Real estate brokers say these small things make houses look much better
Make your home photo-ready with the help of these budget-friendly buys.
Updated: July 2, 2023 Originally Published: Jan. 8, 2023
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Real estate brokers see all of the strange things that make houses look less than sellable. And of course, part of their job is to make sure homes look picture perfect to find the best buyer possible. Those things combined means they’re pretty much experts when it comes to small things that could make our homes look
Instead of getting overwhelmed by a cluttered cabinet or a kitchen you’re sort of tired of, these experts will let you know
exactly what to focus on in your home to make it look its very best. 01 A lightweight, high-powered scrubber to clean up gross grout
Extra-clean grout in the same color is a must, so Whitten suggests a tile grout cleaner. This battery-operated
power scrubber is the easiest grout cleaner option because it spins around 60 times per second to take care of stains, mold, and grimy spots — no elbow grease on your part is needed. It’s also water-resistant, so you can rinse the grout as you clean with this lightweight and super-precise scrub brush. 02 A wood touch-up kit with plenty of colors to fix furniture & floors
If you’re thinking of tossing a scratched-up table or doing something even more expensive like replacing cabinets or a hardwood floor, Whitten recommends touch-up furniture markers. Not only does this
repair set give you a six common colors of furniture markers, but it also comes with matching wax sticks (and a sharpener) if your wood has an extra-deep scratch. 03 An inviting outdoor doormat that won’t get all scuffed up
Glen Whitten, a broker and realtor at
Ohio Property Group, LLC, recommends grabbing a doormat, and this durable mat is such a trendy option. The fade-resistant PVC is durable enough to stick it outside of your front door. The adorable white lettering comes in several styles, and it not only makes your porch or entryway inviting, but it’s embossed so it won’t get scuffed or start to peel when you step on it. It hides dirt, and you can even wash off any mud stains on this non-slip mat. 04 A sturdy wreath with delicate faux-eucalyptus branches
“If you’ve ever walked in a historic part of town they often have one decoration in common all year round. A door wreath,”
Ron Leffler, a Virginia real estate broker tells Mic. “The perfect front door wreath catches the eye and enhances the building behind it.” So, reach for this budget-friendly wreath that’s covered in delicate and trendy faux eucalyptus branches. It has a plastic hoop on the back to keep its shape — even if you leave it on your door for every season. 05 These durable under-bed bags to hide unorganized linens
“The best way to make your house look better is to declutter,” explains Rashard Alomari, the founder and CEO of real estate business
Fair Cash Deal. When it comes to your bedroom or closet clutter, these under-bed storage bags give you the perfect place for things. Even if you stuff a bunch of different blankets, towels, and clothes in them, the clear top lets you quickly see everything you packed away. They’re also tear-proof, so you can pull them out all the time without worrying about rips. 06 A crisp yet soft white sheet set for breathable bedding that always looks new
Catherine Mack, co-owner at
House Buyer Network, suggests a quick bedding swap to elevate your home. “If you've stayed in a top end hotel you'll notice their bed linen is always white and has a crisp feel. Replacing colorful or tired linen with fresh white will instantly make your bedrooms feel more expensive,” she says.
sheet set is the perfect choice, because the fade-resistant design means they’ll look keep that new, crisp look for a seriously long time. They’re also breathable, so you can leave them on all year without worrying about these hotel-like sheets feeling stuffy. Plus, this soft microfiber set is machine-washable, so they’re easy to care for. 07 A floor lamp with warmth settings to make rooms especially cozy
“Investing in a lamp can make a big difference when it comes to making homes look better,” explains Carter Crowley, a co-owner, licensed realtor & senior acquisition manager for
CB Home Solutions. “Lamps provide adequate lighting. But the best part about them is that they can even give off the illusion of creating a space that looks bigger. If your house is painted in neutral colors, then buy a lamp with a warm yellow light. It will blend well with the entire theme, and potential buyers will fall in love with the house.”
