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Cold to Sold

Can our team of experts make this house a top seller?

Single mom Tracy Sorokin has lived in her home for seven years, but needs to move closer to work and her son's school. While she looks forward to making a fresh start, she first has to sell her house.

She looks to the Designed to Sell team to help make it happen as quickly as possible. Armed with $2,000 and two weeks to get ready for the open house, everyone gets busy.

First on the scene is real estate expert Shannon Freeman, whose job is to assess what needs to be done for Sorokin to get the best price for her home.

Freeman's first impression from the outside is that this home is a little stark. There's a great front porch area, and the flowers in front of it look nice, but that warmth needs to be carried onto the porch. The metal security door also needs to be removed — visitors might get the idea that the seller doesn't feel safe here.

That impression carries over into the house, as she generally gets a cold feeling from the interior arrangements and decor. She also notes that several areas are undefined. When selling a house, rooms need to have a clear purpose to avoid confusion from potential buyers.

Freeman says the living room is way too white, making it feel institutionalized. In addition, there is some confusion as to the purpose of the room because of the workout equipment and children's toys.

The guest bathroom is even worse! The only color is in the floor tile and splash of paint on the wall from an unfinished project. This is a definite red flag, as most buyers will not want to tackle a job left by the previous owners.

Designer Lisa LaPorta enters the picture next. She is charged with putting together a plan for implementing the changes Freeman suggests while staying within the $2,000 budget parameters. Here's what she wants to do:

Step 1: Fill in the blanks. Warm up the stark white features that bleach out the home's bottom line.

Step 2: Set it free. Open up the space to potential buyers by removing bars and rearranging furniture.

Step 3: Solve the puzzle. Redefine the home's confusing features by giving them a purpose at the open house.

LaPorta relies on her crack team to get the desired results. Contractor Jim Collins, along with carpenters Nick Ralbovsky and Brad Haviland, know how to accomplish these goals. Let's see how they did:

The living room is now sophisticated and warm. The cozy new furniture placement shows off the fireplace and new crown molding, paint, window treatments and accessories.

The guest bathroom is a design success as well. The combination window treatment/shower curtain adds rich texture, and the new lighting, accessories and fresh paint complete the look.

The family room has the same issues as the other rooms, with an unclear definition and lackluster design.

The security grid on one of the doors in this room is a little unsettling, the bar area is underused, and the furniture arrangement is awkward — another example of the lack of definition the experts mentioned.

Now it's a great gathering place that's both functional and attractive. The new French door (far right) brings much-needed light into the room, accented by new furniture pieces, window treatments, paint and accessories.

The cost breakdown for this project is as follows:

furniture $885
French door $170
special projects $300
window treatments $355
paint and supplies $100
accessories $165

Total: $1,975

Products from the Coaster Company:

two leisure chairs with fabric cushions, 3611
trunk coffee table, 4895
TV armoire, 4989
two barstools, 5435

Products from Linens 'N Things:

from Samana:
two drapery rods, 680656003633 and 680656003640
one pair drapery panels, 083013787335
three valances for den, 083013797334
pillow for den, 083013795750

from Imperial:
two pillows for den, 738790381275

from Pralinedra:

two linen valance shades for living room, 08995393295

Product from Robinsons May Furniture Outlet:

Living Contemporary love seat, 13035373

Products from Cost Plus:

two square brown wicker place mats, 000000328054
Shanghi Red vase for den, 000000346573
two Topkapi drapery rods, 000000339761
10" plate stand, 000000267364
11" Mango wooden vase for living room, 000000344013
wicker plate for bathroom, Charger Rattan, 000000354232

Product from Ross:

wicker chair for the den

Products from Pier 1 Imports:

dried sticks, 1842291
Antique Gold plate stand, 1912787
Scrofularia dried branches, 1976095

Products from The Home Depot:

bathroom paint, Ralph Lauren's Tangier Island
dining-room paint, Ralph Lauren's Mexican Feather Grass, NA-96
den paint, Behr's Riviera Sand
living-room paint, Valspar's Cliveden
wall-mount light fixture for bathroom, 008938349550
crown molding

Products from Bed Bath & Beyond:

pair of Melrose drapery panels and matching valance for the bathroom, 8301381195 and 8301381196

Products from The Linen Outlet:

valance rod, 3689
two large Pacific Heights bath towels, Amber 825449 and Rust 825464
four Pacific Heights hand towels, Amber 825450 and Rust 825465
Phoenix Palm Plant, 822387

Products from Lowe's:

"L" shower rod, 27463
semi flush lighting pendant for den, 170582

Products from Contractors' Warehouse:

French door and prehung bathroom door

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