Personal Finance

17 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy

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happy woman at home
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Could making a change to your home make you want to stay? The chances are good, judging by a report recently released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report suggests that after remodeling, 84% of homeowners have a greater desire to be in their homes and 69% experience more enjoyment in their homes. The results were based on survey responses from a random sample of more than 2,500 NAR members.

Which renovations are likely to give homeowners joy? To answer that question, the report assigns popular renovations a “Joy Score,” which reflects “the happiness homeowners reported with their renovations,” NAR explains.

The higher a Joy Score, the greater the joy a project brought to homeowners.

Following are the renovations with the highest Joy Scores found in the report. These projects all earned Joy Scores of at least 9.5 out of 10.

New front door (steel or fiberglass)

Happy man opening the front door of his home
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Joy Score: 9.5 out of 10

A front door comes with a Joy Score of 9.5, whether you replace your old door with steel or fiberglass. NAR found that the top two reasons for homeowners to replace their doors were modernization or because they were ready for a change.

However, switching out your front door can also help boost the value of your home — especially if you paint it black, as we report in “Painting With This Color Can Boost Your Home’s Sale Price by $6,000.”

Add or upgrade laundry area

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Joy Score: 9.5 out of 10

The biggest reason cited by respondents who made this change was “to add features and improve livability.” In fact, 68% of those surveyed said adding or upgrading the laundry area increased their sense of enjoyment when at home, with 84% saying they have an increased desire to be at home since the completion of the project.

Add a primary bedroom suite

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Joy Score: 9.5 out of 10

Adding a primary bedroom suite might cost $172,500, according to cost estimates from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), but it could be money well spent since 93% of those surveyed have a greater desire to be at home since completing the project.

When it comes to recovering the cost of the project, NAR estimates that adding a primary bedroom suite could potentially result in an increased value of $100,000, or a 56% recovery rate.

New windows (vinyl or wood)

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Joy Score: 9.6 out of 10

With new vinyl windows, homeowners can expect to recoup about 67.5% of the cost when they sell the home, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value Report. Believe it or not, that’s a relatively good cost recovery.

Like new vinyl windows, new wood windows can also provide a reasonable return on investment, with 66.3% of the cost recouped upon sale of the home, Remodeling magazine reports.

Bathroom renovation

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Joy Score: 9.6 out of 10

Of consumers who renovate a bathroom, 64% feel a major sense of accomplishment while 73% have an increased desire to be at home. On top of that, 46% feel that the project improved functionality and livability.

Plus, a bathroom remodel offers a cost recuperation of up to 58.9%, depending on the type of materials and design used, according to Remodeling magazine.

Basement conversion to living area

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Joy Score: 9.7 out of 10

The NAR report suggests that 31% of consumers who convert a basement to a living area do so to add features and improve livability. Additionally, 21% of those who complete the conversion believe that it was time for a change.

After finishing the project, 83% of respondents report having a greater desire to be at home and 58% report increased enjoyment at home.

Paint exterior siding

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Joy Score: 9.8 out of 10

The top reason for completing this project was to “upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials.” When finished, the most important result was that 52% of respondents felt that it added better functionality and livability.

Plus, painting can increase your curb appeal — and result in a higher selling price for your home. For more on how to make your home more attractive to buyers, check out “5 Tips to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal Before You Sell.”

Complete kitchen renovation

Women in a kitchen
SpeedKingz /

Joy Score: 9.8 out of 10

If you’re looking for something designed to give you almost complete joy, you might consider a complete kitchen renovation.

The most important result was better functionality and livability, and 86% of those who finish this project report feeling a greater sense of enjoyment in their home afterward.

Kitchen upgrade

under cabinet lighting kitchen
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Joy Score: 9.8 out of 10

Maybe you don’t feel like a major upscale kitchen remodel — which can cost more than $158,000, according to Remodeling magazine. Instead, you can get the same amount of joy with a kitchen upgrade. With a minor kitchen remodel, Remodeling magazine estimates you’re likely to recoup 71.2% of your $28,279 cost.

What’s more, 86% of respondents have a greater desire to be at home after completing this project.

Paint entire interior

Women painting a home
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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

When you paint the entire inside of your home, it refreshes the whole house. In fact, 88% of NAR survey respondents say they have a greater desire to be home now that all the walls are new. Plus, 85% report feeling a major sense of accomplishment after completing the project.

Paint one interior room

woman painting her home
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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

The top reason that consumers paint an individual room is that they felt it was time for a change.

Additionally, 32% feel the most important result is improved beauty and aesthetics. On top of that, 73% report a greater desire to be at home after finishing.

Add home office

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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

According to the NAR results, 40% of Realtors report increased demand for a home office during the pandemic.

The Pew Research Center found that 59% of U.S. workers who say their work can mainly be done from home are doing so all or most of the time, as of February 2022. In October 2020, this number was as high as 71%. That compares to only 23% of workers did their jobs from home prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

With a new home office, 91% of respondents report a greater desire to be at home.

Hardwood floor refinish

Wood floor
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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

The top reason for completing this project is to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials according to the NAR report. Once finished with the project, 100% of respondents said they had a greater desire to be at home and 64% have a greater sense of enjoyment when they’re at home.

New wood flooring

Home with a open floor plan
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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

Given the high Joy Score that comes with new wood flooring, it’s no surprise that flooring was one of the most popular home improvement projects completed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only is this a popular upgrade, but it can also have a net benefit. The NARI cost estimate for new flooring is $5,500, but NAR estimates that you could recover $6,500 in home value when you sell — 118% of what you put in.

Closet renovation

Woman in her closet
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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

Another project that offers a Joy Score of 10 out of 10 is a closet renovation.

A disorganized closet can be a daily inconvenience so improving the situation can improve functionality and livability. Additionally, 79% of consumers who complete this project report wanting to be home more now that the closet has been renovated.

Insulation upgrade

Worker insulating an attic
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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

The No. 1 reason for an insulation upgrade, according to the NAR report, is to improve energy efficiency. After completing the project, 85% of respondents had a greater desire to be at home.

This is another project that has a high cost recovery rate. The report estimates that you can recoup 100% of the cost of upgraded insulation while increasing the comfort you feel in your home.

Attic conversion to living area

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Joy Score: 10 out of 10

While an attic conversion can be pricey — $100,000 by NARI’s estimate — it also results in happiness with your house. Of those who complete this project, 100% report a greater desire to be at home. It’s probably no surprise that the number one reason for completing this project is to add features and improve livability.

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