When should you spend top dollar on your home improvement ideas? Depends on whom you ask. Your fitness trainer tells you to get the best running shoes you can afford. Your always-put-together friend recommends a designer handbag that goes with everything. Your food-trend-obsessed brother won’t eat anything from a dollar menu.

When it comes to home improvement ideas, what’s worth spending a little more on, and where you can save—especially when virtually everything comes in “luxury” and “budget” options?



Spend: When choosing flooring for your home-improvement ideas, think of how much use and abuse your floor gets in an average day. For some rooms, like the kitchen or living room, it’s a ton. It’s important to find durable carpet or flooring that can withstand being trampled and spilled on—especially if you have kids or pets.

Save: While some rooms get lots of action, others (such as the guest room you have for your in-laws’ yearly visit) do not. For these home-improvement ideas, it’s OK to save some money and go with a budget-friendly carpet. After all, budget doesn’t always mean you have to sacrifice on quality.



home improvement ideas lighting

Spend: Home-improvement ideas that open up your rooms and maximizes natural light—like removing the (non-load-bearing) wall between your kitchen and dining room—might be more expensive up front, but it has a long-term payoff. Choosing doors with partial windows will increase natural light near entryways. Gain back some savings with more investments in CFL and LED bulbs. In the long run, these improvements will help lower your energy cost.

Save: Rooms that you use only during the day might not need expensive lighting. If you sit in the sunroom only in the mornings over a cup of coffee, spare the LED bulb and get a more-affordable option. If you’ll rarely flip the switch on, then there’s no need to invest in costly lighting.



Spend: When it comes to painting for your home-improvement ideas, we know how long it can take to find the perfect shade of blue. Figured it out? Now look at how well your paint covers the builder’s beige. Better paint may cost more per gallon, but it requires fewer coats and less-frequent repainting. Look for paint that uses prime pigment (for long-lasting color), a high-quality binder (for better surface adhesion), and additives like dispersing agents for even coverage.

Save: Not all paints were made equally, but there is a place for economy paint. The kids’ playroom in the basement will likely see lots of fingerprints—and perhaps some crayon murals—so it can be smart to go easy on the wallet. Closets, utility rooms, and other less-visible walls need only a few coats of economy paint as well.



Spend: There are energy-efficient versions of nearly every appliance you can think of. While the cost is more significant initially, the long-term savings can make a big impact on your utility bills. Appliances can also be costly to repair or replace, so the investment in a high-quality one is usually worth it.

Save: Think about the appliances that will get used only a few times a year, and make it a point to shop the sales or more-affordable options for those.

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