Improve Your Home’s Value By Creating Sanctuaries

Improve Your Home's Value By Creating Sanctuaries
SF Japanese Tea Garden, GGP

There are many ways to improve your home's value. One way is by creating sanctuaries. The more sanctuaries you can create, the more you will enjoy your home and the more you'll get for it when you sell.

A sanctuary is a place where you can be alone for hours with your thoughts. The world is chaotic. The pandemic has locked millions of us at home longer than we probably want. Having a sanctuary room allows one to recharge. For a writer, finding a quiet place to work is especially important.

After going through five months of pain building a master bathroom extension, I thought I had built my one and only sanctuary. I've already spent over a hundred hours in the jacuzzi tub. But I'm pleased to say that after only three days, I've built another!

Improve Your Home's Value By Creating Sanctuaries

When I bought my fixer, it had an old rumpus room downstairs that had been left untouched for 65 years. The floor was covered in peeling linoleum, and the ceiling consisted of office-like squares with water stains spread throughout. But instead of seeing the space as ugly, I saw it as an opportunity to make something beautiful!

Remodeling to improve a home's value
The old closet area

I replaced the walls with new sheetrock, and divided the rumpus room into a master bedroom and a walk-in closet. The walk-in closet is 7 feet wide by 16 feet long, large enough to have a his and hers side.

A year after the room was built, however, I realized the closet was wasted space. As I no longer had a day job, there was little need to ever change into any business attire. My new uniform was t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. The closet became the least visited room in the house and a part of me wished I had created a larger master bedroom instead.

One of my mistakes in building the walk-in closet was that I failed to install a window before the sheetrock was being replaced. There was a water pipe in the way, and I thought it would be too much of a hassle to change the route. My contractor at the time also wasn't the most competent of people I've ever worked with.

It was silly of me not to proceed with building a window since the closet faced west towards the ocean. Not only would a window bring in natural light and better feng shui, but a window would also increase the value of the property.

Given one of the takeaways from the post, “Stock Market Meltdown Implications For Everyone,” is to figure out alternative ways to invest money on things that can last, it was time for me to get back to work!

Creating Home's Value By Creating A Window

Here's a picture of my walk-in closet that I created after replacing all the walls and windows. It's large enough to be another bedroom at 120 square feet, but it lacked a window.

Sanctuary Before
Newly built sanctuary before. Not bad, but felt like a cave.
Walk-In Closet
Bashing a hole through a perfectly fine wall
Walkin closet
Revealing the old pipe, which made me not want to get a window
Walk-in Closet frame
Creating the window frame with proper support and repositioning the water pipe to the back yard
Walk In Closet Light
Breaking through the stucco
Installing a new Milgard window
Sheetrock up and mudded. Time for me to paint

Related: 10 Classic Living Room Styles: Decorating Ideas For Your Home

Creating An Office Out Of A Walk-In Closet

When I had to clear the room of all my clothes and shelves, I had an epiphany. Without all the clutter, the room felt much bigger. So instead of hanging back up all my clothes, I decided to just give most of it away. It was then that I realized I could create a standing desk!

Standing Desk In Walk-In Closet
Closet turns into an office w/ a standing desk and view
Sunset Out Of Office Closet
Sunset view from the office
FullSizeRender (3)
Office facing eastward contains area for music, art, and yoga

Granted, I've still got a lot of decluttering to do given there are so many ties I will never use anymore. But one thing at a time! The ties actually serve as an anti-glare screen from all the sunlight that's now coming in.

The walk-in closet, which I never used, now serves as my “dry sanctuary” where I can write posts, take a nap, play the guitar, exercise, or simply look out the window during sunset. It's my version of the man-cave. Putting the daybed the length of the room totally opened the space up as well.

The window immediately improved my home's value by opening the room up.

The Cost Of Improving Home Value

Unlike my master bathroom expansion, this project didn't need a spreadsheet. The cost is as follows:

  • Window: $400
  • Two days of labor: $1,250
  • Painting: $0, because I painted the trim, moldings, and wall myself

Total: $2,200

Spending $2,200 is a no-brainer and such a better return than investing it in the stock market. I'm now fully utilizing 120 sqft of space that was seldom ever used. I absolutely love getting up from bed, walking to the next room and doing some work in this sanctuary. The place is even large enough to conduct business meetings, play some piano or guitar, and do some art work.

In my mind, spending $2,200 improved my home's value by at least 10X. In other words, I believe installing a window improved my home's value by at least $22,000. After all, a four-bedroom is worth more than a three-bedroom!

