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Trading in City Life

Find out how our team of experts created a fresh look that is sure to pull buyers inside.

Stacie and Steve Williams and their three young daughters are ready to break out of their home and head for a seaside retreat. But they have to make a profitable sale first. The Designed to Sell team and their $2,000 budget intends to help them do just that.

Real estate expert Donna Freeman is the first team member to offer her advice. She begins with the exterior, noting that the dead grass and dated front porch are not exactly welcoming. Once inside, she said it feels like she walked into the back entrance of an office-supply store. The furniture is uninviting and awkward, but there is potential, nonetheless.

Next up is designer Lisa LaPorta, who agrees with Freeman and lays out a home-improvement plan that's sure to boost the bottom line. The focus areas will be the exterior, living room and master suite.

Step 1: Set the stage. Decorate blank areas to create visual appeal.

Step 2: Draw the curtain. Create an appealing outside to entice people inside.

Step 3: Take a bow. Finish incomplete projects that might scare up the audience.

Helping Lisa make these top-dollar changes are carpenters Steve Hanneman and Brooks Utley.

Before: Uninviting Living Room
The living room looked like a cold, uninviting office space. Hardwood floors are always a big plus, the furniture placement was uninviting and awkward, at best.

After: Cozy Retreat
Now it's a cozy space that's staged to sell. Comfy new furniture shows off the space, and fresh window treatments, warm paint and accessories complete the look.

Cost breakdown:

building materials (porch and bedroom) $436
furniture $487
plants and materials $470
doors $400
accessories $105
window treatments $50
paint and supplies $25

Total: $1,973

Products from craigslist.com:

sofa (purchased second hand; originally from IKEA)
two wicker chairs
Lixhult coffee table for living room, 70058752
two Fanaholm frames for living room, 90055738
two posters for living room, 20078984 and 40063750
Granatpillow for sofa, 90082548
Fanaholm frame for bedroom, 90055738
poster for bedroom, 80045759

Products from Anna's Linens:

window treatments for living room, Louis Hornick Newport sailcloth tab-top panel in Navy, RN#34696

Products from Lowe's:

exterior lantern, 101106
doorbell cover, Heath Zenith in Antique Black, 37333
mailbox, First Class in style Fairview, 57021

Products from Ruiz Nursery:

various plants--Phormium, daylilies, lilies, geraniums, plum tree, two large bags of mulch

Products from The Home Depot:

closet doors for bedroom, 030151112390
exterior paint, Behr's Swiss Coffee
paint for living-room walls, Behr's Adobe

Products from Ross:

Wamsutta drapery panels for bedroom, Phoenix tab-top panels in Camel, RN# 877-58651 05 02

Products from The Great Indoors:

address numbers for exterior, 83 24663, 83 24664, 83 24665, 83 24666

Products from Wal-Mart:

fabric for sofa pillows, Denim Pinstripe, 48580210410

Before: Awkward Master Bedroom
The master suite was wasting valuable space and wasn't as functional as it could be. There was a curtain on the doorway instead of a door, the closet was located in the main area, and the layout was awkward.

After: Spacious Suite
Now, the space feels huge! The entryway has a door, the closet was relocated to its intended space and also got new doors, and moving the bed freed up room for a sitting area in front of the great French doors.

Cost breakdown:

building materials (porch and bedroom) $436
furniture $487
plants and materials $470
doors $400
accessories $105
window treatments $50
paint and supplies $25

Total: $1,973

Products from craigslist.com:

sofa (purchased second hand; originally from IKEA)
two wicker chairs
Lixhult coffee table for living room, 70058752
two Fanaholm frames for living room, 90055738
two posters for living room, 20078984 and 40063750
Granatpillow for sofa, 90082548
Fanaholm frame for bedroom, 90055738
poster for bedroom, 80045759

Products from Anna's Linens:

window treatments for living room, Louis Hornick Newport sailcloth tab-top panel in Navy, RN#34696

Products from Lowe's:

exterior lantern, 101106
doorbell cover, Heath Zenith in Antique Black, 37333
mailbox, First Class in style Fairview, 57021

Products from Ruiz Nursery:

various plants--Phormium, daylilies, lilies, geraniums, plum tree, two large bags of mulch

Products from The Home Depot:

closet doors for bedroom, 030151112390
exterior paint, Behr's Swiss Coffee
paint for living-room walls, Behr's Adobe

Products from Ross:

Wamsutta drapery panels for bedroom, Phoenix tab-top panels in Camel, RN# 877-58651 05 02

Products from The Great Indoors:

address numbers for exterior, 83 24663, 83 24664, 83 24665, 83 24666

Products from Wal-Mart:

fabric for sofa pillows, Denim Pinstripe, 48580210410

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