Q. With the real-estate market so depressed, many people are staying put and remodeling their homes. What changes will yield the best dividends?

A. Renovating kitchens and bathrooms is always a wise investment. You get the enjoyment of improved rooms, which raise the quality of life for your family. Then, if and when you do sell your home, you'll get the money you've put in back, plus a profit.When planning to redo a kitchen or bath, do some space planning in the rest of the rooms, as well. You may be able to steal unused space from adjoining areas. Also, by reviewing all spaces, you may be able to generally improve the style and function of your home.

Small touches can make a big difference. Replace a chipped sink with one in a bright color or interesting finish. New faucets are a plus, especially high ones that enable you to wash pots easily.

Expanded storage, up-to-date lighting and carpeting are other worthwhile investments. Enlarge closets by reconfiguring non-load-bearing walls. When you sell, closets with double and triple bars, bins for clothing and shelves make a favorable impact on potential buyers.

Built-in, state-of-the-art low-voltage lighting provides cost-efficient, clear, true light. Also, good lighting creates an illusion that rooms are larger than they are. The same holds true for the judicious use of mirrors, including mirrored backsplashes in the kitchen.

The addition of chair rails and cornice and baseboard molding to plain rooms is an easy way to make an ordinary apartment look like Park Ave. material. The use of fine materials such as granite on window sills and kitchen counters also adds an elegant look.

If your floors are not in good condition, wall-to-wall carpet will improve the look.