The Top 2 Home Improvement Projects Buyers Want

The Top 2 Home Improvement Projects Buyers Want, And How to Do It On a Budget

Sellers that are on a budget, or are crunched for time, may not be able to make a lot of updates to their home prior to listing. We look at the top two home improvement projects buyers want by ROI, and how to implement them on a budget.

It’s no secret that updates to a home increase its value on the real estate market. However, choosing the right home improvement projects can be a challenge if you are short on time and/or money. Fortunately, the National Association of Realtors reports that smaller updates that improve the overall look of the home can be more effective than large scale renovations.

We’ve rounded up the top two projects buyers want — and how to implement them on a budget.

1. The Kitchen


While it may be true that kitchens sell homes, you don’t need to spend a fortune on creating a space that buyers are eager to call their own. In fact, Remodeling Magazine, in their 2015 Cost vs. Value report indicates that a minor kitchen remodel has a nearly 12 percent higher payback than a major renovation, providing an average 79.3 percent return on investment.


At the lower end of the scale, simply repainting the walls and replacing cabinet hardware can be an effective face lift if you are crunched for time. However, if you have solid wood cabinets, painting them can also go a long way to modernizing your kitchen space. Choose a neutral color such as white or off-white to brighten up even the most dated of kitchens and create welcoming space. New hinges and hardware can set off the update and make a real impact.

For damaged or laminated kitchens, sometimes replacing the doors can take your kitchen to a whole new level. Many big box stores carry an array of stock cabinet doors that can give your kitchen new life for a fraction of the cost of complete replacement.

Countertops and Backsplash

Countertops see a lot of action and can be one of the most worn out aspects of a kitchen. Replacing counter tops with a comparable looking laminate can significantly improve the desirability of your home and provide a fresh, clean look. Existing natural stone countertops that have lost their luster can also be rebuffed and re-coated by a professional to revive their natural beauty.

If your kitchen lacks a backsplash, this can be one of the easiest do-it-yourself home improvement projects to add value. Tile, bead board paneling, even tin tiles can be added for maximum impact.

Improve Functionality

Every buyer wants a kitchen that works. Easy fixes can include adding interior organizers to drawers, installing a lazy Susan or pull out shelves to pantry cupboards. Even replacing a single bowl sink with a double bowl, if space allows, and topping off with a fresh, new faucet will make a positive impact.

2. Entryway


While it may be surprising, replacing your front door with a new steel door tops nearly every list of home improvement projects, and for good reason. The ROI on this simple upgrade can soar as high as 101 percent, making it a no-brainer.

A new entry door increases curb appeal and makes your home shine in real estate photos. Aside from the increased security and energy savings a steel door offers, buyers will receive a positive first impression that will set the tone for how they view the remainder of your home.

The Bottom Line

A tight timeline or budget shouldn’t get in the way of ensuring you get the most from the sale of your home, and choosing strategic home improvement projects will ensure your effort is rewarded. Just remember that upgrades don’t need to be premium quality for the best return — they just need to make sense for your home.

If you are thinking about selling, even about just getting your house in order in advance, please feel free to call Steve from Coldwell Banker for more expert advice.   617-372-1870


5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall

5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall

Wow fall clients, homebuyers and guests with these easy staging ideas from HomeAdvisor

Selling your home in the fall means adding small seasonal elements to make your home feel warm and welcoming. And, what better place to do that than in the kitchen? Here are some ideas to help you make your kitchen — and your home — appeal to fall homebuyers:

Fall counter decor

You should always keep the countertops nearly clear when potential homebuyers are walking through. In fact, you should keep it down to about two to three essentials if you’re living there from day to day. For the fall season, you can add small elements like placemats, fruit and leaf decor (window drapings, vase, etc.).

fall 1

“Fall odors”

The smell of leaves, apple pie, pumpkin and cinnamon evoke the cozy feelings of fall. Candles are nice and actually baking something “fall-like” before a showing is a sure way to make potential buyers feel more at home during a showing.


