Inexpensive Updates to Fixer Upper House 2020
Buying a Home, Home Ownership, Home Projects, Homemaking

Updates We’re Planning to Make Before Moving In To Our New House

All pics in post taken from the house’s real estate listing

Good news! All systems are go for us closing on the house this month, and it’s actually looking like–knock on wood–we *might* even be able to close a little earlier than planned (though if we can’t, that’s okay too!).

While we love our new place and can’t wait to move in, there are a few updates that we’re planning on completing before we make The Big Move in November. You might remember that we’d saved up money to go to Hawaii earlier this year but then were unable to travel there as planned due to the pandemic. After a lot of deliberation, we have decided to use that Hawaii money to make some updates to our home before moving in (and are crossing our fingers that we can replenish our travel fund by the time we’re actually able to go anywhere once the world has settled down a bit!).

Below are the three main types of updates that we’re planning on completing before moving in next month:

Note: There are affiliate links below, which means I may get a small commission on any purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.

One of the lights we plan to update


One of the biggest revelations that living in our last house taught us was the power of good lighting. Before moving in, we installed recessed can lights in the downstairs to replace a single builder-grade light fixture down there, which completely transformed the basement from gloomy and dim into a place we actually wanted to spend time in. Then later, when we were getting our house ready to put on the market, we were honestly AMAZED when we took our realtor’s advice and staged our whole home with new 100-watt-equivalent LED bulbs in every room—we couldn’t believe we’d allowed ourselves to live with such poor lighting for years before that! All for about $65 (the cost of two dozen of these LED bulbs).

Our new house has some good natural light in many of the rooms, but in the room that I’d MOST like that natural light in (aka,the kitchen)?

Not a single window.

As the kitchen is located in the center of the main floor, the only natural light comes from the French doors off of it in the eat-in dining area (pictured above). And the existing light is just a single old school fluorescent light that dimly lights up the rest (pictured below).

All that is to say…the kitchen is not what sold the house for us.

However, we have firm plans in place to install at least 4-6 can lights in there to replace the current fluorescent fixture, and I’m also planning on updating the old brassy chandelier above the dining table in the adjacent space with this modern white drum chandelier (with the black finish).

Also, depending on the floor plan layout we decide on for the front room you walk into upon first entering the home, we might be updating the existing fixture in that room with this contemporary stunner (if the 6-light version comes back in stock, anyway).

Another possibility we’re considering is putting in additional four or so recessed lights in the common area off of the kitchen/eat-in dining area, just because it seems kind of dim (though we need to look at which light bulbs they currently have in that room to see if the problem is as simple as a light bulb upgrade or not).

Oh man, this floor!


The main floor currently has six (!) different flooring types throughout it, the majority of which are very dated and not in the best of shape. We can’t afford to redo all 1,900 square feet of the main floor, so we’re going to be prioritizing which rooms are the most important to us now and going from there.

For me, the absolute #1 priority to update is the kitchen floor. It’s currently a weird green linoleum-type tile that I, quite frankly, kind of hate. The kitchen’s footprint is on the smaller side, so it won’t be a huge deal to upgrade the floor in there. Right now we’ll probably go with a nice LVP (luxury vinyl plank) option, just because it’s waterproof and can look very similar to real hardwood.

If we can swing it, we’ll likely be ripping up the beige carpet in the front two rooms of the house and also putting in LVP, and we’re hoping to keep our costs relatively reasonable on that since we’re planning on doing all the work ourselves. There is a possibility of finding hardwood floors underneath the current carpets, in which case we’ll have to make a decision about whether it’s worth the time and/or money to try and refinish those, or if we just want to put the LVP on top of them.

The master bedroom currently has hardwoods, which we like well enough (though there are some major gaps between some of the planks), and we’re also not too fussed about changing the flooring in the master bath anytime soon, as that bath has at least been updated in the last 15 years or so.

The other bedroom on the main floor, which we’ll be using as our guest room, has hideous blue carpet that’s probably been there since the 80’s. While I would love to fix it now, it’s only going to happen if our budget ends up accommodating the cost, just because we won’t be spending much time in there, and it’s a room that would be easier to do later than a more high-traffic area. We haven’t decided yet if we’ll replace that with LVP or go with a plush carpet in there.

The other bathroom on the main floor (and the only other bathroom in the house besides the master) really needs a full update. However, since we’re unable to do that full update now, we’ll probably be holding off on the floor in there until we can tackle more of the whole space. It’s currently a brown checkered linoleum tile. (I figure if it’s really driving me crazy, I can always just paint it or use stick-on vinyl stencils in the meantime.)

Finally, the common area just off the kitchen/dine-in area is currently carpet, which we’re either going to keep and just have a professional come and re-stretch (since it’s wrinkled), or we’ll see if we can replace it with new carpeting. We’d toyed with the idea of just doing the LVP throughout as much as possible, but to me, carpet makes a lot more sense in the areas where the kids will be spending the most time playing on the floor, which they will be in that room.

Just imagine this with a lighter paint and new flooring!


Ah, the magic of paint! The before/after transformations that it makes possible just never get old for me.

Although the previous owners literally just repainted, we unfortunately are not huge fans of the beige color they’ve chosen to do the whole upper floor in. The current plan is to for sure paint all the main common living spaces (the big L-shaped front room, the kitchen walls, and the common area off the kitchen) a popular greige color called “Agreeable Gray.” My mom and stepdad recently painted their whole main floor in this color, and we have loved the look of it (and we especially like that it pairs well with both warm and cool tones). We’ll keep the trim and ceilings white, but we’re hoping to get a big painting party together soon after we close and just knock out most of the main floor in a day or two.

The master bedroom and guest bedroom/office (also both on the main floor) could use some repainting too, though I’m not sure we’ll get to them yet. The absolute #1 priority is to paint everything we want to in the most high-traffic areas since those would be the hardest to paint after moving everything in.

The kitchen cabinets are also a darker oak color that I’m not in love with, so our plan is to paint those too. We’re going to borrow a paint sprayer, watch a ton of YouTube tutorials, and hope we don’t screw up the process too badly (ha ha). Since the kitchen is one of my least favorite places in the house as it is, I’m thinking that with updated lighting, lighter cabinet and paint colors, AND new flooring, it should make a HUGE difference, even if the layout/size/lack of windows will still not be my favorite.

I’ll make sure to keep you updated on everything, so stay tuned!

(And by all means, if you have any great tips or tricks for installing LVP, spray painting cabinets, or whatever else, shoot them my way!)

Liked this post? Then you'll probably also like...