Ways to Customize Your Rental Unit Without Picking Up a Paint Brush

Just because you don’t own the place you’re currently living in doesn’t mean you have to put up with boring neutral forever. While rentals can pose a number of challenges – from the ugly floors to the outdated light fixtures – there are plenty of ways that you can customize your space and really make it your own, even with stark white or barely beige walls.

Here are a few things you might want to try out that don’t require a paint brush.

Art Extravaganza

If you don’t feel like painting your walls – or have been told you’re not allowed to – there is still a way to breathe life into bare walls, including adding your favorite art work. Gallery walls are hugely popular these days, and involve grouping art pieces together by the bunch, rather than hanging just one solitary piece.

Using art makes it incredibly easy to create an accent wall, and you don’t even necessarily have to hammer nails into the wall either. Choose pieces that are lightweight, which can be easily supported using sticky strips that will never leave a hole or any other mark behind. For lots of color, use paintings and photos with tons of texture. To go the more sophisticated route, stick to abstracts and black-and-white pieces in simple frames.

Dress Your Windows

Odds are the windows in your rental unit are covered in outdated, cheap plastic blinds that are nothing more than an eye-sore. Take them down (carefully) and outfit your windows with something a little more contemporary, such as floor-length curtains or roman shades. You can replace the original blinds if and when you move out.

Just choose something that will go well with the rest of the decor in the space. Window treatments are awesome for rooms that need a little something extra, and for drawing attention away from flooring that you’re not too keen on as they help draw the eye upward.

Cover Up With Area Rugs

The easiest and fastest way to deal with scuffed up hardwood or hideously outdated linoleum flooring is to add stylish area rugs throughout the space. Even if the unit is lined with wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s still OK to pile area rugs on top. In fact, it’s a huge trend these days.

Area rugs not only help cover up unattractive floors, they also help infuse color and texture into any rental unit. Feel free to mix colors and textures together to really create a unique space.

Furnish With Modular Pieces

Consider outfitting you rental unit with modular furniture pieces that you can quickly and easily customize to adequately fit your space. For example, try adding a sectional sofa that can be split up into separate chairs or even a loveseat.

Sectionals have made quite the comeback lately, and are no longer reserved for the 1980s. Other modular furniture ideas include multi-level coffee tables, and cube-shaped shelving cubicles. These pieces are versatile, modern, and can easily fit into even the smallest of rooms.

Replace Your Light Fixtures

You don’t have to suffer staring at the outdated light fixtures that your rental unit came with. Instead, take them down, store them carefully, and replace them with more modern, attractive pieces. And don’t just limit your space with only one ceiling light fixture – instead, mix things up.

In addition to a chandelier, add other light fixtures like floor lamps, heavy table lamps, wall sconces, and pendants lamps. Mix up the shade types, width, height and metals as well to add variety.

Just because you don’t exactly own the place doesn’t mean you have to live with the way it was when the previous tenants were there. This is now your home, for however long you decide, so decorate it to your liking with these easy tips so you can enjoy every square inch, and be proud of the space you’re in.

6 Features Homebuyers Will Love

When it comes time to sell your home, take a close look around and see if your place has the goods that buyers are looking for. Considering the magnitude and expense of such a purchase, buyers want to fall in love with the home they plan to buy, and certain characteristics can help make that happen.

It might be worth your while to add or upgrade features in your home to help attract more buyers, and thereby draw in more offers.

Here are 6 features in a home that buyers look for before making an offer.

Open Concept Layout

Newer homes offer spacious floorplans and soaring ceilings that older homes simply don’t have. Homeowners love to be able to entertain guests and converse with them no matter where they happen to be, and parents love the idea of being able to see their kids from every angle of the living space. An open concept layout is a must-have for situations like these.

Eat-In Kitchen

Just about every buyer expects to see an eat-in kitchen when they’re searching for a new home, especially if they’ve got kids. The kitchen is the hub of the home and is much more than just a space to prepare meals. If your kitchen doesn’t currently have the space for a table and chairs, you might be able to create this space by removing a wall rather inexpensively, as long as there is no additional repair work that has to be done.

Garage Storage Space

Storage is often a huge issue for homebuyers, especially those with growing families. Of course, smart indoor storage options are critical, which include walk-in closets and oversized linen closets. However, added garage storage space is a bonus, especially when it comes to storing larger items, such as Christmas trees, lawn furniture, and large tools. This added space helps to cut down on the clutter inside the home and is just a few feet away for easy access.

