The starter home. Often small, quaint, and just right for a couple before they start expanding their family. It’s not often that you find a starter home that doesn’t need any work done whatsoever. That’s why they’re starters. They’re training wheels for homeownership. You might have a clear idea of how long you intend to stay in your first house, or it may be something that will stick with you until you outgrow it or new opportunities come your way. Regardless, it’s always a great idea to invest in your first home even if it isn’t going to be your forever home. To make sure that you get the most out of your starter home while you’re in it and at resale, start with these projects to up the value before you say goodbye.


The first renovation on anyone’s list is the kitchen. Most of the day-to-day action happens in the kitchen from Breakfast to Dessert, there’s always something going on in there. It houses the most appliances and often requires water, gas, and electric to function. Flipping your kitchen to be more efficient benefits everyone. Major kitchen remodels will cost a pretty penny – especially if you’re having to upgrade all your appliances to energy efficient models – but you can expect an average of 85% return on the original investment. If the function and flow of your kitchen’s already in great shape, minor kitchen updates will garner around 90%-100% return at resale.

What’s the difference? Aside from several thousand dollars? Major kitchen remodels in simplest terms is a complete gutting of your kitchen. Top to bottom, almost everything or everything brand spanking new; new layout, new features, all of it new. (In which case, it’s considered a renovation, but tomato tomato.) Minor remodels are mostly cosmetic upgrades; cabinet facing, countertops, fixtures, paint, and floors are considered to be minor.


Updating bathrooms is the next top earner, though it’s really on par with kitchen reno appeal. More and more folks are looking for peace and rejuvenation with their bathrooms, particularly in the master bath. Same rules and returns apply for the most part. For energy upgrades, you can easily install high efficiency shower heads and faucets, and LED light bulbs in all your bathrooms. Low flow toilets are another great way to save water. Older models use 6 gallons of water per flush. EPA regulations require new models use at the most 1.6 gallons of water, with other models draining only 1.28 gallons per flush.

To make a smaller bathroom feel bigger, opt for an open shower with a sleek sheet of glass covering only the splash zone of your shower. Add a large statement piece of art or vanity with ample, clever storage to finish the look and function of your bathroom.


It might not be the first thing when you think about increasing function in your home. But if you take the opportunity to switch to a drought tolerant yard, you can effectively reduce the amount of water your home uses as well as up the curb appeal. The beautiful thing about drought-proofing your yard is that you don’t have to sacrifice beauty for efficiency. You might be thinking to yourself, Drought roof… Like desert stuff? Like, rocks and succulents? I hate succulents! Okay, that last part’s a stretch. The reality is though, whether you live in California or Connecticut there are indigenious plants with blooms and foliage and variety to fill any garden and create an Eden. If it’s the backyard, add a patio or deck for entertaining.

Landscaping upgrades will often earn back their full investment at resale. After all, the front yard is the first thing anyone sees. If you’re able to entice buyers with a stunning and inviting front lawn, they’re sure to fall in love with what you’ve done inside. They’ll also be enticed at the low maintenance and water bills that come along with a drought proof yard, either.

There are any number of things you can do with your starter home. Minor fixes in storage and decor to the rest of your rooms won’t cost nearly as much as any of the aforementioned larger projects, so they can be done as needed for selling. But to raise the value of your home, these three are the better places to funnel your major funds.