This Is How I Used a Cash-Out Refinance to Renovate My Home

This Is How I Used a Cash-Out Refinance to Renovate My Home

Four years after my partner and I purchased our first home, I started shopping around for refinance options. Motivated by the urge to drop private mortgage insurance and increase our property value, I was confident it was the smartest move.

At the time, our interest rate was at 3.9 percent. Even though I discovered the current rates weren’t much lower (3.75 percent), one of the mortgage brokers I reached out to suggested a cash-out refinance and was kind enough to explain the details.

What is a cash-out refinance?

A cash-out refinance is a type of refinancing agreement that lets you tap into the equity of your home. You take out a new loan for an established amount that is greater than what you currently owe. The difference is paid to you in cash and financed through the new mortgage. 

It’s generally only available for those who owe significantly less on their home than it’s worth, and it can be a great way to secure funds for big expenses. Unlike a home equity line of credit, this is not a second mortgage. The new mortgage replaces the old one, and the lump sum is given to you when you close on the new loan.

I opted for a $15,000 cash-out refinance to renovate my home.

We decided on a modest cash payout. With our knack for DIY projects, some trusted connections in the home improvement industry, and plenty of time to shop around, we were able to stretch this amount pretty far. 

Our first order of business was new flooring. We needed to replace the laminate downstairs with luxury vinyl and put new tile in the bathrooms. We also decided to remove the carpet from the staircase, freshen the wood on the steps with a new layer of stain and varnish, and put new carpeting in one bedroom. The rest of the carpet had been replaced when we first purchased the home, but our modest budget wouldn’t allow for a full flooring refresh at that time.

We shopped around and ultimately found a local company that gave us a great price if we paid in cash. 

Kitchen Countertops — $2,100

This was handled by another local business in our area. We shopped at their warehouse for the right style granite to fit our humble, galley-style kitchen and bar space. This price included materials and labor.

The kitchen contractors had to rip up our backsplash for the countertop installation, so that left us looking in need of a replacement. We purchased the tile, mortar, and grout ($200) at Floor & Decor, and while we were there, we met another contractor who offered to handle the installation for $400. 

Once the major interior elements were done, we moved to the exterior of the home. Landscapers carved out a nice hydrangea bed out front and completely revamped the backyard with fresh sod, new steps, and stone pavers. 

Miscellaneous Updates — $1,500

Minor updates can still make a major impact. With the big stuff out of the way, here’s how we spent the rest:

A cash-out refinance helped us further invest in our most cherished space. Since we weren’t in a rush, we took our time and spread these updates out over the course of the year. In the end, we were able to make straightforward renovations that contribute to the overall value of our home.

Chantel Wakefield


Chantel Wakefield is a content writer and copy editor who enjoys writing about all things home and leisure. She lives in Metro Atlanta and spends her free time buried in a library book or sipping wine at a local tasting.

Super Soft Monochrome Decor & Modern Lighting Inspiration

Super Soft Monochrome Decor & Modern Lighting Inspiration

Super soft monochrome decor melts over these two luxe modern home interiors, creating mellow tranquillity. Each of these home interiors are furnished with made-to-measure cabinetry that fits flush and builds a look of luxe. Elegant metallic accents lift the warm, creamy backdrop of these home designs, adding rich lustre that polishes room layouts with a sense of quality. Large modern lighting installations are used to sculpt shape and create unique styling, often acting as the main focal point for the space. From oversized and unusual pendant light designs, to eye-catching modern floor lamps, and contemporary wall sconces, there’s inspiration here to set your interior aglow.

Recommended Reading:  Contemporary Neutral Homes That Don’t Need Bold Color To Wow

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A 330-Square-Foot NYC’s Rental Has an IKEA Closet Hacked into an L-Shaped Desk

A 330-Square-Foot NYC’s Rental Has an IKEA Closet Hacked into an L-Shaped Desk

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Name: Aparna Sudhakar and husband, Simon
Location: Manhattan, New York
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 330 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My husband and I share this cozy little one-bedroom (almost like a studio) home in the bustle of the Big Apple. We’re both architects and love making custom things. The gloomy months of quarantine made us realize that our walls needed life and our tiny space as a whole needed a story. Starting with an organic growing living room wall filled with unique handmade art, craft, posters, and gifted items, our goal was to tap the maximum potential of every usable square foot in our apartment. A few months of layering our place with things we love and need gave it a warm makeover and became so personal to us. We love that we made our first apartment together as a married couple something beautiful, creative, and memorable!

We’re a couple that loves to design and make things. The artsy, crafty items that my husband and I made for our space that add more character outnumber the things we store-bought. A quick glimpse at any direction in our apartment will have at least one element that was made by us and naturally speaks about our interests and who we are as people. Walking into and waking up everyday in a space that reflects so much of ourselves inspires us to always keep creating things we love and things that make us happy! Our DIYs include our entryway, kitchen tiles/paint, wall art/craft, custom 3D prints, and our corner work desk space.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Creative, Cozy, Lively, Efficient, and Organized!

