How to Refresh Your House Without Spending Lots of Money

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The risk factors involved with entering the housing market keep some would-be buyers at bay even in an upswing, Kiplinger Magazine says. Refreshing your house inside and out before putting it up for sale -- or rent -- can better your chance of success. But you don't have to spend a small fortune or go into debt to make your home stand out from the crowd. In fact, you can do some of the updates and work simply with an investment of your time.

Clear away debris and garbage from the yard. Trim overgrowth or dead material from hedges, trees and plants. Rake up fallen leaves and dry grass. Sweep walkways and decks focusing on corners and edges. Tidy the interior of sheds, outbuildings and a garage or carport making use of any shelving systems.

Store garden tools, the lawn mower and any yard-care supplies inside a shed or carport when they're not in use. If you don’t have outbuildings, keep yard tools and supplies together at the back of the home, but not where they can be seen from inside, and not right outside a backdoor or blocking a path.

Paint inside and out, if your home has dark or bold shades, or peeling paint. Paint is a relatively inexpensive, surefire way to freshen a dated or lackluster home. Look at attractive, nearby homes for exterior neutral-tone ideas. Choose neutral colors for indoors as well -- look to interior-decorating magazines and books for common, trendy hues. Remove peeling paint and dirt from wood siding, using a pressure washer that you can rent from most tool-rental shops. Sand glossy interior walls, such as laminated paneling and apply a primer before painting.

Box up all of your family photos, most of the home’s accessories and any clutter -- including the closet and cupboard’s contents -- that you can do without in the meantime. Store the excess at a friend’s home, neatly in your attic or in a rented storage until you move. Clutter makes the home appear as if it has storage issues, and personal items make it difficult for prospective buyers to imagine the place as their own.

Clean the interior thoroughly. Steam clean carpeting; rent a steam cleaner from a local rental shop or grocery store. Wash walls that haven’t been painted. Wash the ceilings -- give them a fresh coat of ceiling paint, if they’re looking yellow, gray or dingy. Launder all bedding and drapery to help make the home look and smell clean. Dust everything, from artwork to furnishings to blinds. Run washable glass, crystal and ceramic accessories through a dishwasher’s gentle cycle. Shine the windows inside and out, and clean the sills, frames and tracks. Keep the home clean and tidy until it sells.

Stage your home by arranging furniture to maximize space and highlight the home’s best features. For example, pull living-room seating away from the walls and group it around an area rug in front of a fireplace.


  • Never point a pressure-washer sprayer at anyone or use it to clean windows; the pressure is strong enough to injure someone and break windows. Open windows for ventilation when painting indoors.