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8 Home Renovations That Pay You Back

When it comes to home improvements, you don’t need to renovate your entire house to breathe new life into it. Sometimes a small project can yield huge results. Here are three renovations that provide the “wow” factor, without the eye-popping price tag.

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New Flooring

If you’ve got carpeting or worn linoleum, installing tile is a great way to update the look of your home. Stone tile-such as slate, flagstone or marble-is elegant but pricey. These days, ceramic and porcelain lookalikes will do the job at a fraction of the cost. “Five or ten years ago, changing your flooring was a major deal,” says Linda Makins of Makins Ladna Design in Mississauga, Ont. “But these new products don’t require nearly the maintenance or cost.” If you can’t afford to an entire floor, consider doing the front entryway. It’s the first thing people see when they walk in the door, and it will give your home a fresh and stately presence.

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Built-in Bookshelves

If your family room or den lacks character or architectural detailing, built-in bookshelves are a great idea. They give a room a sense of permanence and a hint of luxury, while providing somewhere to display pictures, collectibles and books. “Built-ins can anchor a fireplace or give an area such as an alcove or landing a sense of depth,” says Makins. Have a designer or architect draw up plans, use inexpensive MDF, and paint them out to match the trim or wall colour. “You want them to be part of the architecture,” she says. If budget allows, include lighting: track lights on a dimmer will add ambience.

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A New or Updated Deck

A deck can become an outdoor living space when done right. “There’s a real trend towards expanding the usable space of your home, especially in cities, where houses can be small,” says Makins. There are an infinite number of things you can add to a deck to create an inviting outdoor room: surround seating with storage, heaters, even a pergola. “You’re only limited by your creativity and your budget,” says Makins. If you can’t afford to replace your deck, a power wash and some new furniture and lighting can create a newly-invigorated space.

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Nothing gives you better return on investment than painting. A coat of paint can hide stains and update a house in a matter of hours. For a fresh kitchen, paint your cabinets and add new hardware.

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New windows can be expensive, but they make your house look infinitely better and save you money on heating. Many provinces provide rebates.

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There are gas and electric fireplaces on the market that provide the warmth and intimacy of a real fire for a relatively small price. Update an ugly or obtrusive brick fireplace by painting it or installing a slate or marble surround.

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From new potlights to new lampshades (or even installing dimmers), good lighting gives a home warmth.

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Front Entrance

“Paint your front door, put up a new light or lanterns and add a couple of gorgeous new planters and you’ve just boosted your curb appeal by 1,000 percent,” says Makins.