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Small Details = Big Profit

These new parents have outgrown their starter home and need help getting it ready to sell.

Amy and Jeff Cole and daughter Isabella have outgrown their 700-square-foot home and are ready to sell. Though the house is small, it has a large amount of problems. The Coles look to the Designed to Sell team to help get it in top-dollar form.

The first team member on the case is real estate expert Donna Freeman, who will provide a candid assessment of the house. She begins with the exterior, noting that although the steps leading to the porch need a fresh coat of paint and the landscaping is a little overgrown, it is lovely. Once on the porch she discovers rebar that is being used as a banister, which is both unsightly and unsafe. It will have to go for sure.

Inside she finds a cluttered living room, way-too-bright kitchen and an office/nursery room that needs to have just one identity. You want to take the guesswork out for potential buyers, she says.

The wall color in the living room feels claustrophobic to Donna. Playing up the charming cottage-canyon aspect and downplaying items that are old and awkwardly placed should help make it more appealing.

This kitchen needs to be toned down and neutralized to appeal to most tastes. In addition, the counter space needs to be organized and cleaned up, some appliances need replacing, and there is not a true dining space.

Designer Lisa LaPorta is next on the scene. She finds similar problems with the home and lays out a plan to fix them before the open house:

Step 1: Clear the way. Cut back the greenery out front to make it visible from the street and appealing to the buyer.

Step 2: Trick the eye. Use color schemes, window treatments and furniture placement to make this tiny house seem larger.

Step 3: Amplify the area. Make the front porch and kitchen more user friendly to maximize square footage.

The good news is everything she proposes is not super expensive but will add tremendous value. Contractor Jim Collins and carpenters Brad Haviland and Nick Ralbovsky are on board to help turn this small cottage into a big profit maker. Let's see how they did:

The living room looks larger and brighter, thanks to new appliances, lamps and other accessories, furniture, greenery and paint. The extra natural light was created by an illusion — the windows are set a little lower than usual, so LaPorta placed new vertical window treatments higher to make them appear larger.

The kitchen boasts double the space now. It has been rearranged to create a dining area and freshened up with new paint on the walls and cabinets. A couple of new space-saving appliances as well as the addition of an island in the middle of the room created much-needed storage and counter space.

And what about the exterior? Those concrete stairs have been sanded and painted, some of the landscaping cleared away, and the rickety old porch sports a face-lift. The rebar was removed, and a new front door, accessories and hardware provide a whole new look.

Cost Information

appliances $607
furniture $540
window treatments $210
front door $181
paint and lumber $196
railing $68
decorative accessories $198

Total: $2,000

Makeover Information

Products from The Coaster Company:

coffee table for living room, 5802
end tables for living room, 5801
table and chairs for kitchen, 7236 and 7237
two kitchen barstools, 4168

Products from The Home Depot:

Hampton Bay outdoor wall lantern, matte nickel finish, 7259
GE kitchen refrigerator, GTS18FBRWW
GE kitchen stove, JGBS07PEHWW
kitchen hood fan, Good R Series, SL6230WH
cabinet handles
Hampton Bay wall sconce for kitchen, satin nickel finish, 255 751

Products from Lowe's:

Kwikset "Chelsea" Laurel door lock set, satin nickel
three living-room drapery rods, 180494, 215293, 180495
Levolor living-room drapery brackets, 81764 and 81761
10" plant and 12" basket for lining room, 96860 and 149301
kitchen island, O'Sullivan, model 30184, 60252
ceiling mount light fixture for kitchen, Portfolio Lighting, 170555
semi flush ceiling pendant
paint for living room and kitchen, Ralph Lauren's Tangier Island NA05 (matched in Lowe's brand paint)

Products from Anna's Linens:

six drapery panels for living room, Vineyard Twill, 814271

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