With this LED
floor lamp with timer settings, you can elevate your lighting without splurging on a side table. The slim, modern design also works wherever you need it to. It’s also perfect for cozy spaces, like the bedroom, because you can easily change the warmth of the LED with the included remote for a relaxing glow. 08 A trendy shower curtain that you can clean in the washing machine
To go with those matching towels, Whitten suggests grabbing an updated
shower curtain, and this waffle weave option is so trendy. It has plenty of texture, but the solid color keeps your bathroom looking crisp and minimalist. This machine-washable curtain also repels water, so it won’t look damp after every shower. 09 A durable outdoor light that works with every style of porch
Whitten also suggests putting up a
wall light, so your front door also looks welcoming at night. This one lets you use whatever outdoor bulbs are your go-to, and you can choose between a matte black, rust patina, or silver finish to match any front door. It also has a water-resistant seal, so you can even have a welcoming light on a rainy night. 10 A customizable plaque to stick next to your front door
Dan Belcher, real estate broker and the founder/CEO at
Mortgage Relief recommends adding a decorative plaque to add some curb appeal. “Since it is the first thing that people see when they walk by your house, it adds to the overall appeal of your house without breaking the bank,” he says.
plaque is made of durable metal and coated with a layer of rust-proof black paint. On either side is a screw hole for installation, and the plaque comes with two screws. With a sleek, modern design, it’ll look good on all types of outdoor siding, brick, or even stone. 11 These glass knobs to make your doors look cohesive & expensive
“Surprisingly, swapping your door handles makes a huge difference,” Mack explains. “Whether it's vintage or modern, handles are the first item to swap out.” Grab this set of
glass door knobs to add elevated vintage accents all over your home. Each one sports a brass base with an intricate, fluted glass design on the knob that looks vintage for a budget-friendly price. These dainty door knobs also come with hardware that’s easy to install and super durable. 12 A mildew stain remover to take care of a moldy outdoor sofa
Blonde also recommends fixing up your front porch or patio. “Sweep and pick up debris. Wipe down any furniture, mailbox and light fixtures,” she says. To avoid a super gross process when you wipe down your outdoor furniture, reach for this
mildew stain remover. Spritz it on whatever furniture is a bit grimy, and you won’t have to spend a bunch of time scrubbing. It even works on your trendy upholstered outdoor sofa, and it protects everything from getting coated mold again. 13 These solar-powered lights to make your garden & walkways inviting
Mack also suggests grabbing easy-to-setup
solar lights to quickly elevate your garden or the path to your front door. “First impressions count and can give a wow factor. Lighting up your pathway and focal points in your garden make your home inviting and improve security,” she notes.
This solar-powered set comes with six weather-resistant lights to line your entire patio. They automatically turn on at dusk, so you won’t have to think about them at sunset every day. With this set, you also won’t need to hide a bunch of wires under flowers or bushes. When it comes to setting these lights up, Mack recommends you “set them out in the day and then adjust them after dark to get the look you're aiming for.”
14 A set of trendy & breathable planters for happy entryway plants
“Pots, whether vintage or modern, spruce up your entry. Place five or six in various sizes with plants outside your front door,” Mack says. This durable plastic
plant pot set comes with two sizes to quickly start your front-door foliage collection. They have four built-in drainage holes to make your entryway plants even easier to take care of. These pots are also finished with a trendy and speckled stone-like texture.
As for what plants to add to your new front door setup? “
Lemon trees are perfect for entryways, not only do they have fragrant blossoms and bear fruit, they're are lucky as well,” Mack notes. 15 A geometric wallpaper to easily line drawers or revive furniture
Wallpaper isn't just for walls, and when it's put on a single piece of furniture rather than an entire room, it poses far less of a concern. A simple method to completely transform a room's appearance is to line the interior of a small cabinet, the drawers of a dresser, or the backs of bookshelves,” says Ron Wysocarski, a broker and the CEO of Wyse Home Team Realty.
This geometric option is such a trendy choice that can make worn furniture turn from an eyesore to a centerpiece. The peel-and stick-design makes it a super quick process to transform cabinets, shelves, or whatever else you want to refinish. It’s also completely waterproof, so it will even work for kitchen or bathroom drawers. It’s also trimmable for small utensil drawers,
and it won’t leave any stickiness behind. 16 This bulk pack of gold leaf sheets to add shine to plain decor pieces
When it comes to decor pieces you’re tired of, Wysocarski suggests using
gold leaf. “The addition of gold leafing may instantly update an item and give the area a posh atmosphere, whether it is applied to a living room furniture or an old lampshade,” he says.
This pack of gold leaf sheets makes it easy to add that metallic finish to a plain vase or a forgotten bowl. Not only will they add a bit of shine to a vase that feels a bit boring, but they also create a chic texture. This bulk set comes with silver, gold, and rose gold to match your other decor pieces.
