99 Ways to Make Your Home Sparkle
Ways to Make Your Home Sparkle
House To Sell? Let’s Make It Sparkle!
The most important thing for anyone selling a home is to give the
home good “curb appeal”.
What is “curb appeal”? Curb Appeal is when potential buyers drive
up to your house picture themselves living in THIS home. Does this look and
feel end at the front door? No, of course not, it is your job as the seller to
give “curb appeal” to the entire house.
OK, you’re saying “I don’t have time, I’m too busy, the dog ate
the screen door” or whatever reason you can think of not to do these things.
Well, you have to decide the amount of time, money, and energy you have to
increase the “curb appeal” of your home. But, keep in mind that your decision
WILL have a direct impact on the offer you receive.
Let me say that again. THE
AMOUNT OF “CURB APPEAL” YOU GIVE YOUR HOME WILL HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT ON THE
OFFER YOU RECEIVE.
Think of this as though you were the buyer. If you find a house
that looks nice, fits your needs, AND doesn’t need any major work for you to
move into, you would most likely be willing to give the asking price, if it’s
You will have to consider what your competition is. Strive to make
your home appear better than the competition.
Buyers won’t just be looking at the physical structure of a home,
they will respond to how it makes them feel. You want people to walk in and
imagine themselves living there. You want the house to have emotional appeal.
The key is to make strategic improvements with maximum impact.
I’m not saying that you will have to do everything on this list or
your house won’t sell. I am saying that the better the house looks, the better
your offer will be. This list if for you to use as a guide to create the best
“curb appeal” your time and money will allow.
Let’s take a look at some ways to improve the house’s appearance.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
1. REPAINT THE EXTERIOR
Does the house sparkle, or is it looking a little
tired? If you don’t want to tackle an entire paint job, at least spruce up the
window frames, shutters and front door and perhaps a faded southern exposure
with a fresh coat of paint.
2. PUT IN WINDOW BOXES
Filled to overflowing with red geraniums. Ivy
and white petunia, window boxes are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to add
pizzazz to your house.
3. GIVE THE HOUSE A BATH
If the exterior seems more dirty than worn, rent
a gas-powered pressure washer ($50-$100 a day) from a local tool center and,
working from top to bottom, hose down all the outside surfaces, even the
driveway and sidewalks.
4. CHECK THE ROOF AND GUTTERS
Missing or torn shingles, sagging gutters and
loose downspouts make a house look unkempt. Worse, they can cause costly damage
to your foundation, basement and interior walls. Unclog and secure gutters,
repair the roof (check flashing joints), and replace broken downspouts.
5. CLEAN WINDOWS UNTIL THEY SHINE
This is a must. Scrape off any paint splatters
with a razor blade, wash window with ammonia and water, and then buff them
until the sparkle. (And don’t forget to replace any cracked panes.)
6. REPLACE SIDING
If your siding shows more wear and tear than a
paint job can fix, consider replacing it. A house that looks good from the
outside sells faster and for a better price.
7. RESEAL A PATCHED UP DRIVEWAY
With asphalt sealant from a building supply
store and a stiff broom, this is a relatively easy do-it-yourself job that
leaves your driveway looking spanking new.
8. INSTALL SHUTTERS
If your house seems plain, adding exterior
shutters in a color that’s one tone lighter or darker can make it more
distinctive. Consider a color that matches your trim and doors. Make sure, of
course, that the shutters are appropriate to the style of your house.
9. WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR LAWN, THINK PUTTING GREEN
Use a quick greening fertilizer (ammonium
sulfate, urea or ammonium nitrate). With proper application and watering,
you’ll see results in two or three weeks. Trim the edges by cutting into the
turf in a straight line with a spade or edger. Get rid of any weeds around
shrubs or in flower beds. Reseed or re-turf any bald spots and keep the grass
10. LAY A BRICK OR STONE WALKWAY
It’s much more attractive than concrete and
leads the eye enticingly to the front door.
11. ADD WINDOW PANES
Divided panes give a friendly, welcoming
feeling, and are another way to add interest to a plain Jane house. Getting
this look needn’t mean tearing out your existing windows, you can buy snap-in
mullions made of wood or plastic.
