• Erin McGinnis

Updating a 1988 Novato Kitchen and House for 2018

Updated: Apr 30, 2018

Three years ago we met a nice couple at one of our open houses. They said they were thinking of selling their Novato home in a year or two, and wanted to start doing some updates so they could get a higher sale price.


They invited us over to give them advice on which projects yield the best return on investment.


Their 2,600+ square foot house in the Presidents neighborhood was on a nice lot and had a good layout. The most obvious update it needed was a change in color scheme.


The exterior was a mint green. The color didn't go with the stonework. It was too bright/clean/fresh for the muddy gray stonework. Here's the before photo:



When you have stonework on your home, the body color needs to relate to it. So, we picked a gray similar to the light gray in the stones. The front door got a pop of color.



So much better! The home was built in 1988, and in the '80s, honey-stained oak woodwork was in. This house had a lot of it inside.



Today, this type of oak is no longer the trend and it dates a home. Buyers are much less excited about kitchens and bathrooms with this type of cabinetry, and they won't pay as much for homes with it.


Since new kitchen cabinets are usually the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel, painting the existing cabinets is always the first choice when it comes to resale.


So, we suggested painting the cabinets (which was a tough sell with the husband. I find that men rarely want to paint wood. But they're always happy with the outcome! That is, higher offers on your house!)


The couple was up for new counters, appliances and flooring as well. We suggested quartz counter tops and stainless appliances. When I came back to the house a year or so later, this is what they had done:


Updated for 2018! The white and gray scheme works with wood floors as well. The owners chose a wood look gray-white tile. You could easily choose tile floors with a quieter pattern, or install engineered hardwood.


I've seen houses where the sellers update everything but the old tile floors. This minimizes the positive impact of the new finishes, and makes the floors look even older. If you can afford it, try to change out your flooring so it's in the same era as your new finishes. There are some amazing laminates now that look just like wood and are ok for use in the kitchen. Go with the thickest, 12mm, laminate.


Family room before

The family room is open to the kitchen. Before, the beige rock fireplace looked old and a little dirty.


This was a big transformation and it totally improved the feel of the space. They hired a contractor to remove the old stones and add gray/white stacked stones, plus a rustic- style wood mantle. Our staging furniture really made the room look inviting I think. This is a service we provide at no charge to our sellers.


This was the hall bathroom before. It had beige tile.


The sellers replaced just about everything in the bathroom. But they saved money by purchasing a stock vanity cabinet (not custom), which came with the counter top. Buyers loved this bathroom.


Here's the master bathroom "after" photo as well:


Again, the sellers saved money by purchasing a stock cabinet (online). It came with the counter top, sinks and the drawer hardware.


This was the downstairs bonus room. More oak! The sellers hired a contractor to add a bathroom and walk-in closet. This gave the house 4 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms.



Huge improvement! It is a second master suite.


This home, 101 Brown Drive, sold in February for $1,150,000. That was $85,000 more than the closest comparable sale we identified at the time we listed the house.


What smart updates does YOUR home need to net you the most money when you sell? We are very budget-conscious in the advice we give. Please call us if you want free expert guidance. 415-725-1911


Further reading:

5 Home Improvement Projects Novato Sellers Must Do

Sold For $80,000 Over Asking: Lessons From a Pointe Marin Sale

© 2020 | Information within is considered reliable but isn't guaranteed. Market data from BAREIS MLS.

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