The Cost of Upgrading Your Home

By Nikki Kallio

When you’re looking to make over a room in your home, it all starts with your budget. There are lower-cost ways to refresh your home if you’re not ready for a complete overhaul. If you’re looking to do something more significant, area designers are seeing a resurgence in requests for larger remodeling projects, such as kitchens and baths, and home additions.


“The quickest way to freshen up a space is to give it a new coat of paint,” says Autumn Cartee of Architectural Building Arts, Inc. Painting your kitchen cabinets or adding a decorative backsplash can go a long way to make your space feel new again without the cost of a total remodel, she says. “That’s a fun way to bring some [character] into the space and let your own personality shine through.”

A nice gallon of paint can cost anywhere from about $35 to $100 or more — how much you need depends on room size, but generally, a gallon of paint will cover up to about 400 square feet of wall space.

Additionally, painting your kitchen cabinets can go a long way to make your space feel new again without the cost of replacing all of your cabinets or a total remodel, Cartee says.

Another way homeowners can refresh a space is by increasing the natural light that flows into a particular area, “whether that’s creating indoor spaces that bring the outdoors in, improving sight lines into the yard, or [installing] skylights,” says Chad Speight of Chad’s Design Build in Madison.

While many details will impact the price of adding a window or a skylight, a new opening in your home can cost between $5,000 and $10,000, Speight says.

“It depends on size and what the exterior finishes are,” he says. “Obviously, it’s more expensive to alter a masonry wall than it is to alter a wall with wood, metal or vinyl siding.”


Kitchen and bath remodels are still at the top of homeowners’ priorities for remodels, Cartee says. And, both tend to be among the more expensive upgrades.

“From a purely square-foot perspective, bathrooms are the most expensive rooms in the house, typically,” Speight says. The cost will be impacted by the types of finishes and whether the plumbing and electrical systems need to be redone, he says. Keeping variability in mind, Speight notes, “a lot of full bathrooms that are relatively small rarely cost less than $40,000 or $50,000. It’s not uncommon to see some bathrooms push up to six figures.”

The pandemic has influenced a movement toward more comfortable, relaxing spaces, Cartee says. Popular client requests include walk-in showers with multiple showerheads and freestanding tubs, which Cartee says makes a bathroom feel more luxurious.

For total kitchen remodels, it’s rare to complete one that’s less than six figures, Speight says. When clients seek kitchen remodels, they’re often looking to create more space for working in the kitchen or entertaining, Cartee says.

“A lot of our clients come to us because things just aren’t functioning the way they need them to,” says Cartee, whose firm updates a lot of historic homes, which often have small kitchens.

Additionally, updating accessibility is often a request, such as widening openings and repositioning counters and other built-ins. “That is an ongoing trend that’s only becoming stronger now as baby boomers are aging,” says Speight.


The pandemic has also driven a surge in adding more square footage to the home with an addition. Think: a screened porch, sunroom or outdoor living space, Speight says. With remote work being the norm, it’s also spurred a demand for home offices, some with their own bathroom, Cartee says. Other clients have sought additions for hobbies or extra storage for some of their hobby tools.

While the cost of a home addition is influenced by multiple factors, adding more square footage can start at $300,000 and increase from there, Cartee says.

“However, it depends on the architecture of the home, access to the site, the impact to the home’s mechanical systems, and the size and the type of addition,” Cartee says. She notes that the number and quality of windows, architectural details and material finishes also add to the cost.

Additions can be tricky, particularly in the Madison area, if the home is older or sits on a small lot.

“ … We can add vertically to the home [if] zoning allows, or if there’s space on the land, we can add to the backside,” Cartee says. “But, in these small-lot situations, these aren’t huge additions. They’re one or two rooms, max.”

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