Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

7 spring fixes to boost your home's value
By BOBBI DEMPSEY, Investopedia

Tidying up your landscaping is a sure way to add curb appeal to your home.

At this time of year, many people dive into their spring cleaning. But this is also the perfect time to tackle home improvement tasks you put off during the cold winter weather.

There are lots of relatively simple and affordable things you can do to give your home a spring facelift. Your house will look better and your family will feel happier in it. As a bonus, you will also boost your home's value at the same time.

1. Add the perfect touch with paint

"A fresh coat of light paint on the interior walls can work wonders," says Kelly O'Ryan of Coldwell Banker in Lexington, Massachusetts. "Paint will always clean up dirty walls and give a room a better image."

Although dark colours can be stylish, O'Ryan advises going for lighter shades to brighten things up in warmer seasons. Karol Nickell, editor-in-chief of Fresh Home magazine, offers this advice: "Smart colour selections can make a small or cramped room appear dramatically larger.

In the foyer, make a good first impression with similar tones mixed at different strengths. In the living room, a bold colour paired with a white ceiling makes the room seem taller than it really is."

2. Focus on the flooring

Good, well-maintained flooring can set a positive tone for the entire interior of your home.

"Like paint, flooring can help create an impression of spaciousness and airiness," Nickell says. "Whether it's a floating laminate floor, tile or a natural 'green' alternative, lighter-tone flooring can make formerly drab areas appear modern and streamlined."

3. Lighten up the accents

"Spring is a great time to change your window treatments and area rugs," O'Ryan says. "Once again, dark colours are associated with winter months; a lighter airy curtain will give any room a brighter and more pleasant appearance. If your floors are in great shape, you may want to remove the area rug(s) and leave the floors bare. Eliminating the rugs will open up the room and make it appear larger."

4. Update the windows

Old windows aren't just ugly, they can also let your heat and air conditioning escape, costing you big bucks.

"While window treatments are typically a focus in many home makeovers, the actual windows themselves are often overlooked," says Victor Gonzales Maertens, an energy-efficiency expert with Lennox Industries. "However, upgrading old single-pane windows with new Energy Star-qualified windows can save an average of between $126 and $465 per year on energy bills."

5. Weed out bad landscaping

Neglected bushes and overgrown lawns can kill a home's curb appeal. Don't worry - you don't need a green thumb to spruce up your yard.

"Clean up the site by removing any dead or dying plants, branches and flowers," suggest Jennifer Hoxsie, landscape designer with Greenhaven Landscapes in Lake Bluff, Illinois. "Prune overgrown shrubs along the home's foundation so they are below the windowsills and off walkways and driveways. Fill empty holes with site-appropriate plants. Have all the planting beds weeded, edged and mulched for a clean, crisp look. Finally, weed and fertilize the lawn and provide supplemental watering if necessary to maintain a lush green carpet."

6. Add decorative touches to the yard

We're not talking about plastic pink flamingos or creepy garden gnomes. Taylor Graves, representing CertainTeed building products, says, "Adding benches, stepping stones, fountains or other garden accents could go a long way in making your outdoors a visually appealing and welcoming environment."

7. A few final exterior touches

While you're outside, there are a few other quick moves that can make a big difference.

"Add colour with paint to outdoor features such as window frames, decorative beams and porches," says Kurt Gleeson, national vice-president of sales for Stick with calm colours that complement the home's exterior colour scheme, avoiding shocking shades and drastic contrasts.

"Clean external brickwork or concrete slabs with a liquid masonry cleaner to make them look new and neat. Power-washing can give external stonework, walkways and front stoops a quick makeover."

Spruce things up

By investing a few bucks and some elbow grease, you can boost your home's image - and value - quickly this spring.

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