Colors of fall

Depending on the current condition of your home, you might consider a fresh coat of paint. What color you decide to use may or may not be influenced by the season. While you should always lean towards neutral colors, you might consider accent walls or cabinets in browns or dark tones of red or green if you think they would work. The cost to paint an interior room is about $380, though prices will vary depending on the size of the room.

Bringing nature in

If there are windows in the kitchen, make sure to keep them clean. Depending on the weather outside during a showing, you might open them and let the fresh air in. It helps to create a flow between nature outside and the atmosphere you’re trying to create in the kitchen. If your budget allows, you might also accent the windows with fall-like window treatments to create an even easier flow. If you don’t have these treatments, a professional home stager can sometimes find them for a reasonable price.


Natural lighting elements

Lighting is an essential element of home staging, no matter the season. In fall, in particular, it’s all about enhancing the twilight or sunset and complementing of all the fall colors. For lighting in your kitchen, consider accent and track lighting. Or, you could install recessed lighting on a dimmer switch, which will allow you to control the brightness of the kitchen to complement the mood outside.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free

Some Ideas to Shake Up your Living Room

5 Living Room Design Ideas That Are Truly Smart

Many homeowners dream up living room design ideas that never take off. It could be that they don’t have the budget or the space to make those ideas a reality. If you want to give your living room a makeover, read on for some ultra-smart ideas to instantly update your  home.

1. Shake up a can of spray paint.

The best living room design ideas are often the simplest ones. If your home has a few items that have seen better days — perhaps a dusty old lamp or a scratched-up table — don’t toss them. Instead, reach for a can of spray paint. Just prime the pieces and spray on a fresh coat of paint. Here’s a helpful how-to before you get started.

2. Use paint and paper strategically.

Did you come across a gorgeous wallpaper that you’d love to see in your home? Don’t commit to papering the entire wall; apply only in look-at-me places, such as an art nook or inside a chair rail. The same idea goes for paint. Bring a cheery pop of yellow or soothing shade of green into your living room by painting a square above your couch or on an open wall.

3. Bring in a few statement pieces.

When thinking of living room design ideas, remember that it doesn’t take much to freshen up your space. Look for statement pieces in vibrant colors or bold prints, and arrange them around the room. You might opt for a uniquely patterned pillow or a one-of-a-kind knickknack from the Dallas Flea Market.

4. Perk up your color palette.

If you’ve played it safe with your living room decor, sticking to mostly neutral colors or blacks and whites, it may be time to pump up the energy. You can give your space an eclectic look and revamp the look and feel by bringing in some unexpected colors. Get some inspiration by checking out Pantone’s fall colors for 2015.

5. Forget about symmetry.

There’s no rule that says everything in your living room needs to be perfectly balanced. In fact, by throwing things out of whack a touch, you’ll do wonders for breathing new life into your room. Instead of centered directly over your couch, consider moving artwork off to the left or right. And instead of hanging a pendant light directly above a table, position it off to one side. By making these small tweaks, you’ll create a space that’s composed but not over-the-top organized.

There you have it: A few smart living room design ideas that go a long way towards reinvigorating the coziest room in your home. Which ideas will you try?

7 Reasons to be Happy It’s Fall

7 Reasons to be Happy It’s Fall

From beautiful scenery to pumpkin flavored treats, here’s 7 reasons we’re looking forward to fall!

Autumn is officially upon us! While this time of year symbolizes the end of long, sunny beach days and warm sunshine on our faces, there’s so many wonderful things to look forward to about this next season. If you’re experiencing the end-of-summer blues and need a few reasons to be excited about fall, look no further than this list:

Pumpkin spice everything.


If you’re a fan of pumpkin flavoring, you’re in luck. This is the time of year when pretty much everything is available in pumpkin spice. Coffee, cheesecake, breads, desserts, etc.. the possibilities truly are endless.

The satisfaction of stepping on crunchy leaves.



Scented candles.


Your house will never smell better than it does when these delicious scented candles are lit!

Boots season!

Ladies…need I say more?

The scenery!


Mother Nature really puts her best face forward this time of year!



