Getting your home ready for show - or just for yourself

So, Better Homes and Gardens let me know about some potentially handy idea galleries to help people sell their homes during tough times - and I thought some of their points were worth sharing with you guys. Did I mention they're low-cost?

Corral the landing zones

All that stuff that you usually find plopped down right inside your back door -- everything from shopping bags to hockey sticks to shoes to umbrellas to gardening gloves to backpacks? It all has to be corralled and stored so potential buyers don't get frightened. And if you see a trouble spot, fix it with a built-in storage bench with a cushion, or a row of pegs. In fact, if you deal with all that stuff the right way, buyers will go away thinking your house has built-in clutter control. Have just enough of your day-to-day stuff organized on mudroom pegs and shelves to show that real people live there -- and hide the rest away.

Go for the Odd Number

After you've edited your accessories to the bare bones, show them off the right way. Most interior decorators will tell you that odd-numbered groupings can be very effective. When organizing vignettes of accessories, vary the shape, color, and size and don't line them up. For example: Hang a large landscape above a table where there's a lamp and a plant, or group a collection of candles of three different heights on the mantel. Less really is more. A few well-chosen items -- one pillow on the couch, three well-framed prints on the wall -- show off your good taste without overwhelming the potential buyer.

Enhance with Woodwork

Architectural woodwork not only adds character, it disguises imperfections in old walls. Use simple woodwork, such as beaded-board paneling and corner rosettes, to dress up walls.

New Knobs, Pulls, and Light Fixtures

As with new faucets, these easily installed off-the-shelf items boost style and have a big impact with relatively little cost and time.

Edit your bookcases

As lovely as bookcases are -- especially if they're architecturally attractive and built in -- they're a turnoff if they're too stuffed with books or a catch-all for clutter. Edit your bookshelves so that they feel just a little bit empty. Stack books in interesting patterns and accessorize lightly.

Here are the galleries so you can see all the ideas:

Low Cost Updates That Add Value: Shows photos of cost-cutting tips to give your home character without exceeding your remodeling budget.

Remodeling Projects that Pay Off. Provides photos of remodeling projects that are almost guaranteed to increase your home’s value.

Making the Sale Before They Walk in the Door. Demonstrates how to improve your home’s curb appeal.

Staging Tricks from the Pros. Identifies tricks that home-staging professionals use and that you can adopt to sell your home more quickly.

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