Don’t be dismayed: All of these wish-list items can be added in a weekend!

By Caroline McKenzie
May 05, 2017

Rather than a grand entry hall, the welcoming element here is a 113-foot-long, tongue-and-groove pine breezeway that leads to the main cottage and unites the four buildings. The Shaker-style front door is mahogany with paneled sidelights. 

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards; Styling: Ginny Branch

When you’re searching for a new home, it’s easy to get discouraged by what the market does—or does not—have to offer. But here’s some good news: the following five items on your must-have list are easy home updates you can tackle in a weekend’s time. Your dream house just may be hiding under that overgrown landscape or behind that ho-hum front door after all!    

1. A Pretty Front Door

Front doors make a serious first impression for buyers. But they're also one of the fastest ways to overhaul an exterior. Whether you apply a fresh coat of paint or swap out the new door entirely (nothing ruins curb appeal like an ill-matched choice, like a midcentury beauty on a classic Tudor) the entire project will likely cost less than $500.

2. Fabulous Light Fixtures

Just as jewelry can transform an outfit, so too lighting can revamp a room. If proper wiring is in place, swapping from a drab to fab fixture is an economic, done-in-an-afternoon way to have things looking up.

3. Picture-Perfect Landscaping

Homebuyers often say they want mature landscaping. But "mature" can also equal overgrown and unruly. With that in mind, a spare yard can be seen as a bonus: a clean slate just waiting to be planted with pretty boxwoods and hydrangeas. 

Related: 7 Projects That Will Help Sell Your Home Faster:

4. Shiny New Appliances

Brand-spanking new appliances put stars in buyers' eyes. But, in actuality, they're relatively easy to update. While they will cost you more than, say, a can of paint, if the kitchen configuration is already to your liking, you can switch the old for the new without undertaking a major renovation. What's more, if you consider that you'll be using these items daily for many years, the per day use is far from sticker shock. For example, a standard refrigerator has an average life expectancy of 14 years. So even that French door stainless steel model comes to a mere 50-cents per day across the entire span of use. 

5. A Hardworking Mudroom

Utilitarian spaces are the unsung heroes of home design, and savvy buyers know that a well-planned landing zone can make or break a house's livability. But take note: If a listing doesn’t have a sprawling spot to kick off your boots (or wet bathing suits!) incorporating a few industrious pieces such as a bench, coat hooks, and storage baskets can overhaul an entry or laundry room in a snap.