Whether your house hosts the best Halloween party on the block or you simply like to decorate for the occasion, there’s no denying this holiday is one of the most fun to celebrate!

Apple picking.

9923367944_3fbafe3c87_zImage via Flickr user davitydave

This good old fall past time is a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends and family.

Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition:

1. Address the Heart of the Home

In real estate, the kitchen is a main selling feature and can be a make or break deal for potential home buyers. If a new kitchen just isn’t in the cards, consider replacing smaller ticket items and de-cluttering. Low- and no-cost fixes for the kitchen include:

  • New cabinet hardware
  • New faucets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Storing countertop appliances to create more work space
  • Replacing dark valances with lighter fabric or removing them altogether


2. Update Switch Plate Covers

Switch plate and outlet covers are brittle, and can crack and yellow over time, resulting in a home that, no matter how well updated, still looks dated. New outlets and covers can be replaced in a snap for generally under five dollars, making it one of the lowest cost updates available. Consider flat switches that create a modern, streamlined silhouette and stick to white for a timeless look.

3. Beautify the Bathroom

An updated bathroom comes only second to kitchens in a buyer’s list of must-haves, so showing them a clean and uncluttered bathroom will score points with any potential buyer.

New flooring can give an otherwise tired bathroom a much needed facelift and create a newer looking bathroom overall. Coordinating linens, a new shower curtain, and thoroughly cleaned grout can top off this easy home improvement investment.

updated bathroom

Image Source: Flickr/Kyle Murphy

4. Address Storage

Storage is always a concern for buyers. Installing low-cost closet organizers to your existing space will increase storage and organization in your home. Add storage baskets to hide clutter and you will have beautiful storage spaces that will make any buyer envious.

closet organizer

Image Source: Flickr/Rubbermaid Products

5. Deep Clean for a Good Return

If your home contains wall to wall carpeting, clean carpets can make a world of difference to a buyer. Cleaning carpets can easily be completed in a weekend with a rental cleaning machine, and it creates a noticeably clean, odor free environment for buyers to tour.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

Nothing boosts curb appeal like a tidy yard. Trim and edge walkways, weed gardens, and trim shrubs for maximum impact. If you have a porch, consider potted, seasonal plants to bring the look together.

curb appeal

Image Source: Flickr/one2c900d

7. Improve the First Impression

As buyers approach your home, first impressions matter. Ensuring your entryway is clean and inviting with something as simple as a new mailbox or updated house numbers will make buyers feel welcome. Clean windows and doors for extra impact.

8. Add a Coat of Paint

Freshening up your living space with neutral colors will invite buyers to imagine their belongings in your home and will cover up any nicks, scratches, or dents your wall incurred over years of daily living.

9. Update Lighting

While not the lowest cost solution on our list, you will find that a new light fixture or two really breathes new life into key living spaces. If your budget is tight, look to kitchen, dining, and living rooms for the most bang for your buck.

updated lighting

Image Source: Flickr/Aleksey Gnilenkov

10. Add some Decor Pizzazz

Finally, a fresh look can be completed with nothing more than some colorful fabric. Inexpensive pillows and throws in a coordinating palette through your home will create a unified look that will have buyers hooked.

living room decor

Image Source: Flickr/Emily May

5 Ideas That Will Make Your Front Porch Shine

Up your curb appeal game with these simple front porch ideas.

With fall in full swing, your front porch needs to transition to attract buyers. Luckily it’s easy to make a few changes so it blends in for the season. Here are five front porch design ideas to make your home stand out:

via  Tiger’s Testing ServiceDesignMine

#1 Clean out debris with a power washer.

The first step is cleaning out the debris from summer. You could use old-fashioned equipment like a broom, mop, washcloth and elbow grease or hire a professional pressure washing service to clean away stubborn debris so your porch looks like new. Dirt and grime in the floor and on the siding can be dusted off quickly by a pressure washer, which will save you time and effort otherwise spent hand washing your porch.

#2 Add a new coat of paint.