Spacious Laundry Room

Homebuyers want a laundry room that’s not just conveniently located, they also want it to be spacious enough that they can do all the pre-washing, folding, and ironing all in one space. Having a space like this can help keep the mess out of your bedroom or living space, and prospective buyers will see that as a major advantage.

If you don’t currently have an existing laundry room, you don’t necessarily have to create an addition to get one. The basement is typically the easiest place to put one and can cost as little as $1,000 to create.

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring offers a more modern, clean look compared to other flooring options. It’s durable, easy to maintain, and doesn’t induce allergies like carpeting can. Good quality hardwood can last a lifetime and can be easily refinished every so often to achieve a new look. Buyers have come to expect hardwood in the homes they plan to purchase, so if your home currently has dated flooring, you might want to consider installing hardwood. The cost to install 120 square feet of hardwood is approximately $1,400, which you can easily recoup come sale time.

Energy Efficiencies

Homebuyers are much more environmentally conscious these days, and anything that they can do to contribute to the health and protection of the planet is a welcomed idea. One of the most effective ways to minimize their carbon footprint on the earth is having a home that operates much more efficiently. In particular, energy efficient appliances and windows can help to significantly reduce wasted energy, and even slash utility bills. The combination of saving the planet saving money is something that just about every buyer finds extremely attractive.

When you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s helpful to understand exactly what buyers are looking for. If your home is currently not equipped with any of these highly coveted features, you might want to consider making a few upgrades to your home before listing it for sale. Done right, they could increase the value of your property and allow you to command more money when you sell. Just make sure you seek out the advice from an experienced real estate agent to make sure the changes you plan on making will bring you the return on investment you’re looking for.

7 Qualities of an Excellent Neighborhood

Location, location, location. The phrase may have become somewhat of a cliché in the world of real estate, but it still remains the most important factor in determining the true value of a property. When you’re in the market to buy, you’re not just purchasing the physical home, but you’re also buying into the surrounding neighborhood as well.

While everyone’s got their own specific tastes and needs when it comes to the perfect neighborhood, there are certain traits that make a community an exceptional one.

Pride in Ownership

A neighborhood isn’t truly great unless there’s clear pride of ownership among all residents. How well every property is taken care of speaks volumes about what area residents think about their neighborhood and how proud they are to call it home.

If lawns are well manicured and landscaped, windows are clean, debris is cleared, and the overall street is in pristine condition, residents obviously are doing their part to keep the value of the area high.

Excellent Schools

Whether or not you have school-aged children, you still want to find out how well the local schools rank. Of course, parents obviously want their children to have access to the best schools, and many of them actually relocate specifically to be closer to these particular educational institutes.

But not only do great schools benefit parents and children, they also make the surrounding properties within the neighborhood more valuable. Buying into a neighborhood like this increases the odds that your property’s value will not only stay strong, but appreciate at a healthy rate over time.

Low Crime Rate

Turn on the news, and you’ll likely hear stories of violence and unrest in the same areas across the country. Such a scenario not only brings a feeling of insecurity and unrest among residents, it also pulls property values down.

On the other hand, a neighborhood that boasts a low crime rate allows residents to feel much more comfortable and secure. Such a scenario lends itself to higher property values, which can help you grow your home equity much faster.

Accessible Public Transportation

Having the option to take public transportation over commuting via a motor vehicle is an excellent bonus for any neighborhood. Studies have shown that the addition of a public transportation portal in a neighborhood tends to have a positive effect on surrounding property values. If you’d prefer to leave the car at home when commuting to a busy downtown core, you’ve got that option if your home is positioned close to public transportation.

High Walkability Score

Being close to restaurants, shops, markets, and other amenities is a real plus for any neighborhood. The ability to take a short walk to any of these conveniences significantly boosts the neighborhood’s walkability score, which tends to be factored in when valuing homes in an area.

Close Proximity to Medical Care

While having nearby medical facilities is a big plus for residents of any age, it’s particularly important and attractive for seniors and families with young kids. Knowing that you’ll be able to reach a doctor or hospital quickly is not only a bonus, it’s also a must-have on the lists of many homebuyers.

