When you are cleaning up the front of your home for your own benefit or to stage your house for sale, one of the first areas that can make or break the look of your home is that of your driveway. A clean, well-maintained driveway makes the whole front of your house look better and implies that you take better care of your house.
Driveways can range from aggregate types like gravel or crushed stone to solid, like asphalt or concrete. In between these two types is pavers, which are individual paver stones or bricks but have the feel of a solid driveway. Aggregate driveways, including ones made with pavers, are flexible and so do not have the problem of flexing and cracking from harsh weather.
Each of the different types of driveway material have their own requirements for keeping clean and in good repair. Gravel is the least hassle for cleaning; all you can do is make sure that you’ve used an edged stone instead of rounded gravel so that it locks together and stays in place better. A raised edge along the driveway will also help keep the stones out of your lawn or flowerbeds. Pavers, asphalt, and concrete all have a type of sealer that works for that particular material which should be applied as per manufacturers’ instruction. They may be power washed as well, though make sure to not use too hard of a spray to keep from removing the surface.
Every so often it may be necessary to repair your driveway to keep it looking its best. Try to catch problems as early as you can to make repairs easier on you and your pocketbook.
Gravel is fairly easy to repair because of its nature as an aggregate material. If you spread new rock on it once or twice a year as needed, then the incidence of potholes should be kept to a minimum. If potholes do form, put a layer of sand in the bottom and then sharp gravel on top of that. After you’ve driven on the patch a few times it should compress just fine.
For a driveway made from concrete or stone pavers, broken pavers may need to be dug out periodically or the joints between them filled with additional sand. Replacement of pavers is fairly easy to complete with attractive results because the driveway is made up of individual stones.
Asphalt driveways may suffer from cracking or potholes if maintenance is neglected. Cracks can be filled with a crack filler designed specifically for asphalt; potholes can be filled with asphalt cold patch. Both items can be found at your local home improvement outlet. An asphalt driveway in poor repair may also benefit from resurfacing. Resurfacing is done by an asphalting company, just like if you were having a new driveway installed.
Concrete driveways may acquire cracks which if left alone can cause serious damage to your driveway. If water gets into the cracks in your driveway in the winter, that water freezing can expand and break up your driveway further. Small cracks can be filled with concrete sealer while larger cracks will need to be filled with a paste of water and portland cement. For holes or other larger damage, contact a concrete professional to assess what steps might need to be taken.
First impressions are important for houses just as they are for people; give your home the best chance of making a good first impression whether it is from people coming to visit or prospective buyers coming to tour your house. Keep your driveway in good shape and show that you care about your home and yard.
It seems that in the past few months I have seen the most bewildering thing, listing after listing of homes decorated with plaid. Some of them have plaid furniture, some have plaid wallpaper, and a few even have plaid carpeting. Plaid. Carpet. Up until this point I wasn’t even aware that anyone made plaid carpet and am frankly rather surprised that there’s enough of a market for it that anyone does make it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love plaid. It makes a neat geometric accent to offset an otherwise plain room or outfit. Plaid is fabulous for kilts, coats for little dogs, and to denote Scottish things. Plaid is also effective as a pattern for a funky dress or pair of pants if you like things a little more playful. However, as a design element that you are going to look at day in and day out, it may not always be the best choice.
If you find it necessary to use plaid in your decorating make sure that you do it sparingly. As a rule of thumb, it’s probably not a good idea to carpet or wall paper your home in plaid. However, an accent wall done in plaid might add some visual interest without overdoing it. Mostly stick to smaller plaid accents or plaid decorating elements that are easily changed like blankets, cushions, or curtains. This way, if you become tired of your plaid-ified home, you can easily change those pieces for something different.
If you absolutely love plaid and must have a lot of it in your home, consider only plaiding up one room in your house. Set aside a private space that you can enjoy and plaid it right up. Be aware that many people will find a whole plaid room a headache in the making though.