What is your favorite room and why? Our bedroom. This is the brightest room in our apartment and had the most potential for changing layouts. To make the most efficient use of space and to maximize room size, we made a corner work desk/window seat, which has been the best addition to our home so far! We dismantled our IKEA closet and re-used the panels to create a desk with a flip-open top and a connecting window seat. The L-shaped corner is now sun-drenched and is our creative work space.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? String lights! You can never go wrong with these, they will amp up the coziness of your home 10 fold.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Your home should be a place you want to come back to for respite at any point of time. Choose a room, corner, or even a small thing that you want as part of your home. You can build up eventually. The best thing about DIY is that it doesn’t have to be permanent, your home can evolve with your changing taste to best reflect who you are. Start making notes for yourself anytime you see something you like. I have a running list on my phone for all the things we want in our home but cannot have right now. If it is not possible right away, the right time for it is not far away!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

This Is the Surprising New Color Popping Up In Tastemakers’ Kitchens

This Is the Surprising New Color Popping Up In Tastemakers’ Kitchens

Now Trending is our one-stop spot to get ahead of all of the biggest things for 2022 — before everyone else knows about them. From the surprising color that’s taking over kitchens to the TikTokers you need to follow and so much more, check out all of the top trends of 2022 here. Now Trending is created independently by our editorial team and generously underwritten by Target.

As a design writer, part of my brain’s always on the lookout for trends emerging in the world of interiors. When suddenly everyone is wallpapering their home with botanical prints or making their beds with throwback ruffles, I notice. Lately though, I’ve been focusing on cook spaces, helping Apartment Therapy’s sister site Kitchn gather candidates for their Renovation Diaries series. While scouting kitchens, you quickly realize that white, white, and more white is the current color trend in kitchen design. If people are feeling adventurous, you get some grays and blues. So it was with great surprise when my trend-spotting eye saw glimmers of a new and bold kitchen color trend emerging: shades of red!

“I chose this color because I love moody, deep jewel tones,” Gardner told me about her kitchen renovation project, pictured above. “It’s one I know most people would never have chosen. I wanted to create a space that felt fresh and inspiring and would challenge people to think beyond neutrals.” She continues: “I think so many design lovers and creatives are really, really sick of the all-white kitchen reign.” Amen!

Dunst’s cabinets are a slightly more plum hue than Gardner’s burgundy, but clearly, they’re kindred colors. I wasn’t the only one who caught the similarity. Gardner reveals, “So many people in my community sent Kirsten’s kitchen to me because of how many similarities it has to mine.”

Next, I spied oxblood cabinets in design writer Sophie Donelson’s new kitchen as shown just above, and as the saying goes, “Three is a trend,” right? “My designer Celia Bryson and I didn’t really look at other options,” Donelson said of the project. “She already knew my high threshold for living with color, and, when I saw it, it was sort of obvious how and why it would complement everything in it and near it.” While Donelson knows the color’s a bold choice and not for everyone, she does think it’s quite livable and versatile, especially when paired with warm earth tones like beiges and greens. “Berry colors are, unsurprisingly, appetizing,” she adds. “They look beautiful with green — from the houseplants on the windowsill to whatever we’re prepping for meals.”

Will these hues in the deep red to plum range truly become an all-encompassing trend though? Donelson and Gardner think it’s possible. “I hope it will make its way into the mainstream,” says Gardner, who doesn’t imagine, say, off-the-shelf burgundy cabinetry being available everywhere. “But I do see it in specialty stores and also offered in freestanding pieces like hutches or cabinets that can be incorporated into kitchens or other spaces as accents.”

Donelson agrees but thinks these bold hues are part of a larger trend. “I believe we’ll be seeing more colorful cabinets in the future,” she says. “I wanted painted cabinets so that I’d have the option of re-painting when I needed a fresh start. Is that arduous? Absolutely — but it’s easier and more environmentally responsible than installing new fronts or a new kitchen. I’m a huge believer in iterating on spaces.”

With paintable cabinet doors, you can change your mind without ripping the whole kitchen out. If you’re the type to crave a new look often, this is something important to consider when specifying cabinetry for your kitchen renovation. Even if it is more expensive upfront, it’ll mean you have an economical option to update later on down the road. As Donelson says, “No color or design choice should feel permanent — unless you want it to be!”

Laura Fenton


Laura Fenton is the author of The Little Book of Living Small. She writes about home design and sustainability, and is a regular contributor to Apartment Therapy. Her work has been published in Better Homes & Gardens, Eater, New York Magazine, and Real Simple.

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