12. CHANGE YOUR FRONT DOOR
By replacing a standard flat door with a premium
quality, raised panel solid hardwood one ($600-$800) or a painted pine or fir
door ($300-$500, unpainted), you immediately give your house an added touch of
13. ADD DISTINCTIVE DETAIL WITH A HAND-CRAFTED WOODEN SCREEN DOOR
For instance, The Old Wagon Factory in
Clarksville, Virginia sells Victorian or Chippendale styles. Make sure it’s
appropriate to the style of your house. Full glass storm doors are another
14. GIVE YOUR DOOR A TOUCH OF BRASS
Install a shiny brass knocker, doorknob and kick
plate (under $150). The message: This is a doorway where you’d be proud to
15. GET A NEW MAILBOX
You don’t want prospective buyer(s) to fall on a
shabby old aluminum mailbox as they’re waiting for you to answer the door. Get
one they’ll notice admiringly.
16. MAKE THE FLOOR SPOTLESS
When people wipe their feet, where else do they
look? If you use a carpet remnant here, get rid of it. Replace existing
carpeting or flooring, or simply use a plain sisal doormat.
17. DRESS UP A HO-HUM FOYER
Add an elegant overhead light or wall sconces.
Choose one decorative element and highlight it; A vase of colorful fresh
flowers, a spot-lit painting, a large ceramic plate, or a framed mirror.
18. ELIMINATE ODORS
Whether they are from pets or the kitchen,
they’re sure to offend visitors. Avoid sweet smelling sprays or potpourris.
19. CREATE A DISTICT AND SEPARATE ENTRYWAY
Few people like to enter directly into the
living room. If you’re not lucky enough to have a distinct entry, create one by
using a bookcase, screen or cabinet as a divider. Add a lush plant for height
if the bookcase is low. Or, create the illusion of a separate foyer with
different flooring (black and white tiles laid on the diagonal, for instance,
or even an area rug).
20. MAKE SURE THERE IS A PLACE FOR COATS AND UMBRELLAS
Too many coats and umbrellas make the entrance
BIGGER IS BETTER
21. PUT IN HIGHER WATTAGE BULBS THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE
The brighter the rooms, the larger they look.
22. PAINT ROOMS IN LIGHT, NEUTRAL COLORS
White is the most popular color for walls.
Especially in small spaces such as entryways and bathrooms, it expands the
feeling of a room. Off-white with a faint pink tint gives you a particularly
warm feeling and is flattering.
23. DECORATE ROOMS IN TONES OF ONE (NEUTRAL) COLOR
Harmonizing draperies, walls, furniture and
accessories make a room look less busy and therefore larger.
24. RENT SPACE AT A MINI STORAGE WAREHOUSE
And, fill it with bulky unnecessary pieces of
furniture: junk from your closets, garages and attic, extra chairs from the
dining room, your knickknack collections; anything that adds clutter to your
25. HAVE A YARD SALE
Or, get rid of the clutter, from the basement to
the attic, by holding a yard sale, and make a little extra money to boot!
26. PLACE MIRRORS IN STRATEGIC SPOTS
This is especially effective in very small
spaces like entryways or bathrooms. Make sure there’s something beautiful
reflected in the mirror. If your kitchen or dining room has open shelving,
mirrored backs on the cabinets where you display your glassware and china
expand the room.
27. CLEAN OFF ALL COUNTERTOPS AND TABLETOPS
Clutter throughout the house gives the
impression that there’s just not enough room for everything. Aim for
28. ADD A SKYLIGHT TO A SMALL, DARK ROOM
To a bath, a hallway, even a small kitchen…. A
fixed one will cost $700-$900 installed.
29. KEEP WALLS SIMPLE AND ELEGANT
An excessive amount of small pictures dotted
around a room tends to make it feel crowded. Instead group small pictures or
choose a single large one.
30. STORE HALF YOUR KID’S TOYS IN THE ATTIC
This is a chance to involve your kids in the
house sale. If they’re reluctant to part with some of their favorites, perhaps
they’ll be agreeable to doing it just while you’re actually showing the house.
31. TAKE THE LEAF OUT OF YOUR DINING TABLE
By shrinking your table and removing extra
chairs, you’ll expand the space.
32. MAKE TRAFFIC FLOW SMOOTHLY
Often there will be at least three people
touring your house. If they’re constantly bumping into furniture or having to
walk single file, they’ll feel cramped. Arrange furniture differently; clear
33. HAVE IT CLEANED PROFESSIONALLY
You may not have time to do a thorough cleaning.
It’s worth the money to call in a professional to scour behind the
refrigerator, under and in the stove; in other words, a top-to-bottom overhaul.
34. CLEAN WORK SURFACES
One of the first things people look for in a
kitchen is counter space. Clutter on counters can give the impression there is
no room to work, put away small appliances.
