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After painting her shutters black, Caren Travis wanted a contrasting color for the front door to add a pop of color. She matched Burning Bush red to the brick of the home's exterior.

Basic upkeep tips for houses on the market

Realtor Vicki Trapp says it's easy to keep grass cut and shrubs trimmed while your house is on the market. But there are several other basic rules of upkeep that homeowners can take to boost their home's curb appeal for little to no money.

• Keep the driveway and sidewalk swept clean.

• Clean your mailbox, paint it, if needed. Put new house numbers on it.

• Paint the front door, clean the storm door.

• Clean windows inside and out.

• Put down a new doormat on the front stoop.

• Check window screens around the house, replace any that are torn.

• Pressure wash vinyl fencing; stain or paint any wooden fencing that needs it.

• Make sure all bulbs in outside light fixtures are working.

• Turn the porch light on in the evening.

Whether you are updating your home to sell or just vying for neighborhood Yard of the Month, spring is the traditional season to spruce up your yard and front entrance.

Boosting curb appeal is especially important to anyone planning to put their home on the market.

"When a buyer is looking for a home, they first look at listings online and in the newspaper. Then they drive by to see the house and, if what they see in person doesn't match what they saw on paper, they'll keep going," says Vicki Trapp, a Realtor with Crye-Leike and president of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

"The way the house looks on the outside determines whether they will go inside," she explains. "It's easy to keep the grass cut, trim the shrubs, sweep the sidewalk. If you have the funds, put down mulch."

When Caren and Tony Travis of Ringgold, Ga., started a spring spruce-up, their front yard and porch were their first projects. They spread 35 bags of mulch, pressure-washed the house, took down the front shutters and painted them black, then spraypainted outdoor lighting fixtures black to match. Next, she turned her eyes to the front door - its neutral white shade had to go.

"I wanted a pop of color to contrast the black and white. Red gave it the 'wow' factor," says Caren. Plus, black, white and red are Georgia Bulldog colors, the fan jokingly adds.

Taking one of the home's bricks to the hardware store, she matched it to paint cards wbefore picking the door's new color, Burning Bush red.

"It took 11 coats of paint to get the right shade," she says of the glossy, deep-red door.

Whether your house is blessed with a big wraparound veranda or a pint-sized porch, you can add some oomph to the front stoop with these seven easy ideas suggested by designers at, an online collection of interior design and decorating ideas.

1. Paint the front door a bright color.

A white door is traditional, a black door is trendy, but a bright color says "Look at me!" to passers-by. Just like the Travises found, a deep, bold shade will add drama to the home's exterior. A cheerful, bright hue is a mood-booster, and makes a small entryway more noticeable.

2. Add pots of flowers, paint them to match the door.

This is potentially the easiest way to make a front entrance look better. Cluster flower pots, painted the same shade as the front door, on the stoop. Stick with odd numbers and vary the sizes of the pots for a casual feel. For a formal entrance, choose two, large, identical pots to flank the door.

3. Roll out the red carpet.

Well, maybe not literally red, but a rug of some type, if space allows. Visually more appealing than a standard doormat, it also helps hide flaws on the porch surface.

4. Frame it in flowers.

Few things are as charming as a flowering vine weaving in and out of a trellis. Position a trellis on either side of the porch or steps, plant something fragrant and you've got a shady entrance that smells wonderful as well.

5. Plant a window box.

It can be difficult to pump some style into a small stoop. So expand to nearby windows. Install a window box and fill it with cheerful flowers that match or complement those in flower beds on the ground below.

6. Draw the eye upward with hanging baskets.

Hanging baskets brimming with lush ferns not only look elegant, but can survive in the shade beneath a porch. Choose pots that tend toward the large side and suspend them two-thirds up in the space between porch ceiling and floor. Small pots hung that high will look dwarfed and awkward.

7. Top it off with topiary.

A pair of topiary trees flanking the door creates instant elegance. Classic ceramic pots or square wooden planters are top choices to hold topiary trees or trimmed potted shrubs. If the front stoop receives little natural light, opt for high-quality faux topiary.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.