(Family Features)–A home is often a family’s single largest asset, so making investments with upgrades and home improvements is almost always a good idea. However, knowing when and where to make those improvements isn’t necessarily a simple decision. Budget and space most often dictate the direction, but keeping function and your lifestyle needs in mind can help create a space that makes for an all-around smart investment.
Add technology in unexpected places. With the surge in smart devices, it’s becoming increasingly common to add technology throughout the house, and the bathroom is no exception. From heated floors to mirrors with embedded TV screens, the options are plentiful. A bathroom outfitted with the latest technology can bring function and a whole new level of style and elegance to your home.
Go green for the earth and savings. Appliances and climate control systems are often the first features homeowners consider when it comes to environmentally friendly upgrades, but windows and window treatments are another way to make a big impact. In a similar vein, skylights are a surprisingly affordable upgrade for the functionality and aesthetic benefits they provide, especially in the bathroom and kitchen where ventilation is as important as ample lighting. You can give your lighting and home value a boost with an Energy Star-qualified option.
Finish the basement. Adding finished square footage to your home is nearly always a way to increase its value. For many homes, the basement is the most practical place to gain that space. Instead of using it as a collection ground for dust bunnies and storage, converting it into usable space can bring meaningful value, not only in dollars and cents, but in overall enjoyment of your home.
When making plans for finishing a basement, keep function first. Adding features like bathrooms can be costly, but having ready access to those facilities may pay off if you plan to spend lots of time downstairs. Also keep climate in mind, in parts of the country basements tend to be damp, so use materials that can withstand the conditions.
Create outdoor living space for all year long. If a basement renovation isn’t practical, you may be able to create additional living space in an area you already have – outdoors. Even small patio spaces can become cozy gathering spots with the right furnishings and decor. For a larger yard, create destinations that make it comfy to congregate, such as a fire pit or grouping of chairs with overstuffed cushions.
This is another area where climate will play an important role in your plans; adding an enclosure to a patio can make it usable during all but the coldest months, while a pergola can lend necessary relief to an area that bakes in the sun.
Add curb appeal. While you’re considering the upgrade options outdoors, don’t forget to think about your home’s exterior appearance. Reworking landscaping to highlight architectural features and freshening up paint can make a big impact. Adding decorative elements like shutters or new lighting or doors can also update a tired exterior.