9 ways to spend your tax return on home improvement projects

From painting an accent wall to revamping your kitchen, here are projects at different tax-return price points.

Home Improvement Projects Worthy Of Your Tax Returns

If you’re lucky enough to get a little money back from Uncle Sam this tax season, it can be tempting to splurge on a vacation or treat yourself to a shopping spree. But a great way to use your return is to reinvest it in your home.

These home improvement projects — from landscaping to giving your kitchen a face-lift — may provide a return on investment when it’s time to sell — and you can enjoy them while you live in the home, too!

$500

Improve your entry. First appearances count for a lot and potential buyers will judge the proverbial book by the cover. An easy and relatively affordable way to punch up your home’s visual appeal is with the entryway. Try painting the door a bold color, then add accents like a door knocker, doorbell fixture, potted plant, and welcome mat.

Shine some light on the subject. While it may be tempting to skimp on lighting as you design your home, it’s a relatively affordable way to update a room and express your personal style. Add a small chandelier to your dining room or bedroom, spring for new bathroom vanity lighting, or add some stylish reading lamps to your living room. You should budget at least $200 for a large fixture, $100 for a bathroom vanity light, and $100 or less for a wall sconce.

Liven up the living room. After time, your living room can look exactly that: lived in. Refresh this important room by springing for new window treatments — it’s a budget-friendly way to add color or pattern, and you can create the illusion of higher ceilings by mounting drapes and valances higher on the wall. Other cost-effective projects include adding a fresh coat of paint or a wallpaper accent wall. And though it’s less glamorous, have your carpets professionally cleaned — it’s particularly important if you’re looking to sell sooner rather than later.

$1,000

Landscaping. Curb appeal can entice a potential buyer to stop at your open house, just like an unattractive and unkept yard can scare people away. Even if you’re not selling, simple things like weeding, edging, mulching, and planting can have a big impact on your home’s resale value. When it comes to planting, focus on foundation planting to cover up the unsightly area where your home meets the ground. Opt for mature native plants and flowers in one or two colors to tie in the landscaping with the façade, and fully-grown bushes in a variety of heights to create a dramatic effect.

Re-do the door. If you’ve got a little bit more money to spend on your entryway, replace the door with a steel one. Not only does it improve aesthetics, it’s weather resistant (which is especially important if you live in an area prone to heavy storms), easy to maintain, and makes your house more energy efficient since it’s better at preventing air leaks. This is a project that practically pays for itself — expect to spend around $1,400 and recoup about 90% of the investment, according to Remodeling Magazine.

Bathroom refresh. A full bathroom renovation costs thousands, but even something as simple as changing the toilet can improve the room’s look, up your resale value, and even save you money. Twenty-five percent of your home’s water use comes from flushing the toilet; toilets installed before 1995 use 6 gallons of water per flush, while newer toilets use less than 2 gallons per flush. Other small fixes with a big impact include updating the vanity counter top, refinishing the tub, and replacing faucets and cabinet hardware.

$5,000

Kitchen face-lift. The kitchen is often a top priority for homeowners looking to improve resale value, but even a “minor” renovation can run upwards of $20,000. For a fraction of the cost, tackle a few easy DIY projects: Sand, repaint, and add new hardware to existing cabinets; add a peel-and-stick backsplash and replace the faucet. Also consider investing in new appliances like a dishwasher — select a modern steel finish and look for the Energy Star label to help save on your water and energy bills.

Deck out your closet. Storage is a key feature to highlight when showing a house, and one of the most desired spaces is the master bedroom walk-in closet. If you’re not an experienced DIYer and have the budget, it’s worth the investment to hire a professional — you should estimate about $1,200-$3,000 for materials and installation. It’s also a great time to dig into a little spring-cleaning and pare down your clothing.

Create an outdoor oasis. If you’ve got room to spare outside, consider adding a wooden deck. If you’re handy, they can be installed for as little as $1,000, but you can easily have one built with premium materials for less than $5,000. Plus, you can enjoy your al fresco space while your home appreciates in value.

Written By: Layla Khoury-Hanold