We're enthusiastic Discovery+ subscribers, since we don't have cable. There's a ton of what I would describe as "background TV" on that service, which is to say a ton of HGTV and Animal Planet shows that are great for half-watching when you're winding down for bed or blogging. I've watched enough HGTV stuff though to be completely dissatisfied with my own house, after living here for about three and a half years.
Fun fact, I've never owned a house that someone else lived in. My first one, in 2001, was actually built for someone else by Pulte. They bailed or something, and I think we (Stephanie, first wife, and I) were able to make some changes for paint and countertops, but otherwise, it was set for options. It was pretty basic, but probably pretty common for suburban Cleveland. Laminate counters, vinyl flooring. Meh. In Orange County, my second house was built by KB Home, and we were able to pick all of the things. We didn't go super deep on options, but I think we had mostly nice stuff. I was particularly fond of the carpet, which was a little shaggy and despite being light in color, surprisingly durable with squishy padding. Our current house, which we moved into three and a half years ago, was also built by Pulte. Despite being McMansion in scale, it's basic as fuck, as the kids would say.
The cabinets don't have the slow close thing. The baseboards are oddly misaligned, and worse, they used something that cured sticky, so all of them have a layer of dirt and dust on the top of them. Even after cleaning a few sections, they still look shitty. The carpet looks like a dozen people have lived here after a decade. It's really a mess and desperately needs to be replaced already. The exterior paint looks horrible. The house is structurally sound, as best I can tell, but the finishes suck. It's not all bad. Our kitchen counters are beautiful, but you can't really get white quartz wrong. We don't appear to have the stucco problems that some neighbors have. The iron railings are nice too.
Our bathroom is where I'm most dissatisfied. We added two options: A frameless glass door for the shower, and some "better" tile for the shower and around the tub. "Better" means some off-white subway tile with some small detail stripe around the shower at eye height. It was not worth an extra grand. That tile is used around the tub, which is built into a weird box that extends perpendicular in between the sinks. It's so weird. But it's a standard tub that no adult can submerge in. The floor is the same basic 1-foot tile squares you'd get anywhere. Like I said, basic as fuck.
I'm hesitant to put money into the house, because I think if we're still here eight years from now, it'll be a miracle. All of that "forever home" stuff on HGTV is bullshit. I can't predict the future. But we will have to replace the carpet at some point. Florida houses are weird, they don't like carpet, and replace much of it in our previous house when we sold it. But our downstairs is mostly engineered hardwood, with the upstairs, my office and the downstairs playroom being carpet. I do think renovating the bathroom will add to value. We refinanced last year, and the appraisal was legit, with solar and the irrational area appreciation helping us out. We contemplating blowing out the patio with an extended enclosure, but the math wasn't great. The solar definitely helped us.
Here's the thing about home value: It totally doesn't matter unless you're actually selling the house. For now, I just want to live in a place that feels like the home we want to live in.