Some pros dish on inexpensive ways to spruce up your house.

The economic downturn makes it difficult to have the time and money to make a house look presentable. impression easily drive off a potential buyer. “If the outside of your house doesn’t look nice, people aren’t even going to want to go in it,” said Leslie Causey, owner of LC Home Staging.

Fortunately, there are some quick and cheap ways to fix up your house. Sprucing up a front yard can be as easy as buying new mulch or turning over the mulch already in the flowerbeds and putting out a few $5 dollar potted plants, Causey said.

A bed room with a large wooden bed and two night stands

MESS: Red and yellow walls dominated this Woods of Shavano bedroom. It also had too much furniture and felt cluttered.

A bed room with two lamps and a large bed

BLESSED: The walls were painted a more neutral color. Excess furniture was removed and color was added with accent pillows to make this master bedroom more luxurious.


Don’t neglect the front door. It’s easy to do be- cause so many people enter their house through the garage, Causey said. “Nothing’s more of a turnoff than to walk up to somebody’s front door and it be covered with webs and mess,” she said. It doesn’t cost anything to clean the front door and sweep the porch before showing a house. Inside, it’s all about making your house look spacious, said DaLona Ni-land, owner of Organized by Design. When someone first walks in, make sure they don’t, see clutter, Niland said Living peaceful longings lying around is absolutely out of question.

She recommends keeping a large tub with a lid that can be quickly filled with toys and remote controls then stored in the garage when someone is coming to look at your home. It’s cheap and it saves your family from trying to keep the house perpetually looking like a model home.

De-cluttering can be the simplest way to improve a home’s interior, said Fawn Hamilton, owner of Home Stagers of San Antonio.

“Remove children’s homework from the refrigerator, the stack of bills and any grocery items from countertops,” Hamilton wrote in an e-mail. “It distracts the eye to the junk and keeps the footage of the room holding all the clutter.”

A painting of an office with a desk and chair.

MESS: The loft study was crowded with furniture and an assortment of skulls that only the home seller could value. The sculls obviously had to go.

A bedroom with a desk and a bed in it

BLESSED: Neutral colors, some serious clutter control and a new place for the desk turned this crowded loft into a workable space.

You probably don’t want to move all that stuff to a new home anyway. It’s not a bad idea to sell the furniture you’re thinking about getting rid of to free up space, Hamilton said.

Some people borrow or rent nicer furniture, she said, storing their person- al items offsite.

Limit what’s on the walls of your house, Ni- land. said. Family portraits and walls filled with pictures make a home look too personal.

“You want to make it feel like they’re walking into a house they can live in,” she said. “If it feels like they’re walking into someone else’s house, they feel timid and reserved. If they feel like they’re walking into house that’s for sale… then they start immediately interacting with that house.”

Items that seem obvious candidates for removal, like litter boxes, are some- time overlooked, Niland said. It’s absolutely crucial to get those items out of the way.

A living room with two windows and a couch

This living room was staged with cool colors and extra pillows to give it more appeal.

A chair and table in front of a window.

This porch was redesigned with plants and furniture to match the exterior stone work.

It’s equally crucial your home gets a thorough cleaning, which is not usually a pricey endeavor.

“People don’t want to move into a house that’s got someone else’s grime,” she said.

Potential buyers can and will look in your clos- et, so Niland said make sure they don’t look too cluttered either. Closets should be no more than two-thirds full.

“You don’t want to give the appearance that this house can hardly contain what’s already living here,” Niland said.

Another cheap and easy improvement that’s indispensable is to make sure all the light fixtures in your home have all their bulbs, Causey said.

“It’s amazing how many homes I go into that will have a lamp with three bulbs and only one bulb is working,” she said.

When you’re expecting someone to visit the house, it’s a good idea to open all the blinds and turn on all the lights, Ni- land said. Making potential buyers turn on lights and open curtains can make them uncomfortable, she said.

“You want them to feel at home when they walk into your house,” Niland said.

Keeping unused towels in the bathroom is important too. It can be a hassle to keep kids’ hands off the towels, but it’s inexpensive and Hamilton said it goes a long way to improving a bathroom’s image…

Getting a second opinion is a good idea too. Of course Hamilton recommends hiring a home stager, but she said just having a friend or neighbor give an honest opinion can be a big help in deciding what needs to be done to make a home look more inviting to a potential buyers.