There are a few key factors that make us walk into a house and go WOW they did a really great job. If we are really trying to create a stunning renovation, here are the ten things that we add to create that eye candy value. By picking out what means the most to you from this list, you can make your home look and feel more luxurious.
Lighting is EXTREMELY important in a home. A good fixture can distract your eye from so much that is going on, but it can also do the opposite. An unfortunate fixture will be all your eyes can see. The great part about lighting is that it is so easy to change out and can be done in a matter of an hour or two. When choosing lighting, make sure that it matches the style of your home. A crystal chandelier doesn’t belong in a mid-century, and a linear modern fixture doesn’t belong in a traditional. Most lighting sites make it easy to sort by style, use this feature if you are unsure, or search your preferred style on Pinterest and look at pros like Architectural Digest for suggestions and inspiration. Ceiling height is also important when choosing a fixture. I’ve included instruction on how to choose lighting size and height below from Lighting Connection. I refer to this often. If you have tall or vaulted ceilings, really go for it in spaces like a dining room, living room or foyer. These are your wow factor spaces that need a statement. I have also included a few fixtures that are my current favorites available through Dhier Home.
2. Door Height and Style
Often overlooked or not even thought about, door heights will make your ceilings feel taller and your home look more expensive, even if guests can’t put their finger on why. If you are building from the ground up or renovating, make your doors as high as they can possibly go based on your ceiling height. Be sure not to skimp on the type of door – make it solid core. A cheap flimsy door will downgrade all of the work you just did with the height. Style should also be consistent with your type of home, I have included some examples below, modern on the left and more traditional on the right. When switching out your doors, buy fresh new hinges and hardware – another simple change that can be done in a day and isn’t that costly.
3. Kitchen Range
The range is the centerpiece of your kitchen. It can easily be a piece of art in your home. Don’t think that just because a range looks fantastic that it has to be expensive. This is something that is vast in cost. Below I have included some great options that are safer in budget all the way up to the mac daddy of ranges.
From top right: GE Café, Ilve, Viking, La Cornue
Another overlooked area, baseboards can make your home look more expensive. Crown molding can be skipped or taken down, and shoe molding can also be left off so you can spend that budget on bigger baseboards. When renovating, take old baseboards off and have your hardwood installer run the flooring all the way to the wall. Then install new baseboards for a seamless look. Shoe molding is only doing one thing – covering up someone’s mistakes whether it be the contractor or the flooring installer. The taller your ceilings, the bigger your baseboards can be. For a recent project with 8′ ceilings, we put in 8″ baseboards.
A roof can totally change the look of a house. An asphalt roof is the most common style of roofing. We love a cedar shake roof or a slate roof, often seen in New England, the Hamptons, etc and also shown below. This is purely a decision of putting your money where it means the most to you. A cedar shake or slate roof is significantly more expensive than an asphalt roof. On our current project, and asphalt roof would have run us about $5000. Instead, we went with a Davinci roof that is a manmade product with a lifetime warranty meant to look identical to cedar. It was four times the price, but it looks fantastic and we will never have to worry about it.
Probably one of the most important wow factors of a home – kitchen countertops. A stone can completely change the look of your home. When we were renovating our old house, I selected white cabinets and once they were installed, I immediately knew that I had to go crazy on the stone or else my kitchen was going to be entirely too boring. I am not an all-white kitchen kind of person. The photo of my waterfall island is one of the most saved photos I have on Instagram because it was that wow factor for my home. For reference, it was White Noise quartz. I went with a polished finish because my kitchen was so traditional and monotone before, but if you want to tone it down, go with a honed (dull, not shiny) finish for your stone. A honed finish can often make cheaper stones look more expensive. Hone a plain black granite and it instantly looks better. Avoid any stones that have shiny, reflective specs in them.
Seamless flooring is important, and another factor that will make your home look bigger. When a house is broken up with a kitchen tile, a concrete living room, a hardwood foyer, it tends to shrink the space. Instead, choose a surface that can be continued through the entirety of your first floor. We tend to go with real hardwood because it can be sanded down and refinished multiple times which is not the case with engineered or other flooring options. Our hardwood is usually white oak because of the durability and how it takes stain. I haven’t found a stain that doesn’t transfer to white oak, it’s like putting paint on a blank canvas. Red oak on the other hand, already has that base color. Putting a gray stain on a red oak will turn out purple, etc.
Landscaping is quite often the last element that homeowners think about, but it’s the first thing that any guest, neighbor or person walking by will see. There are two properties in downtown Charleston that are relatively identical. The exterior is historic, the porches are beautiful, but there is one main difference that makes one superior – the landscaping. When I walk down the driveway, I feel like I’m in a little villa in Italy. There is a small fountain setting the mood, creeping fig up the stairs, and roses climbing around the post of the porch. The landscaping transports the home into a different world. Be sure to save adequate budget for your landscaping. The mood will take a while to grow, so you might as well get started as soon as you can.
Windows are another item that can range from $200-$2000 each. Start with windows that have true divided light, meaning that the grid pattern is on the outside of the window and not the inside. On the front of the house, go bigger with window size, and decide on the style. Less grids usually lend to a more modern look, more grids are more traditional. With both, I would go for the smallest grid size possible, and by that I mean the smallest thickness of grid possible. Materials and style are what change the pricing. We usually use an aluminum clad or steel window. Aluminum clad will be more cost effective and still achieve the look and often the color you are after if you want a darker window. Double hung windows are more of a traditional, historic option, but we love placing casement windows in spaces that you will open often, like a kitchen, master bedroom, or front living room.
10. Powder Room
Don’t forget about the powder room! This is often the only bathroom that your guests will see. This is the space where you can get more creative with the sink or vanity, add wallpaper, use sconces, and truly make it a unique space. Often these small bathrooms can stand alone with design, and it’s okay to go a bit out of your comfort zone. Below are a few of my recently pinned powder rooms.
In the next post I’ll share with you all of the places you can save on your renovation so you can add in these fun touches!