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Getting the Most Out of Your Remodel Dollars in 2014

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Purple bed in bedroom

Embrace the multigenerational trend with flex rooms; they're great for guests now and for Mom later. And take a cue from this homeowner who used trendy color radiant orchid as an accent while keeping walls nice and neutral. Image: Sucek/iStockphoto

As a serial remodeler, I’m looking forward to spending part of my winter holiday curled up on the sofa planning the wonderful things I’m going to do to my home in 2014. If you’re also day-dreaming about your next home improvements, these ideas (plus some eye candy) from the experts at realtor.com can help you balance the impulsive and emotional (I must have purple countertops!) with the long-term value-adds (Buyers don’t like my purple countertops!) of remodeling. 

Plus, if you’re thinking of financing your project — with equity or a refi — we’ll help you plan with the a housing market forecast.

Future-Proof Kitchen

I’m nearing the end of what turned out to be a nearly two-year long kitchen remodel, but if you’re still in the contemplation stage, consider some of 2014’s top kitchen remodeling trends care of property listing site realtor.com:

  • Modern design with white or gray cabinetry
  • Simple countertops
  • Minimalist designs
  • Appliances that blend into the cabinetry
  • Hammered, matte brass hardware

Several of these kitchen “trends” — particularly white, minimalism, and simplicity — are actually not trendy, but enduring. You’ll find most of them on HouseLogic’s definitive list of timeless kitchen features. They’re the features you’ll love now and in 10 years — and that will be marketable when it’s time to sell.

Flex Rooms   

The hordes of relatives visiting your house this year say they’re staying just a little while, but chances are, one of them will want to move in with you at some point. Embrace the multigenerational trend, says realtor.com, by creating flex rooms.

Adding or converting a bedroom to include a sitting area and bathroom makes a lovely sanctuary for your guests now and a cozy space for your mother in her later years. Consider a separate entrance, too.  When you get up there in age yourself, you can supplement your retirement income by renting out the space.

Related: Multigenerational Remodeling Strategies

Paint Color

The official color of 2014 (according to the official arbiter of color, Pantone) is radiant orchid — a souped-up lilac. Purple accent pillows for the sofa? Definitely yes. But radiant orchid as a dominant color in your house? Not so much.

“Be wary of any trend that has the potential for a short shelf life,” realtor.com advises. Stick to neutral colors for anything in your home (inside and outside) that’s not as easy to replace as a pillow.

Home Equity Rising

OK, now for the brass tacks part of remodeling: paying for it. A few real estate predictions for 2014 might help your sort out your options.

Experts predict home prices should rise in 2014, which means you could have the home equity you need to fund your next renovation. Areas where foreclosures are falling and buyer demand outstrips the number of homes on the market have the best chance of seeing rising prices.

Related: When to Use Home Equity and When Not To

Interest Rates Headed Up

You may have more home equity in 2014 than you did in 2013, but doing a cash-out refinance to pay for your remodel will be harder and more expensive to do in the year ahead due to rigid underwriting rules and rising interest rates. Lenders say loan files are now routinely hundreds of pages long, so lower your expectations about how fast and how easy it is to refinance. Don’t let your frustration with the process wreck your enthusiasm for your remodeling dream.

Related: Turned Down for Refinance? Don’t Take No for an Answer

And Now for that Eye Candy

Whenever you’re remodeling, it’s smart to make sure you don’t over- or under-improve compared with neighbors’ homes. So check out some of the home listings on realtor.com in your Zip code, many of which include interior pictures.

Once you’ve spied on the Joneses, check out these hilarious pictures of the wildest home features of 2013.

I won’t even guess what installing a rowboat bathtub or cathedral-themed wine room would do to your home’s resale value, but looking at them could sure amuse you on a long winter’s night.

Related: 7 of the World’s Most Mind-Blowing Homes

Dona-DeZube Dona DeZube

has been writing about real estate for more than two decades. She lives in a suburban Baltimore Midcentury modest home on a 3-acre lot shared with possums, raccoons, foxes, a herd of deer, and her blue-tick hound. Follow Dona on Google+.

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