Beaches First Time Home Buyer DIY Tips

“It’s my first time owning a home and I couldn’t really afford to get something with all the upgrades I wanted so I found a cute little condo that I saw some potential in that I could make some small updates that I could do myself.”


My sister Alexa just purchased her first home this summer, a townhouse in Ponte Vedra beach.

Alexa is a modern girl with tastes to match and she wanted that style reflected in her home. She decided that (with a little help from the family) she would fix it up herself before she moved in.

Here is a recap of what she did to easily update her home on a budget and a short timeline. Almost all of the paint, fixtures and materials were purchased at the Home Depot in Jacksonville Beach.

“I had a month before I needed to move in so I had some projects that I knew I could get done in that month and some projects that I knew were on my bucket list but maybe would be kind of further out over the next six months or the next couple of years…so I made a couple of lists like ‘to do before move in’ and a list ‘to do in the first six months’ and a list of ‘dream projects’ just to kind of break down and prioritize things,” she said.

“I started on the bottom floor first. The first thing I had to do was take down all of the vertical blinds because I knew I had to get them down and patch the holes and sand them before I could paint the walls. It was almost like a mini demo where I took out those things- especially from the walls- that I would want to remove so that I didn’t have to mess with it when I was painting later,” she said.

“I then went through the house and patched through any holes that were in the walls and filled in any irregularities and tried to sand them down and make them look nice,” she said. “The next thing I did was clean the whole house because I knew I needed to do that after I sanded the walls. Then we painted,” she said.

“My house was kind of an overall beige-everything was beige in the house so I wanted neutral colors- something that would pop against a white trim…we looked at a bunch of different blues and light grays and settled on a sterling blue that had a little bit of grey in it as the main color of the whole main floor and the stairwell area and the main area upstairs,” she said.

“We wanted to something different for the bedrooms and we actually wanted to do something different in each bedroom but for simplicity we ended up doing a whitish green for both rooms.”

“The bathroom renovation plan didn’t include changing out the tub or the sink. The sink and the countertop all were like a beige color so I needed something that would look fresh with that but not make it look too beige…so I actually did a creamy, whitish beige in the bathrooms just to make it look fresh but also to make sure the things I weren’t changing stood out,” she said.

“I also changed out the mirror in the downstairs bathroom. It came with a basic, builder style mirror and I was able to find a lot of stores that have pretty nice mirrors which were not very expensive. The frame around the mirror really made it pop and look more modern.”

“The bathrooms were dated- especially the faucets and the light fixtures. In the bathroom downstairs I was able to do a light fixture that was kind of nautical-based without being over the top. For the faucets I wanted something that looked really nice and streamlined with not too many flourishes but still nice and heavy duty. There are a lot of swan neck faucets in style but I picked one that could go with everything.”

“ I wanted to use the same faucets throughout. I used the same faucets just to kind of streamline it.”

“The kitchen had already been re-done by the previous owner and it had nickel colored fixtures so I wanted to go with that and stick with that- something that was kind of neutral. So I just picked the most basic ones so they could go with different styles,” she said.

I had to do something different with the lights upstairs because the electrical box where you hook up the fixtures isn’t centered so I needed something with a wider base. What was there before was those really kind of 80’s big globe lights and I thought that really dated the bathroom so I wanted to change it to a light fixture that was kind of plain but cute and wide enough to be centered on the electrical box. I ended up with a four light fixture- I just searched on some of the big home fixture websites and narrowed my parameters. I picked one in that nickel finish in my price range.”

“I did mix it up a little bit downstairs in the dining room area of the house- it’s a kind of smaller area that is sandwiched between the kitchen and the living room and it had a large chandelier type light fixture and I felt like it really overwhelmed the space. Even though it was fairly nice and not dated I wanted to replace it because I felt it was too large for the space. I got a semi-flush mount light fixture which isn’t traditionally in dining rooms but it really fit the height of the room and the space and opened up a lot more head space in there so the whole room looks different than it did. I did veer from the nickel finish there- I chose a bronze finish to make it kind of pop there and standout. The fixture has that farmhouse look that is really popular right now but still simple enough that it would be attractive to prospective buyers,” she said.

“I think it definitely makes it look more modern and youthful. The house was built in the 80’s and it definitely had that vibe. A lot of the fixtures were dated and that was something I first saw when I walked through the home- and it made it look like an old place. Now that those things aren’t there they don’t catch your eye and you’re not thrown off by those when you walk through the house and I think a prospective buyer will now be able to see the house as a whole and not have these things distract from it.”

The basics of a quick DIY on a budget you can learn from my sister are:

  • Make a detailed plan of projects on a timeline
  • A paint refresh goes a long way
  • Updated fixtures can change the look of the whole space
  • Small Details Matter
  • Make the space your own but stick to the basics in case you want to sell in the future
  • If this is your first time buying a simple update like this can make a home in your budget more appealing

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