via Stikwood

via Stikwood

As real estate agents, we get to tour a lot of beautiful homes – and we love it. We also get to see how potential buyers tour these homes, and some of the comments they make as they decide to make a large purchase. This gives us insight into design trends and simple finishes that set homes apart from others. Homes that have a “wow” factor tend to sell faster and for more money than their basic builder built home competitors.

We recently sold a home in Solterra. The home marketed and sold very quickly, and close to full asking price. It is estimated that the home sold for 25k more than comparable homes at the time because of some of the customizations the home owners made. These were simple upgrades, requiring nothing more that materials and a good handyman, and a few days’ work. The finishes had a large impact on how the home photographed and showed. Following are some ideas from this home, as well as recent design trends we have been seeing in new model homes and custom homes.

Wood Wall Panels

This has been an emerging trend that we started noticing in 2014. Applying wood panels or wood veneer to a wall is a simple project that most homeowners can do on their own – and it has a big “wow” factor. The wood panels add a dimension of warmth and character to small or large sections of walls. Look for walls in your home that won’t have visible ends, like inlay walls or the back of a powder bath. If you want to see an example of this, both of the new Cardel Townhome models use wood panels extensively. The home on Lupine St used reclaimed barn wood, which added character since it was an aged product in a new home. Another Solterra home owner used a real tree bark product that added a quirky, fun look to the home. West Elm carries a product called Stikwood, and the adhesive is already on the back of the panel.

Faux Wood Beams

Wood Beams add a huge “wow” factor to any home. We stumbled across a really cool product recently – faux wood beams made out of polyurethane. You have probably seen them before but never realized they weren’t real wood. The wood grains and staining are ultra-realistic, and they are so light that one person can lift one to install them. Installation is simple using 2x4 sections mounted to studs in the ceiling, so you can fasten the beam to the 2x4. They are also very affordable. For example, a 10’ section of a hand hewn timber beam sells for $130. What makes faux wood beams so compelling, is that nobody will know its not real wood (except you of course). They have several different styles, as well as matching wood panels for different applications (like covering an existing drywall post). The possibilities are limitless. You can check out the styles here:

Custom Lighting

Most new homes have original lighting, which is usually too small for the space and a bit boring. Some people prefer the simplicity and uniformity of builder included lighting, but for a real “wow” factor in your home, we definitely recommend custom lighting. The home on Lupine St used extensive custom lighting from Restoration Hardware, and the “wow” factor was huge. You can find some very affordable lighting options that are still on trend at  The lighting has that Restoration Hardware look, but for about half the price.

More Cool Ways to Add That "Wow Factor:"

  • Stone or brick veneer applied to interior walls

  • Custom re-finishing of hand rails

  • Exotic granite or real stone used in bathrooms (you can great deals on small sections of granite at fabricator lots called “boneyards”)

How have you added that "wow" factor to your home? Share your ideas in the comments below!