Based on my income tethering philosophy, the $2,200 will come from working extra hours consulting with corporate clients. I've now got extra motivation to see what else is out there.

Work To Improve Your Home's Value

For those looking to create more wealth, once you're willing to put some sweat equity into more things, you'll be able to create a lot more value than someone who is more passive. It's like the difference between people who like paying a premium for an already renovated home vs. those willing to use some elbow grease to remodel an ugly duckling.

I firmly believe creating as many sanctuaries in your home as possible is what's going to create the most value. Sanctuaries help create an emotional bond with the potential buyer. Emotions could be the difference between a house that just sits vs. a house with multiple offers.

When it's time to sell your home dow the road, if you improve your home's value by creating sanctuaries, there's a high chance future buyers will appreciate what you've don as well. Once you make special rooms and great connections with your sellers, the value of your home goes way up.


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Updated for 2021 and beyond.

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45 thoughts on “Improve Your Home’s Value By Creating Sanctuaries”

  1. Hey this reminds me! Does your rental property have any sanctuaries?

    As a poor person I rent rooms in crowded houses and I have not had a sanctuary in almost ten years.

  2. Love the office, I could see myself spending many an afternoon in a space like that. It’s definitely given me a few ideas for sorting out some of my ‘dead space’ without spending a fortune.

  3. No Nonsense Landlord

    Great project. It is interesting that the permit cost ~25% of the entire project. No wonder people avoid permits, and no wonder people do not spend as much as they might on home improvements.

    Adding 25% to the cost of a project has to stop many projects and hurt the economy.

    1. Yes, permits are definitely costly and time consuming. The permit I got was for installing/replacing eight windows. This was just one window. I suspect doing eight windows will cost somewhere around $8,000 – $10,000, including labor. One of the windows is more like a double swinging door. Hence, the cost of the permit is more like 5-6% of total cost.

  4. Wow! That window made a HUGE difference. That’s money well spent.
    When we move into our rental home, I want to remodel the basement. I can put in an ADU (mother in law suite) in the basement for potential extra income. The 100 year old brick foundation is porous, though. We will have to make it waterproof somehow. It will be a huge expensive job…

    1. Totally, right? I can hang out in the room for hours now. Before, it felt too cave-like.

      I’d love to read up on your basement remodel job in the future. I love seeing the before and after pics! You will too. Feels so gratifying.

  5. I feel like I just watched one of those addicting home remodeling shows on HGTV. Who knew such a minor change (okay, not MINOR) could make the room so dramatically different?? The room looks awesome by the way, congrats.

    My only sanctuary is my man-cave, which is where I retire to watch sports and drink beers. I do need an office space at home though… the problem is I have no abilities as a carpenter or anything that has to do with home remodeling – in fact we hired a company to build my man cave. Any suggestions on reading and/or websites I can use to brush up on some of this stuff?

    And wow… look at all those shoes!!!

    1. It’s pretty minor on the scale of all the things I’ve done over the past 14 months since purchasing the property! I’m down to the small projects now, with a deck out back left.

      There’s good book called the Big Book Of Home Remodeling By Home Depot that you should own. Very handy for teaching you a lot of DIY.

  6. Sweet man-cave Sam!! Gorgeous view.

    I definitely don’t have a problem letting wealth accumulate on it’s own, but it’s certainly more gratifying to build wealth hands on (growing a biz, fixing up a property, etc.).

    Nice work using $2200 to pull in a huge ROI and add personal utility for yourself simultaneously.

    1. Thanks Michael. The ability to create value is why I prefer real estate over stocks. With $2,200, you can buy a measly 20 shares of Apple stock. But with $2,200, you can create a sanctuary! Just gotta look out for opportunities and have some imagination and will power.

  7. Wow, looking terrific, and at only 2’200, you significantly improved the room at almost no cost. What percentage of the work would you say you did yourself, vs the contractors work?

  8. have a little tennis shoe fetish do we?.. looks like many yet similar of the high dollar variety. Mine are of the “few and purely functional” variety Interesting how our un-frugal side takes such different forms for different people (I have a boat, you like tennis shoes, price difference not withstanding).

    P.S. Mr. Utopia is very observant.

    1. Love the commentary about my belongings. I’ve been waiting to see who it would come from and when would it start!

      Boat, shoes, cars, planes, same thing despite that multiple difference in costs.

      I wish my tennis shoes lasted longer than three months. I’m fortunate my one material vice costs less than $200 a pop.

      Have you created any sanctuaries?

