13 Popular Design Trends That Are Meant To Increase Your Home's Real Estate Value

When you renovate your home, you likely have two purposes in mind. The first is to make your house more functional and enjoyable for you and your family to live in. The second is to make sure it's in the best shape it can be, so you can get the best price on your property when it's time to sell. Different rooms have different appeals to buyers. For example, rooms with plumbing like the kitchen and bathroom tend to weigh more heavily in the purchase process as they cost a lot of time and effort to redo. If they already look great, buyers might sigh with relief and offer a higher bid. However, these are the bare bones of your house — there are other features than can draw a pretty penny, and no it's not a swimming pool, so think twice about adding one.

Instead, the things to add are more outdoor living spaces, a yard that looks loved and cared for, and even some smart tech to bring your home into the 21st century! We've gathered the important things to do, so you don't have to go searching for them. These are 13 popular design trends to increase your home's real estate value.

1. A timeless kitchen is an instant classic

Kitchens are one of the places in the home you can really earn back your investment. In fact, a survey by Rocket Homes showed that 55% of customers could be convinced to buy a home if the kitchen was in tip-top shape. Not only that, but a Remodeling by JLC report found that major kitchen renovations typically see around 59% return on investment during a sale, while there is an 81% ROI for smaller touch ups. While it may be scary to see figures under 100%, there is no telling how much value your property would lose with no updates because you are scaring away buyers who do not want to have to update an old kitchen.

So, what should a kitchen remodeled to sell look like? Well, a timeless neutral kitchen is an instant classic. This safe but chic option seems to withstand all the changing trends and suit almost everyone's tastes. Think white quartz countertops as they are easy to keep clean, plus wooden cabinets painted in a basic gray or white, with stainless steel appliances to top it all off.

2. Transform your bathroom into a nature-inspired spa

Updated bathrooms tend to have great ROI in general, with the average cost recoup sitting between 56-64%, according to data from Renofi. However, the nicer the bathroom's features are, the more likely you can get buyers to bite. Not only that, but you will be able to enjoy the home's amenities while you still own the house. With the wellness trend booming, try adding some spa-like elements into your bathroom decor.

Interior designer Brad Smith told House Digest in an exclusive interview on bathroom trends that "it's all about things looking natural" and "incorporating organic materials like natural stone and wood to create a serene, spa-like environment." Buyers don't want their potential home to feel sterile; instead, they want to step into an oasis. You can achieve this by having natural wood cabinets that double as storage in a space that can never get enough of it. Also consider swapping out your utilitarian bath/shower combo for something a bit more luxurious, like a freestanding tub with a separate shower.

3. Create an outdoor kitchen for more gathering space

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how people view outdoor living spaces. They are now on many more homebuyers' lists of must-haves. Homeowners who install outdoor kitchens often see a 100% or greater return on investment when it comes time to sell their home, according to data from National Association of Realtors Research Group. Most of us have a grill and a patio, but an outdoor kitchen is a bit more involved, which is why it gets people so excited.

One of the trends for trendy outdoor kitchen designs includes a minibar-like setup. You can build a bar around your grill, encasing it, while adding a wet area complete with fridge and freezer for the ultimate backyard entertaining. However, if you have more space, don't be afraid to go all out. Consider a pizza oven, a sink, and a dishwasher, too — so none of the BBQ dishes have to be carried back inside dirty. While simple outdoor kitchens are an easy DIY on the back patio, larger projects that require a separate cabana with ceiling fans and tables are best done by a contractor.

4. Solar panels will sell your home for more

To most buyers, an eco-friendly home is a green flag, as it typically means lower utility bills and the occasional tax break. One great way to make your home greener is by installing solar panels. According to data from Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for an average of 4.1% more than homes without them. While they can be expensive to install, the possibility of increasing earnings from the sale of your home should soften the blow.

