* Start with curb appeal. This is especially important if you're planning on selling. First impressions are lasting ones and unmown grass or shabby planting beds make the kind of statement you want to avoid. Keep grass well trimmed and planting beds watered. If you don't have a green thumb, choose easy-to-grow flowers, like petunias, to add pizzazz to your landscaping.
* Cleanliness is essential. Whether you're selling your home or living in it, keeping it clean is a top priority. Clean homes are better preserved, more healthful places to live. And homebuyers rank dirty houses at the top of their turn-offs list. You probably take care of the kitchen and baths regularly, but don't forget the need to shampoo the carpet occasionally, especially if it is worn or old. And take the time to do the windows -- you'll be amazed at the difference it makes to your home's appearance, both inside and out.
* Cut the clutter. Living in a cluttered environment is harmful on so many levels -- from your home's sell-appeal to your own self esteem. Decreasing clutter opens up the visual space in your home and can inspire greater decorating creativity.
* Take care of repairs as quickly as possible. Some things simply can't wait, like a leaking roof. But try not to put off small repairs that may not seem consequential -- like the toilet that needs the handle jiggled every now and then. Small repairs can become big problems if they add up or get worse with time -- and they always do.
* Put your decorating dollars into the rooms and trends that give the biggest payoff in both your enjoyment of your home and appeal to potential buyers. Focus on the kitchen and baths. No penny spent in those rooms is ever wasted, whether you're simply dressing up the bath with new towels or installing granite counter tops in the kitchen. Granite counter tops are a must in model homes, as are gleaming clean baths.
* Consider adding an interior designer touch, such as a custom wall mural. Increasingly popular among designers, wallpaper murals are popping up in model homes across the country. Designers are using them to enhance kitchens, brighten baths and create bold statements in common areas of the house, according to Murals Your Way, makers of easy-to-install custom wallpaper murals. "To have someone paint a mural costs thousands," states interior designer, Lisa Fields who installed a wallpaper mural depicting Michelangelo's Creation of Adam in a hallway ceiling. "I love being able to have the same look while staying within budget."
Hope you all can use some of these ideas...