Remember too, plaid doesn’t only come in bright colors; some plaids are made up of earth tones or dark sombre colors. Use the bright coloured plaids for an eye catching pop of color or a more neutral or subdued plaid if the brights are just a bit too much for your space.
Keep in mind, as well, if you’re looking to sell your home and you’ve wallpapered or carpeted areas of your house in plaid it is well within your best interest to re-carpet or remove the wallpaper. Prospective buyers will almost definitely not look upon plaid walls or floors favorably; they will instead see the work that they are going to have to put into the home and the costs that they’ll incur as a result.
Whether you are thinking of selling your home or just wanting to improve it, when money is so tight, it is a good idea to spend wisely to hopefully increase the value of your home. Improving the right areas of your home makes it more attractive to prospective buyers and saves you making costly mistakes. Even though you are on a budget you first need to look at other similar homes in your area to see ‘the competition’. With a critical eye, work out where you house falls short of the competition. If it helps, ask a friend, one who will be honest with you, so they can give an independent opinion.
You should have a list of what your competition has and what areas around the house your home needs to make improvement. Now it’s time to take action.
Before you even get the DIY tools out… declutter. Time spent here can be your biggest and best home improvement investment.
When people buy a house they are wanting to see light and airy properties, they are buying space, so give them space. Tidy up, throw things away you don’t use, and store what’s left properly.
Nothing puts viewers off more, than a mess. Don’t just take my word for it. An ING Direct survey (Aug 2012) found that 41% of prospective buyers would put in a lower offer, if the house they were viewing had untidy kids bedrooms. What you want to do is show off each room to its best and you can’t do this if there’s too much clutter everywhere. They want to see how the property’s space can work for them, with their own stuff. If they see it not working for you, ie not enough living space and not enough storage space, then it will be a turn off.
First impressions count, so you should consider the ‘curb appeal’ of your property. It might seem ‘corny’ but adding hanging baskets or even window boxes improves the appearance of a house and gives the impression of it being cared for.
Hall & Living Room
Consider how people view a property. The Hall and Living room are usually what people see first, so these rooms should be welcoming and create a good impression. Some simple home interior decorating can make the hall feel inviting, light and bright. Add pictures and an interesting mirror to reflect some light.
Worn out seating? You don’t need to buy new ones you just need to recover the old ones, or use throws in neutral colours with colour statemented cushions which all goes to improve the look for a lounge. Check the storage in a living room. If the kids use it as a play room then make sure there’s a storage box to keep everything tidy when they aren’t there. Put some sets of shelves up, perhaps in an alcove area.
Kitchen & Bathroom
The other most looked at rooms are the kitchen and bathroom. In the kitchen food is prepared and perhaps a place for entertaining so it should be giving the impression of being clean. The bathroom should have a relaxing feel and give the impression that you would be happy to unwind there in a relaxing bath.
When viewings take place people want to see at least a standard well maintained bathroom suite, so replace any discoloured bathroom fittings like a toilet bowl.
Where there is a garden but it’s either unkept or paved, consider some landscaping. It doesn’t need to be over the top and you don’t need to spend a fortune at the garden centre, but just bring it up to the standard of what would be considered the norm for the area.
OK so you’ve seen all the property makeover shows where they make neutral coloured interiors. It’s for a reason. Outdated or highly personal décor can put buyers off, so get rid of the purple walls, please. The ING Direct survey found that 1 in 6 buyers would be put off by ‘clashing’ colour schemes.
Standard of maintenance
If there’s something that needs fixing, then get it fixed. You might have lived with it, but what will buyers think? I’ll tell you, they will probably think “Oh look this is broken, cracked or flaky paint, what else is unkept or badly maintained?” If there’s a list of things that need doing and you don’t get them fixed, then at best expect offers to come in lower than you had hoped, or at worst expect far fewer offers and longer for them to be made. People want to move in straight away and perhaps make their own mark by painting a wall purple but at least they know everywhere is clean and well kept and it only needs a lick of paint to make it their home.