it. And yes, the garage also houses our unused patio furniture. I miss a dedicated place to sit outside, so creating a nice outdoor living space is on the agenda!

Redo the basement. Our basement was finished when we moved in, although it wasn’t gorgeous. At the walk through, I noticed damp carpet, and we got a credit at close to account for that. Unfortunately, we faced a bigger issue. We had to remove a wall to find the foundation crack that was the cause of the water. And three days later, a huge deluge of rain created another wet wall. The previous owners had disconnected a downspout, and water seeped through. And yes, that meant carpet came up, though only a section. Since then, we’ve had two water incidents in the basement. Once my daughter accidentally stopped up the sink where the washing machine drains and more recently the water softener exploded. We pulled up all the carpet, and two and a half walls have just studs. We earmarked this as next big project on the list, and my kids can’t wait until it’s 100% fixed up again!

Why choose Sears for my Top 9 Home Improvement needs?

While Sears can’t do full on construction (hello larger family room), they have a variety of services that I can use to work together to make my house my dream home. They’ve been around 125 years. I know they don’t consider a project done until I sign a certificate of completion that they completed everything correctly. They won’t disappear tomorrow, leaving me high and dry.

I love that I have one project manager to deal with who is available to answer all my questions. Couple that with the confidence that all workers and sub-contractors are bonded and insured makes me feel more comfortable. They’ve also undergone background checks. Plus, their work is quality controlled, so I have less to stress about all around.

And of course, I start with a free consultation from Sears. I know the exact scope of the work and get all my questions answered up front without commitment.

I shared my top 9 home improvement wants. What are yours?

How to make your house a home

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  • Gary

    I really like that you pointed out that you may not recoup 100% of your investment, but you get to enjoy the updates in the mean time. I really think this is overlooked!


    • Michelle

      I see people who are moving doing all sorts of updates right before they move out, and I always think, “Wait! Why not do it before you leave so you can enjoy them?”

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