What to Fix First in a Fixer-Upper

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Fixer-upper homes are all the rage. Thanks to the popular HGTV television series, more people are taking a chance on properties that demand a total makeover. This remodeling process, however, is not always as easy as it seems. Our lead designer Tiare Pinto and vice president Roseann Freitas offer Archipelago Hawaii’s advice on what to fix first in a fixer-upper:

1. Rule Number One – There are no rules!

One thing to keep in mind when tackling your project is that no two homes are exactly alike. Depending on its condition, each property will require a different approach with budgets focused on different parts of the home. There are no hard and fast rules to remodeling your fixer-upper; these are just some helpful guidelines and advice on getting the best return on your investment.

2. The Kitchen

As the central hub of the home, the kitchen is typically the first place to consider renovating. Not only is it one of the most important spaces to homeowners, it also typically provides the best return when reselling your home. We recommend creating an open concept kitchen, as seen in our Beautiful Kailani project, a style very popular with today’s homeowners. This process may involve anything from removing one wall to open the space to an adjoining living room or incorporating a pass-through area to make the kitchen feel more open. Whether you’re planning on reselling your property or keeping it as your forever home, a remodeled kitchen is a great place to start.
Beautiful Kailani

3. Master Suite

The next space to tackle is the master suite. When examining the master suite of your fixer-upper, consider the room’s layout to determine where you could capture additional space. An ideal set-up is an expansive master bedroom with a connected bath and spacious closet, but if space is an issue, there are other ways to get creative! If there’s no room for a walk-in closet, for instance, consider establishing flanking closets that create a hallway leading into the master bathroom, as seen in our Bay House project.
The Bay House

4. Curb Appeal

Enhancing your curb appeal is an easy upgrade that nonetheless makes a big difference to your home’s appearance. Some simple improvements include incorporating a fence or wall, installing door and/or window trim details, and adding decorative elements to the home’s façade. Upgrading to your home’s exterior truly makes the space your own, and if you’re looking to resell, it helps your home make a great first impression with potential buyers.
Kailua Craftsman

5. Paint

If you can’t afford a full-scale remodel, opt for a fresh coat of paint! Repainting your space—whether it’s the exterior, interior, or every room in between—is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to upgrade your fixer-upper. When tackling your exterior, select a new color palette, or add a pop of color to your front door. If you’re hesitant to go too bold, too soon, start with an accent wall instead, as seen in our Neoteric Classic project. Always remember that color can make or break a room!
Neoteric Classic


While taking on a fixer-upper can be fun and exciting, we also know the task is quite daunting. But don’t lose heart! Get inspired by these expert tips as you tackle your own fixer-upper.