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Make it or break it renovations

Whether you’re creating an income property or renovating your dream home, there are definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to ensuring the best return on investment.

I’ve been designing and renovating client’s dream homes for almost two decades but the true crash course in ROI came with my five years as series designer on HGTV’s Income Property. I scouted, planned, designed and stretched the budgets on over 100 episodes. When it comes to ensuring you’re the standout in your neighborhood, it’s about appealing to 90% of the buyers, 90% of the time.

The mistake a lot of novice renovators make is taking this mass appeal too literally, layering beige tile and builder basic fixtures until the property is perfectly nice, but entirely forgettable.

There is a secret sauce that achieves that perfect balance between a subtle design and those special extras that separate you from the competition, which in today’s real estate market, translates into major cash in your pocket. When it comes to selecting fixtures and finishes, it’s important to keep with the value of the property.

Let’s face it, if you’re hoping to sell upward of $900,000, you need to ensure there is a clear perception of infused value in any improvements you make.

Kitchens and washrooms are still the rooms that make or break a sale so plan on investing the lion’s share of your improvement budget there. Here are my top saves versus splurges for your bathroom improvements.

bathroomSave: Toilet and light fixtures

There are spectacular toilets on the market that warm, wash, and dry your bottom for you. If you’re renovating your master ensuite with all the bells and whistles, I say go for it! However, for the best ROI, select a simple style in a comfortable height. All models on the market now are water efficient. A compromise splurge here would be opting for a one ­piece unit.They’re easier to maintain and have a slicker look.

The same is true for the light fixtures. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be beautiful, however, there are many options available now that add big impact without costing big bucks.

Splurge: Fixtures and features

High quality fixtures look and function better than their cheaper cousins. If you’re starting with a quality manufacturer like American Standard there are elegant options at every price point. When selecting a dream home investment I pull from their new high end DXV collection. They truly are works of art. However, for the best ROI in more entry level properties, invest in quality fixtures but opt for their standard line. Polished chrome is just fine and no need to splurge on polished nickel.

Adding features that leave a lasting impression is as important as keeping the finishes neutral. I like to add a really special tile in at least one area of the washroom. One of my favorite accents is to do the overall floor in a larger ­format, more generic tile and then insert a tile ‘carpet’ section down the middle using a special marble mosaic.

The mosaics are pricier but the impact and perceived value is worth it. There are many fantastic porcelain products available such as Maxfine from Ciot that have the look of large scale natural stone tile and slabs without the maintenance issues and a conservative price point.


About the Author: Melissa Davis is a celebrity designer well known for her appearances and creative work on several HGTV programs. 

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