35. ADD STORAGE
To free up counter space, give everything a
place. To ease crowded cupboards, get an overhead rack for saucepans. Add a
moveable cart with a butcher block top if there’s room. (You can take it with
36. FIX LIFTED CORNERS ON PLASTIC LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS
Hold a heat gun, set on “low, about 6 inches
above the surface to warm the glue on the laminate; once if feels tacky, remove
heat and roll down the edge with a steam roller; If laminate still pops loose,
scrape off all the old adhesive, then secure the edge with contact cement,
applying it to the underside of the laminate and to the substrate, per
37. CLEAN OUT DRAWERS
Crammed, messy drawers (and cupboards) will
simply trigger too little storage fears.
38. REPLACE OR REFINISH CABINET DOORS
Today there are specialists who offer facelifts
for cabinets. Look for them in the Yellow Pages. Choose new doors (or repaint
old ones) in a light color.
39. CHANGE CABINET HARDWARE
High quality drawer pulls and door handles can
transform your outdated cabinets.
40. NO ROOM FOR PETS
The kitchen, of all places, should be free of
any evidence of pets. That means litter boxes, rubber toys and food dishes.
41. TONE DOWN HARD TO CHANGE ELEMENTS
You may not want to make the investment in new
ceramic tiles or flooring. But you can paint the wall white to simplify the
look of the kitchen.
42. MAKE ENAMEL COATED APPLIANCES LOOK NEW
Remove stains with undiluted bleach and a stiff
brush, if needed. Hide any nicks with appliance touch-up enamel, then polish
with a soft cloth and auto body polish.
43. HAVE APPLIANCE REFINISHED
Coppertone or avocado appliances may have been
all the rage at one time, but they certainly aren’t now. Don’t buy new ones;
have them refinished white instead. Look in the Yellow Pages under “Porcelain”;
some of the same companies that refinish old bathroom fixtures also redo
44. ADD TASK LIGHTING FOR INDIVIDUAL WORK AREAS
In addition to bright overall lighting,
illuminate work surfaces with separate under-cabinet lights.
45. BRING LIGHT IN
An open, airy look is desirable throughout the
house, and especially in the kitchen. If you have full curtains or shades,
consider removing them altogether. At most, add a white lace valance.
46. CLEAN UP CERAMIC TILE AND GROUT
Use a strong anti-mildew cleaner such as Tilex
or a solution of white vinegar and water, let stand 20-30 minutes and use a
stiff brush if necessary. Try household bleach on grout stains; scrub and scrub
until you succeed. On the other hand, if grout is damaged, missing or badly
stained, carefully remove the old grout with a putty knife, scrubbing the joint
clean. Press new grout into the joint with your finger (use rubber gloves)
smoothing out bubbles. Remove excess grout by carefully wiping a damp sponge
over the tiles.
47. REPAIR CRACKED OR LOOSE CERAMIC TILES
A cracked or chipped tile, especially in a
highly visible spot, can ruin the look of an entire bathroom. If you have
matching tiles, it’s worth replacing the sore thumb. Use a cold chisel or old
screwdriver to break and pry off the pieces of the bad tile, then remove any
leftover mortar, adhesive and grout with a stiff putty knife. Coat the back of
the replacement tile with tile adhesive or thin-set mortar; use enough so that
the surface will be flush with the existing tiles. Set in place; on vertical
surfaces, use masking tape to hold the tile in position while the adhesive or
mortar dries. Finally, apply grout and clean, as stated above.
48. RECAULK FAULTY JOINTS
Don’t confuse caulking with grout. Caulking is
the sealant where the bath joins the wall. Damaged caulking looks messy and,
more important, can cause leaks and water damage to rooms below. Replacing it
can take less than an hour.
49. BUY A NEW (WHITE) SHOWER CURTAIN
Avoid patterns; they make the room seem smaller.
50. NEUTRALIZE AND OUT OF DATE COLOR SCHEME
If you’re stuck with maroon or flamingo pink
tiles, downplay them by painting the walls white or cream, and putting out
plain white or gray towels. Keep a stock of freshly laundered ones ready in
your linen closet.
51. SHINE UP CHROME FIXTURES
Use a stiff bristled brush dampened with white
vinegar (never a metal cleaner or an abrasive). Dry and polish immediately with
52. REMOVE STAINS FROM A PORCELAIN SINK
For commons stains, use a paste of cream of tartar
and hydrogen peroxide. For stubborn stains, line the surface with paper towels
and saturate with household bleach. After 30 minutes, remove the towels and
rinse with water.