A new coat of paint is a great way to revitalize the front porch, whether it’s touching up the trim, railings and banisters, or repainting the front door. It is also an opportunity to add a bright new color as part of your front porch design. Painting is a good DIY project on the weekend, or if you intend to do a complete overhaul, you might need to get a painter to help. Make sure the color will complement the rest of the house. You could always paint the porch a neutral tone and then cover the door in a bright color so it stands out as buyers walk up.

#3 Revitalize the front door.

Once you start getting the porch fixed up, it’s time to turn your focus to the door as it will be the first area buyers see. If the door is scratched, scraped or muddy, it won’t seem welcoming to potential homebuyers. Start by cleaning off any dirt and grime with the power washer or with a washcloth covered in vinegar and water. Then you can add on decorations like wreaths, a new door knob made of brass or steel, window dressings and more. That way it will look brand new without having to install a new door for hundreds of dollars.

#4 Imbue the porch with the natural landscape.

To make your porch blend in with the landscape, consider adding potted plants with seasonal flowers. They are inexpensive, add a splash of color and can be either standing or hanging in baskets throughout your porch. They will also help to create a welcoming atmosphere on the front porch. You should coordinate the colors of the plants to match the front door or the landscape so they stand out against the porch and blend with the yard.

#5 Brighten the porch with fixtures and new decor.

If the house numbers and mailbox are showing signs of age, you might need to spend a few hours or hire a handyman to revitalize them. You should also install light fixtures to make those house numbers easy to see at night or on rainy days. Light fixtures are also good for illuminating front porch decor like chairs, rockers, swings, dining chairs and tables. If you have night showings at your home, they will be useful for giving the porch a warm feel at all hours.

Get in touch with a local expert!

Bath Updates can Add Value

A bathroom update might be just what is needed to help your home for sale stand out.

The following is a guest post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating.

Bathrooms are still one of the most important rooms in a home when it comes to making the best impression on potential buyers. Outdated bathrooms are simply a turn-off to millenials. Whether sellers decide to stage their bathroom by adding simple upgrades to give a more modern look or completely remodel to update features and add functionality, each will have some impact on resale value.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report there is an overall return of confidence in the value of remodeling (since 2005 when it last peaked). For bathroom remodels, the national average price spent is $16,000 with 70% of the costs recouped. In general, the simpler and lower-cost home projects deliver a higher return in value.


The following are some tips to keep in mind when staging or remodeling a bathroom:

Painting and Removing Outdated Wallpaper Is A Must. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in a complete remodel, removing dated wallpaper and adding a fresh coat of neutral paint will provide a boost with instant universal appeal to buyers who are not interested in a dated bathroom.

Let There Be Light. New light fixtures can add an immediate update to an outdated bathroom. Not only will they look more attractive when paired with complementary accessories, they will also highlight the most important features in the room.

Access Condition of Cabinets. If your budget is limited and cabinets are in good condition, you may opt to refinish or paint them. Either way, there are many price levels for vanity, cabinets and counter top materials to choose from when replacing.

Replace Hardware and Add Fine Details. Better quality faucets, towel bars and vanity hardware are a simple way to add a high-end look. If you are remodeling and can fit it in your budget, consider adding a bathtub tile surround, tile backsplash, new flooring, frameless shower doors, a freestanding tub or radiant heating for a spa-like feel.


Add Depth With Accessories. Elegant accessories that complement the room’s style are an inexpensive way to update the bath. Hang a new shower curtain in a unique pattern paired with a plush bath mat. Layer soft, thick hand towels on racks paired with framed wall art. Place flowers in vases and splurge on special bottles of hand soap and candles.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging,

Hey – Lighten Up!

Lighten Up: The Ultimate Guide to Illuminating the Modern Home

From The Home Depot and Coldwell Banker

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Your house may have fabulous furnishings and impeccable decor, but there’s one little element that could throw your entire look out of alignment: the lighting. It’s a seemingly small detail, but lighting can make or break a home’s overall design.

Good lighting is essential to building a home that feels comfortable, cohesive and complete. From technical details like sizing and wattage to more stylistic concerns and smart lighting solutions, this guide will help you create a lighting plan that will transform the feel of your home.

