Licensed Realtors and DIY Network's remodeling experts Matt Blashaw and Nicole Curtis have a little he-said/she-said conversation about the best home improvement investments.
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4. Remove the Paneling and Popcorn
Matt: The two things that scream "I'm old and I need help in a bad way!" The first is wood paneling. Don't fool yourself, that look is NEVER coming back. Especially if you have the old MDF wood panels with the high-gloss finish. Rip it out and put up some drywall. If you really like a "wood" look, use reclaimed wood installed horizontally. It looks amazing, it's not a huge or expensive project and it will instantly throw some value into your home. The second must-go item is popcorn ceilings. I am not going to go into too much detail because it is obvious. A home that looks modern will fetch a more modern home value.
Nicole: I agree. The only time I keep wood paneling is if it is knotty pine and matches the era of the home. It is real wood and not the stuff you see sold in large panels at the local big box. Houses built post-WWII usually came stocked with a knotty pine in the attics and basements. In the right element it looks fantastic. Always keep in mind the market value of your home; some projects will outprice your home for the neighborhood. Sometimes it makes more sense to give the paneling a nice paint job vs. the cost of drywall; either way, bright and fresh wins out. For popcorn ceilings — no doubt in my mind — just drywall right over them. Usually there's a reason they're popcorned: cracks and bad seams.
3. Boost the Bathroom
Matt: You don't have to go crazy: Install new fixtures, re-grout the shower, add crown molding and brighten up the room with some paint. I really like the new textures they have for wallpaper nowadays. Yes, you heard me: wallpaper. A little texture can make a bathroom go from a plain Jane to a beauty queen. Just a few little improvements in a bathroom can be a really smart way to spend your money.
Nicole: Having removed way too much wallpaper, I have to say nix it. A great paint job and nice architectural detail is easier and will be timeless. Something as simple as a new mirror and light fixtures can make the dingiest of bathrooms look fresh and fabulous. I consider wallpaper trendy and a pain-in-the-backside in bathrooms because of all the moisture. If you do go that route, have the Super Glue handy to reattach the seams.