5 Home Renovations People Forget to Do, According to Pros

Home renovations can be exciting yet daunting projects. While renovating or remodeling a home, it’s easy to get caught up in the “big stuff” – knocking down walls, retiling bathrooms, installing new kitchen cabinets – while neglecting some of the smaller projects that can make a big impact. Professional contractors shared the home renovation projects that homeowners often overlook but that make a home look updated, function better, and increase the home’s value.

Update Interior and Exterior Lighting

Outdated lighting fixtures can make a home seem old and worn out, even if everything else has been updated. Replacing old interior and exterior lighting with new, stylish fixtures provides an easy aesthetic boost.

According to Robert Smith, a general contractor based in Austin, Texas:

“One of the easiest ways to update the look and feel of a home is by replacing lighting fixtures. Old, builders-grade flush mount lights, boob lights, and outdated ceiling fans make a home seem outdated. Replacing these with updated LED recessed lighting, pendant lights, chandeliers, and sleek ceiling fans can go a long way in making a home look fresh and new.”

When updating lighting, consider replacing the following:

  • Entryway/Foyer Lighting – Replace a dated overhead fixture with an eye-catching pendant or chandelier to make a statement when entering the home.
  • Dining Room Chandelier – An outdated, ornate chandelier should be swapped for a stylish dining room fixture that fits your aesthetic, whether sleek and modern or traditional.
  • Kitchen Under Cabinet Lights – Hardwired under cabinet lighting illuminates countertops better than older screw-in fixtures.
  • Overhead Kitchen Lighting – Flush mount kitchen lights don’t provide enough illumination for kitchen tasks. Update to semi-flush or pendant lights over the kitchen sink and island.
  • Bathroom Vanity Lighting – Replace a stripped or rusted bathroom light over the vanity with a new brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze fixture.
  • Outdoor Entry Lighting – Upgrade exterior lighting at doors with new, attractive lanterns or sconces to improve curb appeal.
  • Outdoor Security Lighting – Replace inadequate dusk-to-dawn security floodlights with smart motion sensor lights. These LED lights provide better visibility and safety while also looking updated.

Improve Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is an important aspect of a home that is often overlooked during renovations. Enhancing the exterior through simple upgrades helps a home make a great first impression and can speed up selling times and increase property values by as much as 12-15%, according to Redfin.

**Mike Harris, a real estate agent in Nashville, recommends: **

“Giving your home’s exterior and landscaping a facelift does not have to cost a fortune. Freshly painting the front door, adding stone planters with flowers by the entryway, installing new exterior lighting, and laying fresh mulch can go a long way. You can also improve curb appeal by power washing vinyl siding, cleaning out gutters, and trimming trees and bushes so the home looks neat and manicured.”

Additional budget-friendly improvements for boosting curb appeal include:

  • New house numbers or decorative name plaque for the entryway
  • Accent exterior paint color on the front door or window shutters
  • Container plants, flowers, and shrubs to add color
  • Refinished or stained wood deck/porch
  • New welcome mat at the front door
  • Fresh coats of paint or stain on fencing or handrails
  • Paver pathway leading to the front door

Spending 1-2% of your home’s value on upgrades like these can potentially boost resale value by 7-10 times that amount.

UpdateInterior Doors and Hardware

While people often focus on renovating bathrooms, kitchens, and flooring when remodeling a home, they rarely think about something as simple as interior doors and door hardware. The wrong style of interior door or outdated brass doorknobs can make a home seem older than it is.

Melissa Clark, an interior designer in Minnesota, advises:

“Replacing flat, hollow core doors with modern raised panel doors makes a huge difference in the look and feel of a home. Similarly, replacing dated brass or nickel door knobs and hinges with updated black, bronze or brushed nickel hardware elevates the home’s aesthetic. This simple change modernizes bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and adds style and value.”

Homeowners should consider replacing interior doors and hardware in these key areas:

  • Entry door hardware – Brass knobs and locks should be updated to contemporary levers and deadbolts.
  • Bathrooms – Replace contractors grade doors and hardware with shaker-style doors and lever handles.
  • Bedrooms – Hollow core slab doors show wear easily. Solid wood six-panel doors provide style and durability.
  • Closets – Bifold closet doors seem cheap and dated. Consider barn style sliding doors or curtains.
  • Kitchen – Dated kitchen cabinet knobs and handles should coordinate with modern appliance finishes. Door design can also be customized by adding on-trend touches like glass inserts, wainscoting panels, or distressing.

Update Window Treatments

Out of date window treatments like dusty curtains and bent metal blinds make a home seem old and worn out. Installing new window treatments is an easy upgrade that can help update the look of a room.

“When remodeling a room, people often overlook the windows. Replacing old curtains and blinds with stylish new drapery, shades, and window treatments makes a home look clean, put together, and luxurious,” says Naomi Rhodes, an interior designer based in New York City.