Green Space

There’s something to be said about being surrounded by greenery. Rather than having to drive hours out of the city in order to escape the concrete jungle, having a little bit of green space nearby can dramatically improve both the esthetics and the value of a particular neighborhood. Green space is easy on the eye, promotes a sense of serenity, and is healthier for the air we breathe.

The Bottom Line

When you’re out on a house hunting trek, be sure to have a list of neighborhood traits on your list. Don’t just get fixated on a home – make sure you consider the surrounding neighborhood that it’s located in. Not only do you want to enjoy what the area has to offer outside of your home, you also want to make sure that the property value remains intact – and preferably appreciates – over time.

Simple Ways to Save Money and Energy at Home

It costs a lot of money to maintain a home, but you might be spending more than is necessary. Your utility bills can be lowered significantly by reducing the amount of energy used in your home, and doing so may be much simpler than you believe. Small adjustments here and there can add up to big savings.

Here are some easy ways you can save energy in your home that are good for the environment, and your wallet.

Replace incandescent lights

Conventional incandescent lightbulbs only convert about 10% of the energy used into light; the rest is lost in heat. Swapping these lights with more innovative LEDs can significantly cut back on energy that’s not being used for lighting purposes. Not only do LEDs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, they also last about 10 times longer.

Skip the dishwasher

The amount of energy dishwashers use to heat the water and dry the dishes is significant. If you can stand it, consider washing the dishes by hand. At the very least, switch off the automatic air-dry after the final rinse and open the door open slightly to help the dishes dry faster.

Turn off electronics when not in use

All of your home’s TVs, computers, and other electronics are wasting energy when they’re left on and not being used. Plug your devices into a smart power strip that uses a lot less energy when they’re in standby mode.

Turn the temperature of your water heater down.

If you’d prefer to keep your current water heater, consider turning its temperature down to about 120°F. In addition, turn it down even lower when you’re away for a few days

Maintain your HVAC system

Your heating and air conditioning systems should be maintained at least once a year to make sure they’re working optimally and not using up more energy than necessary to operate. About 50% of the energy used in a home comes directly from these HVAC systems, so the more efficiently they function, the less energy will be wasted.

Insulate your windows and doors

Windows and doors that allow air leakage account for as much as one-third of energy loss in a home. Seal all these leaks with some caulking, and weatherstrip your windows and doors to prevent even further air loss.

Use less water and heat with your laundry

Little changes that are made when doing the laundry can save a great deal of energy. Don’t do the laundry until you’ve got a full load, and wash each load in cold water to cut back on energy used to heat the water. Once the laundry is done, hang the clothes up to air dry rather than using the dryer.

What You Need to Know Before Tearing Down a Wall in Your Home

Looking to open up your interior space to create a more spacious and functional layout? If so, you might be considering tearing down a wall or two to achieve your goal.

Sounds simple enough, but removing a wall requires some careful consideration before demolition starts. Before you grab that sledgehammer, make sure you’ve had a few crucial questions answered first.

Is it a Load Bearing Wall?

Perhaps the most important question you should ask first is whether or not the wall you intend to knock down is load bearing. If so, ripping that wall down is probably not possible.

Load bearing walls run perpendicular to the floor joists and usually are placed somewhere around the center of the home. They’re structural elements, and if you remove them, the structural integrity of your home can be seriously compromised. Your house can literally cave in if you remove a load bearing wall that was originally installed to support the structure of your home.

For this reason, you absolutely need to have a structural engineer or another professional who is well versed in the area of load bearing structures assess the situation before you decide to rip that wall down. It should also be noted that removing a wall in a single-story home is a lot different than a two-story home because of the additional stress placed on the wall from the second level. This situation certainly warrants the advice of a structural engineer.

Are There Any Wires or Pipes Inside the Wall?

Your wall is not just a couple of pieces of drywall held up with some 2x4s. There could very well be some important components inside the wall cavities that could become damaged if you’re not careful. Electrical wiring and plumbing pipes typically run through walls to get to where they need to go. There are also HVAC vents that may be lurking behind the walls that you may not be aware of.

If you start smashing into the drywall without taking the necessary precautions, you could cause some major damage to these systems that will end up costing you a lot more than you initially intended. Before you knock down a wall, verify whether or not any of these components are present, and if they are, use great care when taking the wall down. 

Are There Any Toxic Materials On Or Inside the Wall?

