First Home Stories From HGTV Stars

Even HGTV stars were once newbie homeowners, making design mistakes, blowing their budgets and facing down rodents. HGTV Magazine dives into exactly what they learned.

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Photo By: courtesy

Photo By: courtesy

Photo By: courtesy

Photo By: courtesy

Photo By: courtesy

Photo By: courtesy

Karrie Trowbridge: Bend, Oregon

"My husband, Patrick, and I got our first house back in 2002, in Bend, Oregon. It was a 1923 Craftsman in serious disrepair. Even though our budget was tight, we allocated funds to stay in a rental during the renovation, and I’m so glad we did. We had a major construction site—new windows, doors, wiring, roof, floors, the works—and two little boys on our hands.” Karrie Trowbridge, Mom & Me

Chenoa and David Rivera: Paradise, California

"We still live in the first house we bought together, in Paradise, California. It was a bank-owned property that was only 60% finished and rodent-infested. Our gut said the risk would be worth it, and it was.” —Chenoa and David Rivera, Rustic Rehab

Alison Victoria: Chicago, Illinois

"By the time I became the owner of a historic home in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, it had been stripped of most of its original beauty, except for a walk-in vault, which I used as my shoe and handbag closet. Since it was a short sale, I bought quickly without considering everything that needed to be done. Lesson learned: Old houses have old problems." Alison Victoria, Windy City Rehab

Mina Starsiak: Indianapolis, Indiana

"I renovated my first place, in Indianapolis, top to bottom. I did a substantial chunk of it myself, including tiling the bathroom. Except I accidentally used both matte and glossy tiles and didn’t realize until after they were installed. Whoops! Unbox all your tile and check it first." —Mina Starsiak, Good Bones

Clint Robertson: Falls, Texas

"I have fond memories of the fixer-upper my wife, Sandy, and I got in Wichita Falls, Texas. It had incredible charm and even a compartment near the back door for milkman deliveries back in the day. My only regret: that we stopped short of a full remodel. It would have made us more money when we sold it." —Clint Robertson, Boise Boys

Jasmine Roth: Huntington Beach, California

"When my husband, Brett, and I couldn’t find our dream home in Huntington Beach, California, we built it instead. I learned so much, including the joys of durable engineered wood flooring, custom built-ins and app-controlled lighting, as well as the downside of having lots of windows—minimal wall space for hanging art." —Jasmine Roth, Hidden Potential

Brian Patrick Flynn: Atlanta, Designer

"Mine was a mid-century modern ranch house in Atlanta with beige walls and orange-yellow hardwood floors. Within weeks I’d added gray grass cloth wallpaper and refinished the floors in a high-gloss ebony stain. The best decision I made was painting the exterior brick a dramatic black-brown. It gave the house instant edge." —Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV designer

Karen E Laine: Indianapolis, Indiana

"The first home I bought all by myself was in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis. It was only 13 feet wide, and we called it The Cupboard. The greatest thing I did was install glass-front kitchen cabinets to the ceiling. In a small house, they add tons of storage and visual impact.” —Karen E Laine, Good Bones

Eric Bennett: Verona, Wisconsin

"After I got my real estate license, my mom, who is also a real estate agent, took me on my first listing appointment, in Verona, Wisconsin. I walked in thinking of ways I could market the home, and I walked out saying, ‘I’ll buy it!’ One of my smartest moves was getting roommates, to help offset the cost of the mortgage. I even made some friends along the way. Hi, Raena!” —Eric Bennett, Desert Flippers

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