Stylemaker Secrets: Easy Upgrades for a Starter Home

living room
Even if your starter home isn't exactly the stuff of dreams, there are ways to transform a basic setup into a space that reflects your style. To help get you started, we called on some of the industry's leading tastemakers to dish on how they make the most of that first-but-not-forever space that so many of us call home.

Upgrade the Architecture

Architectural details really help to create a finished rich look. If your starter home is lacking in this area, go for a true weekend project and add crown molding or upgrade baseboards.

-- Khristian A. Howell, color and pattern expert

Make It Yours

Before moving in, have all of the walls repainted or wallpaper a powder room or entry. Once your furniture arrives, your home will feel like it has always been your own.

-- Sarah Sarna, founder of Sarah Sarna Interior Design and blogger

Rethink Lighting

Light fixtures are just as important as art and are the place to really show off your style. You would be amazed by how transformative a new dining room light or bathroom fixture can be. 

-- Britany Simon, designer and HGTV Design Star finalist

Ready to redecorate, but not sure where to start? Designer Bridgid Coulter shares which pieces to invest in, decorating mistakes to avoid, and how to fall in love with your home again.

Create a Plan

Ready to redecorate, but aren't sure where to start? Designer Bridgid Coulter shares how to jump-start your decorating project with a few simple tricks.

Dress the Windows

Many times I walk into homes that young clients have been in for over a year and their windows are completely naked or have sheets nailed or taped onto the windows! Windows are something practical that everyone has, and they need to be covered in order to block light when needed.

-- Camila Pavone, interior decorator and blogger

Swap Out Old Hardware

My solution for easily upgrading a starter home is to replace the light fixtures and door hardware.

-- Lauren Liess, decorator, textile designer, and blogger

Take Risks

Now is the best opportunity to make choices and take risks before your needs begin to sway toward family-oriented choices. Use wallpapers, colors, and patterns that push you beyond your own comfort level. This is the time to learn about defining your own style.

-- Jennifer Mehditash, interior designer and blogger

Personalize with Paint

The very first thing I would do is paint. Builder-grade beige screams 'cookie cutter,' while adding colors that flow well from room to room and reflect your personal style will upgrade a home in an instant.

-- Erin Souder, founder of Grandiflora and blogger

Flaunt Your Collection

Art is the key to giving your home an upgraded look and adding personal style to your home. Art doesn't need to be very expensive, and I advise all of my clients to start their art collection when they are young.

-- Tina Ramchandani, founder of interior design firm Tina Ramchandani Creative and blogger

Go Grand

Furniture with detailed or grand-scale trim is a great way to start. Also, try adding architectural detail to the actual finishing trims in your home.

-- Darlene Weir, owner and principal interior designer of Fieldstone Hill Design

Consider Versatility

My favorite budget-friendly solution for window treatments are solid neutral panels. They go with pretty much any design style you have in your home -- whether contemporary or country and everything in between. You can easily dress them up by dying them a color or by adding a border with ribbon.

-- Camila Pavone, interior decorator and blogger

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