Skip to main content

Most new homeowners in Mammoth Lakes have something about their property they’d like to change. And as trends shift over time, many will eventually remodel their homes, whether it’s for their own enjoyment or in preparation to sell.

Whatever your reason for taking on a home renovation project, you’ll want to consider how your investment will impact your home’s value. Use this list to determine what home renovation projects to take on and which ones to skip.

Home Renovations That Pay Off

These three common home improvement projects add function and style to your home, but they also have a strong return on investment so you can increase your home’s value.

Remodeling Your Kitchen

The kitchen is truly the heart of the home. Even in homes with a formal dining room, the kitchen is often where most of the eating takes place, and it’s a beloved spot in any family home for homework, kids’ art projects and chats over coffee. Because we spend so much time in our kitchens, it makes sense to think of this renovation project first, especially if the upgrades will better suit your needs as a homeowner. And if your Mammoth Lakes home is a vacation rental, a nice kitchen may be important to your renters.

One thing to keep in mind is that going overboard doesn’t tend to pay off. If you spend a ton of money on custom or high-end selections, you’re less likely to recoup your investment. Consider painting cabinets instead of replacing them, updating countertops with quartz, and replacing old light fixtures with more modern ones. Replacing outdated appliances with more energy-efficient models is another great investment.

The average cost for a minor kitchen remodel in the western US is about $25,000, and it’s likely to recoup nearly $22,000 at resale.

Giving Your Deck Some TLC

deck and wall on a sunny day with shadows

If you own a single family home in Mammoth Lakes, adding a wood deck is a great way to enhance the outdoor space on your property. In our short but beautiful summer season, it can be the perfect place for grilling, dining alfresco and entertaining.

Even if you own a condo, consider spending a bit of time and money keeping your deck in good shape. Refinishing wood or replacing the boards will make your home more appealing – for you and for buyers down the line. With Mammoth’s harsh winters, keeping your deck in good shape is a recurring project, but it must be done.

When redoing or adding a deck, consider a composite material that doesn’t require the sanding and staining that a wood deck needs. Adding on a composite deck is more expensive, but the return on investment is still about 84%, so you can save money in the long run if you would be spending money maintaining your wood deck over the years.

Replacing Siding

This home renovation project is worth considering for single family homeowners in Mammoth Lakes. Curb appeal is important for potential future buyers, and while it’s not the most fun way to spend your remodeling budget, new siding can make a big impression on buyers and on your selling price. The condition of siding on your house can also give buyers an impression of how well the property has been maintained. Worn, peeling or rotted siding can be a major red flag for buyers.

Replacing siding will net you an average 84% return on investment. For even more bang for your buck, consider replacing part of your siding with a manufactured stone veneer. This can give your home a boost in visual appeal, and this update may deliver a full return on your investment.

Home Renovations That DON’T Pay Off

You’ve probably seen friends do all of these remodel projects hoping they’ll give them a great return on investment when it’s time to sell. Unfortunately, these renovation projects may improve your quality of life, but they probably aren’t going to come back to you financially.

Remodeling Your Kitchen (Upscale)

upscale white modern kitchen

It’s tempting to go all out when considering a renovation, especially in the kitchen. From custom cabinetry to high-end appliances, or a full layout change, the possibilities are endless… as is the cost. A major upscale kitchen remodel with designer features can cost upwards of $140,000. And even a major mid-range kitchen remodel might get you just 68% return on investment at resale.

If your heart is set on a custom kitchen and you have the budget to make it happen, go for it. Your enjoyment of your home is important too. But don’t spring for the renovation in hopes of matching your spend when you sell.

Remodeling Your Bathroom (Upscale)

Are you sensing a trend? The more upscale and customized the updates, the less likely they’ll bring a comparable increase in sale price when the time comes. A modest bathroom remodel or update is always a good idea, especially in Mammoth Lakes where many condos and houses feature 1970s original bathrooms. Just be careful not to get carried away.

An upscale bathroom remodel can cost upwards of $70,000 but will only return about two-thirds on your investment. Consider making changes in bathrooms that improve the look and aren’t too expensive instead. Think a fresh coat of paint, updating light fixtures, faucets and towel racks, and redoing caulk and grout around the tub and sink.

Adding a Master Suite

Many condos and houses were built in the 1970s in Mammoth Lakes, and in that time master suites weren’t so common. Yet today’s homebuyers often expect to see a master suite when they’re shopping around.