53. REPAIR OR REPLACE A BADLY CHIPPED ENAMEL SINK OR BATHTUB
A professional job will get the best results but
do-it-yourself supplies can be found at home improvement centers. It takes from
3 to 5 hours and needs another 48 hours to cure. Look under “Porcelain” in the
54. FIX LEAKY FAUCETS
You may have become accustomed to a dripping
tap, but it will scream neglect to a prospective buyer.
55. CLEAR AWAY CLUTTER
This means on top of the toilet, on countertops,
inside the medicine cabinet and on the walls. Buyer(s) don’t really want to see
your personal toiletries on display (or your favorite old terry cloth robe).
56. INSTALL BRASS TOWEL RAILS, FAUCETS AND OTHER HARDWARE
Luxurious extras like these are read crowd
57. SECURE WALLPAPER
Glue down curling or loose wall cover with seam
sealer found at hardware stores.
58. GIVE MAGAZINES AND BOOKS A PROPER HOME
A beautiful basket is perfect.
59. PUT AROUND SCENTED CANDLES OR POTPOURRI
Make sure you use one scent throughout the
60. REPLACE THE TOILET SEAT
Choose white, of course
61. INSTALL A FAN
Check the ventilation; if it’s inadequate, have
a fan put in. It’s worth the expense.
LIVEABLE LIVING ROOMS
62. ESTABLISH A FOCAL POINT
It pulls a room together. If you have a
fireplace, that’s a natural. Group furniture around it. An impressive wall of
books or a piano are good too. Play up a focal point with light or color to
distract from possible shortcomings.
63. GROUP FURNITURE
Couches, chairs and tables scattered haphazardly
around a room give it a cluttered and disorganized feeling. Instead, think of
arrangements that encourage conversation and conviviality. Pull the pieces of
furniture toward one another in a group to give the space a more airy feeling
and more walking room.
64. REJUVENATE THE FLOOR
Strip, wax and buff a waxed wood floor. If a polyurethane
floor looks a little scratched and dull, you may not need to go to all the
trouble of stripping and sanding it. A simple buffing with a screen and one
coat of finish will make it glow. You can rent a buffer and screen for $30-$50
a day. A good wax and buff can work wonders too. Another option is to paint old
vinyl or wood floors, adding stenciled details and several coats of
polyurethane for durability. (This can be especially effective in a dining
65. SILENCE A SQUEAKY FLOOR
For an easy, temporary repair, locate the
offending boards, and squirt some powdered graphite lubricant into the seams
between them. Step on and off the boards to work the powder into the joint.
Simply repeat the application if the floor starts making noise again.
66. GET RID OF OLD PRESSED WOOD PANELING
If the wall is less than perfect, try a painting
technique such as sponging to cover any uneven surface and give a soft, elegant
67. FLATTEN OUT WRINKLES IN WALL TO WALL CARPET
Use a carpet layer’s tool called a knee-knocker,
available from tool rental centers or carpet stores.
68. ADD ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL
Crown molding, chair rails and tall baseboards
can transform a boxy living room. If your house cam with these details already,
be sure to showcase them, doing any repairs or refinishing or painting that is
69. PUT AWAY YOUR COLLECTIONS
Religious and political mementos are particular
no-nos. so are animal rugs and big game trophy heads. But don’t overdo family
photos either. Remember, you want to provide visitors with a blank canvas on
which they can fill in their own details.
70. REVIVE AN OLD COUCH AND CHAIR WITH NEW SLIPCOVERS
Or simply flip the cushions. A colorful throw or
pillows can also hide a multitude of sins on dad’s favorite old chair.
71. REVIVE THE WHOLE ROOM WITH NEW WINDOW TREATMENTS
And there are inexpensive alternatives, neutral
colored sheers, or mini blinds, or bamboo shades.
72. DIGUISE A BAD VIEW
Don’t put up heavy curtains to cover it; people
will naturally be curious to see what’s behind them. Instead, hang a half
curtain or a beautiful green plant that stops the eye short of the construction
site beyond. A simple no-sew valance might do the trick too.
DINING ROOM DRAMA
73. HAVE THE TABLETOP REFINISHED OR POLISHED
The table is usually the focal point of a dining
room, so make is gleam.
74. DRESS UP THE TABLE
Buy a handsome new runner or placemats.
75. USE A CENTER PIECE
Perhaps a bowl of fresh fruit of a soup tureen.
76. HANG A SWAG OVER A BARE WINDOW
It will add warmth and some visual interest.
