starter home

Staying Put? How to Turn a Starter Home into Your Dream One

Real Estate

Finding a new home has proven to be a true luxury in this economy. For many, the “spend a third of your income on housing” rule seems like an unrealistic pipe dream. They already spend far more than that, and mortgage interest rates are still rising. Buying a home just isn’t as easy as it was for previous generations.

When deciding whether to remain in your current house or brave the market, it’s no wonder staying put has become the more attractive option. Fortunately, that does not have to mean you’re stuck with a cramped, uncomfortable, out-of-date home. There are many ways to revamp your space to make you feel like you just moved in. Here are four of them.

1. Upgrade Systems and Appliances

Now that you know you’re in it for the long haul, it’s time to think about your home’s major systems. If you’ve been using fans and space heaters to compensate for a wheezing HVAC system, upgrade to a modern ac and heating unit. Not only will this make your home more comfortable, but today’s energy-efficient equipment will save you money on your utility bills. Many municipal utilities provide generous rebates for the installation of high-efficiency systems, making this an even more enticing prospect.

And while you’ve got energy efficiency on your mind, consider other aging appliances you might have in your home. Yesterday’s refrigerators were electricity hogs, while today’s are both more environmentally friendly and feature-packed. A state-of-the-art smart fridge can keep tabs on your milk’s expiration date while still keeping the green in your wallet. Speaking of green, an aging gas stove might be a good candidate for an eco-conscious replacement like a convection range. Upgraded appliances can improve quality of life for both you and the planet.

2. Create More Space

If you’ve found yourself scrolling wistfully through Zillow listings, chances are it was because you want a home with more space. Perhaps there’s been a new addition to the family, or your work’s gone permanently remote or hybrid after the pandemic. Your preschooler wants an end to his baby brother’s crying, and you want more home office than the end of the dining room table. Adding on will create the extra square footage you desire, but that prospect may seem nearly as daunting as moving.

With some creativity, you can squeeze out more liveable space from the square footage you already possess. A carport can be closed in to become your growing baby’s bedroom. An unfinished basement or backyard shed could become a home office that allows focused work and confines client calls to your ears alone. Look at your home with a space-maximizing eye, and you may find attics, decks, and even closets that can be fruitfully repurposed.

3. Make Your Resulting Space More Spacious

Not only can you find more space in your home, but you can make that square footage live more spaciously. Interior designers have a whole arsenal of tricks to make small spaces appear more expansive. Hanging drapes that span the floor-to-ceiling length will create the illusion of more oversized windows. Painting your ceiling the same color as your walls can make a room feel larger. And adding mirrors to a space is a classic tactic for visually expanding it.

Clever storage solutions can also ensure you are making the most of your space. Built-in shelving both looks luxurious and keeps your possessions attractively stowed. Under-the-stairs closets can store everything from mops and brooms to out-of-season sports equipment. The space this cunning cabinetry restores to your pantry and mudroom will have you living larger.

4. Fix and Refresh

If you’ve been in your house a long time, there are doubtless flaws you’ve learned to live with and repairs you’ve put off. That sagging cabinet door, dripping faucet, and stained ceiling have no place in your dream home. Walk through your house to inventory what is broken and make a list of what needs to be fixed. From there, you can sort out what you can repair and what may need a professional’s touch. Bringing all those neglected home projects to the top of your priority list is a sure way to make your space feel new again.

Once you’ve set things to rights, you can focus on refreshing your home’s look. Add pendant lights above the kitchen island or install a statement chandelier in the dining room. Create an accent wall to inexpensively add character to your living room or explore the wallpaper trend. You can get your feet wet by papering a powder room or take the plunge in a larger, more public space. Whatever look speaks to you is fair game — it’s your forever (or, at least, foreseeable future) home, after all!

Starting to Dream

You deserve to go home to the place of your dreams every day. The good news? You can create that oasis in the house you already own. Whether you love muted color palettes or favor bursts of color everywhere, revamping your home to your personal taste can achieve it. The resulting space will deliver the serotonin boost you’ve been searching for on Zillow — without the moving van or closing costs.