I. Illumination 101

How much do you really know about lighting? Between assessing lumens and choosing from among thousands of fixtures, the subject can quickly get murky. The good news is, you can break down all of the types of lighting available into three basic categories: ambient, task and accent lighting.

Interior designer Kerrie Kelly lays it out for us:

The ideal lighting scheme is natural light supplemented with ambient, task and accent lighting. The combination of lighting and sunlight can completely change the feeling of a home. A balanced mix sustains the warmth of a room while allowing homeowners to create different moods.

Ambient sets the room’s mood. The even glow fills the space and makes it more inviting by eliminating harsh shadows. It is usually provided by indirect fixtures such as shaded lamps, overhead lighting and chandeliers, though it can also be achieved with directional fixtures aimed at a wall, or built-in lighting in a cove or cornice.

Forest Ave SE Mercer Island, WA 

Task lighting is the bright light that illuminates a particular area where an activity takes place, such as reading, playing games or preparing food. The pattern of light is focused tightly onto a specific space, and its sharper pool of light often contrasts pleasantly with overall ambient light. Task lighting must be adjustable and able to be shielded. It’s best to aim task lighting at an angle to avoid hot spots or shadows.

7574 N Mockingbird Lane Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

N Mockingbird Lane Paradise Valley, AZ

Accent lighting includes the most romantic light, which comes from the flicker of candles. It’s also used to highlight features, such as artwork or architectural elements, or to provide a sense of drama. The beam spread, intensity and color are important considerations when choosing accent lighting.

208 Hawthorne Hollow Road Madisonville, Louisiana

“The best lighting schemes combine these three different types of lighting without overusing any of them,” Kelly says. “Using too many lights or high-wattage bulbs can wash out a room’s beauty, while insufficient lighting can create a room that is cold and uninviting. Finding the right mix can be tricky, but it is worth the time and effort.”

Good lighting is extremely important, and it’s one of the most overlooked considerations when designing a home. Lighting can determine the mood of a room. Swap out on/off light switches for dimmers, especially in the dining and living rooms. When you need bright light to clean, it’s there, or you can turn the lights down a bit when entertaining for a cozy feel. —Sarah Fishburne, Director of Trend and Design at The Home Depot

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Creating a Lighting Scheme

Once you’ve gotten an understanding of what different types of lighting achieve in your home, you can assess your home’s needs and start to create a lighting scheme.

“People look for homes with good light,” says Coldwell Banker’s Cara Ameer. “Even if the home tends to look darker due to its lot and geographic location, good lighting can help offset some of the areas of the home that may translate as darker spaces.” In other words, a thoughtfully created lighting scheme can make all the difference in the world.

Layering is the key to creating a balanced lighting scheme, according to Kelly. Here’s how to get started:

  • Identify the main activity areas or the room’s focal points and put the brightest layer of light there.
  • Create a middle layer to highlight interest in specific areas, without detracting from the focal points.
  • Use the third layer to fill in the background with ambient light.

II. Room-by-Room Lighting Guide

Creating a successful lighting scheme is a big-picture task, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a closer look at each room in your house. In fact, you’ll need to assess each space individually in order to create a plan that flows beautifully and effortlessly, filling your home with light.

The fixtures should be proportionate to the space. A larger space with higher ceilings can support a more significant fixture. A smaller space may need something more understated that will complement but not overwhelm. —Cara Ameer, Coldwell Banker

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Living Room — Living rooms tend to vary widely in terms of size, location and use, so assess your unique situation and plan from there. A smaller space may simply require a few strategically placed lamps, while a larger room may require a flush light fixture.

  • In warmer climates, consider fan/light fixture combination to help maintain a more comfortable temperature and healthy air flow.
  • Use task lighting to highlight spaces where you’re most likely to read or do any other activities that require a bit of extra light.

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Kitchen — If you’re like most people, you think of your kitchen as the heart of your home—a multiuse space where you work and socialize. Because you and your family spend so much time in the kitchen, look for fixtures that are warm and inviting yet still hard-working. “You want something that is casual but elegant, and also something that is timeless and not too trendy,” Ameer says. “You will want it to be flexible and adaptable to a variety of furniture styles. Think transitional.”

