14 Budget-Friendly Home Upgrades You Should Make This Year

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on March 2, 2019

headerEverybody wants to turn their house into their dream home, or at least make small updates here and there, but the thought of shelling out all that cash can be daunting. Whether you’re refreshing your space or getting ready to sell, renovating your home is a huge financial decision. Fortunately, a complete renovation is not the only way to upgrade your space. In fact, a few small changes can make a huge difference, and they don’t have to cost you a fortune.

Read on for 14 small ways to make a big difference, both on the inside and outside of your home – without breaking the bank.

Make over your walls.

accent wallYou don’t have to paint four walls to have the extreme makeover effect. Painting an accent wall is a small investment that makes a huge improvement within your home. Not only can it increase your home’s value (a bonus if you’re looking to sell), but it also brings a drastic and perennial change to the space. Painting allows you to fill the space corresponding to your unique personality and sense of style. Choose a paint color and freshen up your space. If you’re planning on selling, you should stick to more neutral shades. You can pick accessories, such as light fixtures, accent pillows, or even a rug, to match.

While you’re at it, you might consider brightening the trim around the base with a high-gloss white or other lightly-colored paint for an extra glow factor.

Give your windows the royal treatment.

curtainsConsider painting the interiors of your window frames a fresh coat of bright white or install some molding to make them look larger and add a fresh pop to your room. You can also swap out your old curtains for some new drapes for an instant update. Wispier, lighter curtains add a soft and romantic ambiance, while stronger colors and designs make a bold statement. Changing out the draperies allows you to create the illusion of taller windows if you install the rods at ceiling height.

Paint your cabinets.

painted cabinetsThe kitchen is a universal hub for people to gather, so you want to make sure yours is looking good. Adding new cabinetry is an expensive task, but a couple of coats of fresh paint will give your kitchen the makeover you so desire. Add a pop of color with a retro red paint, or consider a white finish to open up your space. And again, color psychology is very real, so you can set the tone for your space.

Swap out your cabinet hardware.

cabinet hardwareSpeaking of the kitchen, you can also swap out your cabinet hardware! Swapping out your cabinet pulls and knobs for a new set can give your kitchen a whole new feel and can cost as little as $100. Pick your hardware based on what style or vibe you’re trying to effect. Faceted glass knobs give off a more vintage feel, while some chrome knobs will effect a sleek and contemporary style.

Lighten up. Or dim it down!

lighting fixturesYou learned from our last blog the importance of lighting, and windows are only half of the equation. Walk through your home. Could your lighting fixtures use a refresh? Swapping out a lamp or chandelier can drastically alter the vibe of the room. You can add recessed lighting to traditional lighting fixtures or even install a smart lighting system. Your options for revamping your home lighting are incredibly flexible, and they won’t break the bank.

For a cozier mood, you can install dimmer switches to your lighting system for $60-$135.

Trade out your light plates.

light switchSpeaking of lighting, why not take a look at the switch plates? It’s a great, budget-friendly option for a quick revamp. You can have designer looking accessories for less than $10! Trade out your bland and dull switch plates for some sleek chrome or warm wood. Maybe even consider matching them to your paint trim.

Revitalize your fixtures.

faucet hardwareDo a thorough walk-through of your home, this time, focusing on the various fixtures throughout your house. Take a look at your faucet heads and handles. What about your door knobs, hinges and locks? Are they a tad rusty? Could they use an update? These are all very easy and fairly inexpensive to replace.

Amp up the tech.

smart home techConsider the addition of smart home technology. We have talked about the different smart tech options in our previous blog, and all of those options are very applicable for a budget-friendly makeover. You can forget the days of fumbling for your keys with a new keyless smart lock. You can install smart light switches and control your home’s lighting from your phone. You can even keep an eye out on your pets from work! The options for what you can do with smart home technology are increasing by the day, meaning more and more affordable alternatives are on the rise.

Paint your front door.

front doorFirst impressions matter, and your front door certainly sets the tone for the rest of your house. Painting your door a new color can make a world of difference, and the best part about paint (other than the price) is that you really have unlimited options for color choices. Color psychology is a very real thing, as well, so consider researching different tones and shades to set the mood to your house. And while you’re at it, consider if any interior doors could use a refresh as well.

Install new house numbers.

address numbersWhile we’re outside, let’s talk about some more small updates you can make. Small, dull address numbers not only drag your curb appeal down, but they can also prevent visitors (or even first responders) from finding your home. You can swap out your old ones for bigger, clearer numbers for under $20! You have options, too— from wrought iron and bold brass, to those made from ceramic or an elegant brushed nickel.

Add some flower power.

landscapingNever underestimate the power of plants. Increase curb appeal and put your green thumb to work! Simply adding some extra plants to the porch or the entryway adds a whole new level of beauty. You can also add a raised flower bed in your lawn. All you’ll need is some soil, flowers, and whichever material you choose to build from (typically complementary to your home’s materials— brick, wood, stone, etc.). They’ll add a nice splash of color and some much needed brightness to anyone’s day.

