Vol 6 No. 41 - July 5, 2006

Sprucing up on the cheap

By Louise Bolger

Florida’s home buying season is a little unique compared to the rest of the country. In most real estate markets summer is the prime time for buyers to be purchasing a home, especially a family home. Moving over the summer is less disruptive to children’s school schedules and mom and dad’s vacation schedule are also usually centered around the summer months.

Certainly Florida has its share of families who also need to move their residences during the summer, but because of our large retired population and second home owners, winter is really the time when you see the most buying and selling activity.

Therefore, if you’re thinking of selling this winter, what better time than the summer to get your home in order. And what better way to spruce up your abode than on the cheap.

You don’t have to put yourself in the poorhouse to give your home a little sparkle.

Although some of the following tips may not be appropriate for newer, very upscale Island homes, there are plenty of more modest properties that would gain a great deal with a little bit of work and money.

Kitchens, kitchens, kitchens - everyone one wants one that qualifies as gourmet, even those of us who make more reservations than pasta. If expensive granite countertops and custom cabinets are too much for your budget, try diverting the eye away from the defects and on to the assets. A good quality new kitchen faucet will do wonders to overshadow the less than perfect sink and countertops. How about new door handles on the old cabinets, or if you want to spend some real money, have the doors resurfaced or replaced.

Nasty and dated light fixtures with poor lighting will make even a brand new kitchen look awful. And, I’m sorry, but someone needs to get rid of all the domed kitchen ceilings in Manatee County, they are not a selling point.

Appliances are a little more difficult to change without spending your kid’s college tuition, but making them clean and sparkling helps. You can also have kitchen appliances spray painted so they all match, and check your dishwasher, it frequently has reversible panels on the front.

Bathrooms can look a lot better with a new bathroom seat. A jazzy one with fish or palm trees can be fun. The addition of a pedestal sink is inexpensive and well worth it. Regrouting, replacing chipped tiles and shining up the tiles are essential.

Replacing flooring in both kitchens and bathrooms is not an easy thing on a limited budget, but (all you custom built designer homeowners should skip this part) vinyl tiles or inlaid vinyl sheets can make all the difference in the world for very little cost.

Closet space, no one ever has enough of it and no one is willing to throw anything away. If you own one of the older Island homes or vacation condos with limited closet space, you can expand and customize in one day. Wire and laminated closet systems purchased in any home improvement store will organize bedroom closets, kitchen pantries, entry hall closets and linen closets giving you functional space you never dreamed you had and an important selling point.

This is just the beginning of what you can accomplish with limited time and money, check next week for some more tips to keep you busy during the long hot summer without breaking a sweat.

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