Renovations that add light brighten up life

Most savvy real estate buyers are familiar with the popular mantra “Location, location, location”, but fewer know that on the other side of the table, savvy sellers have an equally important mantra: “Lighten up, Lighten up, Lighten up” .

“We’ve known for a long time that if you want to attract the most buyers, use light colors,” said Annie Elliot, project manager for New Again Houses, a Tennessee-based repair and turnaround company with franchises in 11 states. .

In this role, Elliot has managed nearly 300 house flip projects.

“In 95% of the homes I occupy, darkness is a big problem,” Elliot said when we spoke recently about the power of light. “Dark interiors are depressing and make spaces smaller,” she says.

“Dark houses also make you wonder what’s hiding there,” I said. “They have this bad factor.”

Just thinking about it, I can smell mold, must, stale tobacco and dirty laundry.

BEFORE: “It was a really dark house,” says Annie Elliot, project manager for New Again Houses.

“Lighter, more open spaces feel happier,” she says. “They also look cleaner, bigger and more attractive.”

To break through the darkness, so that his projects will appeal to the widest range of buyers, Elliot applies a variety of fixer tips to brighten and brighten interior spaces.

For example, she always chooses a light neutral palette, often painting interior walls a pale gray, and kitchens and baths soothe tones of blues and greens. She also often paints on wood panels – gasps! – and the old brick, not move everyone agrees.

“Painting on wood raises a lot of eyebrows,” she says. When she asks her Instagram followers to consider whether to paint the wooden walls in a house she is fixing or leave them, the results are usually 50-50.

While some believe painting over any finished wood is sacrilege, I agree with Elliot that, with a few important exceptions, painting wood can be a smart decision.

“If people only see the afternoon and don’t know what’s underneath, they love it,” she said. “It’s the initial decision to paint on wood that is difficult.”

Exceptions include hardwood floors, log homes, fine furnishings, and historic wood walls and ceilings in good condition. Elliot is also hesitant to paint wood kitchen cabinets, as the paint finish often does not stand up to use.

Since cabinet replacement is expensive, “if the kitchen layout is good and the wood cabinets are in good condition, we find that it is often better to leave the cabinets and lighten up other surfaces,” Elliot said. It can install a white subway tile backsplash, lighter counters and more light fixtures.

That’s not to say we should all be looking for white light interiors. Strong colors definitely have their place and, used tastefully, can look stunning.

BEFORE: Nothing in this bathroom's dark blue walls, curtain-covered windows, and dated brown vanity beckons you in.

“I love a dark wall color in the right room,” Elliot said, “especially in rooms that have high ceilings and lots of natural light.” She also likes to see bright colors on the walls behind white shelves, so the items on the shelves stand out, and in guest powder rooms, where intense hues can add welcome, localized drama.

To simplify that, here’s how I think about interior color: When designing or repairing our homes, we all want pretty much the same thing, to inspire the oohs and aahs of those who come in including us- same.

When you walk into a room filled with saturated colors, you say “oooh”. When you walk into a place filled with light neutrals, you say “aaah”. When you sell a house you want more aaahs than ooohs, but you still want both.

And it is as scientific as I will understand it.

Even if you don’t plan on putting your home on the market, looking at your home through the eyes of a professional pinball machine can point you to improvements that will make your home look better now and closer to selling when the day comes. .

So whether you’re about to sell or move into, here are a dozen ways Elliot and I have come up with to brighten and brighten up your home:

AFTER: A new white vanity and sink, white pearl panels, ceramic floor tiles, updated faucets, fixtures and hardware, and Sherwin Williams Dutch Tile Blue repainted walls all enhance the space and eliminate that cave feeling.

• Outdoors, remove or cut bushes or trees that block natural light.

• Add a skylight or windows, or enlarge existing ones. While you’re at it, clean the glass and refresh the screens.

• Remove heavy window treatments. Cover windows with white or off-white sheers, use light-colored blinds or shutters for light control and privacy. If you are hanging curtains, have them framed rather than covering the windows.

• Add white paneling or moldings.

• Install white or light tiles on the floors of bathrooms and laundry rooms, as well as on kitchen backsplashes.

• Paint the walls in light, soft neutrals.

• Hang decorative mirrors, which reflect and amplify light.

• Install more light fixtures, put in brighter bulbs, and put outlets on a dimmer.

• Keep large furniture light; add color with rugs, pillows and art.

• Replace dark cabinets with light cabinets where they are economical.

• Cover wood floors with lighter colored rugs.

• Declutter. Clean surfaces, whatever their color, make you say “aaah”.

You can reach author Marni Jameson at

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