Creating Curb Appeal with Lou Manfredini

Whether you’re planning to sell your home or stay put, we all want our home to look great.

There are a few projects (both big and small) that can really snazzy things up.

Let’s start with the big: A new entry door can really make a big impact as to how your home looks from the front. So many homes have doors that really say nothing about the home and blend right in. But a door with raised panels, inset glass or even hand-turned carvings really make a statement.

This can be costly—from $1,500 for a raised panel door to well over $20,000 for a handmade door of Brazilian cherry. Too bad they don’t have a “Cash for Clunkers” program for front doors!

Another big cost option: Replacing the windows on the front of your home. This can not only change the look of your house but also save you money on your energy bill. Additionally, if you choose the right ones, you can qualify for the energy tax credit which can be a deduction of up to $1,500 on either your 2009 or 2010 tax return.

Looking for lower cost options to spruce up your home? Don’t worry; you can also get a big bang from your buck with smaller investments.

First, consider updating your property by adding a new mailbox. There are some wonderful weather-resistant options on the market now, including several made by Rubbermaid, which will run you from $20-50 depending on your style preference.

You can also install window boxes in the spring with brightly colored flowers. Choose PVC window boxes, which look just like traditional wood window boxes but are easier to clean and stand up better to the elements. PVC window boxes will cost you from $99-400+ for units larger than 10 feet, but trust me, these are the last window boxes you will ever own.

Finally, place some potted plants around your front stoop and walkway to brighten it up.

Lou Manfredini is Ace’s “Helpful Hardware Man” and is the host of the widely popular “Mr. Fix-It” call-in program heard Saturday mornings on WGN Radio, Chicago. He is also a regular contributor to NBC’s Today Show. He appears regularly on WGN-TV’s Morning News and is a contributing editor to USA Weekend Magazine with his “House Smarts” column. House Smarts is also the title of a series of books he wrote published by Ballantine Books.