Want to fix up the old place but don't have a bucket of money to spend? Here are some low-cost ideas to get you started:
|If you focus your resources in the right areas, these little changes can make a huge difference in the way your home looks -- to yourself and potential buyers.|
|10 tricks to a low-cost upgrade|
1. Begin with the front of the house.
It's the first thing you, and your guests, will see.
"Always repaint the front, the trim and the door," says Robert Irwin, author of "Improve the Value of Your Home Up to $100,000."
His trick: Pay special attention to the front door and the door handle. For potential buyers, "that's the first time they touch the house," he says. Twenty-five dollars worth of paint makes a door look new. And another $50 to $75 for a shiny handle on a freshly painted or stained door "makes an enormous difference," Irwin says.
2. Dress up the porch.
Place two large planters on either side of the front door, with a profusion of healthy plants spilling out.
"Think of your pots like clothes -- you want something that's going to go with the house," says Rebecca Kolls, master gardener and host of the nationally syndicated television series "Rebecca's Garden."
When you choose the plants, look for foliage colors and blooms that complement each other, just as if you were assembling an outfit. "You wouldn't mix polka dots and plaid," says Kolls. Her rule of thumb: The plants should be twice as tall as the pot. Since you're literally assembling a garden in a pot, look for different textures. Mix perennials and annuals, blooming and nonblooming varieties. Include tall plants, to give the arrangement height and shape; ground covers, to spill out of the pot and down the sides to soften the edges, and an abundance of medium-sized plants to fill in between the two and give a lush look. Squeeze in as many plants as you can manage, says Kolls. "Just pack them in there."
If you want to add another touch later, you can tie it in to the front door with a coordinating wreath, says Kolls.
"The biggest change you can make in a room is painting the walls, changing the color," says Linda Holmes, certified remodeler and president of Creative Carpentry Remodelers Inc., in Aurora, Ill. New paint "makes it look clean again."
"And paint the ceiling anything but ceiling white," she says.
Some pro paint tips:
- Paint the trim a contrasting color. "It gives a little bit of punch to everything," says New York interior designer Michael Love, president of Interior Options Inc. Or you could stencil a crown molding onto the wall with paint. "It's not so tough," says Love. Just go slow, and be accurate.
- Another option: Paint a wall three different shades of the same color. Measure equal sections and use painter's masking tape to mark off each area, says Judy Pickett, owner of Design Lines Ltd., in Raleigh, N.C. Do the bottom of the wall first with the darkest shade. Once it dries, do the middle section with the next lightest shade and so on. Want something really different? Go for big squares in various colors.
- Paint the kitchen cabinets. If you're the handy type, also think about adding a new kitchen counter to give the room a whole new look. "It makes a huge impact," says Deborah Houseworth, president of DLH Design Studio in Chevy Chase, Md.
- And don't limit the paint to the walls. Inexpensive, unmatched furniture gets a whole new look with a coat of paint -- especially white, says Love, who uses the technique in her own home. The trick also works with lamps, especially if you add a little glaze for an antique look.