Dangerous Decorating: Improvements that Lower the Value of Your Home

Reality television home improvement shows are no doubt fun to watch. It is amazing to see a small room or entire home transformed into a show place. Some of the most unbelievable transformations are on children’s rooms. They will take a theme like the racecars or princesses and make a child’s dream come true.

As a Realtor, my favorite part of the show Trading Places: Boys vs. Girls, is at the very end when the parents arrive to see the redecorated room for the first time. Whether there are ropes hanging from the ceiling, a psychedelic paint job or artificial grass on the floor, the reactions are priceless. Sure they are saying “awesome” for the television cameras, but are they really happy with the new rooms? As a parent, I know how quickly kids grow out of favorite toys, colors and activities. A theme-based room could be hard to transform back to a normal room when the fad passes or child grows. And what if you have to sell your home? How will potential buyers view that boat on the ceiling or the chalkboard walls?

This isn’t just something that happens on television. People really do crazy things to their homes and it’s not always for their children. Whether it is a unique wall treatment or an indoor hot tub, some people’s individualism hurts the value of their homes.

Here are some of my favorite, unbelievable things I have seen in people’s homes and how the remodel deteriorated the estimated value.

Playground Swings in the bedroom. This family removed a wall from two adjoining bedrooms to create one large room and bolted two playground swings to the ceiling. This home was 1700 ft.., split level home with 3 bedrooms prior to removing the wall. It is now an odd two bedroom. Combined with the possible extreme damage to the structure of the home depending on the weight of the persons using the swings this home would have lost thousands of dollars of market value.

Crinkled grocery bags glued to the wall instead of wallpaper. It is a nice unique look but since it will be difficult, if not impossible to remove, you will need to find a buyer who likes the look as much as you did.

Multi-colored hand painted murals and stenciling painted on walls throughout the home. This can be beautiful to the owner but because it is uneven, it is difficult to repaint. Often sanding and several layers of special primer are required to remove.

Indoor hot tubs. Unless you are installing in a four-season porch, think twice about this, especially if you live in a cold weather state. It just doesn’t make any sense. I have seen them installed in bedrooms and family rooms. Many were professionally installed. Most buyers still didn’t like them because they took away living space. Often buyers were concern about the installation. What if it leaks? Will it wreck the foundation? Does the steam cause mold? Even if the sellers offer to remove the hot tub prior to the closing, buyers have so many concerns that they will walk away from the home. Again your improvement reduced the value of your home buy tens of thousands of dollars.

So does this mean a person shouldn’t personalize their home at all? Of course not!
It is your home after all.

What I am suggesting is that when you are considering a home improvement or trying the next decorating trend, remember that your home is your biggest investment and asset. Put the hot tub on the patio, deck or four-season porch. Swings belong in the backyard. And wall treatments need to be removable and easy to repaint. Make your decisions with this in mind and your home will be beautiful and pocketbook will be protected.

Copyright 2006 Teri Eckholm

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