Home Spruce Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal and Your Bottom Line

by Ari Bendersky | July 17, 2019

A slick of bright paint here, removing wall shelves there — adding value to your home can often come down to a few simple fixes.

Whether you’re looking to sell your home in the next few months or simply want to spruce it up, there are myriad renovation projects and general maintenance hacks you can undertake to improve your quality of life while adding significant curb appeal to your home.

Ready to get started?

Then take a tip from five experts with the inside scoop on transforming your home — without breaking the bank.

The landscape architect says: Celebrate your home’s entrance

“No matter how beautiful your house is, it’s not going to stand out if you have an unkempt or unattractive landscape,” says David Migdal, president of Highland Park, IL-based Garden Consultants. “A well-cared-for landscape makes a great first impression.”

The good news? You don’t need to spend a fortune on fixing up your yard: Create a clear and welcoming path to the front door by investing in a new brick or stone walkway. Or, set up a seating area in front with a couple of Adirondack chairs and a small table. And don’t overlook the front door. “You could paint it so it stands out,” Migdal suggests. “Or replace it with a glass door if the house is modern. Just invest money to celebrate the entrance to your home.”

Finally, select outdoor accessories that complement your home. “This could be porch furniture, a bench, planters or a mailbox,” Migdal advises. And don't overlook small details, “Even address numbers reflect the style of your home to create a cohesive look,” he says.

A well-cared-for landscape makes a great first impression.
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The realtor says: People want a little “wow” factor

Though you’ve had years to explore the many charms and perks of your home, remember that potential buyers' first impressions will be formed based on its immediate look and feel.

“Most buyers are unwilling to do the work and want to walk into a home that’s move-in ready,” says Brad Lippitz, president of Chicago-based Brad Lippitz Group, Compass. “The whole idea is balancing your return with what you put out.”

Lippitz says to focus on key areas and offers these budget-friendly tips:

  • Bathrooms: “The worst thing for a buyer," Lippitz says, “is to walk into a bathroom and feel like you’ve walked into someone else’s used bathroom.” The easy fix? Be sure floors are scratch-free and walls have a fresh coat of paint. And re-caulk bathtubs and showers. “Make it crisp and fresh so it doesn’t look grimy and moldy.”


  • Kitchens: Change out an outdated backsplash for one that's more current.


  • Backyards: No one likes a weathered deck, so apply a fresh coat of stain. “Stay away from red stain,” Lippitz says. “Maybe do charcoal, which right now is hot.” Whether you're looking to move or stay in your place, you can always make any outdoor space more inviting. “Even if you have a small balcony, get a small café table with some chairs and colorful cushions to make that space come alive.”
white and light wood kitchen with a honeycomb pattern white tile backsplash

The home organizer says: Love (and maintain) what you have

“If you don’t maintain your home, it won’t maintain its beauty and appeal,” says Amy Bloomer, owner of Baltimore, MD-based home organizing company Let Your Space Bloom. “Like any other relationship, over time you get used to it and take it for granted.” Avoid this complacency, Bloomer says; continue to make your home a place you love, keep up — even in small ways — and take pride in. You'll thank yourself when it comes time to sell.

Bloomer’s simple upkeep solves follow a handy acronym: H.A.C.S.

  • Hardware changes: Easily update a kitchen by changing out hardware on cabinets. This also applies to knobs and handles on bedroom furniture.


  • Accent paint: Refresh interior molding on an older home or paint high ceilings to help create the illusion of a more intimate space.


  • Camouflage paint: Have a kitchen with pea-green cabinets? No need to shop for replacements — those cabinet boxes might still have life. Paint the doors a contemporary color and voila: you’ve camouflaged the outdated look.


  • Switch fixtures: Good lighting can make a dramatic difference. Elevate a space by changing out frumpy fixtures with new lighting or overhead fans. 
Continue to make your home a place you love, keep up — even in small ways — and take pride in.
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The stager says: Create inviting spaces

Your home may have great bones, but when you do decide to sell it, a slight makeover may be in order. Professional home stagers like Justin Riordan, founder of Space and Archer Design Agency in Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, can help.

Riordan preps (or “stages”) clients’ homes for sale, be it temporarily furnishing a vacant space or reconfiguring and supplementing existing household items. “Creating a point of pride for the next buyer is going to get you more offers,” he explains.

Riordan has simple tricks to help make your place feel fresh:

  • Countertops: “It amazes me that people still want granite. We do quartz now. It’s lower maintenance than granite, tough as nails, lasts forever and comes in standard neutral colors.”


  • Basement: Remove shelving along the walls. "Making the basement clean and empty so people can see exactly what they’re getting will make for a faster sale.”


  • Family rooms: “Interior designers love window coverings," Riordan says, “because they’re the largest markup. We tell everyone to take down their window coverings and bring in as much light as possible.”


  • Yards: “Put down mulch that’s almost black to make sure your flower beds look rich.”
white walled living room with a gray couch, a low wooden table and a gray wooden cardboard deer head mount on the wall

The architect says: Add more by taking something away

Many people feel they need to add to their homes to make it feel full and substantial. However, AUX Architecture founder Brian Wickersham of Los Angeles, CA, thinks otherwise.

“We tell people what you take away is more important than what you add,” he says. “We look at projects and see what we can take out that will add more light, [improve] floor plans, etc.” Wickersham likes to strip back to create more open, modern spaces. He’s also a big fan of skylights and windows that allow natural light to flow throughout your home.

“Most people get into trouble when they think they need more space,” he says. “You don’t have to make something bigger to make it more functional. Sometimes it’s just about being more efficient.” Wickersham further suggests taking stock of and preserving quality materials you already have.

Don’t overlook the foyer — it's the first interior space people see. “Look at ways to simply activate that space,” he says. “Hang fixtures, put art on the walls, have fun with paint color. It can give punch and life to that space immediately when you walk in.”

Hang fixtures, put art on the walls, have fun with paint color.
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Whether looking to put your place on the market or give it a little makeover so you can enjoy it more, you don't need to do much. Make a list of your priorities to get started and pick and choose from these expert tips to help lend some structure and perspective. Your home will sparkle and you'll have added that curb appeal to make you the envy of the block.

Ari Bendersky

and his husband continually update little things throughout their home to keep it fresh. The Chicago native has written for the New York Times, WSJ magazine, Men's Journal, Departures, Wine Enthusiast and Crain's Chicago Business.