by Jane Magaro, Cheapism.com
One way to make a lasting impression on your house guests is with a laser-like focus on improving the outside of the house. Whether your home needs a quick pick-me-up in time for spring or a more dramatic improvement to compete in a buyer's market, try these quick and low-cost outdoor home improvement fixes. A complete exterior overhaul can cost thousands of dollars, but these five cheap home improvement ideas can make a big impact on a small budget.
Mow the lawn for sight and smell. An overgrown lawn is the equivalent of a bad haircut. One of the cheapest but most critical home improvement fixes involves cleaning up the lawn. Brighten up guests' perceptions of your home by cutting the grass, cleaning up paths or walkways, clearing the lawn of clutter, and trimming the bushes. The scent of fresh-cut grass is a bonus, especially if you're trying to sell your house. For most people, the sweet smell reminds them of summer and home, but to buyers, it's also a sign that your house is well cared for.
Related: Lowe's or Home Depot
Spring clean your home - on the outside. Cleaning the outside of your house is a really cheap home improvement idea and also surprisingly effective. Scrubbing down the exterior can brighten up the colors and possibly even eliminate the need for a fresh coat of paint. To stretch the existing paint job, rinse off the layer of dust and dirt that dulls the color and finish. For heavy-duty exterior cleaning, rent a pressure washer and blast away stains.
Remember to wipe off visible dirt and grime, especially near the entryway where people get up close and personal with the house. Wash the windows to let more sunlight inside while presenting that new-house look on the outside. Lastly, keep the rainwater flowing only where it should by clearing the gutters and drainage system.
Related: Best Budget Lawn Mowers
Create a landscape on your lawn. Bring all-season cheer to the front lawn with flowers, plants, and bushes. Flowers provide pops of color that can make the lawn seem more lush and luxurious while attracting eye-catching wildlife, such as birds and butterflies. Shrubs and other plantings can act as natural fences and create more privacy while making your home look well loved.
Enliven existing landscaping on the cheap by laying down fresh mulch or soil. Plant flowers along the walkways that guests can admire while approaching the house, or cluster them as a mini-garden in an obvious spot. Buy seeds from home improvement stores or transplant potted flowers from a local nursery. Find out which flowers bloom well in your region; for a colorful garden display all spring and summer, plant different flowers that bloom at staggered intervals.
For lower-maintenance landscaping, decorate the entryway with annual, potted plants. A selection of blooms on the porch, by the door, or hanging from windowsills can brighten anyone's impression of your home before they even walk through the door.
Related: Best Budget Weed Eaters
Make Your Door Memorable. The front door is both barrier and passageway, so make it a focus of your cheap home improvement efforts. Clean it to a shine and make sure it's free of cracks or peeling paint. Repaint if needed, and consider a new, bold color that will liven up the overall look of the house. Doorknobs are not to be forgotten, either. They're a cheap but lasting home upgrade, so replace old or tarnished doorknobs with newer hardware that feels solid in the hand.
Fix-up ideas aside, it may be worth replacing the door entirely. Home improvement stores like Lowe's or Home Depot stock new doors with prices that probably fall within your budget. Look for a door that feels solid when opened, and consider design elements like windowed insets. Doors are relatively inexpensive but can make a home seem more valuable in the eyes of guests - or buyers.
Make small details the big focus. Craft a personality for your home with the use of small details and decorations. Think like an interior designer. Replace old or peeling address numbers with decorative new ones. Look for antique lights or torches for the entryway at flea markets and garage sales. Replace or repaint shutters in cheery coordinating colors to make your home the bright spot in the neighborhood.
Best Budget Washing Machines
Best Cheap Refrigerators
Costco or Sam's Club
For more ways to save, follow Cheapism on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
To stay on top of the latest posts, read the Cheapism Blog.