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Six home facelifts for less than $50

Is your house making a good first impression?

If the door and other areas around the front are looking like they need work, it could put off potential buyers, not to mention visitors, according to ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports.

But it’s easy to upgrade your house’s curb appeal without spending a bundle. Start by clearing away clutter, wash the windows and power-wash siding, if needed. ShopSmart asked home stagers (who prep properties to maximize sale prices), designers, color experts and real estate pros for the best under-$50 fixes that can make a big impact.

ShopSmart suggests the following ideas:

• Freshen up the front door: $40 or less. Go for the unexpected, says Debbie Zimmer, director of the Paint Quality Institute.

“A deep, almost eggplant purple works well with white or pale blue siding and on contemporary wood-stained homes,” she says.

Another hue that she loves is yellow – think mustard or pale yellow, not school bus. “It complements classic red brick or painted siding,” she says.

And red is a great choice for traditional white siding and black shutters. Think barn, not candy apple.

When picking door colors, consider your siding, roof and neighbors’ homes to ensure a harmonious look. If you’re going bold on your entryway, take a more muted approach on the garage door, especially if both face the street. That keeps the focus on the front door.

• Get a new mailbox and numbers: $10 and up. Bland or worn-out house numbers and mailboxes can be replaced easily to bring the front of your house back into focus. If the ones you have are functional but dated or mismatched, consider investing in a can of spray paint.

Unless it’s dented, there’s no need to replace a mailbox, says Rick Harris, a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker in Ashland, Ore.

DeAnna Radaj, a design pro based in Charlotte, N.C., painted her mailbox, house numbers and even the planters on her front porch. “I picked the color of the trim of the house – a warm brown – and went with a metallic paint that matched it,” she says.

• Switch the doormat: $10 and up. You can use a doormat to add a pop of color to your entry, Zimmer says. But if you have a door in a bold hue, keep the house numbers, mailbox and doormat in a timeless style and stick with black, which won’t compete with the color. Go for textured types that catch dirt from shoes.

• Refresh the hardware: $15 and up. If your hardware is in shoddy condition, replacements will make a huge difference. A new doorknob starts around $30; a kick plate ranges from $15 to $30, depending on the metal. Door knockers start around $13. Buy hardware that’s in sync with the architectural style of your house.

• Lighten up: $15 to $50. Nothing warms up an entry and makes it feel welcoming like a few lights, especially once twilight falls. To brighten a porch, doorway and walkway, Radaj uses outdoor-use LED lights. ShopSmart’s tests have shown that they instantly brighten, even in frigid temperatures, and can last for years. If you already have the fixture, it’s just a matter of switching the bulb.

• Hide a shabby porch or stairs: $45 to $50 (stair runner or treads). If you haven’t gotten around to painting your front porch or deck, try throwing an outdoor area rug over it. Plunk down a bench and some plants, and no one will notice. A runner made for outdoor use can disguise a not-so-pretty stairway.