Scene: You’re going to be leaving your starter home behind soon and you want to increase the value of your property so you can get more in the sale. It’s in need of a little tender loving care, and while you’d love nothing more than to gut the whole thing and start fresh, you don’t have all the money in the world to blow on a full renovation. 

Sound familiar? It’s common for homeowners ready to flip their starters to make it more marketable to need simple solutions that won’t send them to the bank for a loan. You want to save those big purchases on a more permanent place anyway. But you can do a modest remodel in the areas where it matters most and make back your investment in full – or close to it, at the least. Let’s take a look at what sort of magic you can conjure in the kitchen.


The gist of it all. Remodeling in general implies you’re really only focusing on the curb appeal, the face value. These are more common in starter homes since major renovations, where you’re changing the layout or adding space, come at an incredible cost, and again, you don’t want to be paying off your starter home reno’s after you’ve moved on. Let’s break it down:

Larger Job, Higher Cost

Depending on what you have to spend, you can replace cabinet facing, floors, or possibly countertops. You can choose one or two of these larger upgrades, but doing all three and you’re halfway to a full reno. What type of materials you get and where you get them will affect the final cost. 

To replace countertops in the average kitchen, prices run from $1,900 to a little over $4,000; cabinet facing can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $9,000; new floors will land you anywhere between $2,800 and $6,000. Obviously the size of your kitchen and materials will affect these costs. Use your best judgement to decide which of these would make the most impact in improving your kitchen.

Simple, Inexpensive

You’ll likely need to hire a contractor for the jobs listed above. However, you can DIY the heck out of other smaller, more affordable projects. Replace the knobs on your kitchen cabinets with something new that compliments the style of the house. You can find local artists to buy from or hit up your nearest home improvement store. Backsplashes are still very popular, very affordable, and very DIY-able with peel and stick options available. Updating your faucets and light fixtures instantly bring your kitchen from shabby to chic. And of course, what DIY facelift list would be complete without painting? A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, and you can cut costs by doing the work yourself. Just be careful to cover and tape everything and clean up spills immediately. 


Let’s be real. They’re expensive. A new energy efficient dishwasher can cost anywhere from $300 to over $2,000. Same for refrigerators, ovens, and stoves. These are really items you should consider upgrading as soon as you move in, especially if they aren’t Energy Star rated. You’ll make back the cost as you use them with your bills being reduced. But it’s also understandable that you wouldn’t want to replace all the appliances in a starter home because, again, it’s not your forever home.

Just like you did with picking between floors, countertops, and cabinet facing, focus on what’s the most out of date and in need of replacement. Like we mentioned, making this investment earlier on will recover costs as it’s used, and they’ll make the house more appealing overall. Dishwashers will last around a decade. A two-year-old dishwasher gives the new homeowner around 5-8 years to plan for its replacement. Choose a model that gets the job done and fits in well with the rest of the aesthetic, but doesn’t put too big of a hole in your pocket.

Small remodeling projects for your starter home can make a big impact when it comes time to sell. These upgrades can be done as you live in the house, or once you’ve decided to put it on the market. You can make a whole lot of magic with just a few little actions.