One of the most effective means of enhancing the value of an apartment or house is through "cosmetic" renovations. These types of improvements are, ostensibly, surface upgrades that address the appearance of a property, rather than such structural changes as replacing or tearing down walls. Assuming the infrastructure is sound, cosmetic improvements will help increase the value of your property, whether for purposes of sale or to simply provide an environment that meets your personal standards. Moreover, these improvements prudently constitute preventative maintenance, which saves both money and aggravation in the long-term.
Before embarking upon any home improvement projects, however, I recommend mentally organizing your space by separating the "public" and "private" areas. Picture the public areas as the living room, dining room and entry foyer - anywhere guests are welcome. The private areas will then comprise bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, studies and the like.
This exercise helps to delineate the space and make you more aware of what works and what doesn't. It gives you a clearer idea of the circulation patterns in a room, which evolve through the physical set-up of the space, as well as the placement of the furniture. The natural traffic flow that is derived from these factors will determine how well a space is being used or how inefficiently, such as underutilized public space that could be converted into storage.
Most importantly, when approaching cosmetic renovations take the time to determine which upgrades are worth implementing and which expenses are worth incurring. Such "face" value items as new bath fixtures, shower enclosures, kitchen appliances and cabinetry will not only make a home appear more attractive, it makes these areas more efficient, thus increasing value. Lighting is another element that will have a strong impact upon the appearance of a home. Other details such as hardware and accessories help to create an integrated picture. And the curbside appeal of refinished doors, newly painted walls and a good paint job are all key components of the overall presentation. Even a generic storage system adds panache and makes everything appear more modern.
Whether prepping a home for purposes of sale or a more comfortable environment, the goal is to create a home that shows well at first glance. Therefore, the changes should be consistent, which precludes patchwork for walls or floors. Moreover, if you are putting a property on the market, then don't bother re-furnishing with something that someone else will remove and you can't take with you. Common sense is a major component of this process.