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Ask Trulia: How to Add Curb Appeal Without Breaking the Bank?

A seller in Louisana is looking for cheap (and cheerful) ideas to pump up curb appeal.

Q: My home has been on the market for months now, and I haven’t received any serious offers. I’ve been told that my home’s curb appeal is “lackluster.” How do I improve it without breaking the bank?

Sarah, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A: First impressions can make or break a home sale. It’s a no brainer, really — if your home isn’t looking its best, it’s going to take longer to sell. For better or worse, selling your home works a lot like dating; the better you take care of yourself, the easier it is to get one.

And I’m going to teach you how to break your frump slump and stand out above the rest.

Upping your curb appeal is a lot like primping for a date. Except this kind of primping requires a power tool: the power washer. Don’t let the name intimidate you; power washers are essentially giant squirt guns. (So fun.)

You can rent one for a reasonable price from most big box hardware stores and even some mom-and-pop shops. They’ll also show you how to use it. Once you have your power washer, spray down the exterior of your home. Then move on to the driveway, the walkway to the front door, and your deck or patio (if you’re lucky enough to have one). You want your home to look spotless.

Now it’s time to accessorize. Replacing worn hardware like your front door handle, knocker, mailbox, or house number will add a refreshing touch. Just make sure your accessories match your home’s style — vintage hardware for older homes, and more modern fixtures for newer homes. Another quick way to boost curb appeal is to repaint your front door. If your door is metal or vinyl, be sure to clean it well and make sure to buff out any scuff marks.

Next up: landscaping. If you don’t have a green thumb, you’re going to have to fake it. Not only are neglected garden beds sad, they’re a signal to buyers that your home’s interior is equally disappointing. (Even if it’s not!) So, make sure to trim any overgrown shrubs, and remove any dead plants. Spread fresh mulch in flowerbeds and consider adding some new plants to the garden.

Don’t have a garden? Try adding potted plants around your entry or walkway. Be careful not to overwhelm the front door, though. Two plants will do: one on each side. Aim for symmetry.

Lastly, let’s talk about outdoor lighting — specifically, solar fixtures. They’re not only super easy to install since they don’t need to connect to an electrical line, they’re also good for the planet. Use them to illuminate the pathway to your front door. Easy-peasy curb appeal.

Rebecca, there are several more DIY projects you could take on, but these will get you the most results with the least amount of effort and cost.

Have a question about interior design? Send it to We’ll be posting answers regularly on our blog.