Unfortunately, a master suite addition has one of the lowest returns of any remodeling project. Adding a bathroom, and maybe closets or a sitting area, can have a $150,000+ price tag, yet most sellers will only get about half or two-thirds of that back at resale. But like the other renovation projects on this list, your happiness in your home matters a lot. Especially for people who are aging, adding a master suite can be well worth it for quality of life.

It’s always wise to go into a remodeling project knowing how it might impact your home’s value. In most cases, highly customized upgrades are less likely to offer a high rate of return, especially in Mammoth Lakes, where buyers may be looking for a second home or a vacation rental. That said, home renovations that improve your quality of life or that of your renters may be worth it regardless of the cost.


See more of my tips for Mammoth Lakes homeowners and feel free to contact me with questions.


If you liked this post, you might also like:

The current trends are all about utilizing rich color, maximizing texture and creating comfortable interiors you can’t wait to relax in. Use these trends to get inspired to makeover your home’s interiors and create spaces you love that also appeal to your personal style. Remember, if you plan to sell in the next few years, you may want to avoid doing anything dramatic and instead incorporate small changes that would appeal to buyers.

Why are these trends gaining popularity?

The underlying theme of these trends is creating a home environment you love; one that appeals to your emotions and feels like a retreat from the stresses of the world. Although the home is a place where you can relax and spend time with loved ones, work expectations are beginning to blur the line between work and home. Even if people don’t work from home specifically, many are stretching their work hours into their evenings and weekends to complete work projects.

It’s no wonder the Nordic concept of hygge (most often pronounced “hoo-gah”) has become a hot trend. A centuries-old concept, incorporating hygge in the home means creating simple and comfortable spaces that make you feel cozy and safe and appeal to your senses.1 The emphasis is on simplicity and fostering positive experiences, whether you’re spending time with family, reading a good book or catching up on work emails.


Whether you want to play with a bold color or stick with neutrals, one thing is clear—paint is the foundation of a great design. Painting your interiors has a return on investment of about 75 percent and is a relatively inexpensive project to complete, costing between $25 to $100 for paint alone.2 If you’re thinking of refreshing your home’s interiors with a coat of paint, popular colors include warm taupe, fresh green and dark tones. These colors are popular choices because they evoke feeling of warmth and coziness when you walk into a room.

Wondering how to pair these colors? Taupe is the perfect alternative to traditional neutrals, such as gray and white, and goes well with cool blues, earthy greens and deep shades of wine.  Green goes well with other earthy shades, such as copper and moss, as well as deep plum and bright pink. If you’re hesitant to paint your walls green, incorporate it into your home by way of accent pillows, rugs, lamps, vases and other accessories or add a few house plants.         

If you’re interested in adding more drama to a room, include bold, dark colors.  Dark shades add color and sophistication to any space. Plum and dark gray pair well with pale blues, warm whites and light gray.

Try one of these Colors of the Year: 


Lux materials create a space in which you can’t wait to kick off your shoes and relax at the end of the day. The Danes use a mixture of materials and pattern as a way of adding character and interest; however the overall look still needs to adhere to a color palette to prevent it from looking distracting.

Natural materials and textures allow you to maximize the comfort of the bedroom, living room or family room. Wood accents give rooms an earthy feel. Incorporate rustic wood sculptures, trays and furniture into your space. Choose furniture made with sustainably harvested wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or use reclaimed wood for an environmentally friendly alternative.

If natural elements aren’t your style, but you want to add more visual interest to your room, try mixing patterns. Although it may have been avoided in the past, mixing stripes, florals and geometric prints actually help ground a space as long as the patterns feature complimentary colors or different shades of one color. If you’re worried about going overboard and making your room look “busy,” focus your mix in one area of the room. For example, add throw pillows in a variety of patterns to your sofa.


According to a recent study from the American Psychological Association, people are more stressed than ever, with 24 percent of adults reporting they’re experiencing “extreme stress.”3

Top sources of stress include work and money. By incorporating small changes, like making your house more energy efficient, you can start to lower your bills and get back to relaxing and enjoying life like the Danish do (who consistently top the polls as the happiest people).

Save money on your energy bills by sealing the “envelope” of your home, which includes the windows and doors, walls, floor and roof. The better insulated your home is, the less heat will escape and the lower your energy bill (and stress level) will be.  

The most heat loss occurs through the walls of the home: up to 35 percent of heat loss, to be exact.4 Ceramic insulating paint is a space-inspired coating of paint mixed with ceramic compounds and applied to interior or exterior surfaces. It seals your walls and prevents heat from escaping, which means reduced energy bills all year long.


