A baker's dozen tips will help you freshen up your home, and some won't cost you anything but a little elbow grease.
Do you love watching those TV shows where homes for sale are dramatically restaged in a weekend, usually on a very small budget? It's amazing how much can be done with so little.
But it's easy to get stuck in a rut. When you see the same house day in and day out, it's really hard to imagine how it might be different. Many times people just simply stop "seeing" problem spots altogether. It's almost as if they have blinders on and end up living with something less than ideal that could be addressed in an afternoon with a few dollars.
It happens all the time with clutter. People will live with ugly, messy papers strewn all over the place and then be completely amazed at both how little time it takes to clean up and the big visual difference being clutter-free makes.
Here are inexpensive ways to breathe new life into your home. Start anywhere on the list.
1 Landscape with potted plants. This is a quick way to make over a deck or patio in an afternoon. Head over to the home-improvement store or nursery and pick up two or three large pots, some soil and plants. Then "plant" them on your patio or deck. Great choices of plants include herbs you can use in the kitchen, geraniums and impatiens.
2 Declutter the yard. This is a great way to get exercise and instantly improve your home's curb appeal. Pick up branches that have fallen during storms, put away children's toys that are lingering and, by all means, all evidence that you have pets should be picked up and thrown in the trash every day. If you have a lot of statues and figurines in your yard, consider winnowing your collection. Less is truly more.
3 Power-wash patios and siding. Power washers make quick work of cleaning surfaces that have gotten dirty or moldy. They can also be a greener option than using your own elbow grease since they typically get surfaces clean without the need for additional cleaning agents. You can rent one at a home-goods store like Home Depot or Lowe's.
4 Paint the front door. Painting the front door is one of the easiest makeovers you can do. Historically, red doors signify welcome, whereas dark blues and greens are supposed to bring calm and peace to those who enter. And if you don't like it, you can make a change very quickly.
5 Swap out pillow covers. You can completely change the feeling of a room by adding pops of color and cheer in the forms of pillows. Just swap out the covers for a totally fresh look in the living room or even a bedroom.
6 Stage a bookshelf. Bookshelves are often the last place people think to make over, but in reality they offer a marvelous canvas. Paint the backs a bright color.
7 Use a finisher on hardwood floors. Remove all dirt and grime from hardwood floors with a good vacuum cleaner. Then, with a mop, use a polymer finish like Rejuvenate Floor Cleaner to restore a bit of shine to tired floors.
8 Add color to a room with paint. Change the personality of a room instantly by applying a fresh coat of paint. South-facing rooms generally get loads of light and can handle rich, saturated tones, while north-facing rooms generally do better with light colors and semi-gloss finishes that reflect light around the room.
9 Scrub the walls. Take a bucket of water, a microfiber cloth and a little baking soda around the house and erase any marks -- from scuffs to children's doodles -- that have cropped up.
10 Change up hand towels. Enliven a bathroom simply by exchanging tired, old hand towels with new ones. It's easy to find beautiful linen hand towels for sale at most flea markets. If you find a bunch, consider keeping extras in a basket, where they're at the ready -- and make a wonderful display.
11 Hang new pictures. When was the last time you actually printed the pictures stored away in your computer? Choose a few, find some frames and make a small gallery on a previously empty (or boring) wall.
12 Declutter your main room. You probably spend 80 percent or more of your time in just a few rooms of the house. If the thought of a stem-to-stern declutter is too overwhelming, focus on the one room you spend the most time in, like the family room. If you haven't used something in at least six months, be ruthless and toss it.
13 Accent with a slipcover. If you have a couch or chair that's a little long in the tooth but can't afford to buy new furniture, consider a slipcover. For a fraction of the cost of a new piece, you get a whole new look.