As home prices rise -- they were up more than 10% this year -- small upgrades can have a big impact on both resale value and your own enjoyment. Try these:
Add a fresh coat of color. Nothing spruces up an interior like a paint job, says designer Mary Liebhold of Durham, N.C.
Research shows that certain colors in certain rooms can elevate your mood. Try a soft yellow in the living room, a cooling gray in the kitchen, and an airy cream in small spaces like the bathroom. Budget $1,000 for the main floor of a house, or about $200 a room.
Install hardwood floors. "They really up the chances of your house selling faster," says California realtor Maria Jeantet. Of course, it's pricey to deck your whole house with new flooring, but Debbie Gartner, a flooring specialist in Westchester County, N.Y., says that adding hardwood to key rooms can make a big difference.
A 250-square-foot living room near your front entrance, for example, is a good choice. You can find quality interlocking walnut flooring at a big-box store like Lowe's for $3.89 a square foot--or $900 for the living room.
Go with granite. Granite countertops add value and almost never need replacing, says real estate consultant David Rounick. Think beyond kitchens: Countertops for bathroom vanities come precut and ready for easy installation; a nice single-sink piece can run about $250, while a dual-sink unit goes for about $700 to $950 before installation.