Quicker Fixer-Uppers
Four small projects that can make a big difference

(MONEY Magazine) – door prize

Curb appeal. It's one of those buzzwords that real estate agents throw around, but it actually means something. The first time that anyone--including a prospective buyer--sees your home, it'll be from the street. A handsome front door is the suburban equivalent of a giant WELCOME sign. Solid wood doors are inviting but can be costly. Less expensive steel and fiberglass are more durable and easier to maintain, and fiberglass can be treated to look like wood.

fix the fixtures

Installing a new faucet and slapping fresh tiles on the backsplash are quick, inexpensive ways to make a kitchen look clean and contemporary. What's hot: high arc models used for pot-filling, like this one. Also : single-control faucets that switch from spray to stream and can be pulled out or down from the spout. For the backsplash, ceramic tiles are the most versatile and economical material to use.

lights out

It was a dark and stormy night...and you made your way up the front walk, no problem. Adding lighting to exterior walls and in the front and back yards around landscaping is an easy do-it-yourself project that will make your home warmer and more inviting--and safer too. Landscape architects say small, subtle lights in trees, gardens and on outside walls will make your yard look bigger. Install lights along walkways, and on stairs and handrails for extra safety.

cabinet care

Cabinets are one of the most expensive kitchen features to replace, accounting for about half the cost of a typical renovation. Consider having existing cabinets refaced, a process in which doors and drawer fronts are removed, a veneer of prefinished wood (like the oak veneer shown here) is applied to the exterior, and the "new" doors are reattached. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, wood-finished doors with a raised panel in a frame are another popular option.