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Beyond the Starter Home

The Jacksons are ready to leave their first home for something much larger.

Before: Confusing and Cluttered
Tresa and Miccal Jackson's family has doubled in size, but their house remains the same. This 1,413-square-foot home, with three bedrooms and two baths, is simply too small for a family of four. The main problem is lots of clutter. The Jacksons hope the Designed to Sell team can use the $2,000 budget to turn their home into a profit center.

Real estate expert Donna Freeman pays the Jacksons' home a visit to assess problem areas. She notices that the lawn looks great, but the plastic containers and toys strewn about detract from it, and this planter is useless without fresh flowers in it.

This dilapidated red fencing doesn't help either. Replacing the rundown fence is a must.

Inside, she notices more clutter, particularly in front of the living-room fireplace. Instead of adding warmth and character to the living room, the fireplace is serving as a catchall. Fireplaces are seen as a major plus by potential buyers and should be shown off.

Each of the bedrooms need some tidying up, but the office needs more attention. It looks likes a cross between a child's room and an office, and the carpet is filthy. Rooms should have a clear definition so buyers don't have to do any guesswork.

The living and dining rooms have a confusing aesthetic aspect. There isn't really any one focal point, and the furniture arrangements could use some sprucing up. The living room is a bit drab and uninviting but nothing some fresh paint and furniture rearranging can't fix.

The dining room is stacked high with boxes and other clutter, leaving little room for actually dining.

Designer Lisa LaPorta lays out her three-step plan to make the changes necessary to get this house ready to sell:

Step 1: Simplify to sell. Make sure buyers are getting the square footage advertised by packing away the clutter.

Step 2: Liven it up. Remove all signs of anything dead or dirty so the home feels fresh and new. Colorful plants and a new fence outside are a must.

Step 3: Stop kidding around. One child's room is fine, but the rest of the home needs to appeal to a more grownup clientele.

With just seven days to get ready for the open house, contractor Jim Collins and carpenters Brad Haviland and Nick Ralbovsky tackle the large job of adding space to these cramped quarters.

After: Clearly Defined, Livable Spaces
The living and dining rooms are much more livable and welcoming. It took more than half the budget to implement the changes, but it looks like it was worth it.

The living room has been transformed into a cozy living space. The fireplace is now free of clutter and accented by the paint color on the wall behind it. New furniture pieces, various accessories and window treatments finish it off.

Over in the dining room, all those boxes are gone and what remains is a spacious setting for a delicious meal or family gathering. The table now takes center stage, and freshly painted walls and new window treatments complete the look.

The most dramatic transformation happened in the office/child's room, which can now function as a work area or a bedroom or both. The childlike mural has been replaced by a soft neutral color, and new furniture pieces create a homey setting.

A new fence complements the bright grass and adds tremendous value to the home.

And a week and $215 worth of plants and flowers later, the porch is colorful and cheery.

Total cost breakdown for the Jacksons' place:

furniture $768
window treatments $255
lumber and lighting $355
landscaping $215
paint and supplies $115
decorative accessories $285

Total: $1993 — just $7 to spare!!!

Products from Pier 1:

New Grip plate stand for fireplace, 1960142

five bamboo shades for living room/dining room, 1851405

Products from Coaster Company:

two leather chairs, 8071
coffee table set for living room, 5421
two barstools for office, 5508

Products from Target:

two lamps for living room, 074000814
lampshades for living room, 074080515
iron framed mirror, 074110634
two pictures for living room, 074120094
bromeliad plant in clay pot for fireplace, 804080608
two candle holders, 054001057
two throw pillows, 060041179
seven valances, 068030398
six valance rods, 068050272
bamboo plate for living room, 054000954

Products from Lowe's:

five gallons of Ralph Lauren paint:

fireplace wall, Brompton Grey
living room walls, Devonshire
office, Fairy Wren
office desk area, Cottonwood

27 Salvia Plants, 51839
Sago Palm, 77867
one 15-gallon Flax Phornium, 201978
three 5-gallon Flax Phornium, 86172
two 2-gallon Flax Phornium, 106390
three 2-gallon Tropicana-canna, 222220
nine annual flowers 1 gallon, 51698
two purple fountain plants, 94349
soil for yard, 80642
bronze lamp for office, 140689
17" Leather Bell lamp shade for office, 202809

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