Try these ideas for lighting up your kitchen:

If you have high ceilings, pendant lights can highlight a bar area or island.

  • Use under-cabinet lighting to brighten up the kitchen in a subtle way without having to see light fixtures.
  • For an eat-in kitchen, take into account the size and shape of your kitchen table before choosing a fixture. Ideally, you’ll want something in a similar style and appropriate size.
  • Try adding several low-voltage halogen fixtures with a narrow flood beam distribution and focusing them on specific task areas.

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Dining Room — This is one room where it’s always safe to make a statement. “Choose a fixture that gets noticed in an attractive way and creates interest in the space,” Ameer says. “The fixture should help create ambience for the room, as this is a space that is used for entertaining and gatherings. Make sure it is transitional and coordinates well with your dining room furniture.”

  • Chandeliers with lampshades, stately candelabras and fixtures with strategically placed crystal or glass pendants can help to create a more dramatic look.
  • Avoid fixtures that are overly bright or brassy.
  • Consider your dining room ceiling height along with the size and shape of your table.

The proper height to hang a light depends on the height of the ceiling and your family. In general, it should be about 84” to 96” from the floor, but always make sure it clears the tallest person in the family by at least 12”. —Sarah Fishburne, The Home Depot

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Bathroom — As the place where most people get ready in the morning, your bathroom should be a top priority room for lighting design. An ill-placed fixture or bulb could be the difference between you starting your day with confidence or feeling self-conscious. Fixtures should be situated at a certain angle so as to shine light on the face in the most natural way.

  • Avoid using downlights over the vanity without adding lights on the side. Standing directly under a downlight creates exaggerated and unflattering shadows.
  • Use multiple sources of light—warm light is more flattering, but cool light is better for close-up grooming tasks.
  • Use lighting to highlight accessories in your bathroom.
  • If your ceiling height allows, try adding a small chandelier over your master bathtub to bring a bit of elegance to your space.


Avoid Broadway lighting over bathroom mirrors—they’re best left on Broadway. Think of new ways to incorporate lighting into your bathroom with a variety of new styles in vanity wall mounted fixtures. — Kerrie Kelly, Design Lab

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Bedrooms — Lighting can bring a lot of personality to a bedroom. “The bedroom is a space in which lighting can add both fun and function,” Kelly says. “If you have bedside tables, consider adding oversized lamps to create a luxe feel or smaller table lamps to dressers or desks for a functional fix.”

  • Using multiple light sources adds warmth and dimension to the room, which can help a bedroom feel more relaxing.
  • Consider the size of the bedrooms along with ceiling heights. For standard bedroom size ceilings (8-10 ft.), a smaller overhead light fixture should be appropriate paired with lamps on a nightstand or two.
  • For a larger bedroom like a master suite, try bringing in a smaller chandelier to add a touch of opulence.
  • A ceiling fan with a light fixture can make sleeping more comfortable in warmer climates.

Lamps are a great way to create height within a room. Vary heights of table and floor lamps to help add interest to a space. —Sarah Fishburne, The Home Depot

Photo Courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Outdoor — As the first thing people see when they pull up to your home, outdoor lighting is hugely important. “Landscape lighting makes a huge statement in a yard,” Fishburne says. “Use spotlights to highlight your home’s architectural or landscape details, or use pathway lights to illuminate the way at night.”

Upgrade your lighting by replacing the builder-grade exterior light package with something more modern.

  • Add motion-activated lights to ensure your outdoor space is as safe as possible.
  • “The biggest trend that we’re celebrating for the outdoors is stringed lighting and hurricane lamps. Multicolor strung lighting can create a festive feel for special events or can be hung year-round if yellow or white.” —Kerrie Kelly
  • A hanging pendant light may provide a nice finishing touch in a tall covered entry, while a smaller pendant or flush light fixture can finish the look of a small space.

