Easy home improvements that add value and style

Buying a new home is easy, but if you buy an older home there are easy home improvements that add value. A Memphis home renovator shares her tips.

Alison Restivo started out as an accountant but ultimately decided she wanted to do something more creative and that had a more flexible schedule. She flipped her first house in Memphis in 1998 and went on to start her own real estate company, The Restivo Group Realtors, in 2005. Alison is taking what she’s learned during her nearly 50 home renovation projects and giving new homeowners tips for easy home improvements that add value and style.

I renovated my first house on Alexander Street in older East Memphis, and after that it occurred to me that I could do this for a living. I have such a heart for older homes: There’s a lot of history in them, and I have always found them very charming with plenty of character.

Some older homes are very large projects and others just need simple updates for today’s lifestyles such as fresh paint, updated light fixtures, updated bathrooms and kitchens. Here are some easy home improvements that add value and style to your new home.

Know your renovation budget

What’s your budget? If you’re buying a house at the top of your budget, then there are some less expensive ways to update your new home like changing out the knobs on your kitchen cabinets, updating the faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms and updating light fixtures.

More expensive updates can include replacing a dated front door and painting it a fun modern color that pops or replacing the bathroom vanities. If you can’t do a full-scale bathroom renovation, have the bathtub recoated. It’s far less expensive to do that than taking out a tub and replacing the tile in your shower.


Old carpet can be easily pulled up, and any hardwood underneath can be refinished or recoated. If the kitchen floors need an upgrade, there are excellent commercial vinyl options that look like tile and are extremely durable.  I’ve used this material in some of my renovation projects in the kitchen and bathrooms where floor heights would be an issue if I had tile installed. For someone who is handy, laying a vinyl floating floor is doable and not a hard project.

Lighting and fixtures

Good looking light fixtures do not have to be expensive and can add so much to a room and create a fresh look. If you’re wanting to put in new light fixtures or ceiling fans, hire a licensed electrician. Especially in an older home with different types of wiring, you want to make sure the proper boxes are in place for a ceiling fan or light fixture and that the fixture is properly supported.

I put LED lighting throughout all the houses I renovate. There are many options on the market regarding the color of light that bulbs put out. They range from 2700K (tends to be yellow) to 5000K (more on the blue side).  I’ve found 3000K light is perfect for showcasing paintings and artwork.

Great lighting makes all the difference in the world and can completely change the look of a house. Bulbs are more expensive but last a very long time and are much energy efficient than a standard light bulb.


Fresh paint is really easy! The trend right now is neutral paints because it works with a lot of different things. I love a light, neutral paint against dark hardwood floors; it makes for a nice contrast! White walls are also a great choice as it allows the furniture and artwork in the room to stand out.

Accent walls are also popular and put a pop of color into a neutral setting and create a background for a great piece of art or a beautiful piece of furniture.

Update countertops

Updating countertops can change the whole appearance of a kitchen.  If budget is a concern there are inexpensive Formica options that look good.  If your budget allows for more, granite is popular, as well as, quartz.

New, updated countertops are an easy way to freshen up the kitchen’s look without having to replace all your cabinets.

Paint cabinets

Styles change and if you have old cabinets in a home you purchased, paint them and update the hardware. It can change the whole appearance of the room and saves a lot of money not replacing them.

I’ve done light grey walls with white cabinets in many of my renovation projects; it’s timeless. If trends change, repainting the walls a different color is easy. Keep it fresh!

Repainting cabinets requires knowing the current finish on the cabinets, sanding them, priming them, and painting them with a high grade of paint. It is a project so if your budget allows, hire a professional painter to do the work.

These kinds of easy home updates really freshen up a space, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. When you move into an older home, make it your home by adding your personal touches to it.