Affordable Upgrades for Your Starter Home

You’ve just moved into your starter home—congratulations! But spare cash is limited, and you are eager to show your new home off.

Start with a few cosmetic changes, advise the money editors at, who offer five easy upgrade projects that can help spruce up a tired living space for a few hundred dollars or less:

  1. Start with a power wash. It won’t cost much, but having your home’s exterior professionally power-washed will give it a fresh, bright look—and since curb appeal counts, make sure the lawn is edged, hedges are trimmed and weeds are pulled.
  2. Freshen the front door. A new fiberglass door can cost $1,000 or more, but you can get a snazzy new look by simply painting the old door and/or replacing any worn-looking hardware. (While you’re at it, you might replace a tired-looking mailbox.)
  3. Paint the interior. For a minimal investment, fresh paint makes any room look cleaner and brighter. It’s your space now, so cover those interior walls with the neutral shades or bolder colors that appeal to you.
  4. Improve the lighting. Replace old ceiling fixtures with inexpensive new designs from the home store that may cost less than you imagined. While you’re there, check out modestly priced DIY track lighting, spotlights and accent lights that can brighten and modernize any room.
  5. Spruce up the kitchen. Short of replacing cabinets or countertops, you can give your kitchen a new look on a limited budget by painting the existing woodwork and/or changing outdated door and drawer pulls. If your kitchen appliances don’t match, check with the manufacturer about ordering new doors or face panels.
  6. Buff up the bath. Adding a pedestal sink can radically and economically change the look of an older bathroom. While you’re thinking economically, you can install a new toilet for less than $200. It will not only look good, but today’s low-flush models will save you money on the water bill.
  7. Expand your storage space. Older homes are notoriously short on closet space. A quick trip to the home store can net you a variety of inexpensive closet organizers that may not add much to the look of your home, but will save you from crying over too-cramped closets.