Updated fixtures that reflect current and on trend finishes and styles can easily help transform indoor and outdoor spaces. They are like the ‘jewelry’ of the house. Change the jewelry to change the look of the outfit. —Cara Ameer, Coldwell Banker

 III. Lighting Technology and Trends

See more of this beautiful Aspen, CO currently listed with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate

There’s more than one way to take an intelligent approach to lighting your home. The ever-growing range of smart lighting options on the market today makes it easier than ever to bring your lighting into the modern age. A segment of home automation, smart lighting can be controlled wirelessly from both inside and outside the home, via an Internet connection and an app on a mobile device or computer. Benefits range from security and safety to convenience and even cost and energy savings.

Greg Rhoades, Director of Marketing for Leviton Security & Automation, explains that smart lighting allows homeowners to illuminate their property based on their specific habits and activities. “When heading to bed, turn off all lights with one button or automatically at a certain time each night,” he says. “Press another button to dim certain lights for a party and turn off lights in areas where you don’t want people mingling.”

There are many variations of smart lighting. You can have your lighting turn blue if it’s raining outside, flash when you get an important email, or simulate the dawn light when it’s time to get up. You can also set it to turn on and off randomly as a security feature when you’re away from home.

Automated lighting systems are not expensive to implement today. In fact, retrofits are incredibly popular thanks to technologies that communicate over a power line, or more commonly, wirelessly. Additionally, plug-in modules are the easiest devices to implement as they don’t require a technical installation by an electrician. —Greg Rhoades, Leviton Security & Home Automation

Three Smart Lighting Solutions

Plug-In Modules and Smart Bulbs These are currently the easiest options on the market. Simply screw in your light bulb or plug your lamp into a plug-in module, download an app and connect over Wi-Fi to the “hub” that came with the system. Smart plugs cost about $50 each, while smart bulbs range from $25 to $120 for a starter kit of two bulbs and a hub. Then you can expand your system from there for between $15 and $60 per bulb.

Smart Switches If you want to implement a fully connected home, smart switches are the best choice. Combined with plug-in modules for standalone lights, this is the easiest way to create a full system. Smart switches simply replace your existing switch and provide instant smarts to your lighting. They start at around $50 and go up as you add features such as dimming and motion sensing, and you will need a compatible smart home hub to power them—these range in prices from $50 to $200.

Occupancy Sensing With built-in sensors or connected sensors, lighting knows when you enter a room and/or if there is anyone in the room, allowing it to turn itself on and off accordingly. Commonly seen in offices, occupancy sensing lighting can also work well in a home. It can be done via wall-mounted devices or light switches that communicate either via wires or wirelessly to your light bulbs. The sensors cost between $50 and $90, and you may need more than one per room. Occupancy sensing light bulbs are not yet available to consumers, although a company called Stack has a model due for release this year. A starter pack with two bulbs and a hub is $150, additional bulbs are $60.

Know Your Bulbs

All smart bulbs are LEDs, which is good news for the environment—the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with an Energy Star rated LED bulb, Americans would save $700 million per year in energy costs. Imagine what switching out your whole house could do for your energy savings!

With the end of incandescent light bulb manufacturing in the U.S. last year, standard LED bulbs and CFLs (compact fluorescent) are now the only choice for American consumers. Let’s break down a few of their key differences.

  • CFLs are more energy efficient than incandescents and provide almost identical light. So if you are very attached to the warm glow of incandescents, CFLS are a good alternative (although the quality of light LEDs produce has improved dramatically in recent years, making it easier to replace like for like).
  • CFLs are less expensive than LEDS, but they don’t last as long and they contain mercury, making them a less eco-friendly option. However, for rooms that see little use, such as a garden shed or attic, CFLs are a good option over incandescents if you are looking to save money and energy.

The wattage and hue of the light bulbs used can absolutely change the look of a space. Brighter lights make spaces stand out and help create the perception of a larger space, even if it is not. —Cara Ameer, Coldwell Banker

A final option for energy efficient lighting is solar-powered lighting. Solar power uses no electricity, making it far and away the most efficient choice. However, current solar power hasn’t been successfully and inexpensively adapted for indoor use. While this will change as technology advances, for now, solar is an excellent option for outdoor lighting. Its big advantage—that it doesn’t require wiring or use any electricity—makes it perfect for the garden or yard.


