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There are the superstars of home improvement—the flashy granite counters, lavish floor coverings and elegant custom cabinetry—that typically earn top billing on the remodeling charts.

With obvious benefits and the hefty price tags that go along with them, they tend to steal the show when it comes to renovation wants and desires.

But what about homeowners without a razzle-dazzle budget who still want to add pizzazz and character to their home? Fortunately, the experts say, there are still plenty of home improvement opportunities waiting to be discovered that can lend both substance and style.

“In today’s market, it’s time to get creative and think beyond the large-scale remodel to smaller improvements that will still have a significant impact. The beauty of these projects is that they are relatively affordable and easy to accomplish,” said Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the Today’s Homeowner television show.

Neglect Case #1: Doors of shame

Doors are a prominent feature in nearly every room of a home, and many rooms contain more than just one. Entry, passageway and closet doors take up a large amount of space. The National Home Builders Association estimates that there is an average of 19 doors in today’s home and yet, interior doors are often overlooked as an opportunity to make a major difference in a home’s overall look and feel.

In fact, in a recent survey of interior designers conducted by JELD-WEN, less than 35 percent said they would expect that replacing interior doors would improve the look of a client’s home. However, after seeing pictures of the before-and-after difference an interior door upgrade made,
98 percent said that it had a positive effect and they would definitely consider interior door replacement for future projects.

Many JELD-WEN® interior doors are available for $100–$200, and the styles and options are nearly endless. With Santa Fe southwest styles, American traditional flat panel looks, cottage motifs with intricate detailing or Craftsman classics, choosing the right interior door style can immediately accentuate great architectural design and serve as an impressive focal point without changing anything else in a room. For homeowners who complain about dark and dated interiors, crisp white interior door finishes can have a dramatic impact on brightening and refreshing the home’s overall interior design. So why do they continue to be neglected?

“Our studies show that a lot of people would like to replace their interior doors, but they don’t know how to go about it, they’ve never taken the time to evaluate the options available or they can’t find the right contractor to do the job,” said John Downs, JELD-WEN product marketing manager. “We hear it all the time—homeowners who update their doors can’t believe the positive difference it makes, and wonder why they didn’t do it sooner.”

Neglect case #2: Not-so-neat-and-trim

Another interior feature of the home that is nearly universal is trim work. Windows, doors, floorboards, ceilings, trim can make the difference between homes that look finished, well-cared for and contain lots of character, and those that don’t.

Like interior doors, endless trim styles, finishes and patterns are available, and trim is typically inexpensive and fairly easy to install with the right tools and know-how. Details such as crown molding can add a rich look while wainscoting can create a custom style that adds tremendous interior design value. Floorboards that are spotless and free of dings and scratches call attention to beautiful flooring and highlight wall colors.

“It seems like a small touch, but it can make all the difference in the world in a room,” said Lipford.

Neglect case #3: Hardware horrors

In kitchens and baths, hardware receives top billing, as it typically is used as a jewel to accent great cabinetry, but that same sensibility isn’t always carried out in the rest of the home. Experts suggest making sure hardware is coordinated throughout—in a finish and style that’ll match the home’s architectural character.

Hardware immediately updates a home, and the reverse is also true. Chipped, discolored or outdated styles date a home and can seem like relics from another time. And don’t just consider handles and knobs—hinges, doorstops, locks and other hardware accents should match and represent the same style.

“There’s a big difference between charmingly historic and simply out of date,” said Downs.
“Typically, you can’t go wrong by making sure your finishes match and the styles you select are true to the architectural design of the home.”

Neglect case #4: Storage shortage

It may not be considered interior design by definition, but storage is definitely a desirable attribute for today’s homeowner. Editors of Meredith Publishing state that a top trend for 2010 is the desire for more storage. Evaluate your home and get creative. Adding storage in laundry rooms, attics or basements, closets and the garage doesn’t have to be expensive and will pay off in terms of the overall comfort and resale value of the home.

Neglect case #5: Left in the dark
Most interior design experts agree: the right lighting can truly change a home’s overall look, feel and mood. Adding a few inexpensive overhead lights and lamps to help brighten dim rooms increases their use and value. Consider selecting new interior doors with glass panels to allow light to filter from room to room. When remodeling, consider adding larger windows, French doors or skylights to further open up and expand a space.

Above all, experts say, think outside the box when it comes to improvements.

“Doing smaller, overlooked improvements and projects can make as big of a difference as the major ones,” said Lipford. “The best tool to figure out the potential opportunities to refresh your home and add character is your imagination.”

Energy efficient and stylish windows and doors are currently available through The Design Center, a completely new retail concept in the Ballantyne Area outside of Charlotte offering JELD-WEN windows, doors, garage doors as well as professional installation services all in one showroom.
The Design Center is located at 9484 Old Bailes Road, Fort Mill, SC, 29707. The phone number is 800-276-0411. For further information please visit our website at

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