Depending on when your home was built, it’s possible that there may be certain toxic materials on or inside your walls that warrant further inspection before the wall comes down. In particular, be on the lookout for lead paint, which is a potential problem for homes built before 1978.

If your home is older, you should consider having the surfaces tested for the presence of lead paint. If this material is present, you will have to follow specific guidelines about how to discard the old drywall and other debris that comes along with it.

Another hazardous material to look out for is asbestos, which was used in homes constructed before 1980. If there is any asbestos on your drywall, it can easily become airborne when tearing down a wall. Again, the wall should be tested for this substance, and if it is detected, it should only be removed by professionals in the business of handling asbestos.

How Will the Floors and Ceilings Be Affected?

If it’s safe to remove the wall, you’ve got a few other things to think about. Once that wall comes down, there will be an obvious blemish on the ceiling and floor where the wall was once attached. Not only will this need to be repaired, you will also have to make considerations about how to blend the two areas together so that it is not obvious that there was once a wall there.

Sometimes it can be easy to match the material and color for a seamless finish, while other times it may be necessary to completely reface the entire surface. Speak with your contractor about how to finish the area after the wall has been demolished.

The Bottom Line

Tearing a wall down offers plenty of possibilities for creating a whole new layout for your home, especially if it’s currently tight and compartmentalized. But before you start swinging that sledgehammer, there are a number of considerations that need to be made first. Get some expert advice from professionals in the industry to ensure a safe and effective job.

Common Code Violations Made When Renovating

Homeowners who are trying to cut costs frequently attempt to handle their home renovation projects on their own. While that might work just fine for simpler tasks, it might go horribly wrong for more challenging ones. DIYers need to be skilled with these tasks as well as knowledgeable about construction codes.

In addition to potentially costing you more in the long run, breaking these codes could put your family in danger. Here are a few of the most frequent code infractions committed by DIY house renovators.

Not Getting a Building Permit

One of the biggest and most common mistakes homeowners make when renovating their homes is failure to apply for a permit. Why? Well, they cost money, and they require a trip to city hall. Many homeowners simply want to bypass these little annoyances. They think, who’s going to know?

Sure, there’s a good chance that no one will find out that you worked without a permit. However, if you ever sell in the future, you’ll probably be asked if you got one when you remodeled. If not, it could affect the salability of your home.

You might be asked to fix any issues (that will cost you extra cash) before buyers are willing to put in an offer on your home. And if the buyers finds out about the lack of permit after they move into your home without being notified up front, you could be slapped with a lawsuit.

Besides that, a permit is important because it’ll help ensure that any improvements you make on your home are safe. Permits also help you remain compliant with the most up-to-date regulations like energy-saving measures.

Do yourself a favor and check with your local building authority to find out if a permit is needed for the job you plan on doing in your home.

Not Venting Bathroom Fans to the Outside

If you’re planning on renovating your bathroom – or adding a new one – adding a vent fan is a must, considering all the moisture that can quickly and easily build up in these small spaces. Although, a lot of homeowners fall short by venting directly into the attic, and stopping there.

If you don’t vent the fan all the way to the outside of the home, all you’re doing is transferring the moisture from your bathroom into the attic, causing rot and mold to develop. To avoid this ugly scenario, you’ll need to vent the air to the outdoors via a vent pipe that’s 4 inches in diameter.

Adding a Basement Apartment Without Necessary Egress Windows

Whether the in-laws are moving in, your kids want their own space, or you want to rent out the basement for extra income, revamping the basement into a self-sufficient quarters is a great idea. How you finish it, is what’s important.

Creating a basement apartment isn’t just about throwing up a couple of walls, adding a bathroom and kitchen, and finishing the flooring. There’s also the issue of egress windows that must be addressed.

According to code, any room that’s considered a bedroom needs to have an egress window that’s a minimum of 20 inches wide by 24 inches high. The opening needs to be at least 5.7 square feet so that it’s large enough to allow an adult to climb out of should a fire or other emergency occur where it’s impossible to escape from any other exit.

Not only that, but you’ll need to take steps to make sure that water isn’t able to seep into the basement through the window, which is why you’ll need a water well on the outside of the window.

Without an adequate egress window, you can’t call the room a bedroom, which could throw a wrench into your plans to market your home as one with a “separate basement apartment.”

Placing Smoke Alarms in the Wrong Places

Just about every homeowner understands how critical it is to have smoke alarms installed in the home. But did you know that there are exact spots that they need to be placed in according to code?