Using smart programming with a lighting control system can save money. For instance, it is estimated that a single LED bulb burning at eight hours per day will cost $26.40 over five years. However, automatically dimming that light to just 85 percent will save 20 percent in electricity usage. —Greg Rhoades, Leviton Security & Home Automation

Conclusion—Flipping the Switch

Lighting up your home may not be as simple as it once was—but that’s a good thing. By thoughtfully assessing your space, weighing the pros and cons of different fixtures, and exploring the exciting world of smart lighting, you can create a fully customized lighting plan that will benefit your life every single day.

Start by accessing your needs in each room, thinking from the perspective of ambient, task and accent lighting. Then, consider the specific types of fixtures that will work best for your unique situation in each room. Finally, get smart about choosing bulbs that will last for years, providing the illumination—and the automated functionality—that will improve your family’s life at home.

6 Revitalizing Update Ideas for Your Bedroom

Transform your bedroom from drab to fab with these easy updates.

How’s your bedroom looking these days? When was the last time you replaced the linens or thought about getting the carpet deep cleaned? Since we spend so much time in our bedrooms — where we begin and end every day — it’s important to keep things clean, comfortable and in the best shape possible. Instead of taking everything out and starting anew every few years, use these ideas keep your bedroom feeling fresh:

#1 Declutter

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One way to keep your bedroom fresh is to get rid of the clutter. Whether it’s shoes, magazines, old clothes or the like, get rid of whatever you don’t need or don’t use often. It opens up floor space, closet space and other areas. Plus, there’s another bonus: if you clear a dreadfully cluttered floor, you reduce the risk of tripping and falling too.

#2 Add more lights

If your bedroom gets only a little natural light and looks shadowy the rest of the time, think about adding more lights — maybe standing or table lamps. You can also upgrade your fluorescent or incandescent lighting to their CFL or LED alternatives, which are more energy efficient and pay back in utility bill savings. A more expensive option is to replace the existing windows in the room with bigger, more energy efficient ones. This will probably involve expanding the space for the window, so keep that cost in mind.

#3 Paint the walls

Depending on the look and feel of your bedroom, painting the walls might be just the thing to revitalize the space. If you you’ve been living with a bright, pastel color that’s been there since you purchased the house, changing it might help renew the atmosphere of the room. The cost to paint a room varies depending on the paint you choose and the preparation involved. Usually, if you’re inexperienced and want to avoid carpet damage, you’ll call a painter. However, with some experience — or a lot of YouTube videos and trial and error — you can tackle this project over a weekend. Keep in mind that paint isn’t cheap; choose a shade that you’re willing to live with for five years, at least.

#4 Bring in natural elements

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To add more oxygen and nature to your bedroom, think about adding houseplants. Houseplants helps remove toxins from the air, and many are very low maintenance. If you own pets, choose a variety that is not poisonous to them and that will still add to the overall aesthetic appeal of your bedroom. Just keep in mind if you do purchase a plant that requires watering, put down some kind of plastic catcher or rug in case of excess overflow.

#5 Hang a mirror

A mirror can be benefit a bedroom in many ways. For those who like to take the time and reflect on their image before work, it’s a handy accessory. For a bedroom that’s very small or narrow, it helps to add a feeling of more space and openness. If your bedroom is lacking in light, mirrors can be positioned to reflect natural or artificial light and cast it across the room to make it feel brighter. Plus, depending on the type of mirror you choose, it adds some extra appeal to the bedroom overall. Mirrors are relatively inexpensive to hang — about $270 depending on their size.

#6 Update the linens

If you’ve had the same linens since college, there’s a good chance it’s time to make an update. Think about how you can match the bedroom linens to those in your bathroom or complement the walls and carpeting. You might want to expand your color scheme in the bedroom, using the comforter as your centerpiece. You’ll want it to last for a while, so don’t invest in something that will tear or easily fall apart with repeated use. Think about an area rug if your flooring is prone to scratches, nicks or stains.