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A New Chapter

Design team comes in to help a single mom sell her house.

Single mom Cher Roberts and her son, Tahj, have lived in the two-bedroom, one-bath house for 2 1/2 years. They have been happy with their home but are ready to move closer to family. The Designed to Sell team is brought in to help make the sale happen as quickly as possible.

The first team member on the scene is real estate expert Shannon Freeman. Her initial impression of the exterior is that the roof is in good shape and the general appearance is neat, clean and well-maintained.

Inside, she notes that most of the rooms are monochromatic except for lots of clutter, which is a major no-no when your house is on the market. The den has no real identity, serving as a family room, laundry room and toy room. It needs to be clearly defined so that potential buyers don't have to do any work to imagine themselves in the house. Out back is a great space whose value is overshadowed by a large awning. Freeman suggests removing the awning and creating a nice patio area.

The next visit comes from designer Lisa LaPorta, who agrees with Freeman and outlines a plan for getting this house into selling shape. The focus is to be on the living room, den and backyard.

Step 1: Stretch it out. Rearrange rooms to show off square footage and highlight the home's true potential.

Step 2: Punch up the patio. Give the backyard a face-lift so that interested buyers will think they've found an oasis.

Step 3: Illuminate the inside. Use natural and artificial light to open up the space and brighten up the prospects for a profitable sale.

Contractor Jim Collins and carpenters Brad Haviland and Nick Ralbovsky are on hand, as usual, to help the homeowner and LaPorta achieve these goals. Let's see how they did.

Before: This living room is a decent size, and LaPorta wants to draw attention to that. She doesn't, however, want to keep the clutter around. Lots of clutter implies that there isn't enough storage space, she says.


After: Now it's a lively, welcoming space, thanks to new occasional tables, a fresh coat of paint, some greenery, additional lighting, colorful window treatments and accessories.

Before: This room is basically a catchall area and laundry room. LaPorta wants to designate it as a dining room by bringing in the table that was in the entryway and adding some warmth with paint and accessories.

After: The new dining area is a feast for the eyes, complete with elegant chandelier, formal window treatments and warm paint. The washer and dryer have been hidden by a curtain that matches the window treatments.

Before: The exterior awning over the back patio makes the living room appear darker. Beneath that is a cluttered, disorganized area that could be played up a lot better.

After: The white lattice patio cover is more modern and allows plenty of natural inside the house. Plants and a table and chairs were added to complete the update.

Here is how the costs broke down for this project:

patio cover, $1,000
plants and accessories, $139
window treatments, $414
lighting and smoke alarm, $202
furniture, $168
paint and supplies, $70

Total: $1,993

Products from Target:

drapery panels for dining room, 068030176
valances for dining room, 068030177
lamp base for living room, 07400024
Majesty Palm houseplant for living room, 084080141

Products from Linens 'n Things:

drapery rods for dining room and living room, 044294052628
knobs for dining room and living room, 680656006900 and 680656006917
drapery panels for living room, 083013795743
valances for living room, 083013795744
throw pillows for living room, 083013797334 and 738790381275

Products from The Home Depot:

Douglas Fir lumber and white-framed lattice and anchors for the patio
smoke alarm
Behr primer for patio and dining room, 082474436059
Behr Exterior White paint for patio
Ralph Lauren paint for dining room, Parchment
Pratt Lambert paint for living room, Flagstaff Mat, 2264

Products from The Coaster Company of America:

coffee table, 5525
end table for living room, 5524

Products from Ross Dress for Less:

lamp shade for living room, Silk Bell, 406005517206

Products from Lowe's:

drapery rods for living room, 180414 and 180432
Uplight Can for living room, 195307

Products from Lamps Plus:

light fixture for dining room, 24 x 23 five-light chandelier, 84085

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