The Dukes Of Hazzard Will Not Decrease The Value of Your Home

by Katy on April 5, 2011 · 19 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published column. Enjoy!

If you’re a homeowner, you’re constantly being told which improvements most increase the value of your home. I believe your home should reflect your own style and taste, and to not worry about whether it is bland enough for Mr. and Mrs. Average-Joe.

Is it all about the cash value of your home? Or about having a home that fits your needs both functionally and emotionally?

If home improvements were solely based of the resale value of your home, then you could never have your home reflect your own personal style.

One of my best friends from high school was not allowed to put anything on the walls of her bedroom. Her father was worried it would mar the wallpaper, thus negatively affecting the resale value of the house. Her bedroom had all the pizzazz of a room at The Marriott. She had to hang all her Dukes of Hazzard posters and paraphernalia in the closet. Which was just wrong. (In a number of ways, but that will be left unexplored.)

Her father put the needs of any future buyers ahead of his own daughter.

We are now back on track with our backyard project. The surprise of a leaky oil tank has now been officially dealt with, and the footing for a necessary rock wall has been poured. When finished, we’ll have a large brick patio from free bricks hoarded for years, surrounded by a mortared rock wall — made mostly from free craigslist rocks, (of course.)

Despite all the free materials, the backyard project will still be a pricey endeavor. (The landscaper is my sister Sara, and she’s no cheap girl.)

The money spent on this project could easily install a second bathroom in our 1914 bungalow. Any real estate agent worth his or her salt would recommend that second bathroom over a patio. But I’m not worried about the future dwellers of our house. I’m thinking about what would make our home more livable for us, in the here and now. I want to eat home-grown veggies, I want to dine with my family under the shade of our maple tree. But most importantly, I want a peaceful haven in my own backyard.

So when you’re considering home improvement, I suggest you put your own wants and needs ahead of prospective buyers. You are who is important now.

And now is where we all live.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Rowena April 6, 2011 at 3:01 am

Amen. I really dislike that show “Bang for your Buck” on HGTV that compares completed renovations solely on the basis of increased market value. Some of us are really getting tired of looking at stainless steel and granite kitchens, folks. Who made these rules, anyway?


Jessica April 6, 2011 at 4:07 am

I also agree. We are just starting a major renovation/addition and it was designed specifically for my family – and if and when we ever sell, well I’m sure someone, somewhere will buy it.

I don’t know when homes became seen as just an investment. It is not a stock or a piece of paper wealth, it is where you live. Where your children grow up, where you enjoy daily living and all the ups and downs of life. A person’s surroundings are so important to mental health that everyone should create their own haven.

(BTW I am a real estate agent and from the type of neighborhood you seem to live in and the proximity to Portland, a back yard patio might be closer to the second bathroom than you think. Still less, but close.)


Ellie April 6, 2011 at 5:57 am

I just have to say to Rowena, OMG, I am SO with you on the stainless steel and granite kitchens! My in-laws have replaced perfectly good kitchens (and perfectly good appliances and cabinets!) because they “want stainless”, and simply MUST to have a kitchen that….looks just like everyone else’s kitchen!

Anyway, yes, I mostly agree with this post.

I will say that I don’t think that some consideration for re-sale value is always out-of-line, but the kind of “consideration” I’m talking about is more at the most-extreme ends. I might think twice about doing some really far-out sort of renovation that would make the house really strange. (For example, if you want the “loft” look so bad that you’re thinking of spending a ton of money to get rid of all of the walls in your older home to have the “loft” look in a home where it’s totally inappropriate, then you’re probably just better off just moving to a loft! Not that I’d do that, but I heard of someone who did, and the house was pretty much un-sellable – the people who wanted a wall-free home already lived in lofts!) Not that I can imagine ever wanting to do anything that radical! I guess the same would be true if you’re planning on re-selling the house pretty soon – if you’re not planning on being there for too long, then you might want to refrain from painting the outside of the house bubble-gum pink, or whatever – but if you’re going to be there for the long haul and you want pink, I say go for it! (And yes, I know of a bubble-gum pink house!)


Stephanie April 6, 2011 at 6:33 am

I agree! We’re military so we move every few years. Because of this, I always paint and decorate our homes with neutral colors so they’ll be easy to sell or rent when we move along. Do they look fine? Sure. But do they accurately represent our family and style? Not really. I can’t wait until we get out merely because I’ll get to make our house OURS.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary April 6, 2011 at 6:37 am

As someone who is househunting at the moment, I had to chuckle at this. I completely agree that re-sale should not be the most important factor in these decisions, but I also think (like Ellie) that a bit of thought about resale would be appropriate.

Last week I saw a house for sale with a huge tub and bathroom in the master bedroom. Let me make that clear, it wasn’t in a separate “master bathroom,” rather, it was actually in the bedroom. And created in such a way that it would not have been possible to put up a wall around the bathroom fixtures to separate it from the bedroom.

In another home, space had been taken from the kitchen to make a huge master bedroom/bathroom/closets. The change made the flow of the house very odd, never mind the difficulty in cooking (I guess these people mostly eat out?).

So my conclusion is that if you want to do something such as paint or put up posters on the wall or build a patio, then by all means! But think carefully about making changes that will cause the house to be more difficult to sell. While I do not believe that homes are the financial investment that some folks wish them to be, they are still a place where much of our money is tied up. I want to be able to get that money out of the house when the time comes.

Katy, enjoy that backyard patio!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary April 6, 2011 at 6:41 am

PS: I used to love the Dukes of Hazzard!