77. ADD A LIVED IN LOOK
Briefly light the wicks of candles so they don’t
look like “props” you never use.
78. MAKE THE MOST OF YOU CHANDELIER
The light it casts highlights your table top.
Wash bulbs and dust it regularly.
80. SPLURGE ON NEW BED LINENS
This is a relatively low cost way to create a
big visual effect. Concentrate on the parts that show, and don’t forget throw
pillows (they don’t need to be in an identical pattern; they just need to
81. MAKE THE FLOORING SOFT
Softness underfoot always conveys a feeling of
comfort and refuge. Wall to wall carpeting is the most popular bedroom
flooring. It’s warm, easy to maintain and inviting to bare feet. But remember
to stick to one color for all the bedrooms and adjoining hallway. Otherwise,
the result can look like patchwork.
82. TONE DOWN KID’S ROOMS
It’s easier than you think! You want buyers to
see beyond the Power Rangers and Powder Puff Girl posters. By simplifying the
décor, you’ll help those prospects imagine how they could use the room. For
those blemished walls fill holes and repaint them if necessary. For the kid’s
sake, you could put one poster back up.
83. PUT AWAY KIDS’ TOYS
In brightly colored plastic crates with lids.
Store these under a shelf or bed.
84. CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSETS
Of course people will look in them, so do now
what you’ll have to do in any case when you move. Jam packed, messy closets
will make people worry there isn’t enough storage space. Invest in a closet
organizing system; pack out of season clothes away. Make the closet look as if
there’s room to spare.
85. TRIM ALL HEDGES AND SHRUBS
Prune dead tree branches while you’re at it.
86. PLANT ANEW
Replace overgrown, leggy foundation planting
that are typical of so many homes.
87. MEND FENCES
Replace wobbly post, mend broken sections,
repaint if necessary.
88. PLANT COLORFUL ANNUALS
While neutral may be the byword with interiors,
in the garden you can afford to be bold with color. A mass of red impatiens
looks dramatic in a shady spot; Zinnias provide a pleasing spot of color in a
89. BEAUTIFY A PLAIN WALL OR FENCE
Select a climbing plant that will bring color to
the area and also cover up an unsightly space; morning glories are always a
90. SHOW WHAT THE GARDEN IS LIKE IN ALL SEASONS
If you have established perennials or bulbs and
it’s not their blooming season, have pictures available for the prospective
91. DEMONSTRATE HOW THE GARDEN CAN BE USED
Showcase an outside eating area with attractive
outdoor furniture. Invest in a new umbrella. Arrange two chairs invitingly
under the shade of a tree, or if you can, string a hammock between two trees.
92. BANISH RUSTY SWING SETS
Shiny painted ones are fine. Deep-six any
decrepit lawn furniture too.
93. ALLY WORRIES ABOUT A POOL
No, a pool is not usually a selling point. Some
people worry that it will be too expensive and time consuming to maintain. Set
the record straight by providing a fact sheet with all the pertinent details,
including specifications, what’s involved in routine upkeep (including costs
and time it takes).
94. PLANT A TREE
Founder’s oaks don’t grow overnight of course,
but for $400-$600 you can get a professionally planted tree that’s a decent
size; a quick way to beautify a barren landscape.
GARAGE & BASEMENT
95. STORE JUNK OVERHEAD
What won’t fit on joists overhead, put neatly on
shelving along the wall of the garage.
96. REMOVE OIL STAINS FROM THE GARAGE FLOOR
Try a commercial degreasing liquid (available at
most hardware stores). If that doesn’t work, try this tip. Make a thick paste
of 1 part TSP (trisodium phosphate), 6 parts water and enough talcum powder to
thicken; spread a ½ inch thick layer on the stain and cover with plastic
sheeting held down with duct tape. Allow the paste to dry (12-24 hours), scrape
off, then rinse with clean water. If you want the floor to look really great,
roll on a coat of gray floor paint after cleaning.
97. MAKE THE BASEMENT SPOTLESS
Aspire to a “submarine control room” look.
Functional, well organized, clean, giving the impression that everything is
impeccably maintained. Buy shelving for neat storage. Wash (and repair) any
windows. Repair cracks in concrete walls and floor; if necessary, wash or
98. CLEAN THE FURNACE
Wipe down the furnace and water heater with a
damp sponge. They’ll look newer. (Turn them off first, for safety’s sake)
99. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A HEALTHY BASEMENT
Have a professional check for radon and
asbestos. It can be detected quickly and easily. Once detected, radon can be
eliminated with no lingering health effects.