If you’ve just purchased a home, you’re likely still reeling from the long list of initial costs that come along with homeownership. While you’re focusing on replenishing your savings account and getting accustomed to paying a mortgage, you might not be ready to gut your kitchen and bathrooms and take on a major home overhaul. However, if you have some cash left over after closing, a few simple, inexpensive home improvements can add value to your home and bring it more in line with your tastes. Consider making these updates in your first year of homeownership:
Make basic repairs. Don’t let that torn screen door or leaky window drive you crazy for years. Go ahead and fix things that are broken before or shortly after you move into your home. You’ll thank yourself later.
Paint. Painting is one of the simplest, most cost-effective home improvements out there. If you plan to live in your home for a long time, feel free to go wild with color: Paint your kitchen fuchsia and your bedroom lime green if you want to. But if you might only live in your home for a few years, keep resale in mind and choose neutral colors that will appeal to a large pool of buyers. Neutral doesn’t have to mean bland: Beiges, greens and other earth tones are all universally appealing, yet still stylish.
Also, don’t think of paint as something that’s just for walls. Have outdated, dark wood cabinets? Roll a coat of crisp, white paint on them for an instant kitchen update.
Install new floors. If your home has carpeting or linoleum that still looks dingy even after a thorough cleaning, new floors could be a great investment. When it comes to resale, hardwood is a timeless option that appeals to most buyers, but it can be expensive. If you want the look of hardwood for less, laminate flooring is a great alternative. And there’s also cork, carpet tiles, vinyl and many other options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Spruce up your ceilings. Popcorn ceilings were once all the rage, but these days, they make a home look outdated. Fortunately, popcorn ceilings can be remedied. Just visit a local hardware store for a solution to soften the texture, and then scrape the popcorn away. It'll bring your house into the new millennium with minimal cost and effort.
Update fixtures and hardware. Lighting, faucets and doorknobs may seem like details that only the most nitpicky of homeowners would notice, but outdated or cheap fixtures can really affect the overall look of a home. If your home’s brass chandeliers make you feel like you’re stuck in the '80s, replace them. Even inexpensive options can give your home a much more contemporary look.
Add low-cost landscaping. Shrubs and colorful plants add beauty and value to your home, but maintaining a landscaped lawn can seem daunting. When you’re shopping at the local garden center, purchase plants that are native to your region or water-conserving, drought-tolerant vegetation. These require less water and maintenance, which means you'll save time and have a little more green in your yard and your wallet.
Go green. Eco-friendly home improvements are a great investment because they add value to your home and save you money in the long run. There are lots of ways to make your home more energy efficient, ranging from simple fixes like adding weather stripping to doors to keep drafts out, to large updates like installing solar panels or a tankless water heater.
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