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Living Space: Countdown to curb appeal: How to revive your home in a weekend

Aug. 25, 2011 at 3:25 a.m.

Outdoor lighting to highlight architectural features and the house number on a boulder give this home a fresh look and loads of curb appeal.

By Kathryn Weber

In the current real estate market, many owners who are facing plummeting home values are falling out of love with their houses.

It's easy to let a tough economy make you feel uninspired about your house, but don't get too discouraged. Making an effort to keep your home looking attractive, and feeling good about it, takes the edge off a difficult situation and could help preserve your home's value. In just 48 hours, you can give your house an updated look and refresh its energy and vitality - along with your own.

HOUSESCAPING

Housescaping is the act of manicuring and polishing up the appearance of your home. Start by editing your landscape. Removing ugly shrubs and trimming trees can make a huge improvement. Pull out bushes blocking windows, or that have grown too close to walkways.

Once the overgrowth has been removed, add new smaller plants. Not sure what to put in? Take a photo of the exterior of your home to a local nursery and let staff recommend replacement plants. Reseed or re-sod bare spots in the lawn. If planting beds aren't edged, this change will make your yard appear better groomed. The final touch is fresh, thick mulch in plant beds and around trees.

A GOOD SCRUB

Many homes don't need repainting as much they need a good scrub. Rent or borrow a pressure washer and spray siding and windows. Give the windows a quick polish to make them shine. Wash down walkways, porches and the driveway. A hose with a high-pressure nozzle is a cost-effective tool.

A stained roof detracts big time from your home's appearance. Shingled roofs with dark algae can be cleaned with a solution of water, bleach and trisodium phosphate. If safety or heavy stains worry you, it might be smart to hire a cleaning contractor for the job. A green roof wash is available at wash-safe.com/roof-wash and is safe to use around plants if you're willing to tackle this project yourself.

EXTRA TOUCHES

Once cleaning and trimming is finished, it's time to add some polish. Sure, it's a good idea to repaint or replace your front door, add some new hardware and light fixtures. That's standard for curb appeal. But don't forget such overlooked changes as a new mailbox, a striking new house number and outdoor lighting.

Change out, update and refresh your mailbox and add a planting bed at the base if the box is by the street. Replace tired house numbers with contemporary ones in a new location (westonletters.com, modernhousenumbers.com). Add a homey touch with high-quality planters flanking the front door. Fill them with flowers you change with the seasons, or low-maintenance shrubs.

Lastly, let there be light. Outdoor lighting is often completely overlooked. Instead of a set of six lights on a run of electrical cord, opt for spots instead. They'll give you more aesthetic bang for the buck and installation is an easy DIY project. Place spots to highlight trees and unique architectural or landscaping features.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.

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