How We Make a House a Home


This post is in partnership with American Express Personal Loans.

You know how important home is and what it means to us. Home to us is a feeling; a feeling of love and comfort that you just can’t get anywhere else. But part of that feeling is having a home that reflects who you are and who/where you want to be.

What happens if you can’t always make your home the way you want it? Maybe it’s because of time or maybe you don’t even know where to begin. If you’re like most people it may come down to an issue of finances. Luckily, there’s American Express. We’ve partnered with them to give you guys some tips on how you can renovate your home in ways that will save you money over time and give you a great return on your investment.

Have you heard about American Express Personal Loans? If you’re an eligible consumer American Express Card Member, American Express Personal Loans may be a good place to start.

●      They offer loans of $3,500 - $40,000 with no origination fee and APRs starting as low as 6.98% to eligible consumer Card Members1

●      Find out more about eligibility and the quick application process, plus the full terms and conditions here.

Maybe you’re tackling a big home renovation project and you need some extra funds. Fixing up a house can be fun and exciting and stressful and hard and so many other things, but most of the time, it can also be expensive, which is why you want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. You want to renovate and you want to do it right the first time so that it doesn’t end up costing you more money down the road due to trends going out of style, faulty appliances, not doing proper maintenance, etc.

For those reasons, here are three tips on how to renovate your home the right way:

1. Invest money into your kitchen

Potential buyers usually care the most about two things when looking for a house: the condition of the bathrooms (we’ll get to that in a second) and the kitchen. Investing money into your kitchen adds so much value to your home and it’s what buyers want. Everyone wants that dream kitchen, no matter how big or small, they just want to be able to enjoy cooking and entertaining in it. 


But what should you invest in per se? We always like to make sure we put money into our cabinets, countertops, appliances, and flooring. Nice, solid wood cabinets either painted or stained (or open shelving if you’re feeling brave) always look good. Pair those with solid surface countertops like marble, granite (either shiny or honed), quartz, corian, or soapstone, and you can’t go wrong. Add a gorgeous backsplash and you’ve got a match made in heaven. 


For appliances, we like to go with a higher end brand, or at least the top of the line that a brand offers. There’s been some talk the last couple of years about stainless steel going out style but we still prefer it over some other finishes. Still, you have so many options these days like white, black, and even black stainless steel. When it comes to flooring, we like to go with classic wood (even though some people swear by no wood in the kitchen, we’ve never had a problem with it) or a slate tile. Ceramic tile is still really popular, but even then we prefer the ones that look like slate because you really can’t tell the difference too much, and it’s SO much cheaper than the real thing.

If you choose classic choices and don’t lean too much into trends, (because they will fade, fast) you will be surprised by how much of a return you will get when (if!) it comes time to sell your house. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy it in the meantime.

2. Invest in your bathrooms

This is in the same vein as investing in your kitchen, but it can’t be overstated enough. There’s a reason kitchens and bathrooms are always the most expensive to renovate and it’s because they’re the most important rooms to fix up. Buyers want their bathrooms to feel relaxing, comforting, and (you’ve heard it a million times) spa-like.

Again, we like to go with classic choices here as well. With bathrooms and kitchens you want to make sure the design and renovation choices you make are true to the overall style of the house. Buyers are usually interested in specific homes because it fits a certain style and they expect that style to be cohesive throughout. 


Remember the spa-like feeling we mentioned? That means going for the walk-in tiled shower and a separate soaking tub, along with double sinks, to really get that look that everyone desires. All of that is of course if you have the space, but just because you may not have enough room for all those things in your bathrooms doesn’t mean you can’t still make it comfortable and inviting. We were short on space in our hall bathroom, so we went with a pedestal sink that looks period-appropriate for the year the house was built and also adds charm. 


If you price things out, get multiple quotes, and are hands-on in with the design choices, you will almost always get a big return on your investment by renovating your kitchen and bathrooms the right way.

3. Invest in things that will save you money over time

While the design aspect of owning a house is always the fun part, there are other things you can do that will give you a great return on your investment, but just a warning, they’re not always the most fun to do or talk about.

However, they DO go a long way! Here are some things we recommend doing to save you money in the long haul:

● Check your insulation to make sure it’s up to date and is heating and cooling your home properly.

● Check your windows and doors to make sure they’re insulated properly and that they’re not letting any air in or out.

● Switch to a tankless water heater. We did this in the house we live in now and we can’t tell you how much of a difference we’ve noticed with the electric bill. Not only that, but you literally never run out of hot water. EVER.

● HVAC systems have come a long way in regards to energy efficiency. If you’re like most, your system is probably not ageing gracefully. It may be time to start looking into a new system so that you’re not throwing money out the window every time you use it. It will save you tons of money in the long run!

What does home mean to you? How do you want to spend your time there? What other home renovation tips do you have?

1 American Express Card Members must be pre-approved for a loan offer in order to apply. Pre-approved APRs and loan amounts are based on the Card Member’s creditworthiness and other factors. Pre-approved APRs will be between 6.90% and 18.97%, as of 3/2/2018. Not all Card Members will be pre-approved or receive the lowest APR or the highest loan amount.