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Seeking Top Profits

A California couple enlists experts to help them get maximum profits from their home sale.

Lynda and Chris Doyle are ready to uproot — they love their neighborhood, but the hour-and a-half commute to work is a drag. Helping them prepare their digs for a top sale is the Designed to Sell team.

Real estate expert Donna Freeman begins her assessment with a look at the house exterior, noting that it could use some fine-tuning. The awning is dilapidated, the square bush looks out of date, and the front door is in shabby shape. The interior is not much better, she says. The overall look is too "hygienic," making it appear cold and uninviting.

Designer Lisa LaPorta is next on the scene to provide a three-step plan for whipping this house into shape — and fast. She wants to focus the group's efforts on sprucing up the curb appeal, living room and dining room.

Step 1: Tear it out. Remove unattractive elements that will turn buyers away.

Step 2: Break it down. Pare down cluttered areas that might get in the way of a sale.

Step 3: Build it up. Create features that are designed to boost visual interest in the home.

Carpenters Steve Hanneman and Brooks Utley sign on to help put LaPorta's changes into effect.

Curb Appeal

This house's new winning facade is sure to grab buyers right when they pull up. The dated shrubs have been replaced with fresh flowers and greenery, and decorative hardware, plus a new light fixture make it look extra sharp.

The new front door and its dramatic surround, including a dress plaque, give the home's entryway an elegance worth top dollar. More than half of the Designed to Sell team's $2,000 budget went toward replacing the rundown door.

Living Room

The new front door and its dramatic surround, including a dress plaque, give the home's entryway an elegance worth top dollar. More than half of the Designed to Sell team's $2,000 budget went toward replacing the rundown door.

After: Now it is a warm, welcoming space that will attract potential buyers, thanks in part to fresh paint and new sofa slipcover and accessories. Two stylish chairs draw attention to the fireplace, and the window treatments match the front door.

Here's how the budget was distributed:

front door $1,097
furniture $433
plants $175
window treatments $153
paint and supplies $85
accessories $50

Total: $1,993

Dining Room

Before: The dining room was "dull as dishwater," according to expert Donna Freeman. The table, which was the wrong size and shape for the room, blocked the French door, and the laurel leaves atop the mirror needed to go. The one redeeming quality, she said, was the chandelier.

After: Now it is a charming, attractive space that looks larger than it is. The new round dining set has been spray painted to match that great chandelier. Fresh window treatments frame the window and the French door that was nearly unnoticeable before, creating the perfect finishing touch.

Products from AAW Inc.:

prehung mahogany door with zinc, X203T

Products from Lowe's:

front-door hardware, Kwikset's Amherst with laurel handle set in brushed nickel, 34698
De-Sign-It arched address plaque and exterior address numbers, brushed nickel, 212604 and 12726

Products from The Coaster Company of America:

iron table and four chairs for dining room, 7485 and 7486

Products from Lamps Plus:

exterior lantern, John Timberland's Stanford Collection, 55935

Products from Pier 1:

two Athena wicker chairs for living room, Black, 2045865

Products from Marshalls:

Copper multi-striped pillow, 004225643
round framed mirror, 008810810
red throw pillows, 005018501
Beige throw pillows for living room, 004225582

Products from IKEA:

Index curtain rods, 93517680
vase for living room, Fager Vase 12, 60081456

Products from Linens 'N' Things:

living-room draperies, Manhattan Window's Rattan Loop, 080995404359

Products from Ross Dress for Less:

SureFit soft twill sofa slipcover for living room in Sage, 400006676832

Products from Target:

drapery panels and valance for dining room, Waverly's Black-and-White toile, 068030051

Products from Nick's Nursery:

exterior plants, calla lilies, Mondo grass, various topiaries, purple blossoms

Products from The Home Depot:

entryway paint, Ralph Lauren's Townhouse TH48 in high gloss
living room paint, Ralph Lauren's Cotswold Breeches NA16 in flat
Rustoleum spray paint for dining-room table and chairs, Gloss Black

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