New Home Advice: Choosing the Best Upgrades
Buying a new home comes with a plethora of options. That's a good thing! Here's advice from a pro on choosing them.
You’ve got your vision of Shangri-La: A totally kicking laundry room with plenty of storage and — oh yes — a skylight! Or a master bedroom blissfully isolated from the hubbub of everyday family life. Or a kitchen with a big, honking, six-burner, stainless steel commercial-style range with dual ovens, a warming drawer, and more knobs and dials than the cockpit of a 747.
That’s what’s great about buying a home before it’s actually built. You can dream big, and your options are almost limitless.
But your budget isn’t.
Here’s some advice on choosing upgrades:
1. Go for Higher-End Kitchen Cabinets
Put your upgrade money here and you’ll never regret it. After all, your kitchen is where you and your family spend lots of time, and you’ll want it to be functional, durable, and a joy to be in. Moving up from standard cabinets to semi-custom gives you way-better construction and longer-lasting finishes. You’ll get a wide range of colors and styles to choose from, lots of storage options, and long-lasting details such as dovetailed drawer joinery and cool hardware.
For bells and whistles, you can get extra-tall upper cabinets that reach all the way to the ceiling. You’ll nab extra storage space, plus you won’t have to dust the tops. Spring for premium hinges and drawer slides. Soft-close door and drawer hardware stands up to abuse for many years, and will help keep your upgraded cabinets in top shape.
2. Choose Wool Carpeting
The better the carpet, the better it’ll stand up to traffic and maintain its good looks. You’ll also get a wider choice of styles and colors. Wool is my favorite; it’s a little less forgiving of red wine spills (been there), but it’s long-lasting and feels great.
While you’re at it, you’ll want to upgrade your carpet pad, too. Standard pads have minimal cushioning; better pads increase the lifespan of your carpeting. Frothed polyurethane, slab rubber, and natural fiber pads are considered non-toxic pads with low VOCs.
3. Add More Wood Flooring
You can’t go wrong with wood flooring — it’s one of the few materials that just refuse to go out of style. It has warmth, blends with any décor, and makes you feel like Lord (or Lady) Grantham just looking at it. Put it where everyone can appreciate it — living room, great room, and your kitchen.
Oak is a fail-safe option that’ll always look good and tends to be lower cost than more exotic woods.
4. Don’t Overlook Ceiling Fans
Sometimes overlooked amid all the new house options, ceiling fans are a smart, low-cost upgrade that add lots of energy-saving comfort. They’ll help keep you cool so you don’t need to use your AC as much, saving you as much as $165 in energy costs over the life of the fan.
Ceiling fans come in lots of styles — from sleek futuristic designs to Victorian reproductions — so they even can be a room focal point. They’re great in bedrooms and family rooms.
5. And, Finally, Invest in the Upgrade That Makes You Happy
This is your chance to really make your house your home. So ask yourself: What upgrade would really make your new home yours?