      1. well, my boat is kinda my sanctuary, although I have to drive 20 minutes to get there. But still, its a place I often go alone to tinker (whether needed or not) or just sit and watch the paddle boarders and kayakers amble by in beautiful Huntington Harbor with a cold one in hand. I like the idea of a sanctuary vs. a man cave though, has a different flavor and primary purpose. Will have to consider that when my son moves out (within a year with any luck).

        Nothing wrong with the high tops vice. You have to admit they stand out very prominently. I would be surprised if none topped $200 (not calling you out, just saying those things are generally very pricey).

  9. Nice guitar room. ;^) Is that a D-18 or D-28? You probably spent more on the Martin than the remodel. Nice work.

      1. I’ve got a big problem. I’ve collected 10 Martins in styles D-18, OM-18, D-28, D-45, and a custom CS-00-14. Mostly modern, one vintage.

        I currently reside in SF but I’m building a new home in Northern Virginia and there will definitely be a guitar room.

  10. Having a sanctuary is nice, but not always practical. For example, having children in a 2 BR townhome doesn’t leave any room for dedicating to anything. So my sanctuary is the middle of the living room from 5am – 630am when the kids wake up…

    I’m looking forward to moving to a more affordable area in the next few years to give everyone a little more elbow room, inside and out.

  11. Hi Samurai!

    While the window and view are great, it is generally not a good idea to have a window in a walk-in closet. Reason being that sunlight can cause your clothes to fade… Using the space as an office or sanctuary offsets this negative.


  12. I used to have a sanctuary, then I had kids. First i lost my office to become a nursery, then I lost most of my man cave to be a second playroom/living room space. Turns out the kids are better stress relievers than the man cave or office ever was though (if only they would leave my stuff alone!).

    1. Not sure. It’s my standing desk, and what I work on at my desk is Financial Samurai.

      Maybe I should have Twitter or Facebook up, b/c that is more a reflection of what people do all day at work? :)

      1. Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia

        Ha, very true!

        Was just giving you a hard time – nothing wrong with branding!

  13. Your office/closet has a $1M view!

    I’m spitballing, but I bet that $2,200 improvement added $10,000 in value to your home, not to mention your quality of life improvements.

    1. Hopefully so! It’s one of the fun things about buying property, especially a fixer. If you can find a property that’s reasonably priced, but has room for improvement, you can do a lot to increase the value of your home. You just have to have a vision, and some experience in knowing what to look for.

      Now I’ve just got to build a deck out back, and do some leveling in the back yard. Bit by bit makes things fun. Feels much better than investing money in the stock market.

  14. This has really opened up my eyes. I really want my own big space all to myself. I really want a walking desk and a room that’s just an office. It’s really not that much to ask. Now I just have to set a goal and attain it.

  15. Love the Hot Lava Air Tech Challenge IIs. Think I spy some Jordan 3s and 4s as well . . . Great taste!

    1. AJ 5s and 6s are my favorites! All the shoes I couldn’t afford as a kid. My AJ6s got stolen out of my check-in bag when I was in the 8th grade flying home to Kuala Lumpur. Since then, I’ve NEVER checked in another bag agin.

      1. The first thing I noticed was the Air Tech Challenge II Hot Lavas! I’ve got a pair myself. I think you need to add the Zoom Vapor AJ 3s to complete your collection. But those trade super rich!

  16. Ali @ Anything You Want

    My current home is quite small so there isn’t really space for a dedicated “sanctuary,” but I do carve out small spaces for certain activities, like crafting and stretching/yoga, to be able to have dedicated space. I find that something as simple as clearing a small area of furniture and just being able to sit comfortably on the floor can make a big difference.

    I also agree that creating wealth or value is much more enjoyable than letting it accumulate on its own. I always get a great feeling of satisfaction when I make a home improvement (as I did this past week with surprisingly positive results), or transfer money into my brokerage account. That same feeling doesn’t come when I see that the value of my home or brokerage account has risen. I think that actively contributing to something makes you much more invested in and satisfied with the outcome than something that happens passively.

  17. Sanctuaries are amazing. I love having a quiet place to write and think about things. It’s rejuvenating. The pictures from your remodel are amazing. I love how you added a window in that room. What a difference in terms of openness and light with an incredible views. Great job!

  18. After visiting a Japanese garden on a recent vacation, I’ve considered how I might create a miniature version on my yard. It’s not quite as low maintenance a sanctuary but like trimming a bonsai tree, there’s a measure of tranquility in maintaining something like that.

    A window in a closet that turns it into a new space is brilliant, a no brainer. $2200 seems like a pittance for transforming a spade like that.

      1. I’m going to wait until fall, when some of the vegetation starts to die off, to begin plotting it… now you got me thinking!

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