Before considering installation, you need to make sure your house is an ideal candidate for solar panels. "You need a certain amount of unobstructed sunlight to make the installation cost worthwhile," Bret Biggart, CEO of Freedom Solar Power, told House Digest in an exclusive interview. "The amount of solar power that can reach your home depends on where you live, how much shade covers your roof (trees or roof structures such as chimneys create roof shade), and the direction your roof is facing (south-facing is best)." If you find that your home has the set up, go for it — the savings could pay off in the long run.

5. Multi-functional rooms add value without adding square feet

Buyers want more space, yet they might not be able to imagine the uses of the square feet in your home unless you show them. If you don't have the budget for a home addition, consider revamping existing spaces in your house to tell a different story. Utilizing space in unexpected places can be a plus — you can turn the area under your stairs into storage, for example.

To transform a single space into a multi-functional room, built-in storage is a must. This way, the next homeowner doesn't have to come up with storage solutions on their own. You've already handled it for them. Try adding wall hooks and a built-in bench with cubbies to the laundry room: it can now easily double as a mudroom. The same goes for repurposing the area under the stairs as a reading nook or even a coat closet — you don't need to add space, just make the most of it to add value.

6. Revamp your garden's layout for a value boost

If you love gardening, you'll be thrilled to know that data from National Association of Realtors suggests that keeping up with your yard (and doing a few upgrades before your home's sale) tends to have a 100% ROI on average. This includes work like keeping the lawn edged and mowed, making sure all the shrubs are pruned, and having the flowerbeds mulched and filled with gorgeous perennials and annuals. Maintaining a beautiful garden also helps with curb appeal which boosts the value of your home simply by getting potential buyers to commit to coming through the door.

To get the most value, it's important to follow the popular trends for the best layout for your garden. "Go for either a flat plot of land or a south or east well-lit slope," botany expert for the NatureID app, Julia Omelchenko explained to House Digest in an exclusive interview. "Sunlight is also essential; light-loving plants should be planted in well-lit areas, and shade-loving ornamental perennials can be planted beside trees." By taking the time to layout your garden in a way that both looks good and is healthy for the plants, you can enjoy your hard work while you live there and 100% ROI when you move.

7. Install smart home tech for an easier way of living

Bringing your home into the digital age can have an impact on its value. Buyers view smart homes in a positive light because most of these features are intended to make their lives easier. The technology is also relatively new, possibly making buyers perceive your home as more efficient and up-to-date. There are many different improvements available to make your house a smart home, but one of the best places to start is with the HVAC system.

"The right smart thermostat will allow a homeowner to control their home's climate from anywhere, giving them the power to manage energy costs regardless of whether they are sitting on the couch or away on vacation," Scott Ewald, director, brand and content marketing at Trane, an HVAC company told BankRate. "Such investments in home tech — particularly when connected to the HVAC, which is the largest mechanical system in the home — provides a strong selling point and highlights the home's overall comfort, functionality, energy efficiency and convenience." The best time to upgrade to a smart HVAC system is now, so you can still enjoy it while you aim to sell your home!

8. Create living space in your basement instead of leaving it as storage

If you have a basement, finishing it off can increase the value of your home. Think about it: As a buyer, which would you pay more for: a dreary unfinished basement with exposed insulation and poor lighting, or a finished space you could use for just about anything? In fact, according to data from Angi, homes that sell with finished basements tend to make back around 70% of what they spent fitting them out in the first place — as long as your basement is large enough to become a functional room.

The best part about finishing basements is that they tend to already have HVAC access. So, they can be a bedroom, office, or mother-in-law suite without the expense of setting up climate control. You save on the costs of an actual home addition, but give both yourself (and any eventual buyers) plenty more livable space. Consider adding luxury vinyl plank or large format tile instead of carpet for your basement flooring, as it can hold up to more foot traffic and thus be repurposed for many different uses. By showing buyers what could be, you are increasing the value of your home without adding a single inch. If you need ideas, check out these finished basements for inspiration.

9. New windows provide better views and lower energy bills

Updating your home to more modern windows is a great design trend to increase your property's value. According to data from Angi, upgrading your windows could have an 70-85% return on investment when selling a home. Factors to consider include the material you choose and the condition of your existing window frames. Newer windows also tend to be more energy efficient, especially if they are double-paned, so your power bills will be lower in the interim.