Twenty-four percent of employed people do some or all of their work at home.5 Since more people are working remotely than ever, home offices are becoming more popular. Even if you don’t plan on working from home, a home office gives you a place to pay bills, work on personal projects, plan your family’s schedule and more. Home offices tend to be multifunctional, serving as a guest room when family and friends visit, and have the potential to meet other needs that arise.

The key idea behind hygge is to enjoy the environment around you and for each room to be a sanctuary to sink into at any given moment. Your home office is no exception! Maximize your productivity, efficiency and focus by painting the walls shades of green or blue.6 If space is an issue, create a nook by installing docking and tech cabinets that are big enough to store a printer and other small office equipment and files without taking over the room.

If you don’t have room in your home for an office, look no further than your backyard. Shedquarters, small structures or sheds built in the backyard for use as an office or home-based business, are an attractive option for homeowners who don’t have a room to dedicate to an office and don’t wish to add on their homes. while the jury is out on how much value these structures add to a home, they can convert easily into a storage shed if you plan to sell in the future.         


The kitchen is often the busiest, most hectic room in the house and one of the top renovation projects with a high return on investment.7 We do more than cook meals there; it’s where homework is done, bills are paid, weeks are planned and more.

Kitchen remodels consistently show a respectable return on investment. According to the 2017 Cost vs Value Report from Remodeling magazine, a minor kitchen remodel touts an 80.2 percent return on investment.8 You don’t need to overhaul your entire kitchen to make it more hygge. Smaller additions can transform it into a relaxing and functional space you enjoy spending time with friends and family in.

What does a “minor kitchen renovation” entail? In addition to replacing the fronts of your cabinets and drawers, it also includes replacing out-of-date appliances and fixtures. You may also consider replacing countertops. Quartz and quartzite are becoming more common as are other green laminate options, including ones that mimic stone, wood and concrete. Laminates install in less time, often over the existing countertop, make it an ideal choice for busy homeowners as well. Other hot kitchen trends include incorporating sustainable materials like bamboo into your countertops and floors and water filtration systems.                

Want to improve the look and feel of your home’s interior? Are you thinking of upgrading to a home that better fits your changing needs? Call Sonja—she would love to help you achieve all of your home-related dreams. 661-979-9000 or [email protected].

Sources:  1. Time, Hygge, the Nordic Trend That Could Help You Survive 2016

  1. Quality Smith
  2. American Psychological Association, 2015 Stress in America
  3. Department of Energy
  4. Department of Labor
  5. Entrepreneur, How the Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity
  7. Remodeling Magazine, 2017


Whether you are updating in preparation to sell your home, or just want a fresh look, here are 8 ways to update your 8 Ways to Upgrade Your Bathroom, Sonja Bushbathroom on a budget:

  1. Paint the walls.  A fresh coat of paint can liven up any room, especially a bathroom, and is all DIY.  If you are selling your home, make sure to keep the color neutral.
  2. Replace the mirror.  With all the choices these days, you can go small, over-sized, add a medicine cabinet, put a frame around it, etc.
  3. Replace grout and caulking.  Caulking wears away, as does grout.  Both get dirty, moldy, and just plain unsightly.  It’s easy to replace both when necessary, especially to give things a fresh look.
  4. Change light fixtures.  Light fixtures are simple to change out with all the selections they have a the home improvement stores.  You can give your bathroom more light, recessed lighting, and mood lighting depending on what look you want to give it.
  5. Add or change out a vanity.  If your bathroom does not currently have a vanity, add one with storage and change the whole look of the room.
  6. Refinish the tub.  There are kits that can be purchased to do this yourself, or you can save yourself the headaches and hire a professional.
  7. Replace the toilet seat.  With just a screwdriver, you can replace the toilet seat and make things look brand spanking new.
  8. Replace the plumbing fixtures.  Simply changing out the sink faucet will give your bathroom a much needed updated look if it’s been a few years. 

As you can see, simple updates don’t take a lot of money and can reap big rewards for yourself or in the sale of your home.

If you are ready to sell your home and would like a fresh perspective on what upgrades would put more money in your pocket or help your home sell faster, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000 or email her at [email protected] to schedule an appointment for her to come out and appraise your home.


We use cookies and tracking technology in connection with your activities on our website. By viewing and using our website, you consent to our use of cookies and tracking technology in accordance with our Privacy Policy.