Don't replace what you can paint. An ugly brick fireplace is a great example. Don't replace it, paint it. Same with dated wood paneling. Even old tile can be painted with tile paint.
Don't replace what can be repaired. Enough said.
Don't replace what can be staged. If a kitchen backsplash is in good shape, but not special, stage it with plants and a raised cookbook display.
Don't replace what buyers don't notice. I like solid wood doors, and would put them in a home I planned to stay in, but replacing this home's hollow doors with solid ones would not have been worth it. The improvement is too subtle.
Don't add what's best omitted. Window treatments are a perfect example. Remove old drapery and leave windows uncovered, or cover them with plain vanilla blinds.
Don't replace what the new owner would rather buy. The stovetop in this home looked OK, but didn't work well. Since it didn't detract, we decided we'd let the new owner replace it with gas or electric.
Don't overachieve. Save the Italian marble for your dream house, which this isn't, remember.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.