Real estate tip: Freshen up the little things

lauren-and-scottsponsored post by Lauren Hruby and Scott DeVouton

If you have not visited the new Ikea store in Merriam, I bet you know someone who has.  When I moved to Kansas City in 2006, it was the first time in my adult life that I lived in a city without one.

I love Ikea for the ability to transform a room economically – a fun lamp here, an occasional table there, a lovely set of new placemats – you get the idea.

What I was not prepared for was my reaction to the kitchen showrooms. There are so many beautiful and tasteful kitchen remodels for a fraction of the price, that it got me thinking about my own tiny kitchen.  Like many Midtown 100+ year-old houses, we have a good sized dining room (15×13) and a dinky kitchen (10×9).  The idea of switching these two spaces instantly intrigued me.  As I started crunching numbers, a kitchen/dining room switch looked doable under $20,000. I lost myself for days in this fantasy.

Once I came down from my Ikea kitchen high, I started to think about what $20,000 could do for our house.  As a realtor, I constantly come across folks who have made sexy upgrades to one part of their house while totally neglecting other aspects of their home. A home may have a fantastic new kitchen, for example, but it may also feature old windows and a problematic foundation or roof.

I realized that it made no sense for me to redo a perfectly good and updated (albeit dinky) kitchen when there are other maintenance and updating issues that need attention around my house.

With winter looming, now is a great time to treat yourself to some simple home updates that will have impact, make your house feel fresh, and help protect your investment.

  • Splurge on a whole house deep cleaning.
  • Have a room or two painted and buy a few accessories that bring the new color into the room.
  • New hardware and fixtures are like room jewelry and instantly make a room feel more fresh.
  • Polish or finish hardwood floors, replace tile or linoleum.
  • Replace window treatments that are old and worn.
  • Organize! There are a lot of affordable organization solutions out there.

The good thing about small jobs this time of year is that tradespeople are less busy, and better able to turn your job around.  Rather than washing dishes in a bathroom sink for a month or so, you can enjoy your home improvements instantly.

With the money you save, you can also attend to some winter maintenance:

  • Have your furnace cleaned and serviced
  • Have duct work cleaned
  • Have your fireplace cleaned and serviced

I like to think that one day I will switch around my dining room and kitchen.  For now, I will enjoy the fantasy kitchens as I make my way through Ikea for storage solutions, candle holders and cheap wine glasses.  Ikea, I’m glad you are here.

Lauren and Scott are with Lauren Hruby Real Estate, Keller Williams Realty Key Partners, LLC.  They work with people looking to sell or buy a home in the Kansas City area.  For more information, visit or call 816-529-6174.

Leave a Comment