10 Ways To Invest Your Tax Refund at Home

by The Contractor Files

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A sizable tax refund might be just the incentive you need to tackle some long-wanted home improvement projects.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average income-tax refund is more than $2,100. That's enough to at least get started on any number of upgrades. Investing your refund in home improvement projects can boost your home's beauty and value.

1. Replace your kitchen countertops. As the highest-traffic area of the home, the kitchen experiences a lot of wear and tear. It's also the room that can become outdated the quickest. One of the best ways to invest your tax refund in the kitchen is to upgrade your countertops, even if you just start with the island or perimeter surfaces. Granite remains a popular choice among homeowners, although similarly priced concrete and quartz-composite surfaces are growing in popularity.

2. Upgrade the bathroom with new flooring. Next to kitchens, bathrooms are the most-remodeled room in the home. If your budget doesn't allow for an entire bathroom makeover, then start at the bottom. Consider changing the bathroom floors to low-maintenance ceramic tile, which offers virtually endless color and design choices.

3. Spruce up the yard. Spring is the perfect time to reinvent your yard. Whether you're looking for a few well-placed shrubs or an elaborate flower garden, landscaping experts can advise on design and layout plans, drainage systems, lighting, and plant types. Also consider other exterior cosmetic changes such as a revamped sidewalk, driveway, fence, or retaining wall.

4. Start or refinish your deck. A deck is a highly desirable amenity, the perfect place to gather with friends and family during nice weather. If you don't have a deck, your tax return could be a down payment for a new one. If you already have a deck, consider giving it a face-lift by restaining, waterproofing or even adding a built-in bench. Outdoor kitchens are gaining in popularity ? so consider enhancing your deck or patio with a grill island or wood-fire pizza oven.

5. Paint your interior. We all know what a fresh coat of paint can do for a room ? or an entire home, for that matter. Match the paint that's already on your walls, or consider expressing your new style with different colors and textures.

6. Start replacing windows. Change your outlook ? literally ? by adding several vinyl high-grade windows. The benefits are numerous: They'll last for decades, enhance your curb appeal and lower your energy bills. Perhaps best of all, new windows require very little maintenance and are easy to clean.

7. Warm up with a fireplace. From the master bedroom to the basement, a direct-vent gas fireplace can heat up your space while adding a decorative touch. If your rebate is a little larger, upgrade to a midlevel fireplace and surround it with brick, tile or stone. As a bonus, many fireplace manufacturers give special rebates in spring.

8. Install a new vanity or sink. If you've looked through a home improvement store, catalog or magazine lately, you've likely noticed the sleek, contemporary design options for bathroom basins and vanities. Such an addition can brighten and modernize your entire bathroom. Choose a vanity with built-in shelves and cabinets, and you'll also gain additional storage space.

9. Change out your kitchen faucets. Maybe your faucets are leaky, low-flowing or just outdated, but updating them can add instant luxury to your kitchen. New models offer plenty of advantages, including temperature presets, built-in resistance to hard-water buildup, and proper height for filling up pots and pans.

10. Go for the garage. With your tax return in hand, perhaps now is the time to start paying attention to your garage, the home's oft-forgotten, mistreated catchall. Quality built-in cabinetry can serve as an attractive storage solution, while a new garage door or epoxy flooring can easily enliven an outdated space.