She recommends considering the following types of updated window treatments:

  • Blackout curtains – Help darken bedrooms and reduce outside noise.
  • Smart shades – Motorized shades allow remote control of natural light.
  • Curtain panels – Floor length curtains create an elegant look.
  • Wood or faux wood blinds – Provide privacy and complement traditional or rustic decor.
  • Roller/solar shades – Offer adjustable light filtering and privacy options.
  • Roman shades – Provide a clean, tailored look, often in bedrooms.
  • Valances – Conceal and dress up non-decorative blinds and shades.
  • Custom drapery – Professionally fitted curtains create a luxe look.

When selecting new window treatments, be sure to measure carefully and choose the appropriate sizes, materials, patterns, and colors for the room.

Update Stair Railings and Banisters

For multi-story homes, the staircase is a focal point that makes a first impression. Unfortunately it’s easy to overlook stair railings, balusters, and banisters during remodeling projects. Replacing dated wood or metal stair parts with new, stylish components opens up the staircase and gives it an updated look.

According to Dan Brooks, a contractor specializing in staircases:

“Outdated oak stair treads, railings, and spindles can make a staircase seem dark and visually overwhelming. Replacing these with lighter colored materials like poplar wood handrails, iron balusters, and painted risers brightens up the whole stairwell. Refinishing or installing new staircase parts impacts the safety, lighting, and flow in the home too.”

Specific areas to focus on for staircase updates include:

  • Treads – Refinish worn treads or replace with marble, glass, or metal for a contemporary style.
  • Balusters – Swap dated spindles for sleek metal cables or glass for an open, airy look.
  • Handrail – A bold wooden staircase handrail can update traditional railings.
  • Banister – Refinish or replace a dated end post for a minimalist look.
  • Lighting – Add fixture lighting to illuminate stairs at night.
  • Under stair area – Open up closed riser stairs and add storage or lighting underneath.

Even if only replacing the railing or balusters, a staircase update creates a focal point and improves home flow and safety.

Improve Garage Storage

For many homeowners, the garage turns into a cluttered catch-all space filled with tools and sports equipment. By adding functional garage storage systems, you can clear up floor space, store items, and make accessing belongings easier.

Katrina Schroeder, an organization expert, advises:

“Too often garages become overwhelmed with clutter, making it difficult to park vehicles. By installing shelves, wall systems, cabinets and flooring designed for garages, such as quartz coating, you can take back control of the space. Proper storage and organization also helps protect items from dust and damage.”

Specific garage organization tips include:

  • Wall shelving – Sturdy shelves provide storage for small items like paint cans.
  • Cabinets – Base cabinets with doors allow hidden storage for tools.
  • Pegboard – Perforated pegboard hung on walls neatly organizes tools.
  • Slatwall – Modular slatwall panels hold sports equipment, gardening tools, and more using hooks.
  • Ceiling storage – Pulley systems allow overhead storage of bikes, kayaks, and other gear.
  • Flooring – Durable epoxy coatings make cleaning oil stains easy.
  • Garage door upgrade – Insulated garage doors reduce outside noise and provide insulation.

An organized garage with storage makes accessing belongings easier, keeps automobiles protected, and maximizes space.

Update Interior Railings and Banisters

Along with entry staircases, interior railings in multistory homes often get overlooked when it comes to renovations. Outdated railings, metal spindles, and banisters along indoor balconies, lofts, and upper hallways can obstruct views and light. Updating these to more modern, minimalist railings opens up the space.

“Most two story homes and condos have upper level hallways and lofts overlooking living areas below. Swapping 1980s and 90s dated railings for sleek glass panels or thin cables makes these spaces feel bigger and less choppy,” recommends Michelle White, an interior railing specialist.

Specific updates to consider include:

  • Glass panel railings – Clear glass maximizes views and light. Frosted panels provide privacy.
  • Stainless cable railings – Thin cables provide an airy, floating look.
  • Metal railings – Sleek black metal railings fit modern aesthetics.
  • Wood railings – Chunky wood can complement farmhouse styles.
  • Temporary railings – Often used during renovations prior to finishing with permanent railings.
  • Railing height – Ensure railings meet minimum safety codes. Standard height is 36-42 inches.

Though often overlooked, updating interior railings provides safety, improves aesthetics, and opens up sightlines in a home.

Refresh Walls and Ceilings

Painting walls, ceilings, and trim may seem simple, but it’s one of the most affordable ways to update the look and feel of a home. Fresh coats of neutral interior paint make a space seem brighter and more spacious. Plus, it covers up scuffs and imperfections.

“New homeowners are often tempted to jump right into remodeling bathrooms and kitchens. But an easier, cheaper way to update a home’s look is by painting walls and ceilings,” recommends Luis Ramos, a painting contractor based in California. “Fresh paint makes the home flow better visually too.”

Key areas to focus on painting include:

  • Entryways – Paint foyers and hallways leading into the home in lighter, neutral colors to set the tone when entering.
  • Living spaces – Flow open concept living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens together through cohesive wall colors.
  • Bathrooms/bedrooms – Use light gray, blue, or green paint in bedrooms and baths for a soothing vibe.
  • Ceiling – Paint overhead to cover up dinginess or yellow stains from age.
  • Trim/molding – Crisp white painted trim pops against colored walls.
  • Accent walls – Paint a bold accent wall in a dining room or bedroom for visual interest.

