The problem with remodeling is that it never seems to stop. Once you replace the carpet and change out the Formica countertops to quartz, suddenly those white or black appliances look older than they really are. Remodeling is big business in Alaska. Just witness the growth and expansion in Home Depot and Lowe’s stores as well as their stock prices. That’s because in Alaska the vast majority of our homes were built during the pipeline boom days of the early l980s. That makes them 30-plus years old, just about the age functional obsolescence sets in and long past the point of a cosmetic redo.
There are two types of remodeling. The first is the ‘I’m going to live here forever and so I might as well fix this place up to how I really like it.’ That usually entails ripping out walls and creating great room spaces with an open living concept. It includes changing out a U-shaped kitchen peninsula to an island, expanding a master bath by accessing one of the adjacent small bedrooms, adding a walk-in shower and creating a spacious master closet. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive rooms in the home to remodel and depending on the extent of the remodel and the finishes can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000. But, aging baby boomers who decide to age in place and make their existing home their ‘terminal’ residence want to enjoy what they’ve spent years working towards. Just count on spending more than you’ve planned for by about 25 percent, not counting those brassy light fixtures you forgot about replacing.
The second type of remodeling comes with preparing your home for sale. Carpet tends to get dark around the edges of a stairwell and so that usually is the first item on a seller’s list for replacement. Make it simple. Select a neutral color. Beige may seem boring to you, but it is the neutral choice for most buyers. Vinyl sometimes rips at the seams and turns dark. There are a plethora of new vinyls that are hard to distinguish from tile. Just keep the pattern simple. Limit your floor coverings to as few changes as possible. The more breaks in flooring, the smaller the room will appear. Spruce up kitchen cabinets with a good cleaning and add some pulls and knobs. Change out that fluorescent light fixture with a contemporary ceiling mount or pendants. The kitchen is the heart of the home and is where most buyers go to first when viewing a home. Painting children’s bedrooms in a neutral color also makes those 9 x 10 bedrooms appear much larger.
Once you start preparing your home for sale, it is no longer yours. It belongs to some future buyer. Keep your personal preferences for color and patterns to a minimum. Visit some newly-built homes in your area. Most builders have mastered the art of making a home neutral enough for most buyers, but yet interesting enough for the more discerning buyer. And one final trick is to replace those old fashioned plate glass mirrors in bathrooms with a designer mirror. They’re readily available at your favorite remodeling store or online.