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10 Quick Fixes for the For Sale by Owner

Home improvement projects are always a fun, and hopefully profitable, undertaking. Now more than ever, homeowners are deciding to stay in their homes and make improvements rather than trying to sell and buy something new. Below are ten easy ways to transform your home without making any permanent changes, and without having to hire a decorator or handyman.

1.    Window Treatments.

Whether you're removing old window treatments and opening up your house to the beauty of the outdoors, or adding blinds, curtains, or draperies, window treatments are much more than window dressing! The color and style of your treatments can transform a room. Imagine your dining room with toile half-curtains - suddenly it's a Parisian bistro. Or your bedroom with floor to ceiling silk or brocade draperies for the ultimate in luxurious retreat. There are colors and styles to match any budget, whether you are a Do-It-Yourself-er or happy to leave the sewing to the experts.

2.    Paint.

Paint is one of the fastest ways to completely transform a room, or your entire house. Too many people live with white walls - don't be afraid of color! Try something dramatic, like a red bathroom or deep blue dining room. Let it grow on you for a week or two; if you hate the color then, you can always re-paint. Still timid? Try painting just one wall of a room a several shades darker than the existing color. This will let you create some visual interest while not really changing the color scheme of the room.

3.    Area Rugs.

Another easy change is adding area rugs. Area rugs can help define a seating or activity area - try adding an oval rug to center a group of chairs, or put a plush, shaggy rug in a corner by a bookshelf to encourage your kids to sprawl on the floor with a good book. Area rugs can also transform the color scheme in your room, either with a punch of color and drama found in a brightly colored, modern rug, or with the muted tones and classic patterns of an oriental, or with any of the hundreds of styles and color schemes in between.

4.    Couch.

A new sofa or couch is one way to dramatically change the style of your living or family room, all while increasing functionality. You can opt for cozy chenille, durable tweed or corduroy, formal prints, crisp white sailcloth, country charm with slipcovers...almost any color and fabric you can imagine! Since the couch is probably the most used piece of furniture, replacing it can make everything else in the room feel brand-new as well, especially if you also take the opportunity to implement one of the other 'Quick Fix' tips, such as new paint or curtains, to coordinate with your new seating.

5.    Rearrange Furniture.

Even easier than adding new seating is re-arranging the existing furniture. Instead of having all the seats face a focal point, such as the television, why not try creating a U-shaped seating area where the seats all face each other? This will encourage conversation and bring the focus down from the walls and in on your family and guests. For a large room, consider having two separate seating areas, one for larger groups or centered on the television, and a smaller group, perhaps just a chaise or two simple armchairs, situated to take advantage of a lovely view from a side window or perhaps just for an intimate conversation area.

6.    Room Functions.

A step up from re-arranging the furniture in your existing rooms, switching room functions can open up a whole new way of living in your house. Maybe your house has a formal dining room that you only use a few times a year, and you spend most evenings watching TV in your cramped living room or basement rec room. Now, imagine having a media room take the place of the under-utilized dining room, and how much more practical that would be. Or, perhaps you have a guest bedroom that is most often host to dust bunnies. Why not turn it into an office, a sitting room, a playroom, a crafts room...the possibilities are limited only by your imagination! Just because everyone on your block has an eat-in kitchen doesn't mean that you need to as well; it only takes a little thinking outside the box for you to realize that what you really want is a butler's pantry instead of that kitchen table, or a desk for a centrally located home office, or a media armoire so that you can watch your cooking shows while actually in the kitchen. Don't be afraid to give new life to rarely used rooms by reinventing the room's function!

7.    Bed Linens.

Often, the bedrooms are the most overlooked areas of the house. For many of us, the bedroom is just a place to sleep, store clothes, and hide items that need to be put away quickly when company comes visiting! Your bedroom can and should be so much more than that. Your bedroom should be a refuge, an intimate, private place where you can unwind and relax. Whether you are the type of person who likes to read the paper in bed on Saturday mornings or snuggle under the covers to watch movies late at night, there's a bed linen out there for you. Many retailers offer a wide range of styles at a variety of price points, so you can find one luxurious new comforter or buy many different duvet covers to alternate to match your mood. Coordinating dust ruffles, pillow shams, and sheets will complete the package, and are all you need to create the refuge of your dreams!

8.    Lighting.

Lighting is one of the most overlooked changes that can be made, simply because most people think it's too difficult to tackle! Short of hiring an electrician to make a major change like adding recessed lights or new outlets, there's still a lot you can do to make your lighting better fit the room. Under-cabinet lights, for example, can be purchased as strips that stick to the bottom of your upper cabinets and either run on batteries or plug into an outlet. With only a few minutes of work you'll see an amazing difference in the  look of your kitchen, and the new task lighting will be so much more functional as well. Correctly placed reading lamps are another key place where you should invest a little time and effort. The lamp and lampshade should be high enough so that light is shed evenly on you from about the shoulders on down, illuminating what you are reading, but not so high that light shines directly into your eyes.

9.    Artwork.

Like paint, many of us are afraid to commit to artwork. Most people don't know how large or small a piece should be, where it should be hung, if it should coordinate in color scheme or style with the rest of their furnishings. The short answer is always do what you like! Maybe a professional designer wouldn't hang your favorite seascape painting above your forest green couch and dark wood floors. But if you love it, why not? Just remember to hang artwork so that the center of the piece is at eye level for most people,somewhere around five feet, six inches high. Finally, art doesn't need to be a painting; group a collection of plates together on a wall, hang an old quilt or beautiful scarf, make a postcard collage, hang several mirrors in a row; there are many different ways to create eye-catching artwork that will express your personality and celebrate the uniqueness of your home.

10.    Storage.

It isn't glamorous, it isn't often featured in design shows or magazines, but storage is the silent workhorse of your home. It's what keeps everything together, literally, and running smoothly. Without the appropriate storage in various rooms, all the beautiful linens, dramatic colors, and intimate conversation areas won't be worth anything, because they will all be buried underneath the mountains of stuff! Almost everyone can use more storage in two places: the kitchen and the bathroom. Do you have room for a kitchen island? There are many options out there that are small in size but are good for eating at, food prep, storing oft-used cooking implements, and can even be rolled out of the way when floor space is needed! In the bathroom, adding a medicine cabinet can really help clear everything off the vanity, which will help organization and also visually clear out the space. A row of hooks are a simple and easy solution to organizing coats in the entryway, clothes in the bedroom, aprons and towels in the kitchen, winter gear in the mudroom...and, more than ever, hooks are available in styles to match any home decor.

There you have it, ten fun and easy ways to transform your home! Just remember, at every budget and in every style, there's many options to explore. Don't be afraid to make a dramatic change, whether it be a new paint color or an entirely new purpose for the room. None of these changes are permanent, and you just might find that your house transformation has transformed you as well!