That’s right. You can’t just randomly plop a smoke alarm wherever you feel like. Considering their lifesaving roles, smoke alarms need to be given enough space, and should be placed far enough away from air ducts so they’re not affected by any circulating air. If not, they might not be triggered in time should a fire ensue.

Smoke alarms also need to be placed on each floor of the home; and in newer homes, they must be hard-wired with a back-up battery.

Insufficient Electrical Work

Electrical wiring that’s not installed properly can really pose a hazard. That’s why you might be better off calling in a licensed electrician to do the job for you if you haven’t got a ton of experience in this department.

One of the more common wiring mistakes is not using the correct size circuits. According to code, 15-amp circuits are needed for light fixtures, and 20-amp circuits are needed for receptacles.

Splicing wires without the presence of a junction box is another common faux pas. You can’t just splice wires together with some wire nuts and electrical tape – every wire connection needs to be inside a proper junction box, which should be visible and accessible.

The lack of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) is another no-no. GFCIs are necessary for any circuit that serves a space where there’s water, like the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.

Code violations typically happen when homeowners are trying to save a buck. While this might be OK for smaller jobs, tasks that are much bigger and in-depth definitely need to follow proper code regulations. If not, you could wind up spending a lot more down the road to rectify the scenario if things go awry.

Stylish & Budget Friendly Furniture Ideas for First-Time Homeowners

It’s a major transition from renting to buying a home, especially if it involves moving from a small, crowded apartment to a larger home. A new homeowner must deal with furnishing every room with chairs, couches, tables, and beds in addition to the endless stretch of blank wall space that needs to be filled.

Finding furniture entails not only filling space but also adhering to financial constraints because many first-time homebuyers are on a low budget. Fortunately, there are lots of reasonably priced solutions that will furnish those rooms without breaking the bank.

The first thing to understand is that nobody expects you to immediately have a house filled with furniture. Find the greatest appearance for each room by taking the time to comparison-shop. Make a list of your top priorities, starting with your basic need for food, sleep, and a shower. Until you have the money for an update, you can save money on a bed by forgoing the pricey headboard and footboard. Prioritize placing a bed without a headboard in guest rooms before focusing on other furniture pieces.

Choosing Within a Budget

Recognize that the decisions you make today do not necessarily have to affect the rest of your life in your new home. Accent tables, for example, can be cheaply bought and used while you shop for better options. You might even locate a cheap item that you like and can paint to match the style you desire for your home.


Even if you have lots of room, furniture with several uses might be useful. A bed that serves as a desk and a dining room table that converts into a poker table for game night will give you more value for your money. Even a coffee table that makes it simpler to dine while watching TV is available. You will typically just pay a little bit more for two pieces of furniture than you would for one.

Be Thrifty

Thrift store shopping is more popular than ever thanks to the persistent shabby chic style. Tables, dressers, nightstands, and accent pieces are among the fantastic items that may be found at garage sales and thrift shops. As they downsize or upgrade to new furniture, homeowners frequently offer items for sale on Craigslist. You’ll probably be inspired by what you see while you browse, which will prompt you to decorate homes with the unusual furniture you locate.

Dorm Inspiration

Although seating can be pricey, if money is really tight, you might consider using furniture typically found in dorm dormitories. There are more appealing seating alternatives that are more reasonably priced if you’d like to go a little more posh. However, you’ll probably need to spend more money on a more expensive sofa or chair if you want real comfort. Look through yard sales and Craigslist for used furniture at bargain prices.

It can be difficult to furnish a new house, especially for first-time homebuyers with limited funds. You’ll be able to furnish your new home while staying within your budget by moving slowly and looking attentively for the greatest furniture deals.

6 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Windows

No matter how new your house is, window problems could arise at any time. They’ll eventually need to be entirely replaced. Windows don’t endure forever, even if they can last up to 20 years when they are of great quality and are maintained properly. Pay attention to them as they’ll show specific signs that it’s time to swap them for brand new ones.

Here are a few signs to watch out for so you can determine when a replacement is necessary.

1. Extremely High Utility Bills

Have you noticed a gradual increase in your utility bills? If nothing has changed, it’s possible that you’re losing energy from various sources, including your windows. Your HVAC system is working a lot harder than it needs to if there are window leaks that are letting too much indoor air out and vice versa. If your energy cost is significantly greater now than it was last year, it raises a concern.