Add a seated area outdoors.

outdoor seating areaHead to your local Home Depot or even cruise through amazon.com to find cute, affordable outdoor seating and table options. The simple addition of a seating area, no matter how small, to your lawn or porch gives the illusion that your yard is more spacious than it is. It also gives you and your guests another option to hang out— and we all need to spend more time outdoors, right?

Update your mailbox.

mailboxHas your current mailbox seen better days? After withstanding the weather for so many years, it might be a good idea to replace it with a cleaner or more decorative mailbox to add to your curb appeal. Your local hardware stores will have some nice ones in the $100 range.

Spruce up your shutters.

shuttersWe didn’t forget about the outside of your windows! Adding new shutters costs very little and can completely overhaul the look of your home’s exterior. You can choose to build your own shutters (if you’re the handier type) and paint them to your liking, or you can choose from a variety of pre-made options. Plantation shutters are an excellent option to consider, as they are energy efficient!


How to Beat the Winter Blues By Bringing Mother Nature Indoors

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on February 4, 2019

stuck inside winter blues

Did you know that Mother Nature is actually good for your health? Science tells us— it’s a fact!

And while we are so fortunate to live in a place so dedicated to preserving the natural beauty that surrounds us, we can’t always have access to it in these colder months. With the days still short and the sunlight still scarce, it’s no surprise that just about all of us, to some degree, can succumb to those pesky winter blues.

Lack of sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiencies and even impact our brains’ ability to create serotonin, among other issues. Luckily, there are several simple ways to use Mother Nature (and even replicate some of her healing effects) to relieve these sluggish winter blues.

Several studies have proven that having a connection to nature, whether it be through indoor plants or artwork emulating a natural environment, can decrease stress levels and stimulate healing. And even if you are feeling happy and healthy this winter, using Mother Nature to freshen up your space is a boost for anyone’s mood! From indoor plants to nature prints and natural hues, read on to learn how to bring life and light back into your life this season.

Liven Up Your Home — Literally!



Plants are a necessity for life on earth, as they greatly improve the air quality surrounding our planet. This applies to indoor plants, as well. The simple addition of a houseplant can do wonders for your mental and physical health. A 1989 NASA Study found that several common houseplants can remove carcinogenic chemicals, such as benzene and formaldehyde, from the air. A similar study reported in Psychology Today showed that the presence of indoor plants to be beneficial in many different settings, from work to schools to hospitals. The findings of the study found plants to play a key role in:

  • Lowering systolic blood pressure
  • Improving reaction times
  • Increasing attentiveness
  • Raising productivity  
  • Improving overall well-being
  • Improving perceptions of the space
  • Lowering levels of anxiety

The simple addition of a houseplant can do wonders for your mental and physical health, but not just ANY plant! Listed below are the top houseplants for best improving air quality, your mood, and are easiest to care for. Fortunately, these plants are all fairly common and can be found at our local nurseries year-round.

houseplant infographic

Branch out.


natural wood decor

Wood you believe it? Adding natural wooden elements to your interiors is proven to create similar healing effects to those of indoor plants:

  • Improves air quality by moderating humidity
  • Improves emotional state
  • Lowers blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels
  • Elicits feelings of warmth and comfort

There are several ways to incorporate natural wood into your home’s interior.

Bringing in live-edge, or reclaimed, wood is a great way to start. Adding a piece made from reclaimed wood to your home establishes a rustic look that harmoniously connects your living space to Mother Nature herself. It also adds a unique sense of character to your space, as each piece maintains the natural shape of the tree. You can find (or make, if you’re the craftier type) tabletops, headboards, shelves, accent pieces, or even use it for your flooring if you’re considering a remodel!

natural wood decor

Even using wood as an accent piece or part of your decor brings those natural elements inside your space. You can take branches and transform them into charming wall-mounted works of art or put them in a vase. If you have a fireplace (even if it’s non-functional) you can make an elegant display of your firewood.

Lighten Up!


natural light

Research shows that the most likely culprit for the winter blues is lack of sunlight. Our brains release more melatonin during the shorter winter days, which causes that sluggish feeling we know all too well. While we may not be getting much sunlight, you can increase the natural light within your home. Several studies have shown natural light to have a myriad of positive effects. It:

Fortunately, there are several creative ways, ranging from very small to pretty large, to beat this battle of the blahs with your home lighting.

decorative mirror

Utilize mirrors. Help light bounce around the room by placing mirrors around the home. Check to see where the sunlight will directly reflect against the mirror to cast the maximum brightness between the walls. You can add to the mirror effect by choosing accent pieces with a metallic sheen (i.e., silver candlesticks or brass sconces).

Open your drapes. Going au natural with your windows and doors not only significantly opens up the space but also greatly increases the natural light. Letting the sun be your alarm can also reset your sleep cycle by getting your circadian rhythm back on track.

