Girls laughing on back deck.

Think of a new back deck as a lower-cost expansion of your home. In warmer months, a new deck can add hundreds of extra square feet to your living area.


Whether strictly for resale value or for your own enhanced quality of life, these home features pay off.

In the real estate game, there are home features that always win (a great kitchen, a gorgeous master bath) and others that … well, don’t. (Almost anyone who’s owned an in-ground pool will regale you with the costly horrors.)

When you start thinking about home upgrades, these are the eight features that are worth the splurge, whether strictly for resale value or for your own enhanced quality of life.

1. A fancy new front door

Location, location, location is certainly important, but also: curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal. One of the quickest and least expensive ways to change the look of your abode is to switch up your front door.

Remove that rusty storm door and swap in a new steel-reinforced model in a bright, contrasting color; high-gloss hues are especially appealing. If your home is a lighter color, consider stripping the paint off your existing door and then staining it dark ebony for a dramatic contrast.

2. Professional landscaping

A serious landscaping upgrade is almost always worth the cost. Front plantings significantly improve initial impressions of your home, especially when they’re installed by a professional. Landscape architects not only know how to maximize planting space and choose appropriate foliage based on your soil type, but they also can put in lighting, pathways, and fencing for extra flair. (Rule of thumb: More is often more, as long as it doesn’t obscure your home’s exterior.)

And black thumbs, rest assured: Landscape architects will leave you with long-term strategies on maintaining and pruning your newfound greenery.

3. High-quality wood deck

Speaking of outdoor space: Think of a new back deck as a lower-cost expansion of your home. In warmer months, a new deck can add hundreds of extra square feet to your living area. You don’t need elaborate patio furniture or decor to make an outside space feel alluring; throw rugs, floor pillows, and string lighting do the job nicely.

And potential buyers are always fans of nice outdoor spaces — the ROI on a deck or patio is higher than on many other home improvements.

4. Extra bedrooms

Sure, it’s fun to think creatively about that empty attic space. (A recording studio, perhaps?) But when it comes time to list your place, an extra bedroom is a surefire draw.

Buyers always covet extra rooms, whether for future children or houseguests, and you’ll instantly attract those shopping in a higher budget range. Strange man caves, on the other hand, can turn off prospective buyers; even home offices prove unappealing to many, especially those who don’t work remotely and don’t want to redo the space.

5. Kitchen refresh

Well-appointed, newer kitchens are a guaranteed hit among buyers. Here’s the trick: Keep the renovations on the lower-cost side — a huge remodel rarely pays out in the ways you hope.

Instead, paint or replace the cabinet fronts, swap in higher-end drawer pulls, replace the countertops, upgrade an appliance or two, and replace or refinish any worn-out flooring. If you add detailing like a backsplash, keep it as neutral as possible, lest your design preferences turn off future buyers.

6. A bold garage door

Here’s another upgrade you might not have considered. Changing your garage door can change the look of your whole house.

If your car is one you’re proud of, think about swapping in a glass-paneled door; even minimalist windows help break up the lines of your home. A bold accent color can also add to your home’s aesthetic appeal.

7. New siding

There’s a twofold effect here. First, by updating your home’s siding, you’ll improve the home’s appearance, especially if the old siding is worn or warped, while avoiding the future maintenance costs of repainting.

Today’s siding options are far improved over those of previous generations: They’re fade-resistant and low-gloss, and some varieties even come with a grain pattern so as to more closely resemble natural wood. New siding can also improve the energy efficiency of your home, saving you money over the long term — and you can always document those energy upgrades for prospective buyers down the line.

8. Hardware, paint, and fixtures

You don’t need a five-figure budget to subtly upgrade the look and feel of your home. Instead, swap out the ceiling lights, upgrade your bath fixtures, change the doorknobs, and replace your mirrors; even changing the light bulbs will alter the ambiance. It can be worth it to splurge on the little things that buyers notice.

And of course, repainting rooms can refresh your home’s color palette. But when it comes time to sell, consider choosing neutral shades so potential future owners can project their own visions onto the space.