If you are trying to sell your home, undoubtedly you have taken the usual steps of de-cluttering, painting, and making small repairs. Those steps are essential. Cleaning up and fixing obvious problems might be sufficient to sell your home – in a seller’s market, or a fantastic neighborhood. But what if you find that competition is stiff, or that, although your home has no major faults, its only crime is that it does not stand out in the crowd? If a home is in reasonably good shape, a buyer is likely to fall in love with a home that has “character.” Small details can go a long way. The following details are easy and affordable, and can give your home the edge it needs to sell.


1. Install a chair rail, with or without wainscoting

Installing wainscoting (also known as bead board) and/or a chair rail can add instant texture and charm to a traditional home. If the normal chair rail height of 30 to 36 inches says “so 80s” to you, try going higher to 4 feet. A chair rail at that height can also double as a curio shelf. Depending on the molding you use, it can also look contemporary. Choose small rooms for this detail: bedrooms, dining rooms, or a hobby room. Look for other less-than-obvious places to use wainscoting, such as below a bar or even on a low or slanted ceiling.


2. Built-in shelves

Everyone, it seems, collects something. Survey your home with an eye for spaces or rooms that could easily be transformed with built-in shelves. The typical living room, for example, is architecturally boring as a rectangular box. But install one entire wall with simple shelves, and the room adopts instant character. Shelving is only beneficial if you do not eat into your square footage too much, so look for dead space – areas that have no other use – that will accommodate shelving.


3. Like-new countertops

Maybe a coat of new paint will freshen up your bathrooms and kitchen, but those outdated laminate countertops will still stick out like a sore thumb. If you want to replace the countertops, laminate is the least expensive way to go, but even laminate can easily cost $1,000 with installation. The more popular granite and other stone countertops number in the thousands of dollars. If you just want to spruce up the house for sale, spare the expense. You can paint the countertops for a like-new look at a more affordable price. The job requires some time and a lot of patience for the prep work and attention to detail, but the results can be stunning, especially if you make the extra effort to create a faux marble look.


4. Backsplash creates a stir

Another way to liven up your kitchen at minimal expense is to focus on the backsplash, that no-man’s-land between the countertops and the upper cabinets. Ideally, a backsplash should be an easy-to-clean surface, especially above the stove. Tile is a great choice, and offers a broad variety of options. Since you are trying to sell your home, stick to neutral colors. Laying tile can be tricky, but many do-it-yourselfers have tackled the job with success. (Buy an instructional book, or attend a workshop at your local home improvement store.) Hiring a handyman for the job adds a little to the expense, but even then this is an affordable way to create interest in your home.


5. Remove a few cabinet doors

If your kitchen has over-the-counter cabinets, you have the advantage of plenty of storage. However, from a visual viewpoint, too many cabinets can look stuffy and confining. By removing the cabinet doors in a few key places, the kitchen will look more open, fresh and airy. Those cabinets can be used to display your fine china or other prized dishware. Store the old cabinet doors for the new owner. Now all you have to decide is whether you want to go a step further by repainting the cabinets and replacing old hardware – another great way to give your kitchen a fresh new look on the cheap.


6. Add task or accent lighting

Updating your light fixtures can add appeal to your home, but adding task or accent lighting can make an even better return on your investment. Lighting may seem like a humble addition, but the lack of good lighting in a home makes it seem drab and unremarkable. Focus your efforts on the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Add track lights over a bar or island, sconces or a bar light fixture for the bathroom mirror, and recessed or track lights in the living room.


7. Replace outdated faucets

A few hundred dollars will go a long way to update your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Replacing a faucet is a quick job and might be worth hiring a handyman or plumber, but it is also easy enough to attempt yourself if you possess a few basic plumbing skills.


8. Focus on the entry

You want to make a great first impression for prospective buyers, so go stand in front of your entrance to see what they will see. A new front door might be in order if it provides extra security and interest. Make sure the entry way is well-lit and inviting.


9. Install shutters

Another step toward a good first impression is by adorning the windows at the front of your house with shutters. Wood shutters are nice, but they are also available in the easy-to-maintain vinyl.


10. Replace flooring

Next to paint, new flooring is one of the best ways to add appeal to your home when it is time to sell. Carpet and vinyl are the most cost-effective choices. If your home has wood floors hiding under carpet, this might be a good time to spring for refinishing.


Selling your home in today’s market can be frustrating, especially if you are in a hurry to sell. While these remodel ideas may not bring a return on your investment, they could give your house just what it needs to help it sell faster.