Small Jobs that Update your Home and Increase its Value--Part 1


You’d love to gut your entire house and start over! Or maybe you just want to renovate that horrible kitchen you’ve wanted to get rid of since you moved in. And what about that bathroom?! There are so many areas of your home you might want to renovate but it’s just not in the cards. Maybe you just don’t have the budget for it. Maybe it’s just too big of an undertaking right now with your growing family. Or maybe you just don’t want to take on a big renovation when this isn’t going to be your forever home!

In this blog post, we explore the many small projects that you can do around your home that will update the look and definitely increase its value. Some of the ideas are easy DIY projects you could probably do yourself. Others you may want to hire a pro to ensure the quality of the project. Check out our list below and let us know in the comments if there are other projects that you think we should add to this list.

  1. Painting

Have fun painting a room together as a family!!

Have fun painting a room together as a family!!

This is a great project to complete in any area of your home. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for a room or even your mood. With new colours out all the time, you can easily refresh a room in your home and give it a whole new look. Whether it’s the bathroom, your bedroom or an office, a fresh new colour can feel like you just did a big renovation.

Before you start painting, consider what you’re using the room for. If you’re painting the bedroom, you don’t want a bright, bold colour. You want a warm, relaxing colour that will help you ease off to sleep. Consider blue or green tones for a bedroom.

If this is a DIY, make sure you prep the room properly. Especially if it’s a kitchen, prime all of the walls and ceiling. In kitchens, you get grease and dirt on the walls and ceilings that you don’t even see easily. It won’t be until that paint starts peeling off that you realize you should have primed first. Most DIY painting tasks can easily be completed in a weekend so you might want to try this project out yourself. We personally love Sherwin Williams paint for its quality and the great customer service they provide. For more DIY painting tips, click here to provide us with your email address and then download your painting tips cheatsheet.

2. Countertops

Beautiful Cambria countertop in our client’s new kitchen in Oshawa

Beautiful Cambria countertop in our client’s new kitchen in Oshawa

Changing out the countertops in your kitchen or bathroom is a larger project than painting but will completely change the look in the room as well. This is a job that’s best left for the pros. If you don’t measure properly or install it incorrectly you could have a huge mess on your hands. Call in the pros to template your countertop and do the installation.

There are many options to consider. Laminate is surprisingly a great, inexpensive option. Today’s laminate is very different from the laminate of 30-40 years ago. Laminate now looks very much like stone countertops but at half the price. For more information on laminate, click here to read our blog post on laminate countertops.

Quartz is a fabulous option too that increases the value of your home. At Multi Trade Building Services, we offer Silestone, Caesarstone, Hanstone, Vicostone and Cambria countertops. Check out the many options available to you. We even offer a remnant warehouse that provides remnants from other jobs. You can get great Quartz options for vanities or smaller projects at a fraction of the cost. Connect with us here to learn more about the remnant warehouse.

3. New Light Fixtures

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It’s amazing the difference a new light fixture can make in a room. Particularly with the new LED lights that are now economically available, a dark room can look like it’s naturally lit up with a huge window. LED pot lights are great options that are recessed into the ceiling and consequently very unobtrusive. They are available in 3000K warm light, 4000K natural light and 5000K cool light. Each type of light will create a different look within a room and will change the way paint and accessories will look so be sure you do a practice run first. Get a lamp and buy one of each of the different light bulbs. Try it out in the room where you are considering new lighting and see what it looks like before you invest in the new lights.

When thinking about a new light, think about whether the light will be task lighting or just decorative lighting. Also think about the space. Can you put a semi flush mount light in instead of a flush mount? Do you prefer to have pot lights in your dining room instead of a chandelier? What about cleaning the light? If you have a 16’ ceiling in your entry way, do you really want a hanging light with crystals that will require regular cleaning?

This is one of those jobs that might be best left for the pros. New laws came into play in January 2007 that made it mandatory for all electrical work to be completed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor. As a home owner, you can also do your own electrical work but consider what your skill level is. Do you truly have the ability to do the job properly? If not, then hire the pros. If you decide to do the work yourself, you MUST take out an Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) permit if you are installing new lights. The only exception to this is if you are just removing one light and installing a new one in exactly the same location. Make sure you get new lights properly inspected. If you ever have a fire in your home your insurance company will not cover any damage caused by electrical work that was not properly inspected by the ESA.

