Living Room LightingThere are plenty of ways to spruce up your home. You can fix up the yard, put up a fresh coat of paint, or even buy a new front door. The possibilities are endless. That’s the beauty of owning a home; you make it exactly what you want it to be.

But when it comes time to sell, there’s one update in particular that adds pop and class for a relatively low price. I’m speaking of light fixtures and hardware around the home.

At our first home, my wife and I weren’t too pleased with the fixtures and hardware that came with the house. Everything had a yellow-brass finish. It didn’t occur to us that our light fixtures could be changed until the day I climbed up in the attic to put something away. There, in a heap in a corner, was a yellow-brass tangle of a kitchen light fixture. I held it up and realized that at one point, it had hung over the place where our dinette table is.

The first question in my mind was, “What’s up there now?” I hopped downstairs, opened the door, and there above the table was a nice fixture with six small bulbs with miniature lampshades over each one. The finish was a dark brown, what we later learned was called oil-rubbed bronze, and it fit in with our furniture. It never occurred to us that it didn’t come with the house.

It was only then that we realized that, although we were newlyweds in our first home, we didn’t have to be married to the finish of the hardware and fixtures in our home.

Install over Time, Before You Sell

Over time, we dedicated ourselves to replacing at least one piece of hardware a week. And in a few months, we were done. Not bad.

We knew we weren’t going to be in the house forever, but we went with a small improvement that made a big impact. And it worked! When it came time to sell the house, one of the first comments our new buyers made was how much they loved the upgraded hardware and light fixtures.

The great thing about replacing fixtures and hardware is that it can be done relatively inexpensively. When I’m speaking of hardware, I’m talking about the hardware that’s attached to your walls and doors. Things like hinges, toilet paper roll holders, doorknobs and anything metal that is affixed to a wall or is attached to a door.

Your local home improvement store has a variety of finishes that suit your tastes. Personally, we were fans of that oil-rubbed bronze finish. You might like brass or stainless steel, and you can go with matte or glossy finishes. It’s really up to you.

We had a little extra Christmas money, and we did the math before we left for the store, so we ended up buying a box of hinges that added up to three for every door of the house. When that was knocked out, we moved to doorknobs. Bedroom and bathroom doorknobs are a relatively inexpensive upgrade you can easily make. And, once you get good, you can switch one out without a hitch.

From there, we took a look at replacing our front, garage and back doorknobs. As far as pricing goes, those are a bit steeper than hinges. It took a little longer to save up to buy replacements, so we staggered the purchase of those over time. It’s recommended that you replace the locks and deadbolts when you move into a new home anyway. That way you can ensure that your keys are the only ones that can get into your house.

Another added benefit of replacing knobs is that we were able to add a deadbolt to the back door of our home. That added security helped us sleep better at night, knowing that not only were we keeping intruders at bay, but we were also doing it with a deadbolt with a finish we liked.

Accent hardware like towel rods, toilet paper roll holders and cabinet knobs are also on the low end of the cost spectrum. Although it might not seem like it, those accent pieces really pull a home together when you get everything the same finish. At the same time, hardware on cabinetry is a great addition. When cabinets are built, adding hardware is a huge expense. But if you’re not afraid to pick up a drill, you can add hardware yourself, thanks to templates that help you place handles and knobs right where they belong.

Lighting: A Bright Idea

When it comes to lighting, there is no shortage of options out there. And replacing fixtures can make an incredible difference to the aesthetics of your home. When it comes time to sell, and you’ve taken the time to make minor lighting upgrades to your fixtures, it won’t go unnoticed.

Pretend for a moment that you’re a home buyer, and you’re looking at two identical homes about five years old. One has the standard contractor-grade lighting that was installed when the home was built. Now, imagine a home with a contemporary pendant fixture over the sink. What if the overhead flush-mount fixtures were upgraded from a one-bulb fixture to two-bulb fixtures, so that when a light in the hallway is turned on, it gives off more light? What if that fixture was oil-rubbed bronze (I have a favorite finish) with an etched and frosted globe?

Small changes, even something as cosmetic as a light fixture, can make a world of difference to a potential home buyer. Besides, if it looks like the house has been upgraded, it’s one less thing for a new buyer to do themselves.

Installation of most light fixtures is pretty straightforward, but know your limits. If the thought of turning off the electricity at a breaker box, detaching a light, wiring electrical components and reattaching the new fixture to the ceiling makes you even a little nervous, call a professional. Selling your house with a broken arm or after having endured an electrical shock is not doing anyone any good at all.

Better Lighting That’s Better Looking and Just Plain Better

As with everything even remotely design related, tastes and styles change. What was modern design five years ago may look downright dated today. Fortunately big box hardware stores do a great job of stocking lighting and hardware with a contemporary feel. You could always go ultra-modern with your looks, but keep in mind that if you’re ever going to sell your home, buy something that appeals to you, but also appeals to a broad audience.

Another benefit of upgrading your lighting fixtures is that technology has come a long way in even just the last few years. Low energy lighting, things like LED lighting, offers a long-lasting, low-energy option when compared to halogen, incandescent and even CFL light bulb types. In fact, in the last year alone, LED lighting has dropped in price considerably, making them a bulb you practically never have to replace and that costs just a few dollars more than incandescent and even CFL bulbs.

If you go so far as to replace ceiling fans as part of your lighting upgrade mission, they move more air more efficiently than fans built as recently as 10 years ago. They also come with wireless remotes that can adjust fan speed and direction with the push of a button; something that was previously accomplished by pulling a cord and flipping a switch attached to the housing of the fan itself.

When do you stop?

As part of your hardware and fixture upgrades, you could go as far as replacing your faucets and shower heads. My wife and I changed out the fixtures in our bathroom, and that’s when we decided to pump the brakes. We had already done the hinges, the hardware, the cabinets, the door knobs and the deadbolts, and quite frankly, the dog ran from the room when she saw me coming with any tools. We called it quits not too long after that.

It wasn’t all easy. We managed to damage a closet door pretty well, a mistake that led to some wood putty, sandpaper and a trip to the home improvement store for matching paint. But, the rewards were huge.

Upgrading the hardware and fixtures was fun. It became a hobby that my wife and I could enjoy together. We loved the way our upgrades looked, we felt more secure in our home, and we learned how to install a few new things. Above all else, our home was on the market for less than 90 days.

We can’t take all the credit for the quick turnaround on our house, but with buyers’ comments like, “We love the hardware!” we smile to ourselves knowing the pride we took in our first home was appreciated by someone who’ll love it as much as we did.

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