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Affordable upgrades can give your home a stylish new look
Try upgrading your staircase. - photo by Photo Contributed

Sure, kitchen and bath renovations get all the glamour and credit for offering high returns on your investment when it's time to sell your home. But a host of other, often-overlooked improvements can also offer great ROI - while completely changing the look of your home at a fraction of the cost of bigger projects.

"Improvements like upgrading your home's stair case can give a home a fresh look quickly and affordably," says Dale L. Reutter, president, WM Coffman, which has been making and distributing stair products for more than 130 years. "These upgrades can offer impressive ROI, and also enhance the enjoyment and usability of your home."

If you're looking for home improvements that will pay off in the long-term, plus give your home a fresh look now, consider these high-impact, lower-cost upgrades:

• Change the front door. The door to your home is not only a key element of its exterior look, the door can set expectations for what guests will see inside your home as well. A new front door makes a statement for both the inside and outside of your home. When you sell your home, that new front door can return as much as 73 percent of the initial cost for steel doors and nearly 54 percent for fiberglass doors, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.

• Layer and upgrade lighting in key rooms such as living rooms and family rooms. Replacing outdated lights can create a fresh, appealing atmosphere in a room. But don't stop at overhead fixtures. Layer your lighting by adding new floor lamps and table lamps. A variety of lighting sources and types allows you to change moods in a room with the flip of a few switches.

• Repaint ceilings and baseboards. While you may be aware of the benefits of painting walls, many homeowners overlook the value of painting ceilings and baseboards. Repainting a ceiling - even if it's plain white - dramatically brightens a room. The same is true for painting trim; the freshness of updated trim can draw the whole room together. So the next time you paint a room, be sure to do ceilings and trim as well.

While these upgrades can help you cost-effectively change your decor, when you're looking for high impact, flexibility and affordability, updating your stairway is one of the best investments you can make. Many modern floor plans place the stairway front and center, making it the first design element guests see when they enter. Yet when it comes time to renovate, many people overlook the design potential of this functional element in their home.

The look and positioning of the staircase affects the flow of the home and sets the tone for the entire house. Modifying a staircase can open up a floor plan and increase usable square footage. It can also help you redefine the theme of your decor from traditional to contemporary or even modern. For example, replacing old wooden balusters with iron can help you create a cohesive look with other metallic design elements in the home, such as doorknobs or faucets.

A variety of products - from decorative balusters to newel posts and newel tops - make it easy and affordable to create a custom look for virtually any stairway. WM Coffman offers a range of products in a variety of styles to fit with any home decor theme. To learn more about staircase options and for a free stair design tool, visit