On a budget, find ways to refresh your home without renovating

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published January 23, 2019

 Phil Mularoni, of T.J. Ceramic Tile and Stone, recommends that homeowners redo kitchen floors and re-tile bathrooms.

Phil Mularoni, of T.J. Ceramic Tile and Stone, recommends that homeowners redo kitchen floors and re-tile bathrooms.

Photo provided by T.J. Ceramic Tile and Stone

METRO DETROIT — A big renovation might not be in a household’s budget, but there are some less costly ways to refresh a home that can please homeowners and also help when they put their homes on the market.

C & G Newspapers spoke with a real estate agent and a tile expert about ways folks can reinvigorate their homes without renovating.

“Kitchens a lot of times can be tired-looking; sometimes the cabinets are good, but it just needs freshening up. A lot of times, new hardware is a really good idea on kitchen cabinets. It tends to brighten it up and make it look more up to date,” said Debbie Corey, a real estate agent at Real Living Kee Realty in Rochester.

She added that folks can purchase hardware at websites including build.com and houzz.com. She also recommends that if appliances are out of date, homeowners should update them.

“It’s important to have wallpaper removed and more neutral paint,” Corey said. “Unless the wallpaper is really tasteful, that’s not very in-style with most buyers.”

When it comes to flooring, she said that if carpeting is outdated, having neutral-colored carpet is important.

“They don’t have to spend a lot of money on the carpet; the padding is probably the most important,” she said. “Homebuyers want to move in, in neutral condition.”

Corey explained that for a kitchen and bath, it’s important to have them as neutral as possible.

“Less is more,” she said. “If there are things you want to get rid of, do so before you list it for sale. They are saving themselves the time later on of having to do it, and they are improving the appearance of the home.”

When asked how often folks should refresh their home, Corey said there’s no way to keep everything up with the latest style.

“If someone walks through the house, what they will remember when they leave is, ‘That was the house with the purple walls.’ The idea of less is more and neutral is important,” she said.

Corey’s final point is that “clean sells.”

“If you can’t thoroughly clean it yourself, there are people who do nothing but clean,” she said. “I highly suggest that if a person has lived in the same home for a long time, to have a pre-inspection. Take care of it before you sell, because they are going to come up on the inspection.”

Phil Mularoni, manager at T.J. Ceramic Tile and Stone in Southfield, suggests that customers redo kitchen floors and re-tile bathrooms.

“It’s not always necessary to rip out the existing tile,” he said. “Sometimes you can go over it for the floors or walls.”

Mularoni added that the kitchen and bath are the most common areas of the home that folks have tiled.

“Adding tile is recoverable,” he said when asked how adding tile can increase a home’s value. “It’s one of the few things that when you upgrade the kitchen or bath, you get most, if not all, of your money back.”

Mularoni noted that tile can last virtually forever, but the reality is that most tile is changed because folks want a new style.

“We can come in and replace existing tile; we can sell you it and you can do it yourself, or tile setters can do it for you.”

Tile ranges in price from $2.29 to $11 per square foot.

For refreshing bathrooms, Mularoni recommends a new vanity.

“If you choose not to do that, then at least put a new countertop on the vanity,” he said.

“Get rid of the old formica and put in a piece of granite, which you can buy as a remnant and have it installed,” he added. “It can change the entire look of the bathroom, particularly if you’re going to decorate the cabinet itself, either by putting in a new cabinet or painting and resurfacing it.”

Mularoni’s  final thought for a simple kitchen refresher is painting the cabinets.

“My daughter recently did that in the style that Joanna Gaines does in her show (‘Fixer Upper’ on HGTV),” he said. “The people that did the work recommended chalk paint, which is a heavy-based paint where, after you put it on, you use a wax on top that makes it an absolutely gorgeous finish.”