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Update Your Home on a Budget

Frugal First Home Upgrades

If you’re like many first-time homeowners, you were “house broke” for a few months or even years. A home is usually the largest purchase you’ll ever make, so you probably took advantage of some hand-me-down furniture or thrift-shop items just to get the household running. Ever spend a weekend dumpster-diving at the local university after the dorms clear out for the summer?

Now that you’ve been living in your home for a few years and are more than able to make your mortgage payments, it’s probably time to make a few updates. You don’t have to break the bank if you choose wisely; a few key pieces around your abode will go a long way. 

Bang for Your Buck

When choosing which spaces to update, consider where you spend most of your time. Are you a budding foodie, always trying out new recipes? Start with the kitchen. Do you frequently entertain guests and want to make sure they’re comfortable? Focus on the places they congregate (living room, dining room and, of course, the bathroom). If you’re trying to spend wisely, make updates in spaces you’ll most enjoy.

Take a look at your dwelling with fresh eyes. Step outside and then back in through the main entrance (yes, we really want you to go out and come back inside). If you were seeing the space for the first time, how old would you guess the inhabitants are? Do you see a futon, plastic storage bins or random knickknack décor? What’s on the walls: posters or paintings? View your space with fresh eyes and look around for things that fit better in a dorm than a home.

Once you’ve ditched items that don’t fit with your new look (so long, string lights), it’s time to add the key pieces. Here are suggestions for each room:


If your cookware isn’t up to snuff (nonstick surfaces intact), then purchase a professional-grade set. A chef’s knife — and sharpener to maintain the blade — is always a good investment.

To really get things cooking, update the faucet with one that uses Touch2O technology. If you’re feeling especially mature, you can install it yourself. 

Living Room

Give your guests comfortable seating by ditching the futon and adding a real couch. Pick an ottoman with hidden storage that can serve as seating for larger gatherings and will keep your clutter out of sight. 

Support a local artist and choose a few pieces of art that suit your taste. They’ll look much more tasteful than your old Pink Floyd poster and can even serve as a conversation starter. 


If you’ve had the same towels since college, demote them to dog baths and treat yourself to something plush. This is especially important if you have houseguests; a soft, snag-free towel will provide a cozy welcome.

Modernize your shower with an H2OKinetic shower head. This simple upgrade will make your shower feel less like a necessary step in getting ready and more like a trip to the spa. The movement of the water, the droplet size and the warmer shower will make you wonder why you ever settled for less.