By Carriann Johnson, interior designer and TV personality

I've seen the look on people's faces when I suggest something needs to be updated in their home. They become deflated, overwhelmed and oftentimes confused. Please remember, it's not personal. The goal is to make your home shine – and sell for the best possible price.

Consider making some of the following updates before listing your home. It could add to your confidence when putting your home on the market, and possibly bump up the sale price as well.

1. Do a walk-through of your home
Visit each room and make a checklist of items that need to be repaired or replaced – and be objective while doing so. Keep an eye out for outdated styles, bold patterns and colors, dated fixtures, unfinished projects, and over-cluttered closets and cabinets – these items all need to be considered to showcase your home in the best light possible. After making your checklist, develop a budget and establish dates on your calendar to complete these tasks.

2. Incorporate today's styles and trends

Our homes and our styles are as individualized as we are. So although you may love an ultramodern or country cottage look, the majority of buyers may not. Choose transitional styles if you need to replace your lighting, hardware, appliances or flooring. And don't be afraid to ask your local suppliers for help during the selection process.

3. Remember: First impressions count
It takes just 15 seconds to grab the hearts of potential buyers – or leave them completely unimpressed. Make those 15 seconds count! Fresh sealant on a driveway, vibrant and healthy plants on the front porch, a clean rug and a nice fragrance in the entryway, clutter-free hallways – these all make a huge impact but require little effort.

4. Focus on the kitchen and baths
Kitchens and bathrooms are some of the most frequently used areas of any home, so put in some extra effort to freshen them up! Things like stained shower stalls and toilets, broken grout, leaky faucets or dated cabinet hardware are easily replaced at little cost. Or, instead of replacing tubs or shower stalls, consider having them professionally resprayed for a fresh new look. A small investment goes a long way in these spaces. And when it comes to hardware and supplies for kitchens and baths, consider shopping online. Many online suppliers don't have a middleman in the process, so they can sell their items for much less than local hardware retailers.

5. Let's talk paint
Paint is a minimal investment, especially if you have the skills to do the painting yourself. From walls to doors to cabinets to fixtures (and even tile), paint can drastically transform spaces. Keep your selections neutral and universally pleasing. Cover bold colors with neutral ones, making the home move-in ready. My pick for some timeless choices by Sherwin Williams are: Totally Tan SW6115, Believable Buff SW6120, Latte SW6108 and Universal Khaki SW6150.


Here's my checklist for small investments with big impacts:

  • Paint or replace brass or dated light fixtures
  • Update bathrooms and kitchens with brushed nickel, chrome or oil-rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware
  • Replace switch plates and outlets with Decora-style devices
  • Paint walls and trim using a neutral palette
  • Refinish worn hardwoods by applying a fresh coat of stain and sealer
  • Remove wallpaper, borders, decorative decals and patterns from walls
  • Power spray your home's exterior

Keep these items in mind when making improvements to your home and you'll enter the selling process with confidence!




Don Jones Photography

Former HGTV designer Carriann Johnson, of Concepts by Carriann, LLC, is a top interior designer, television personality, host and spokesperson. Look for more of her pro tips on the RE/MAX blog and in the Own It! series of videos from RE/MAX.