40% of First-Time Homeowners Regret Not Doing This Project Right Away

But better late than never—and we’ve got ideas.

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It’s a homeowner rite of passage: Within the first few weeks of moving in, after having spent most of your life savings on this house, something will go wrong. The water heater will go kaput, the basement will flood, or you’ll hear little critter feet scurrying in the attic. Cue the flying cash emoji. It’s not a great feeling—especially if you’re a first-time homeowner, as home services marketplace Angi’s latest report reveals.

In its survey of 1,000 recent homeowners, 19 percent say that unexpected costs were the most surprising thing about owning a home, and 43 percent of the youngest respondents (18-to-24-year-olds) were uncomfortable with how much they had to shell out on home maintenance. 

But while Angi found that first-timers are more likely to invest in a home project early on, 30 percent have regrets—specifically about the kitchen. Forty percent of the remorseful wish they’d remodeled the space right off the bat. Other top projects they would’ve gotten out of the way: painting, new flooring, and a bathroom renovation. If you’re in the same boat, we’re here to remind you that there’s plenty you can change about your current kitchen while you save up for a total transformation. Here are three in-between updates to consider:

Forgo Cabinet Doors Entirely

Are your cupboard fronts a style that no amount of paint can improve? In Leanne Ford’s first iteration of her guesthouse, she kept things charmingly bare bones, hanging gingham curtains in place of cabinet doors.

Board Up Your Backsplash

One day, creator Emily Jane Lathan’s London kitchen will become a bedroom. Until then, a mini makeover is tiding her over. Covering up the uneven plaster walls with tongue-and-groove MDF sheets instead of a typical tile backsplash helped Lathan keep the budget under $4,000.

Give the Hardest-Working Hardware Some Love

Fresh knobs and pulls are a game changer, but don’t overlook the inner workings of your cupboards either. Wildflower Home blogger Marynn Udvarhelyi swapped the old exposed hinges in her kitchen with hidden ones that also happen to be soft-close.