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Tasteful Updates

Subtle changes make big statements By Colin Anderson

Tasteful Updates

In a time when those seeking a new build are put on a long waitlist, and those wanting to sell are battling high prices and rising interest rates, many homeowners are choosing to stick with what they’ve got and make a few improvements to their existing spaces. While we all dream of designing a home from the ground up, many realize they can actually add many of their desired features to their current home while saving money and not having to pack up all their belongings.

Updating your spaces not only gives your home a fresh look and feel for you and your family to enjoy, but it will also add value should you decide to make a move in the future. Something as simple as a coat of paint can breathe new life into a room.

If your flooring is tired and worn, it’s time to take a look at your options. Hardwoods are a timeless choice, but much has been made in the way of stain-resistant carpet, as well as vinyl and laminates made to mimic the look of wood with a much more affordable price tag.

A complete kitchen remodel can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, but adding an updated backsplash and new countertops can give you a fresh look without having to go through a months-long teardown project.

There are many materials available for your renovation project, each offering varying degrees of cost, style, durability and maintenance. Think carefully on your priorities before starting any project, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box to make your current home your forever home.

Countertop Materials

Whether selling your home or entertaining, most people end up fixated on the kitchen. While new appliances are beautiful, it’s the countertops that truly make a kitchen stand out. What material your cabinets are made from and how much cooking you are likely to do are key in choosing a material that will not only blend with your design but offer needed flexibility or durability based upon your lifestyle and taste.

Quartz Pro - Nearly maintenance free; very desirable to homebuyers Con - Very expensive; professional installation highly recommended

Quartz is a manufactured product that you can blend just about any shade or color with. It looks fantastic in modern design, is non-porous, easy to clean, and will last a lifetime when cared for.

Marble Pro - Bold look; available in many colors Con - Softer than granite; can easily scratch and dent

Marble is available in many shades and is favored by those who want a lighter colored stone surface. It’s also softer and a great surface for bakers who can roll dough directly on its clean surface.

Granite Pro - Classic look; always desirable Con - Expensive; susceptible to chips and cracks

A granite countertop is one that is easy to clean, offers a classic look to any kitchen, and isn’t easily damaged by heat or liquid. It can be expensive but will last the lifetime of the home.

Concrete Pro - Extremely durable; small cracks can be fixed Con - Even when sealed, susceptible to stains

Concrete gives a kitchen an industrial or modern look. Each counter will be unique and have minor imperfections. It is also a relatively inexpensive material which can be precast or poured on-site.

Butcher Block Pro - Inexpensive; wide range of shades and colors Con - Susceptible to staining and damage; needs to be oiled frequently

Wood is a beautiful addition to both traditional and modern designs, but it must be well taken care of, as a slip of a knife or a wine spill left unclean can permanently damage it.

Flooring Options

Flooring has come a long way since your choices were either carpet or hardwood. While those remain two of the most popular options, there are several materials in the middle that offer benefits in the way of cost, maintenance and durability. Some rooms might require the soft feel of carpet, others the timeless look of hardwood, and in high-traffic areas, perhaps scratch-resistant vinyl or laminate.

Hardwood Pro - Highly desirable; solid and durable Con - Costly; can scratch and dent

Well-installed and cared-for hardwood floors will last for generations. Solid hardwoods are easy to clean and stand out in just about any home. They also increase the value of your home, as potential buyers often seek solid wood flooring.

Tile Pro- Waterproof; many colors and design varieties Con - Cold to walk on; timely and expensive installation

Tile is waterproof and can be put in any room. Installation is best done by a professional, but once installed it is highly durable, easy to clean, and very hard to chip or crack.

Vinyl Pro - Very affordable; water resistant; easy to clean and maintain Con - Less desirable to potential buyers

Many homeowners with pets and kids are choosing vinyl for its durability and scratch, fade and water resistance. Unlike hardwoods,appealing it can also be installed in basements, bathrooms and laundry rooms, making it very versatile and a good value.

Laminate Pro - More affordable; easier for DIYers Con - Doesn’t have the feel of real wood; can sound hollow when stepped on

Laminate is about half the cost of hardwood and is an alternative to those who don’t want carpet or the expensive price of hardwood or tile. There are many styles and colors available to easily match your interior design plans.

Carpet Pro - Soft feel; hides stains, dust, dirt Con - Hard to keep clean; compacted quickly in high-traffic areas

Carpet remains the most cost-effective flooring on the market. Updates in design have also made it more stain resistant, though it still does not have the same durability as other materials.


Settling down in front of a fire is a great way to relax and let the troubles of the day melt away. Classic wood-burning fireplaces remain popular for obvious reasons, but the instant warmth and ambiance of a gas fireplace are also highly desired. A fireplace can provide warmth to a single room, allowing you to turn off central heating and save a few bucks. Now, do you want the convenience of gas or electric, or the natural sounds and smells of wood?

Electric Pro - Easily portable; least cost Con - Costly to operate; not real flames

Electric fireplaces are best utilized in smaller spaces, as they equate to a more appealing-looking space heater. Still, they offer warmth and ambiance with the convenience of simply plugging them in.

Gas Pro - Instant fire start; no cleanup Con - No natural fire sounds or smells

Flipping a switch and having instant flames is ideal for busy homeowners. Inserts can be expensive, especially if you need to run a new gas line, but the near-instant gratification is hard to beat.

Wood Pro - Natural sounds and crackling; timeless Con - Lengthy start time; needs regular cleaning

There is no substitute for the sounds and smells of a natural wood-burning fire. While they aren’t the most efficient, they make a statement in the room and put you in control of the heat output without the cost of gas or electricity.

Paint Selections

Just as important as the materials used for your counters and floors, the paint upon your walls reflects personality, style and taste. Those who enjoy the modern clean look will want to stay in the white, gray, black realm, while others who enjoy a little more warmth should consider adding a pop of color, like green or blue, to their walls. Paint is one of the easiest ways to spruce up a room once a project or remodel is complete.

White Pro - Provides sharp modern look Con - Marks or scuffs easily appear

White walls provide the easiest background for your taste in design. Anything you hang on a wall will go with white. It also helps other colored walls or decorations “pop” and stand out.

Gray/Black Pro - Soothing tones; modern look Con - Contrast needed for room to not appear drab or dull

Shades of gray go well with modern quartz and marble countertops or subway-tile backsplashes. They also tend to hide any scuffs or stains better than other colors, as well as provide contrast next to white walls.

Blue/Green Pro - Can add a soothing tone to most rooms Con - Can clash with other design elements

Whenever you step away from white, gray and black walls, it’s important to make sure your furnishings and decorations will blend with the colors you choose to place on the wall.

Additional Pop-out Blurbs

Carpet While wood might look sharp in bedrooms, carpet provides softness, sounds insulation, and won’t be as cold on your feet as wood or other materials when you step out of bed in the morning.

Laminate Laminate can mimic just about any hardwood available and will be much more scratch resistant than wood. Its versatility and cost make it very appealing to DIYers.

Butcher Block While tempting to cut directly on butcher block, continue to use cutting boards, as any marks and cuts are permanent. Oiling your butcher block frequently will keep your counters looking new for years.

Concrete Inserting fiberglass in the concrete mold can help strengthen this already strong product. Creative types can even add white and gray swirls or a tinge of color to concrete. Never leave acidic foods on them!

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