17 These super modern house numbers with a handy installation template
Whitten also suggests adding
house numbers next to the front door, and these modern matte black options create such a sleek entrance. Even with the floating design, these numbers are easy to put up with the included screws and handy template. Made from stainless steel, they’re rust-resistant if your front door isn’t covered, and these durable numbers can handle storms or bad weather. 18 This pretty eucalyptus & orange-scented candle that adds a botanical touch to your home Michael Kelczewski, a realtor and broker with Kurfiss Sotheby's International Realty, says, “I like to add scented candles to listings. Aside from the aesthetics, the scent prime and potentially influence a prospective buyer.”
candle scented with eucalyptus and orange offers that refreshing calm that you want in your space, along with underlying scent notes of clary sage and musky white patchouli. The sleek gold jar is its own decoration on a coffee table or shelf. “This candle is one of my all-time favorites,” one reviewer raved. “The scent is simple yet calming and alluring.” 19 This fade-resistant paint to brighten up your front door
To go with your new front door light, Whitten recommends refreshing the paint on your door for a quick and easy upgrade. This jar of
paint is specifically made for your front door, so you won’t need to look around for one that’s durable enough to handle weather. It comes in 16 trendy shades including red, black, and bright blue and has a fade-resistant formula that even works on metal, so you can avoid repainting your door all the time. 20 A matching, soft & absorbent towel set for a coordinated bathroom
Whitten also recommends matching kitchen and
bathroom towels, and with this six-piece set of the latter, you’ll won’t have grimy or mismatched towels and hand towels hanging up in the bathroom. This absorbent set is also made of machine-washable Turkish cotton, so it’s super easy to refresh all of your matching towels with your other laundry. 21 A storage ottoman with handles for seriously quick tidying
“For [decluttering] to work, you don’t even have to be a minimalist,” notes Alomari. “All you need to do is find a place for every item in a room, and your house will look tidy.” This faux leather
storage ottoman is the easiest spot to tuck things, and it blends right into your living room. It’s 14 inches wide, tall, and deep, so there’s plenty of storage space, and you can even use the handles to carry your stuff to a different room. It’s also waterproof if you want to pop a tray on this collapsible ottoman and use it as a drink spot. 22 This heirloom flower seed set for budget-friendly plants around your home
According to Alomari, you should grab some flowers and plants for around your home. “You don’t have to spend a fortune on them. Instead, go for the cheaper options that will similarly help you make your house look better,” he says. “The addition of plants will bring the place to life and add a little bit of zen to it.”
seed packets are a go-to because they’re super budget-friendly, and you won’t get stuck with a sad plant that wasn’t taken care of in the mail. It comes with a bunch of different heirloom flower seeds, and they’re all individually wrapped. Of course, there are also instructions to ensure your home is filled with flowers without a ton of effort. 23 These colorful LED curtain lights with 8 different hues & modes
Daniel Cabrera, a real estate agent, contractor, and founder of
Sell My House Fast San Antonio, suggests grabbing some curtain lights. “You can buy LED window curtain string lights to help elevate the appeal of your home,” he says. “If you love hosting parties, things can’t get better than this upgrade.”
The best part about this LED set is that they do more than just twinkle behind your curtains because they have eight lighting modes. There are also eight colors to choose from as well as eight different modes (twinkling, sequential, slow fade, etc.) and a remote to change them throughout the night as the vibe shifts. Each strand is completely waterproof if you want to use them for a backyard dinner party, making these a multipurpose must-have.
24 A trailing succulent to style with your favorite decor pieces
“One of my favorite budget-friendly ways to spruce up a home is by adding fresh flowers or plants,” says Jacob Brenyo, a licensed real estate agent with
awning.com. Not only is this little succulent completely real, but it also has a trailing vine-like look that’s perfect for windowsills and bookshelves, but if this isn’t your taster, there are over a dozen other succulent styles available. It’s already planted in a pot with soil, so you pretty much won’t have to do anything except style this succulent with your home decor. 25 A washable sherpa blanket with the coziest trim
“New throw pillows or blankets can add a pop of color and texture to a room,” Brenyo notes. This fluffy
sherpa blanket is the easiest way to set the cozy vibe. I mean, it even has matching poofs trimming this blanket instead of classic tassels. Plus, you won’t end up with a bunch of fluff and lint all over your sofa when you wash this extra-fuzzy blanket. 26 These chic throw pillows to add color & texture to your living room
As for those throw pillows that Brenyo recommends, these velvet
throw pillows are the ones to reach for. They’ll stand out from all of your usual throw pillows with their unique shape, velvet feel, and pleated details that add texture to your sofa or bedding. Even with the chic design, these pillows are still soft and plush enough to be just as comfy as classic throw pillows. 27 A plush area rug that adds warmth & comfort to your space
“Adding a new area rug can transform the look of a room and add warmth and texture,” Brenyo says. This patterned
area rug adds a bunch of warmth to your home because it has shades of brown that are a classic (and a contrast to any gray walls). As for texture, it’s super soft and has plenty of fluffiness to go with your favorite throw blanket — but it’s not too thick. 28 An easy paint that lets you completely avoid sandpaper & primer
Eli Pasternak, the owner of
Liberty House Buying Group and a full-time licensed realtor and home remodeler, recommends refreshing your walls. “Fresh-painted walls can increase the value of any home,” he says. “This budget-friendly DIY activity can cost you less than $50. All you need is paint and the will to do the work.”
