5 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

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Summer is a great time for tackling those home improvement projects you’ve been thinking about. The season just lends itself to more activity — the days are longer, the weather more likely to cooperate, kids are out of school and can lend a hand. Many home improvement projects will increase the value of your home, but even if you aren’t putting it on the market to sell, those upgrades will make your home more livable and enjoyable.

Tackle one (or all!) of the following five home improvement projects this summer.

1. Landscaping

There’s something very therapeutic about digging around in the dirt. Not everyone has a green thumb, but if you plan and use the right materials, a beautifully finished landscaping project is worth the effort.

  • Soil prep: Plants won’t grow well in soil that hasn’t been prepared, usually with soil amendments like compost or other organic materials. Ask your local nursery or garden center what they suggest.
  • Plant site selection and placement: If you follow the guidelines on a plant’s tag, you’ll see where it does best — full sun, part shade, etc. Also check the plant’s growth size (width and height) and don’t crowd them. You can always fill in with more later.
  • Hardiness zones: Check out the USDA hardiness zone chart to see what plants will thrive in your climate.
  • Care: Once you’ve spent the money and energy to landscape your yard, be sure to take the time needed to maintain it by watering, weeding and mulching.

2. Add a Deck or Outdoor Room

In keeping with enjoying your outdoor spaces, consider adding a deck or an outdoor “room.” Putting unique items in an outdoor setting, like a hanging daybed, expands your living area.

  • Build a deck: This is a project best left to professionals because of structural and safety components. But you can participate by drawing a plan and discussing the design with the contractor.
  • Put in a patio: Although you can hire pros to lay a patio, with the selection of pavers, bricks, etc. available, this is a doable DIY project. Consult with your local home improvement store on where to begin.
  • Spruce up your furniture: Outdoor furniture is expensive, so why not put a new coat of paint or stain on your existing furniture? Add colorful water-repellant cushions and potted plants to complete the look.

3. Kitchen Makeover

You might not have the money to do a complete kitchen remodel, but there are smaller kitchen improvements that increase your home’s value without much cash outlay. Think about updating the look.

  • Cabinet facelift: You can replace cabinets, but it’s costly. Why not put a new face on them? Painting them is a relatively inexpensive project. Check with your paint store or home improvement center to learn about priming and the right kind of paint to use. Pick out some new hardware, too.
  • New countertop: Even just adding a new top to an island in your kitchen will give that focal point a new look. Check out some of the newer, affordable composite counter materials. This isn’t your grandmother’s Formica!
  • Paint: A new coat of paint in your kitchen adds a nice backdrop to your other upgrades.
  • Accessories: Attractive, colorful kitchen accessories, like towels, vases and bowls brighten up a kitchen.

4. Lighting and Fixtures

Older styles of lighting are not energy-efficient, and outdated hardware fixtures really age a home. While lighting is not an inexpensive project, you’ll save money on your energy bills with newer products.

  • Increase lighting: The correct lighting really brightens a room and is better for reading and other activities. You might consider recessed/can lights and pendant lighting for a more contemporary look.
  • Replace fixtures: If your home has brass or gold-tone fixtures like doorknobs, faucets and other hardware, consider replacing them with more updated finishes like brushed nickel, copper or bronze. Unless your home is very traditional or historic, look for more contemporary styles of fixtures.

5. Change Out a Room

You may not be able to add a room or square footage to your home, but you can change a room’s function. If your kids have left for college or you’re downsizing within your current home, you may want to determine a better use for the space. It’s a fix that will make your home more appealing to buyers or just increase enjoyment of your living environment.

  • Home office: Although people make do with a niche in the kitchen as a makeshift office, why not designate an entire room? If you have a guestroom that is not used often, turn it into a home office.
  • Study or den: With all the electronic connections and media in our lives, a quiet space to read or just sit and reflect is very appealing. You can do built-in shelves for books or buy inexpensive bookshelves.
  • Stick with the room’s purpose: You can add a daybed to a home office or other room to make it more multi-functional, but keep to the room’s main identity. Buy office accessories to designate that the room is used as an office. Avoid clutter which will deter you from using your new space.

This article was written by Nancy LaFever for MyMove.com, an online resource for moving information, products and coupons.

Last Updated: July 19, 2012
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