2. They’re Warped or Decaying

If your windows are visibly decaying or damaged, it is one of the more obvious indications that they need to be replaced. They might only require a brief repair if the problem is quite minor. However, if the issue is more serious—for example, if there is a significant glass crack or frame bend—a replacement is usually a preferable choice. In addition to being unsightly, warped or rotting windows are likely causing energy loss, which may end up costing you much more money in the long run.

3. Outside Noise Is Not Effectively Suppressed 

Windows aren’t exactly sound proof, but they should be able to effectively drown out the majority of outdoor noise. If you’re trying to enjoy a quiet evening indoors and you can hear people’s conversations and passing cars as clear as a bell, maybe you need new windows with a more innovative and modern design. Single pane windows of yesteryear are certainly not going to be able to drown out the sounds coming from the outdoors like contemporary double pane windows would.   

4. Condensation Is Visible

Your windows may need to be replaced if they are frequently foggy and allowing condensation to build up. Thermal pumping causes double-paned windows to expand and contract continuously throughout the day. Sunlight heats up the space between the panes and causes the gas in there to heat up and expand. Pressure builds up between the two panes as a result of this. The space between the panes, on the other hand, shrinks at night as a result of the air between the panes cooling.

Over time, all of these frequent pressure changes can wear down the seal, resulting in minor fractures that allow air to enter and exit the gap between the panes. Condensation on your windows may be getting worse, which indicates that the glazing assembly needs to be replaced.

5. You Have Trouble Opening or Closing Them

Do you have to utilize every muscle in your body to just open or close your windows? If so, there is an issue. Sticking windows are not only a hassle, but you’re probably also wasting energy. Windows that don’t open or close correctly might also present a safety risk because they probably won’t be very successful at keeping scavengers out while you’re away.

6. They’re Old-Fashioned

In some cases, replacing your windows is only necessary due to a change in aesthetics rather than issues with energy loss or safety risks. If they’re outdated, swapping them out for newer, more contemporary ones can significantly transform the appearance of your house. You’ll not only make the interior appear much more upscale, but you’ll also improve the curb appeal.

The cost of replacing windows is high. Having said that, the money you can actually expect to save on electricity costs over time can help you recoup the money you first spent replacing them. The cherry on top is that you’re also reducing your carbon footprint on the globe.

8 Simple Ways to Update Your Home

There’s probably something in your home that needs updating especially if you can’t even recall the last time you switched things up. What could have been hip back in the day is undoubtedly displeasing today.

Here are 8 features in your home that are unquestionably making it look outdated, along with quick fixes for each.


The color of your walls is one of the first things guests will see when they enter your house. It’s time for a change if your walls are still painted in blush, dusty rose, or even yellow. Fortunately, this is a simple remedy that just needs a few cans of paint and a little labor.

Think about painting the walls with a more timeless neutral color that will suit everyone’s tastes. Alternately, if you want to experiment with something currently in style, like a gray-green or something earthy, go for it. You can always repaint it next year.


More and more homeowners are replacing their wall-to-wall carpeting with more contemporary flooring, including hardwood, vinyl, or ceramic. In many cases, carpeting is acceptable, but you might want to think twice if it is soiled, shaggy, or has an uncomfortable bold color.

In this situation, you may choose to simply pull out the outdated carpeting and replace it with something more stylish and current. Thankfully, engineered hardwood has increased the number of accessible flooring options available today. You can create long-lasting, aesthetically beautiful floors that closely resemble wood with these materials.


What we’re discussing here is most likely familiar to you. Those enormous entertainment centers, large enough to accommodate your massive tube TV, a VCR, stereo system, and CD player. There was probably enough space to store VHS videos and books too.

These huge, out-of-date entertainment systems are no longer necessary because televisions are as flat as they possibly can be these days. Since they are usually installed on walls or over fireplaces, the use of these antique pieces of furniture is not justified. Replace that outdated entertainment center with floating shelves or another delicate, understated, and less imposing option.


A sleigh bed. oversized sofas. You see what we mean. These antiquated furnishings can significantly age your house. It can be expensive to replace furniture with more contemporary pieces, but the time and money are well spent.

You might also consider refurbishing what you currently have if you don’t want to make a sizable dent in your bank account. Consider painting wooden furniture items a deep, rich color, or, for a more modern appearance, cover any loudly patterned sofas and chairs with a solid color slipcover.


