Do-it-yourself: $500 for two six-foot-by-eight-foot oak shelves; $200 for tools
What you'd pay a pro: $1,200
Skill level: 1/4 (fixed shelves); 3/4 (adjustable)
Time: 1.5 days"Since about 20 years ago, when builders started putting in family rooms off kitchens, these spaces have really come up in importance," says Sid Davis, author of Home Makeovers That Sell.
DO THIS IF... You have an odd nook that otherwise would seem like wasted space - say, under the stairwell or alongside the fireplace - or you need to add dimension and character to a room that lacks any architectural detailing.
PAYOFF "You'll give the buyer an idea of how the space can be used," says realtor Camp.
WHAT SELLS A HOUSE BEST Hardwoods like oak ($10 a linear foot) and mahogany ($12) are sturdier and more appealing to buyers than cheaper fiberboard and particleboard (both $15 per eight-foot piece).Fixed shelves are beloved by realtors and designers for their clean look. Read: no unsightly brackets.
But there's also a case for adjustable. "Some people will have vases, others books," says New York City interior designer Chris Coleman. "This gives the buyer some flexibility." As for color, aim for innocuous - natural woods or woods painted off-white or beige are best.
YOU NEED Precut wood, drill, bit, brackets and rails or shelf clips and a handsaw
THE BASIC JOB You'll spend the most time screwing brackets and uprights into the wall.
WHERE TO FIND DIRECTIONS Go to acehardware.com /infohome and select Project How-To's; then scroll down and click on Building Shelves.
TIP: Avoid installing shelves if your family room is small. They can make tiny rooms too cozy.