Jacquelyn April 6, 2011 at 7:11 am

I love the comments about stainless steel and granite. When we were shopping for a house 3 years ago, we kept coming across these nice older Portland homes with these horribly out of place glossy stainless and granite kitchens. It was a total deal-breaker to us when a house had them. It’s like putting a time stamp on your house – ‘this kitchen was installed in 2008.’ Blegh. Ugly.
And I totally agree with you about doing what you want with your house, rather than what you think people will want to buy. I don’t give a crap about those ‘people’. I’m the one who has to live in it now. And I plan to for a long, long time.


Adrienne April 6, 2011 at 8:20 am

I love kitchens and if I had money to spare there are some things I would change but have you ever noticed that many people with super fancy high end kitchens seem to do very little cooking? My husband is a professional chef and the most important thing to him was that we had a gas stove. (it didn’t matter to him what color it was)


Elaine April 6, 2011 at 10:06 am

I live alone with 2 dogs, and I’m hoping to sell my house in about 5-6 years, when I’m old enough to retire. Therefore, anything I do to the house and yard needs to be a real improvement. I replaced a new-ish tree in the front yard that died, and this year I plan to replace the decking on my deck and have seamless rain gutters installed. I live in a subdivision and all the homes are very similar and builder grade. I need to keep my improvements within the general price range of the subdivision, and at the same time make my home a little better & nicer than the rest. Down the road, I want to rip out the living room carpet and replace with really good laminate flooring, and fix up my kitchen A LITTLE.

I’m going to enjoy each of these home improvements, and someday hopefully, new owners will, too.


Heather April 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I am in complete agreement with you. I live here, and I am the one here to enjoy and appreciate it. Future owners are not the focus of how I use my home.


Indy April 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I always feel so uncomfortable the moment I walk into a house that is obviously decorated for “everybody else”. It is as if a family has moved into a generic chain hotel that just serves as a place to hold your stuff and a place to sleep for a day or two.

I’m still at that stage in my life where I rent, but you can still make things suit you. All curtain rods, bathroom rods etc are brass, curtains are a deep red, pin stripes prevail, and I even took the ugly cabinet pulls in the kitchen and painted them brass to match (with permission). Since I can’t paint the walls I have put up plenty of art to break up the off white color. Does my masculine semi Victorian decor appeal to everyone? Not a chance, but I can come home to my own little haven. I’ll be happy to have more control over simple things like paint, flooring, etc when I settle down a bit.


Practical Parsimony April 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Good for you. If the children spend more time outdoors because of your changes, they will be healthier. When we renovated this house, people asked about resale because of the lemon-yellow laminate countertops and the blue carpet. People loved what I did but would not do it because of resale problems. Well, here it is 34 years later, and I still like the carpet and countertops and both need changing, especially the carpet (as you can imagine). My choices are better than the blah-beige people said they would have put in here. Oh, yeah, I painted the kitchen floor yellow. The walls and curtains are white.


Lynda April 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I have a beautiful home that was built in 1923 by my husband’s grandparents…it was built to replace the small farm home built by his great-great grandparents. We have made a number of major changes to the home to make it comfortable for us…including a granite kitchen with four sinks (I cook from scratch every day, can, bake and make cheese ) and a slate bathroom with a jumbo jetted jacuzzi with a waterfall. Not for resale: EVER..but because it’s what we wanted. What we did do was keep every appliance, window, crown moulding and fixture we took out of the house (stored out in one of the big barns)…we documented and photographed everything we did…just in case one of our great-grandchildren ever wants to take the house back to the *Way It Was*.


Erin April 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm

From the moment we bought our first home I knew that we would not be there more than 7 years. I ran a daycare out of it and had to put money into a renovation in the basement. I seriously thought that no one would want the house with the bright yellow, blue, red walls, a half wall with an open toddler toilet and pin holes all over…but the main floor and upstairs was that brown/beige move right in feel. It is location and cleanliness and boring factor that made it sell in 2 days. Plus a coat of paint in the upstairs bathroom that we never got around to renovating…vacation always trumps fixing an upstairs bathroom:)


pat April 7, 2011 at 5:05 am

This one hits close to home since I am currently helping my daughter find her first home. When did buying a home become all about “investment value” instead of just what feels right? Yes, you want your home to retain its value but should it just be thought of as an investment? I know I didn’t go into the purchase of my home with “what will it be worth in X years when I resell.” I don’t plan on moving for many years so I gotta say I’m enjoying my home every day. It is decorated for ME and definately reflects my tastes at the moment. If I did decide to relocate I certainly wouldn’t go thru and paint everything beige just to sell it. Why bother, purchasers are going to repaint anyway and, hopefully, put their own stamp on it. A fresh coat of paint is a cheap way to change anything to just your way.


Jude April 7, 2011 at 5:06 am

When did a house become an investment first and a home second? This had to be something that came out of the corrupt, money-grubbing eighties. With the housing market still in decline, perhaps houses will once again be viewed first and foremost as homes.


hiptobeme April 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I am about to paint so thank you for saying this. I am tired of neutral colours dammit!


Katy April 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm

My house interior is painted in many colors, none of them neutral. And I get a ton of compliments on the colors. Always!

Have fun!



Robinson April 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

This is wonderful and timely to read. I can’t tell you how many times my ideas for things that would make my home more comfortable for me and mine have been poo-pooed because of the potential downside on resale value. HA! I live in Michigan – no one is ever going to buy my house even if I do want to sell it. 😉

I’ve decided that this is the year I stop worrying about that and start making my home comfortable for me and mine.


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