9 Modern Home Improvements That Add Thousands to Your Listing

When we first moved into our home, we nicknamed it "The House of Many Louvers," as there were dated louver doors on every closet, in some of the doorways, and oddly, blocking half of the hall. Combined with forest-green carpeting and builder-grade brass light fixtures, the place was in desperate need of a modern overhaul.

Some of these dated features were quick and easy fixes, while others, like an entire bathroom gut job, took longer to update. But the end result is a home that not only feels modern and comfortable, but also has increased in value and looks ready to sell.

If you're ready to update some of the dated features of your home, check out some of these modernization projects that provide the best return on your investment. (See also: Recoup More of Your Investment: 8 Home Improvements That Add the Most Value)

1. Kitchen renovation

A renovated kitchen is one of the first things potential buyers look for in a home, and a minor kitchen remodel offers one of the best returns on investment for your home. A minor kitchen remodel involves updating finishes and fixtures, but not necessarily changing the layout of the kitchen.

Replacing dated laminate countertops with solid surface countertops is a top priority. Marble has come back into vogue, but this material is famously finicky and difficult to care for, so a marble-like granite or quartz is a great alternative. For a backsplash, you might consider a sleek subway tile or marble tile for a classic but modern look.

For cabinetry, look for simple, clean lines for long-lasting appeal, and avoid anything too ornate. If your cabinets are in good condition, you could consider replacing the fronts, or getting them professionally repainted in a contemporary white or gray.

Modern kitchen sinks tend to imitate commercial and farmhouse sinks with their large rectangular design and deep basins, as do tall arched kitchen faucets that marry functionality with style. (See also: 20 Cheap and Easy DIY Kitchen Improvements)

2. Update dated light fixtures

This easy update will instantly make your home look more up-to-date. Replace any dated light fixtures, such as those brass builder-grade flush mount fixtures (also known as the dreaded "nipple lights") with sleeker, more modern fixtures. A nice alternative to flush mount lights are recessed lights, but you can also find stylish options for flush mount fixtures at your local home improvement store, home decor store, and online.

Almost any finish can look good, but try to keep lighting fixtures consistent in style or finish throughout your home to avoid a haphazard, untidy look. Installing dimmer switches is another inexpensive update that can help create moody lighting that looks customized and expensive (but isn't).

3. Replace the front door

Replacing a worn or dated-looking front door can greatly improve your home's curb appeal, and is one of best investments you can make in your home. Although replacing your old door with a new steel door is considered the best bang for your buck, you may also want to consider sturdy wood doors for more style options. Tests performed by Consumer Reports with a battering ram indicated that it was not the door itself (unless it was a cheap hollow door), but the lock quality and strike-plate that was the point of weakness for potential break-ins. (See also: 6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing)

4. Update window treatments

Modernizing dated window treatments is an easy way to make your home look more appealing. Remove old blinds and draperies and replace them with simple curtains hung from a rod. You can use inexpensive ready-made curtain panels, but be sure to get them long enough to hang just above, or brushing the floor, and wide enough for a luxurious drape. If you love the functionality of blinds, or have small windows where using curtains isn't convenient, consider Roman shades, wood blinds, or honeycomb blinds that look contemporary while being easy to use. You can combine blinds and curtains for extra layering and texture.

5. Install new hardware

Hardware is like jewelry for your home, and makes a statement about your style. If you're not planning to do a full renovation, simply replacing the hardware on your kitchen and bathroom cabinets can effectively modernize your space. Even worn wood cabinets can suddenly look stylish again with a new knob or drawer pull.

6. Refresh the bathroom

Just like in the kitchen, an updated bathroom can add value to your home. Replace old flooring with ceramic tile, and modernize the shower surround with some sleek tile as well. If the bathtub is worse for wear, replace it with a higher quality bathtub. A solid surface vanity countertop is chic and durable, and opt for an undermount sink instead of a drop-in one for a higher-end look. For all ceramic finishes (bathtub, sink, and toilet), go for a bright white instead of an ivory color. If you're adding a glass shower door, look for one that is minimalistic; otherwise simply use a shower curtain.

7. Install wood floors

Hardwood floors tend to be fantastic for resale, so if your carpets are worn and you're looking to replace them, choosing a good quality wood floor is a great choice. The same goes if you have grungy linoleum or old tile in your home — wood floors can instantly make the entire house look modernized. Have the wood flow throughout your home with as few interruptions as possible for the most cohesive look, though be careful in bathrooms and kitchens if water leaks are a potential problem (tile may be a better choice there). If hardwood floors aren't in the cards, engineered wood can look just as good, with a lower price tag.

8. Paint everything

A fresh coat of paint can make your home look and feel new. If there's any dated wallpaper still hanging around (see what I did there?), remove it and paint the walls a fresh color. For a guide to what colors are au courant, check out Pantone's seasonal Color Trend Report. If trendy colors are a bit too bold for your taste, or if you plan to list your home for sale soon, consider a neutral gray or white that never goes out of style. Don't forget the exterior of your home too for added curb appeal. (See also: 4 Paint Colors That Can Boost Your Home's Value)

9. Replace your windows

Replacing old single-pane windows with new double-panes will not only make your home look better, but will add comfort and energy savings to your home as well. Insulated, double-pane vinyl windows also deliver a good return on investment, and since they are now the standard in new homes, they make an older home more appealing to a potential buyer.

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