Install a skylight, floor-to-ceiling windows, or replace wall space with glass. Though these are much larger projects to take on, if you’re planning a home renovation, this might be something to consider. This brings a considerable amount of natural light where otherwise no light would be able to enter.

natural light

Consider a light therapy lamp. Especially if the above suggestions aren’t as feasible for your home. Light therapy has a proven track record for treating the symptoms that come with seasonal affective disorder and depression. These lamps come in a variety of sizes and price points and can easily be found, even on Amazon.

Change Your Hue


green accent wallColor is much more than just visual experience. Color is actually a psychological experience that can drastically alter mood and emotion. And though it affects different people in different ways, certain shades evoke a similar response from most people. The colors you choose for your home will definitely set the tone for your home. From an accent wall to painting an entire room or hallway, using Mother Nature’s hues in your decor is a great way to radiate cheer during these winter months.

yellow accent wall

  • Green — Calm and relaxing, green is the color of Mother Nature herself. It is known to symbolize growth, harmony, freshness and strong emotional correspondence. Green is considered beneficial to the mind and body and is even known to have a calming effect.
  • Blue — Blue is notoriously cooling and calming and most commonly associated with the sky and heaven. This hue is idealistic, spiritual and sincere.
  • White — Painting your walls a bright white can drastically brighten and open up your space. White is typically associated with light, goodness and cleanliness, therefore creating a sense of contentment.  
  • Yellow — The color of sunshine is unsurprisingly associated with joy, happiness and good energy. Yellow produces a warming effect and stimulates mental activity. However, when using such a bright hue, you will want to keep it smaller, as 4 bright yellow walls can be overwhelming.
  • Orange — Orange combines the vibrant energy of reds with the cheer of yellows. You should also follow the same rule when painting with orange as with yellow, less is more.

Go Artificial


nature print home decor

When the reality outside your window is gloomier than you’d like, you can welcome the outdoors with a photograph, print, or painting of your favorite landscape. Even stimulated views of nature have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.

nature print home decor

Maybe it’s a photograph of the ocean horizon from a vacation you went on that you want to enlarge. Or perhaps you saw a gorgeous painting of palm leaves that you’d like to hang. You get to choose which tone you’d like to set when choosing your art. A field of flowers on a bright, sunny day conveys a much different mood than a dark and mysterious forest or even the crashing ocean waves at the shore.


New Year, New Tech: The Best Smart Home Technology for 2019

January 11, 2019

With technology continuing to be a growing presence in every aspect of life, the home is no exception especially as new technology becomes available. And new technology is not just a cool gadget — it is also built for functionality in and around the house and office. Homeowners are continuously presented with a versatile selection […]

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Rob Rice Homes – Campus Peak

December 14, 2018

What do Cle Elum, Port Orchard and Lacey have in common? Besides being cities in Washington, they are all locations where you can buy a newly constructed home on a golf course. A quick search of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows that there are fewer than 40 brand new homes for sale throughout almost […]

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Eat Local This Winter: The 62 Best Seasonal Recipes Using Ingredients Grown in Washington

December 3, 2018

As each year ends, a new season arrives. And with it an array of beautifully fresh ingredients that offer you comfort from the cold. From hearty root vegetables to the bright leafy greens, winter produce delivers a surprising range of flavors for you to enjoy. Not only will your palate be impressed, but there are […]

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Seasons Change

November 19, 2018

The changing seasons reminds us of regular housing market shifts too. However, the current market has been anything but regular. We are in a record long seller’s market, where homeowners have gained significant equity. However, as the beautiful autumn leaves began to fall something else started to rise – mortgage rates. That’s contributing to our […]

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All the Holiday Events Coming to Thurston County This Winter

November 1, 2018

All the Holiday Events Coming to Thurston County This Winter With Halloween fresh in our rearview, it’s no secret the Holiday Season is coming at us in full swing. The Holiday Season is an amazing time to be in Thurston County. Our community is full of rich culture, dazzling lights, lively and festive events for […]

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Announcing New Construction in Kirsop Crossing

October 26, 2018

Our own Coldwell Banker Team is excited to announce the new home community of Kirsop Crossing in Tumwater. A place where you can find a Style for Life! These homes are being built by Thurston County’s premier builder, Rob Rice Homes. Rob has been building homes in the South Puget Sound for over 30 years […]

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All The Spooktacular Fun Coming To Thurston County This October

October 4, 2018

All The Spooktacular Fun Coming To Thurston County This October Mazes and pumpkins and zombies, oh my! Every year when the weather gets crisp and the evenings get shorter, Thurston County transforms itself from beautiful to scary for the Halloween season. From haunted hayrides to haunted houses and so much fun in between, you won’t […]

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Great Local Outdoor Activities to Do in Olympia While the Sun is Still Shining

August 28, 2018

Great Local Outdoor Activities to Do in Olympia While the Sun is Still Shining Summer is almost over, but not yet! And when you’re in a place as beautiful as the evergreen city of Olympia, you’re going to want to get outside. Sitting at the southern end of Puget Sound, where the Deschutes River meets […]

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