I know full remodels, big overhauls, and before and after room reveals are incredibly fun and exciting to see-in our own homes as well as on tv shows and web sites. Sometimes, it’s easy so feel bogged down or inferior because real, lived in homes are never perfect. Even if you can’t start a full remodel, there are minor upgrades you can add to increase the function of your home. The following are my favorite additions, none of which are style related, but most are easy to implement.
In dark, windowless rooms in the center of a home, consider installing a tubular skylight/sun tunnel. It adds all the benefits of a traditional skylight, but are smaller and easier to install.
Ben installed ours, so we saved the labor costs, so ask a contractor for a total cost.
2. Rain Shower Head: Prices vary widely based on extension arms, shower head size, and brand.
Another minor change that we adore is the ceiling mount rain shower head. In fact, we love it so much we suggested it to our friends in their new build home. The day after move in, they said they love it so much more than a traditional wall mount shower head.
If you don’t want to move plumbing, don’t worry, there’s a similar option. Hit up your local Home Depot to pick up a wall mount shower arm.
3. Outlets with Integrated Guide Lights: GFCI Outlets cost $20, SnapPower covers are $15
Another quick bathroom upgrade is a GFCI outlet with integrated LED guide lights. A small sensor turns the lights on or off automatically and provides enough light to navigate in the dark. This style keeps outlets free and is perfect for rooms kids use.
If swapping outlets is out of your DIY realm, check out SnapPower guidelight covers. After nearly two years of use, I can attest to the greatness. Not only are the covers simple to install (literally unscrew the old and screw in the new), they’re great for illuminating main walkways. We have sever throughout the house, near the back door, top of the stairs, and halls on both levels.
4. Junction Box Mount LED Lights: $30.00 per light with easy install
Speaking of lighting and the basement, let’s discuss a cool new lighting option. Since the ceilings are a bit lower than the standard eight feet, we chose recessed lights. During our kitchen remodel, we installed traditional can housings, then popped LED lights inside. Each housing and light cost about $40. After the remodel, we learned about a new style of LED light. It gives the look of a recessed can, but installs in a standard junction box.
Everything you need comes in this little box, and costs about thirty dollars per light. A standard junction box costs around a dollar and accommodates this light, making install quick.
5. GE Bright Stik LED Bulbs: Cost $10 for three
While you’re stocking up on LED lights, look for GE Bright Stik LED bulbs. Some LED bulbs are still expensive, but the prices are steadily dropping as more come out. After getting annoyed by the CFL bulbs in our main bathroom, I looked for a better option. When I spotted a three pack for $10, I didn’t have much to lose if I didn’t like the bulbs. What a difference! Unlike CFL bulbs, LED lights don’t have a warm up time and are even more energy-efficient and long-lasting. Look for the soft white to avoid a blue tint.
So, those are the cheapest and easiest functional upgrades we’ve done, but I have a few more that we love.
6. Central Vacuum: Prices vary based on house size, vacuum system, and accessories package, but pipe materials are somewhere around $300.
If you’re building a house, or have an unfinished basement, I can’t recommend a central vacuum system highly enough. Pipes are run through the walls, similar to plumbing, but come out to outlet sized receptacles that the hose plugs into.
In our first home, Ben installed the system before we finished the basement, while we still had easy access to everything. This house came set up, but Ben installed another system at a friend’s house. Once the pipes are inside the walls, replacing or upgrading elements is straight forward.
7. Whole House Fan: Units start around $200 and go up depending on CFM
If you don’t have central air, or even if you do, take a look at whole house fans. On cool summer mornings, we open several windows, turn on the fan and let it run for a while to pull the cool outside air in. Depending on the high temperature, it either delays or eliminates the need for air conditioning. By placing ours near the kitchen, we are also able to nix a big, low hanging vent hood over our cooktop. If the kitchen gets smoky, we crack the window over the sink, flip on the fan, and it’s cleared within minutes.
What are your favorite upgrades that increase the function of your home? Do you have any of my seven favorites in your home?