4. Door handles

This might seem like such a simple task but it’s amazing the difference it can make. When I first moved into my home, all of the interior doors had round brass door handles. One of the first things I did was replace them with brushed nickel lever handles. My logic for wanting this was if my hands were full with a laundry basket for example, I could easily use my elbows to still open the doors. Although function was my primary reason for the change of knobs, the overall change in the look took my 30 year old house and immediately updated the look.. This was quick and easy to do, and more importantly inexpensive. For $25 per handle, I could easily afford this simple project. Here’s a link to a great handle at Home Depot

5. New Hardware on Kitchen Cabinets

This is such a simple and inexpensive upgrade but we seldom think of it! By simply removing the existing knobs or pulls and installing new ones, you can create a different look with only a small investment of time and money. Knobs and pulls can range in price from $4 up to $30 per pull. Deciding what to spend will depend on the condition of your cabinets and when you plan on doing a full kitchen renovation. However, keep in mind that if you find the perfect hardware, you can always reuse it on your brand new kitchen cupboards in the future. Just make sure you purchase some extra ones in case your new kitchen design requires extra.

6. Flooring

Old dated carpet, linoleum or old style laminate can really date a house. Ripping up that old flooring and replacing it with new will easily update your look and increase the value of your home. Watch for the sales and book your flooring install then. One of the best types of flooring out there today is vinyl plank flooring or luxury vinyl. This flooring is durable and 100% waterproof making it suitable for kitchens, bathroom or basements. Put a throw rug down on top of it and it makes a great flooring option for your living room or bedroom.

7. Baseboards

We often don’t think about baseboards in our home. They are down at floor level and are often covered up by furniture. However the right baseboard can make a big difference in your home. Builder’s grade baseboards are often MDF, short and thin. Now there’s nothing wrong with MDF baseboard. We use it a lot on our projects. But going with a taller and thicker baseboard can completely change the look in a room. Try a 5 1/2” baseboard in an MDF or pine. You can even add a decorative shoe mold at the bottom for a little more architectural interest. We love dealing with Peacock Lumber in Oshawa. Check out their catalogue for a wide variety of baseboards to select from.

8. Closet Doors

Does your home still have those tall floor to ceiling mirrored sliding closet doors from the 80s? Now might be the time to upgrade them to hinged closet doors. This is a great upgrade that not only updates the look of your home but increases the value both literally and visually. The mirrored sliding doors are seen as cheap builder’s grade whereas hinged closet doors are a real upgrade and truly show some good carpentry skill. They just look classier which in the end, helps to sell your home.

Unless you have good carpentry and drywall skills, this might be a job left to the professionals. To complete this task, you will likely need to build a header and frame the opening to accept a pre-hung door. Drywall will need to be installed, taped and mudded. The door(s) will then need to be hung and the knob installed. Make sure you have appropriate skills to do all of the tasks if you are planning on attempting this project yourself. If you don’t frame the opening properly, the door won’t get installed correctly and then won’t open and close effectively.

9. Backsplash

Gorgeous pearlized glass mosaic tile installed for our client in Ajax

Gorgeous pearlized glass mosaic tile installed for our client in Ajax

Do you have a backsplash in your kitchen? Does it need to be updated? This is a great project to tackle on a weekend if you know how to install tile. Because kitchen backsplashes are usually 30 square feet or less, I often encourage our clients to spend a little more on a really nice, coveted tile. Provided your kitchen is simple and classic, a splashy tile can become a great focal point and bring some interest to the space. There are so many tile choices available these days that you can even have different textures or types of tile within one piece. If you have undercabinet lighting, it can really accent your tile that much more. A backsplash might not add a lot of value to your home but it will definitely update the look and become a focal point if carefully selected. These are features that can help sell your home in the long run.

White decora receptacle and switches. These are not rated for alumnium wiring.

White decora receptacle and switches. These are not rated for alumnium wiring.

10. New switches and receptacles

Now you normally wouldn’t think about replacing the switches and receptacles in your home to update the look but it can make a difference in an older home. If you still have the standard switches and receptacles (not decora style), it would make a big difference to upgrade them to the rectangular decora style. Often older switches and receptacles are discoloured, ivory or dirty looking. By replacing them with the new decora style receptacles and switches, you immediately update your look.

However, be very careful if you have aluminum wiring in your home. Decora switches and receptacles are NOT rated for aluminum wiring and can cause a fire in your home if you don’t properly transition from aluminum to copper wiring. If you want to do this upgrade and have aluminum wiring in your home, contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor in your area to complete this task.

What project will you be doing in your home?

You don’t have to do a complete big renovation in order to update your home and increase its value. Simple, small projects can have a big impact on updating the look of your home and in many cases, even increasing its value. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to complete any of the projects listed here. Most can be completed in a weekend or less. Know your limits though. If you truly don’t have the right skills to complete the work, call in a professional. You won’t be adding value if the work is sub standard.

Check back in on September 5 for part two. We will explore 10 more small projects that you can do to update your home and increase its value.