Choosing the right undertones and sheens, like matte or eggshell, helps walls and ceilings resist scuffs and stains too.

Add Architectural Ceiling Details

Many homeowners overlook the ceiling when renovating a home. Adding architectural details through beams, soffits, and tray ceilings provides interest and style. Ceiling treatments also draw the eye up, making rooms seem more expansive.

“Unique ceiling details give rooms more character and visual appeal. Accent ceilings break up boxy spaces and add an elegant design focal point without being overwhelming,” explains Samantha Rhodes, an architect based in New York.

Some popular ceiling detail options include:


  • Faux wood beams – Inexpensive foam options mimic real wood.
  • Exposed beams – Accent original structural beams or install new.
  • Painted beams – Add interest with bold beam colors.

Tray Ceilings

  • Cathedral angles – Angled tray ceilings add height and interest.
  • Coffered – Sunken square trays create geometric interest.
  • Decorative edging – Contrasting strips outline sunken tray ceilings.

Other Ceiling Details

  • Soffits – Lowered sections allow unique lighting or designs.
  • Medallions – Circular central focal points contrast the ceiling.
  • Murals or stencils – Painted designs make a statement.
  • Wallpaper – Apply wallpaper just to the ceiling.

From rustic wood to modern drywall, accent ceilings provide architectural flair without major renovations.

Upgrade Basements and Attics

Often neglected areas like basements and attics offer valuable living space that could be put to better use through renovations and finishing. Turning these raw spaces into spare bedrooms, home gyms, media rooms, and more helps maximize square footage and adds valuation to a home.

“Many homeowners don’t even consider their home’s full potential square footage in basements and attics,” says Steve Moore of Moore Renovations. “But adding bedrooms, bathrooms, recreational spaces and storage to underutilized basement and attics is cost-effective way to expand living areas.”

Typical basement and attic renovation projects include:


  • Adding extra bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Creating a home theater or media room
  • Finishing game and recreation rooms
  • Installing a wet bar or kitchenette
  • Adding laundry facilities
  • Creating a home office space


  • Adding attic bedrooms with closets and windows
  • Creating open loft spaces for living areas
  • Adding bathroom facilities
  • Finishing play rooms or craft rooms
  • Adding storage rooms accessed by pull-down ladders
  • Creating a yoga studio or home gym space

With proper budgeting, planning, and permits, these often-forgotten spaces can add valuable living area to a home.

Install a Kitchen Backsplash

Kitchen remodels often involve big updates like knocking down walls, replacing cabinets, and installing new appliances and countertops. But even modest kitchens can be easily updated with a new backsplash.

Interior designer Amanda Davis states:

“A kitchen backsplash is an opportunity to add personality through shape, color, and texture. Tiling a backsplash requires minimal time and cost compared to larger kitchen renovations but makes a big visual impact.”

Davis recommends considering these backsplash materials:

  • Subway tile – Classic 3×6-inch rectangles come in endless colors.
  • Marble or granite – Elegant natural stone adds luxury.
  • Travertine – Rustic, earthy stone with texture.
  • Glass tile – Shimmery and reflective glass tiles.
  • Metal tile – Provides contemporary, industrial vibe.
  • Mosaic – Small tiles arranged in intricate patterns.
  • Peel-and-stick – Budget-friendly and easy to install.
  • Stone slabs – Massive slabs like quartzite minimize grout lines.

Remember to properly seal natural stone tiles and use non-sanded caulk for grout lines when installing near countertops. Adding a backsplash provides an instant focal point and updated look in any kitchen.

Update Existing Cabinets with New Hardware and Fresh Paint

A full kitchen remodel with brand new cabinets can be expensive, but existing cabinetry can be affordably updated with small upgrades. Freshening up old cabinets with new hardware and a coat of paint allows you to change the look without expensive replacements.

Nicole Young, a kitchen designer, advises:

“Before tearing out outdated kitchen cabinets, try modernizing them first with easy upgrades. Swapping dated brass knobs for trendy black or bronze pulls instantly shifts the look. And painted cabinets freshen up the space and cover wood damage for a fraction of replacement cost.”

Quick cabinet refresh ideas include:

  • New knobs and pulls – Install hardware like matte black, copper, or brushed brass.
  • Painted cabinets – Primers stick to surfaces like laminate and oak. Use satin or semi-gloss for durability and moisture resistance.
  • Glass cabinet inserts – Swap solid cabinet doors for glass-front doors to open up space.
  • Removable wallpaper – Temporary wallpaper adds color and patterns inside cabinet doors.
  • New hinges – Brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze hinges update worn ones.
  • Filler panels – Panels added between partial cabinets create a built-in look.

With just new cabinet hardware and a couple cans of paint, you can give your kitchen a fresh look for under $500.

Add Molding For Architectural Interest

Trim molding might seem like a purely decorative afterthought, but this detail actually serves to elevate the architectural interest of a space. The right molding can make rooms seem brighter, taller, and more modern. Moldings help define spaces and add visual appeal.

*”Beautifully designed