Cheap sheet laminate countertops are a surefire way to make your kitchen look dated, especially if they are peeling apart. Yes, these materials are quite cheap, but saving a few dollars shouldn’t come at the expense of style.

There are other reasonably priced solutions that are more contemporary. For instance, granite is a stylish, modern material that is also getting more affordable every day. You should also think about quartz, soapstone, and even wooden butcher blocks for your kitchen counters.


Remember back in the day when Grandma had valances and window treatments with pink and green flower patterns all over her house? Even while it could bring back some pleasant memories, these window decorations have no place in a contemporary house. Take down the cloth if you are guilty of using it on your windows, especially if it has fringed trim and tassels.

If privacy is not a concern, leave the windows open and take in the view while letting the light in. Alternately, take into account something more modern and classic, such draping drapes across a rod in a more muted and neutral fabric and print.


Shiny brass or gold is just tacky, whether it’s used for bed posts, cabinet hardware, or lighting fixtures. When these items are taken out and replaced with ones that have other finishes, such brushed nickel, black, or chrome, you’d be shocked at the change that results. Simply go to your neighborhood home improvement store, where you can choose from a wide selection of the newest trends.


Even if it was popular three decades ago, this feature is also very out-of-date. Wallpaper borders are the epitome of excessive decorating from the 1980s. When they are placed immediately on top of wallpaper, they appear particularly antiquated. It’s time to scrape off any remaining wall bordering that has flowers, stars, vines, or other ugly patterns in order to give your walls a more consistent appearance.

Replacing these out-of-date features can significantly improve the overall look and feel of your home, whether you’re trying to improve its marketability or just want a fresh look for your personal aesthetic appeal.

5 Tricks to Make Your Small Kitchen Feel Bigger

For the majority of homeowners today, having a large, bright kitchen could be a dream come true, but tight budgets and small kitchen spaces can be quite challenging to overcome.

Fortunately, there are resourceful methods to improve your kitchen’s appearance and feel without going over budget.


If your kitchen is separated from an equally small living room by a wall, consider knocking it down. In fact, knocking down a wall is one of the easiest ways to open up the space in the kitchen, especially for experienced renovators and contractors. Sure, it might be the more expensive suggestion on this list, but for the price, it makes a huge difference.

If the wall is not load-bearing, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000 to take it down. However, if the wall is bearing the load of the second story, you could be faced with a much bigger bill considering the fact that structural issues will need to be factored in. But it could well be worth the cost when you see the finished product. Homeowners spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a brand new kitchen, and sometimes tearing a wall down is all it takes to completely transform the space.


Instead of completely knocking a wall down, you could just tear down the upper half and leave the lower half intact. But to make it useful, consider turning that half wall into a raised breakfast bar, which can provide the space with some great functionality and practicality for more casual meals. Making the bar counter height is a contemporary way to update  the kitchen while making it feel bigger at the same time.


Lots of light is always a good thing when it comes to opening and brightening up a small space. To maximize the effect that lighting has on your kitchen, consider adding layers of different fixtures throughout the room. Add a chandelier over the dinner table; hang pendant lights over the breakfast bar; install under-mounted lighting your cabinets; and brighten the inside of your cabinets with pot lights.

Keep the color of the lighting the same as the wall color and/or cabinets to boost the effect of the lighting in the kitchen. Lighter colors are always best in small spaces, as they reflect light and create a sense of space. When the same light colors are blended throughout various components, the effect of a larger space is even more enhanced.


Having too many cabinets or an oversized dinette set will only make the kitchen look cramped. Instead, you should focus on things like a slim kitchen island, streamlined furniture pieces, and just enough cabinets to house all your utensils without taking up every square inch of the wall space. Everything that’s installed in the kitchen should fit to scale in order to avoid making the space look smaller than it really is.


Nothing encloses a space more than clutter. And when it comes to the kitchen, the countertops can be easily crammed with dishes, utensils, bills, and anything else that you didn’t have the time to put away. For a cleaner, more streamlined look, clear off the clutter. It’s easy, fast, and doesn’t cost a cent.

While there are invasive and expensive ways to enlarge your kitchen space – such as physically expanding your home – there are simpler, more affordable ways to do so. Use a little imagination, and play up visual illusions in your space to make your kitchen look and feel more spacious.