(BPT) - Let's face it - once you get past high school, the people who go farthest in life are the ones who are the 'whole package,' those who balance style, good looks and brains. The same can be said of kitchen and bath upgrades. The ones that will stand the test of time - the ones you'll love as much in five years as you do the day they're installed - are the improvements that blend style and intelligence.
Sure you might fall in love with that $5,000 built-in coffee maker, but are you going to adore it as much when you're still paying for it five years from now? And when you sell your home one day, will buyers agree with you that it was worth giving up an entire walk-in closet to get five more square feet in the master bathroom?
Great bathrooms and kitchens really do sell homes, so it makes sense to invest in upgrades that are the whole package. They look great, are stylish, functional and enjoyable, and will give you a decent return on your investment when it comes time to sell.
Here are six kitchen and bathroom improvements that really are the total package:
1. Granite countertops
Countertops are both a major design feature and a vital necessity in both kitchens and baths. New, quality countertops improve the appearance and function of either room. Of course, granite is still a top choice for kitchen counters but it also goes well in the bathroom, giving vanities a high-end look. A USA Today study found more than half of buyers said they would pay more for a home with granite countertops.
Whether in a kitchen or bathroom, adding solar-powered, fresh-air skylights will brighten the space with abundant daylight and freshen the air with natural ventilation that exhausts heat, humidity and odors. In baths, they also provide privacy. Energy Star-qualified no leak skylights like those from VELUX America can be operated by a touchpad programmable remote control, as can solar powered blinds in an array of designer colors and patterns, and are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for the skylights, blinds and the cost of installation. Sun Tunnel tubular skylights make it possible to add natural light even in first-floor kitchens or bathrooms where there is no direct roof access. To learn more, and to locate local dealers and certified installers, visit www.whyskylights.com.
3. Quality lighting
Lighting is both a practical and design consideration for kitchens and bathrooms. In addition to natural light sources, such as skylights and windows, it's a good investment to install upgraded light fixtures. You should have multiple layers of light, including overhead for both rooms, task lighting or under-the-cabinet lighting in kitchens, and vanity lighting in the bathroom. Your design options are vast, and upgrading your lighting can be both a design statement and an improvement that enhances livability.
4. Eco-friendly fixtures and appliances
Of course you know new appliances and fixtures can make kitchens and baths look more appealing to buyers, and more enjoyable for you while you live in your home. But their value will be even greater if you choose options that can also help reduce your water, sewer and utility bills. From low-flow showerheads and ultra-high-efficiency toilets, to Energy Star-qualified dishwashers and refrigerators, eco-friendly fixtures and appliances are great design choices that will put money back in your pocket for years to come.
Tile is a big win for both kitchens and baths. Replacing worn or dated tile in showers or bathroom floors improves the look and function of the room. In kitchens, adding a tile backsplash is an affordable way to make a design statement while protecting walls from cooking spatters. Tile can also serve as a countertop material in kitchens and baths, where design flexibility and durability are essential.
6. Organization and storage solutions
From dishes, pots, pans and foodstuff in the kitchen, to towels and personal care items in the bathroom, you probably have a lot of stuff that needs to be stored in both rooms. So will future buyers! Adding cabinet and drawer organizers, as well as extra storage solutions, can make it easier for you to use both rooms. Plus, it will help reduce clutter, giving your kitchen and bath a more open, clean look.
You don't need a huge budget to make kitchen and bathroom upgrades that really are the whole package. Even a minor renovation in either room can have a big impact on your home's livability, beauty and resale value.