This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way

By: Sarah Beaumont

April 14, 2017

Tax season strikes fear into the hearts (and bank accounts) of many. But if you’re lucky, all the pain of pouring over W2s and hunting down deductions will culminate in a nice, big chunk of change. According to IRS filing data, the average American tax return is between $2800-3,000. So what to do with all that cash?

No surprise here, we’re planning to spend it on our homes! But instead of splurging on trends that will go out of style, why not invest in improvements that will raise your home’s value over the long term? Laurel & Wolf designer Kimberly Winthrop did just that, spending $3,000 to transform a bland kitchen into a modern oasis. Read on for tips and products that will help you put your return to good use in the kitchen and beyond!


BEFORE

Courtesy of Redfin

Before Kimberly got her hands on the space, the kitchen served its utilitarian purpose. It had nice appliances and wasn’t hideous, but the room lacked personality and style.

The Big Fixes:

The cabinets themselves were in good shape, so Kimberly saved money by just replacing the fronts. At around $1000, it was the priciest part of the makeover. But investing in high-quality cabinetry means they’ll last longer and add value to the resale cost of your home. Then she removed the upper cabinets on the less side to add visual space.

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

Next she set to work painting and swapping out the kitchen’s hardware. “It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint and switching the pulls and handles on cabinetry can change the entire look of a kitchen,” she says.

She went with white for the upper cabinets to keep the space feeling bright and open, and applied a classic navy blue shade to the lower ones to create visual interest. The new chrome cabinet and drawer pulls echoed the finish of the home’s appliances. The paint and new handles cost around $200 each, and she saved money by doing the labor herself.

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

“Quite a bit of sweat equity goes into redoing a kitchen, even if it’s just changing cabinet doors and painting,” Kimberly says. “But it’s also a great way to save money.”


Shop the Look:

Francisco Kitchen Hardware Drawer 3″ Handle Pull, Wayfair, $10.99 / Minted 4″ Centre Bar Pull, Wayfair, $7.16


The next big thing was changing the countertops. This required a fair amount of elbow grease but it has a huge effect on the space.

“Previously, the countertops were this shabby, plastic material called corona, and they had to go. So we replaced them with butcher block, which is affordable, good-looking, and creates some color variety and texture,” Kimberly says.

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

But best of all, butcher block is super functional. It’s kind of like having a built-in cutting board throughout your kitchen. This piece of the makeover cost around $500, and it was well worth the price.

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

Even the pup seems to like the new countertops.

The Little Fixes:

Most kitchens come with decent overhead lighting, but sometimes the fixtures are less than appealing. Kimberly replaced the light over the kitchen sink with an industrial pendant and added a roman shade to the window. If you have the counter space, you can also bring in softer lamps for an additional element of homey comfort.

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,


Shop the Look:

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

1-Light Mini Pendant, Wayfair, $193.99 / Real Simple Natural Roman Shade, $129.99


Though there are plenty of structural changes you can do to a kitchen, the simplest and most affordable improvements come from decoration.

“When you add decor to your kitchen, it makes it feel more like a cohesive part of the home, a room you actually want to spend time in,” Kimberly says.

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

To provide more room for objects, she added an open-shelved kitchen island where pretty bowls and cookware can be displayed. Then, by stacking cookbooks, adding artwork, and incorporating plants and fresh flowers, Kimberly brought brand new life to the space.


Shop the Look:

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

Marble Cookbook Holder, Williams-Sonoma, $99.95 / Tropical Still Life, Minted, $195

This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

For $3000, we’d say this is tax return money well spent.


This is How to Invest Your Tax Return Dollars the Right Way, Laurel & Wolf,

1. Lake Hamilton Kitchen Island / 2. 1-Light Bowl Pendant / 3. KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer / 4. Kitchen Cabinet Hardware Pull / 5. Textured Organic Vase / 6. Comfort Food Cookbook / 7. Sun Woven Wall Hanging / 8. Rainforest Art Print

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