paint is such a go-to because it has an all-in-one formula, so it’s basically the only painting supply you’ll have to buy (other than a brush, of course). This 32-ounce can lets you avoid priming, adding a top coat, or even pulling out that time-consuming sandpaper. 29 A set of framed abstract prints to quickly style an entire wall
“From paintings and prints to tapestries and wall hangings, adding artwork to your walls can instantly make the space look more inviting. Hang pieces that reflect your personality or choose abstract designs for a modern touch,” says Alex Capozzolo, the co-founder of
SD House Guys and a licensed realtor in California.
If you’re going for abstract, this set of four
abstract prints makes it easy to style and coordinate an entire wall. Each one goes together, so you can stick them all over your home (or even on one wall together) without any of them looking out of place. To make fixing up your walls even easier, this set comes framed. 30 This oversized mirror to take care of entryways or empty walls
“Mirrors are great for reflecting light and giving a room an airy feel,” Capozzolo explains. So, go for this oversized
mirror with a shape that’s versatile enough for your entryway or even that blank wall in your living room. It has a matching gold-tone chain on top to easily hang it wherever you need something on the wall, but you already have way too many art prints.
As for how to style it, he says, “Hang one large mirror to give the illusion of more space or add several smaller mirrors on different walls to create interest.”
31 This modern-looking hardware to fix up cabinets & drawers Bill Samuel, a full-time residential real estate developer that specializes in rehabbing houses and reselling/renting them in the Chicago area, suggests fixing up the hardware around your home. “Some of the most common reasons a home will look cheap is the hardware, fixtures, and outlet/switch covers are older throughout the space,” he says. “Swapping out this hardware for newer modern looking hardware will give your living area a more modern and custom appearance.”
This chrome-finish set is perfect for this hardware-swapping project because it has such a sleek design. Each one has a geometric and super thin shape that looks nice and modern on your kitchen cabinets. They’re also a perfect shape for drawer pulls, and this set even comes with everything needed for installation.
32 These outlet covers with matching screws to freshen up walls
“Older outlets that are almond colored or painted over can make your living room look cheap as well,” Samuel says. “Make sure your outlets/switches/covers are paint free and bright white to give your living room space a clean finished look.”
This set of
outlet plates gives you that bright white look and enough covers to swap out up to 10 of those retro cream-colored ones at a time. They’re completely heat- and fade-resistant, so all of your outlets will stay perfectly clean. It even comes with matching white screws, so they won’t stand out on your wall. 33 This sleek ceiling light with the coziest built-in nightlight
“Cheap light fixtures definitely stick out the most when walking through a house so even swapping them out for a more modern looking flush mount fixture (under $20) can be a quick way to upgrade the look of your space,” Samuel says.
LED light makes it super satisfying to toss that old ceiling light because it looks so modern, and it gives you way more lighting options. It even comes with the coziest nightlight option that illuminates the ceiling with a warm glow. When you’re not using the nightlight, you can also choose from three different settings to control how warm the classic light looks. 34 This iridescent vase to work flowers into your decor Bridget Blonde, a real estate salesperson in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, recommends popping some fresh flowers around your home. “This is a nice touch that brightens up almost any room,” she says. Before you grab some flowers, get this super minimalist vase that’s perfect for whatever blooms stand out to you on your weekly grocery run. The slim shape makes arranging easy because the flowers won’t flop over. It also has a bit of an iridescent finish, so it’ll stand out from all of your other vases. 35 These smart light bulbs to set the vibe of your patio or porch
To finish off your patio or porch, Blonde says, “Replace burned-out lightbulbs. Add a seasonal planter. First impressions matter in this business!” To help out those burned-out lights, swap them out with this set of
smart light bulbs. Not only will they brighten up your patio, but they also sync with your music and change colors if you’re hosting a backyard party. You can also turn them off with an app if you forget about the patio lights after the party.