The best way to go about renovating your windows is to start by considering the style you like best. Do you want gallery windows? Windows that open, or are just for the views? In some cases, you may be able to use your old window frames and simply replace the glass. In others, the frames might be too old or damaged, so you will need to replace them, too — adding to the overall cost. Some companies charge per window installed, while others prefer to be paid by the size and quality of the windows. For others, it's a combination of the two. Be sure to speak to several contractors before updating your windows to get the best quote.

10. Outdoor lighting gives you home a bright future

Having a porch light is great for safety and making it easier for your UberEats driver to drop off your dinner, but the design trend that will add value to your home is having well-designed outdoor lighting. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, landscape lighting sees an average of 59% of total cost recuperation. Not only that, but the organization reports that over 61% of those surveyed report enjoy spending more time at home and appreciate their houses more since upgrading their outdoor lighting. This not only raises the value of your property as real estate, but also its value to you as a place of peace.

The best way to light up your yard at night depends on what features you have and what you want to highlight. If safety and accessibility are your number one concerns, an illuminated path should be your priority. This way you can guide yourself and visitors alike from the street to the front door with ease. Path lighting works best on a timer, ensuring lights always turn on at dusk and you're never left in the dark. If you have a well-designed garden that you would like to highlight, spotlights work well for this. Typically this involves using one light to show off an entire tree or topiary, but if you prefer softer options, you can also consider a ring of lights around the rim of a feature plant.

11. Updated tiling can make an outdated house feel new

The tiled areas of your home like the kitchen, bathroom, mudroom, and laundry room, are always worth updating. If the tile is well-loved, it can unfortunately look quite weary with cracks and stained grout lines. Plus, if the tile was installed as a trend, it's very possible that both its shape and color are horribly out of style: think powder pink bathrooms from the 1970s. These outdated options can bring down the value of your house as buyers take one look at them and think, "ugh, I'll have to remodel that."

The good thing is that the only cost you might actually be on the hook for as the original homeowner is sweat equity, as tiling is an easy enough project to complete on your own. DIY projects that increase the value of your home should be among the first you tackle, as they do not require a major investment of money. You can also learn techniques to make DIY budget tile look expensive, like using more expensive tile on limited areas and filling in the rest of the space with a cheaper option that complements it.

12. Install ceiling fans to keep things cool

Adding ceiling fans to your main lighting fixtures is a great investment because they can bring down the home's overall energy costs, making them attractive to buyers. This is because running a ceiling fan in one room uses less electricity than powering the HVAC system for the entire house. By circulating the air and creating a breeze, fans work to keep you cool without going broke. Plenty of homes only have a light fixture, instead of a light and fan combination, so by upgrading to this design trend — you add value to your home.

Ceiling fans come in many different styles, so knowing how many fan blades you need and what style fan to buy, can feel tricky. The good news is that whether the fan has three or five blades, it will likely circulate air in a similar way. The more blades, the quieter the fan tends to be, but its actual effectiveness is based more on the pitch of its blades and the quality of its manufacturing than the number of them. When purchasing, be sure to buy a prefabricated fan and light combination. You can't add a light to a fan after the fact.

13. A well-designed deck will lift your home's value

The popularity of outdoor living spaces is on the rise. Creating a nice decked area can increase the value of your home. Data from the National Association of Realtors indicates that a new wooden deck has a ROI of 89%. Not only that, but more than 74% of those surveyed indicated that the deck increased both their desire to be at home and their overall quality of living when at home, too. To achieve the best results, there are a few mistakes to avoid when designing your deck.

The first mistake is giving your deck a bad layout. You want to make sure the shape of your deck aligns with the yard space you have available, as well as the slope of the ground it's built on. Next, carefully consider the type of boards for your deck. Pre-treated wood works well, as it tends to last longer against decay and warping. Popular choices include yellow pine, cedar, or redwood. Finally, seal your deck! You don't want all your hard work to be ruined by the first big rainstorm.