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Selling Off Into Retirement

Karen and John Cacheiro are ready to retire in style, so the game is on to sell their house.

Golfers Karen and John Cacheiro are ready to retire in style, but first they need to sell their two-bedroom, two bath townhouse. The Designed to Sell team intends to help them do just that. Armed with $2,000 and invaluable expertise, everyone is ready to dig in and get started.

First on the scene is real estate expert Shannon Freeman, who is anything but impressed with the Cacheiros' place, noting that, "this couple isn't even in the game." Nearly every inch of the place is dated and uninviting. And she barely even noticed the fireplace in the living/dining area. Fireplaces are No. 4 on the top-10 list of what buyers want, she says, so they need to take full advantage of its value.

She finishes her assessment by insisting that the Cacheiros pick up the pace — and fast — in order to fashion the lavish retirement they dream of.

Designer Lisa LaPorta agrees with Freeman and takes it a step further by devising a plan to get this house in top-selling form in short order.

The focus areas will be the kitchen, living/dining area and the master bedroom.

Step 1: Dance past the decades. A fresh feel will lead to wider appeal, which means more offers.

Step 2: Bank on the features. Give the home's selling points more power so they can do their job.

Step 3: Watch it grow. Use lighting and furniture placement to show off the valuable square footage.

The usual work crew of contractor Jim Collins and carpenter Brad Haviland (along with LaPorta and the homeowners) enthusiastically tackle the challenge, starting with handcrafting built-in shelves to accent the fireplace. Take a look at how it all turned out.

Living Room
The living room was dark and dated with dingy furniture, stained carpet and tired window treatments. In addition, the TV set was demanding more attention than from the fireplace, which could be a great selling feature. Fireplaces add dollars to the bottom line, so drawing attention to them is key.

Dining Room
The dull dining room looked like an afterthought, according to Freeman. The dowdy table was stuffed into the corner, and the overhead light fixture was not centered.

Master Bedroom
The spacious master bedroom was as outdated as the rest of the place and so packed with large pieces of furniture — including a treadmill that blocked the path to one side of the bed — that it actually appeared smaller.

The tiny kitchen has clutter in every corner, making it appear even smaller. The linoleum is in good shape but very dated. Replacing it with vinyl tile will help breathe new life into the room, LaPorta says.

All that hard work and money paid off — two weeks and two offers later, the Cacheiros sold the townhome for $30,000 more than similar townhomes in their complex.

Living Room
Now the room is filled with bright natural light and even appears to be more spacious. With the television gone, fresh paint and new furniture, window treatments and accent pieces add valuable warmth. The new custom-made bookshelves on each side of the fireplace and bold new mirror in the center add much-needed moneymaking drama to the living room. House hunters like customized features like this.

Dining Room
Now the dining room is revived with a modernized feel, boasting a new, smaller table, and contemporary light fixture and accessories — all topped off with a lush houseplant in the corner.

Master Bedroom
Now the master bedroom is an elegant roomy retreat. The clunky furniture has been cleared out, and lightweight window treatments bring in lots of natural light. Fresh wall paint and light accessories add the finishing touches.

Though the changes are fairly subtle, they make a world of difference. Fresh paint and flooring, updated window treatments and under-cabinet lights that highlight the counters create the illusion of space.

Cost Information

furniture $1,145
lumber and supplies $250
lighting $226
window treatments $145
paint and supplies $120
flooring $70
decorative accessories $40

Total: $1,996

Makeover Information

Products from the Coaster Company:

coffee table for living room, 4895
two lounge chairs for living room, 8108
sofa for living room, 8110
dining-room table and chairs, 3589 and 3579

Products from Lowe's:

paint for kitchen, Valspar's Skyline Silver, 94-41B
paint for master bedroom, Valspar's Sagebrook, 94-34A
paint for living-room bookcases, Dunn Edwards' Navaho White
paint for living-room walls, Behr's Riviera Sand, 320 E-3
vinyl tile for kitchen, Eurostone

Products from The Linen Outlet:

valances for kitchen, Victoria-Oyster
window panels for master bedroom, Shania in Natural, 825525
valances for living room, 822167

Products from The Home Depot:

under-cabinet lights for kitchen, three-light combo in White, 034378380056

Products from Wal-Mart:

window treatment rods for bedroom by Levolor, 005027669290
set of two lamps for living room

Products from Target Home:

five lampshades for chandelier in dining room, 074080535
window scarves for living room, 068030691
curtain rods for living room, 068050621

Products from Ikea:

art for bedroom, Erikslund, 40072410
palm tree for living room, Ravenea, 70038127

Product from The Great Indoors:

dining-room chandelier, 403408863

Product from Anna's Linens:

throw pillow for bedroom, 809330

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