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Low-Cost Improvements You Can Make to a Starter Home


Buying your first house is an exciting time, but it can be difficult to decide just how to begin making the house your own—especially when you're on a tight budget. When it comes to home improvement, a little effort goes a long way in transforming your starter home into the one you always imagined.

Read on for room-by-room tips on how to get started making improvements on your first home.


Cabinet Doors

Your cabinet doors play a huge role in determining the look and feel of your kitchen space. Giving these doors a fresh coat of paint and updating their hardware can work wonders on even the most out-of-date kitchens. If your existing doors are beyond saving, replacing the doors entirely, but keeping the existing cabinetry, remains a relatively inexpensive way to completely refresh your kitchen.


Kitchen appliances can be expensive to replace, but a nice, newer sink can be a budget-friendly way to update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank. Looks aren't the only way you stand to benefit. A double-bowl sink increases the sink's functionality, allowing for multi-stage dish-cleaning and an in-sink drying rack for saving valuable counter space.

Garbage Disposal

For many homebuyers, a garbage disposal is transitioning from a "nice to have" to a "need to have" kitchen feature. Installing a garbage disposal in your kitchen brings it into the 21st Century while simultaneously eliminating unwanted kitchen smells and protecting your house's plumbing from costly fixes.

Laundry Room


For far too long, laundry rooms have been considered an afterthought when laying out floor plans. Laundry machines have been relegated to hallway closets and unfinished basements. This practice can lead to inconveniences later, though, as laundry is a very regular household chore. Forward-thinking homeowners are combatting this by adding sinks to their laundry rooms for treating stains, soaking and pre-washing.


Another problem that may arise in a starter home's laundry room is a distinct lack of storage space. Get more use from your room by adding storage space for cleaning supplies, sorting bins and an ironing table.

Folding Table

Folding laundry isn't exactly anyone's favorite step in the process, but being able to fold your clothes immediately out of the dryer can make the chore a bit more manageable. A wall-mounted folding table is a great way to give yourself a flat surface on which to fold clothes without sacrificing your laundry room's limited space.


DOuble Vanity

Double vanities are growing in popularity. Adding a second mirror and sink to your master bath is a relatively inexpensive way to get the most of your bathroom while simultaneously making it more marketable should you ever choose to sell.

Fresh Fixtures

Just like in your kitchen, you can give your bathrooms a facelift by simply upgrading its hardware. A new sink or a set of new handles on your cabinets, and your bathroom will have a completely new feel without the cost of a complete bathroom renovation.

Caulk & Grout

Caulk and grout are present in nearly every bathroom in America, but they both wear out over time. Once you buy your starter home, it's always a good idea to peel and replace your existing caulk and scrub and patch any cracked or missing grout. Need a little help getting started? Check out this tub caulking guide from Ace Hardware:




Closet Organizer

Closet-organizing systems have been around a long time, and, for your money, they are probably one of the most significant improvements you can make to your bedroom space. Adding a closet organizer will help make the most of the space in your storage area, which will help to free up clutter and organize your clothing.

Ceiling Fan

While ceiling fans are a relatively common fixture in master bedrooms, they are also commonly out of date. By picking up a sleek, modern ceiling fan, you can bring your bedroom into the modern day without needing to worry about the price tag.


From fixing broken window cranks, to updating rods and curtains, to installing energy-efficient panes, bedroom windows offer a significant opportunity for new homeowners to build equity and improve their starter homes without hurting their wallets. These simple improvements can make your master bedroom feel newer, more comfortable and more modern.

Curb Appeal

Accent Door

For many of your guests, your front door will be one of their first interactions with your home. Want to make a good first impression? Consider treating your front door to a fresh coat of paint in a lively, vibrant color that matches the look and feel of your home but stands out from the color of your home's siding.


The best part about gardens, other than the fact that they add an incredible amount of curb appeal to your home, is the fact that they can continuously be improved year after year. Start with some low-maintenance perennials, and then, once you're comfortable with your green thumb, experiment with colorful bushes and flowers that make your home stand out from the others on the block.


The walkway to your front door is the unsung hero of your home's curb appeal. Though it is often forgotten about, a clean, modern walkway can be the difference between a seemingly well-maintained front yard and one that seems dilapidated or out-of-date.

As a homeowner, it pays to make improvements to your home. Stringing together a few of these low-cost improvements can lead to a noticeable increase in your home’s value—both to you and future prospective buyers. Looking to make a bigger improvement? The Community Home Improvement Program (CHIP) provides low-interest loans for eligible borrowers to improve or repair their single-family homes. Contact one of SDHDA’s CHIP participating lenders to get started. 

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Topics: Homeownership

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