Homes | Curb appeal

For economical tweaks to home, start with exterior

If you're a homeowner looking for inexpensive ways to freshen your home or smart tweaks to prepare it for sale, looks can be everything. Landscaping and curb appeal play major roles in making your house stand out and can help home sell quickly and at a good price. • Because your home's exterior is the first thing visitors see, an occasional face-lift is always welcome. Plus, exterior updates to homes often cost less than interior renovations and can yield greater returns on investment. • Here are some ideas to get you started.

De-clutter the front yard. Make sure there aren't toys, lawn ornaments or sports equipment in the driveway — they're unsightly and dangerous. Also, a lighted path makes a home friendlier to visitors.

Check the deck. While a deck or porch may not technically be part of your living room, it can be just as comfortable and welcoming. To increase its appeal, stain your deck and any other woodwork adorning the house. It's essential that you first clean the wood to remove all dirt and mildew stains with a proper deck cleaner. Stick with more traditional stain colors, such as browns, reds and grays, and choose colors that complement your home's existing features.

Don't forget the fences. You can also stain wooden fences and outdoor wood furniture, like Adirondack chairs and swing sets. Follow the same steps above — clean the wood before staining — but consider a non-traditional stain color to give your home personality.

"Pops of color can enliven a deck or porch area. Think of staining planter boxes, porch swings and picnic tables in fun colors," said Susan Uram of Olympic Exterior Stain. "Many people only think of browns when they think of stain, but there are a vast array of stain colors to choose from that can complement any project."

Clean the windows from the outside. This helps make your home seem more welcoming and brighter. To cut time and elbow grease, consider using an extension pole cleaning system or specially designed garden hose attachment.

A well-maintained front door can make all the difference. Start by giving it a new coat of stain or paint and replacing broken or crooked numbers and worn hardware. Then move on to moldings, wooden supports and window shutters that may be peeling, working your way up to the whole exterior, if necessary. And don't forget to place a new welcome mat at the front door.

Unique additions. Adding colorful shutters, for instance, can make windows appear larger and complement your home's base color. Potted plants or lanterns on either side of the front door can add flair. You may want to give that old mailbox and garage door a fresh coat of paint. After all, it's the details that make the difference.

For economical tweaks to home, start with exterior 10/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 5:30am]

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