When considering home renovations, it’s crucial to focus on changes that enhance the aesthetics of your space and maximize your ROI.

ROI-Driven Design: Tips for Budget-Friendly Home Updates

When considering home renovations, it’s crucial to focus on changes that not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space but also maximize your return on investment (ROI). This means making smart, cost-effective upgrades that attract potential buyers and boost property value without requiring a significant financial outlay. Here’s how you can achieve this balance:

Understanding ROI in Home Design

ROI-driven design revolves around selecting renovation projects that will increase your home’s market value more than they cost to complete. Key factors to consider include:

  • Market trends: What are buyers in your area looking for?
  • Cost vs. Benefit: How much will the renovation cost compared to the value it will likely add?

Universal appeal: Will the update appeal to a wide range of potential buyers?

Low-Cost Upgrades

  1. Refinish Wood Floors
  • Cost: $3,400 on average
  • ROI: 147%
  • Impact: Sanding and refinishing existing hardwood floors to restore their original beauty is a cost-effective way to enhance the aesthetics and value of your home. This project is particularly beneficial if the floors are worn or damaged​. The stain of the wood also offers many opportunities for bringing light and warm tones into your home. Light grays, beiges, and other neutral colored stains can do a lot to brighten up your interior and modernize an otherwise dull space.
  1. Smart Home Technology
  • Cost: Varies by device (e.g., $250 for a smart thermostat)
  • ROI: Up to 10% increase in home value
  • Impact: Smart thermostats, security systems, and WiFi lighting can make your home more efficient and appealing to tech-savvy buyers. These features are often seen as modern conveniences that add value to a property​. Some buyers are even beginning to expect these sorts of features in homes and can be a major selling point for many.
  1. Energy Efficiency Improvements
  • Cost: Varies by area (e.g., $2,500 for insulation in attic, $700-1,200 per window)
  • ROI: 100% for insulation, 100% for smart thermostats, 70% for windows
  • Impact: Improving energy efficiency with better insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, and programmable thermostats can lower utility bills and increase property value. These upgrades are particularly appealing in regions with extreme temperatures​. A home with windows that will need to be replaced within a few years versus a home with brand new windows can make the difference during a home sale.
  1. Interior or Exterior Paint
  • Cost: $2,000-$4,000
  • ROI: 55%
  • Impact: A fresh coat of interior or exterior paint can dramatically improve curb appeal. Choose neutral or popular colors to attract the widest range of potential buyers​​. This is one of the easiest ways to not only revitalize your home but also give it the pop it needs to attract buyers.

Mid-Cost Upgrades

  1. Landscaping
  • Cost: $3,000-$10,000+
  • ROI: Varies, typically high in terms of increasing attractiveness and desirability
  • Impact: Simple landscaping projects like adding shrubs, flowers, and mulch can provide a high ROI by enhancing curb appeal. More elaborate projects might include installing a raised garden bed or a small water feature​ and can become much higher end depending on the space you have to work with and desired look.
  1. Kitchen Upgrades
  • Cost: $5,000-$20,000+
  • ROI: Varies, typically around 70%
  • Impact: Upgrading kitchen appliances, refacing or painting cabinets, and installing new countertops can significantly enhance the functionality and aesthetics of your kitchen. Stainless steel appliances and granite or quartz countertops are popular choices that appeal to many buyers. The kitchen really is the heart of the home and is, by far, the most important space to keep updated. In most markets the kitchen will sell the home.
  1. Bathroom Remodels
  • Cost: $10,000-$20,000
  • ROI: 60%-70%
  • Impact: Upgrading fixtures, installing new tile, and adding modern amenities like a walk-in shower or heated floors can greatly increase a bathroom’s appeal. Focus on both aesthetics and functionality to maximize ROI​.

High-Cost Upgrades

  1. Attic and Basement Conversions
  • Cost: $20,000-$60,000
  • ROI: 75%-85%
  • Impact: Converting an attic or basement into a livable space can add valuable square footage to your home. This is particularly appealing in markets where additional living space is at a premium. Consider adding a bathroom or kitchenette to increase functionality and appeal​.
  • Bonus Tip: If you have the ability for separate access into your basement, like a walkup or walkout entry, many jurisdictions now allow for ADUs (accessory dwelling unitings) which can be rented out to provide a boost in your monthly income and in some cases offsetting your entire mortgage.
  1. Home Additions
  • Cost: $50,000-$100,000+
  • ROI: Varies, typically around 60%
  • Impact: Adding square footage through extensions or additional rooms (like a primary suite or a sunroom) can significantly increase your home’s value. The key to maximizing ROI is to ensure the addition blends seamlessly with the existing structure and meets local market demands​. Working with a local architect like Oztan Studio can help you determine what will work best for your existing lot and home while staying within a specific budget and timeline.
  • Bonus Tip: If you have an existing shed or space for a new one in your backyard, converting these into separate living spaces is a great way to reduce the cost of adding onto or on top of your existing home. Separate structures (typically called accessory structures) can be converted into offices, guest suits, hangout zones, and even rentable tiny homes)

Tips for Maximizing ROI

  1. Focus on Quality: Use high-quality materials and finishes that will stand the test of time.
  2. DIY Where Possible: For smaller projects, doing it yourself can save on labor costs.
  3. Consult Professionals: For larger, more complex projects, hire professionals to ensure the job is done right and up to code.
  4. Plan for Market Trends: Research what features and styles are currently in demand in your local market to ensure your upgrades appeal to potential buyers.
  5. Regular Maintenance: Keep up with regular maintenance to avoid larger, more expensive repairs down the line. This also helps maintain your home’s value.

Maximize the Investment: After increasing your home’s property value, consider applying for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This is a method where a bank or credit union hires an appraiser to determine the new value of your home versus the current sum owed (your mortgage). They are then able to offer you a percentage of the difference in the appraised value to the amount owed on your property, essentially giving you access to your own private funding account for future projects and investments. We will do a deeper dive into HELOCs in the future for how to maximize your home’s earning potential.


Maximizing ROI on home improvements involves strategic planning and smart investments. By focusing on areas that offer the highest returns, such as energy efficiency, smart technology, key room remodels, and strategic additions, you can enhance both your living experience and your property’s market value.

Interested in learning more about how a renovation can increase the value of your home? Connect with us here for further insights and inspiration. Our team is dedicated to exploring and realizing the potential of each unique environment, helping you bring your architectural visions to life.

Sam Oztan

The founder of Oztan Studio, an award-winning architecture and design firm, Sam is an experienced creator of visionary residential and architectural spaces. Locally-based and owned in Maryland, the agency serves the Greater Washington area.