Home Upgrades – Which to choose?

Jenn and I purchased a thirty-year-old home in February.

This is not like a new home.  This house has neat features like creaks, leaks, painted over wallpaper, rotten decks, aged/dated appliances.  It also lacks the wonderful feature of "maintenance-free lifestyle".

It has been VERY interesting doing the home updates/upgrades/repairs thing.  However, the to-do list is over 5,130 items long.

We have decided to spend some money to upgrade something on the house soon.  I have heard that updating the kitchen and the master bathroom is the smartest thing to do because it is what really helps resale value.

So, Jenn and I are debating which of these two projects to do next.

1) Update the kitchen (complete tear-out, new flooring, cabinets, appliances, and restructure walls)

2) Update the master bathroom (complete tear-out, new flooring, cabinets, tub, toilet, vanities, and restructure walls)

I would love to hear of other's experiences with this!  How much did you spend?  Did it help resale value?  What lessons did you learn?

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  1. Julie Brown on August 23, 2007 at 4:09 am

    We always left those for last BECAUSE we figured that by the time we got the rest of the house done they might need updating again!

  2. John X on August 23, 2007 at 5:42 am

    I say use the $25 from ING & update both! – Just kidding. I would update the kitchen. Lots of time spent there by you & everyone else in the family!

  3. Rich Brott on August 23, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Kitchen 1st.

  4. Sarge on August 23, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Kitchen and bathroom increase the value if you’re going to sell soon. If not, you might want to start on the area that is most used or important to you.

  5. Jon Smock on August 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    My Dad just re-did his small master bathroom for about $2000-$2500, I believe. A master bathroom will always cost less to redo than a kitchen, so if it were me, I’d start there.

    I agree with some of the other commenters, however, that updating another area (or areas) might be best, if you use them more. Even a large living room would cost less to update than a small bathroom, and unless you really botch it, that living room won’t go out of style as fast as a kitchen or bathroom would.

    Isn’t home improvement fun, though?! Sometimes I wish I was a carpenter. 🙂

  6. Tina Harkey on August 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    I personally would go for the kitchen first. The cost for lumber etc. is only going to rise, therefore, do the larger room first. Also, it is grilling weather. You can still cook and eat at home in the summer. Save the bathroom for winter or next year.

  7. Jill Garrison on August 23, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I say do the kitchen because every one can enjoy that. Unless you want everyone to come party in your bathroom.

  8. jsangl on August 24, 2007 at 5:50 am

    Sangl says …

    Jill – you make a lot of sense!!! 🙂

    Jon Smock – I DESPISE home improvement when it is on the home I am living in. I like it a lot better when I don’t have to stare at the work every day when I come home (and Jenn doesn’t have to stare at it either).

    John X – I need at least 2,000 people to sign up at ING to have a chance 🙂

  9. Chris on August 29, 2007 at 7:47 pm


    I know I’m late replying, just finished tearing out both the master bath, laundry, etc of our next house. It’s our DAVE house by the way.

    Cabinets are expensive, like $5-8k. I’d refinish them if at all possible (new trands in finishes can cover alot) do new hardware and countertops. Solid Surface tops are pricy too, but do those if needed to suit the market of the home comps.

    As for the tearing out of walls, once you go there you’re doing new construction, for double the cost-also check for load bearing walls, some times it’s not intuitive which ones are/aren’t!!!

    In the end, if market price will bear the investments go for it, but shop around well for cabinets.

    Are you living in this house while you do this? Caution, this can be very stressful on the family..

    Still working the LM job – Chris

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