If you're selling your house, you've probably heard all about curb appeal. Once that first impression passes the test, the next thing that meets the eyes of potential buyers is the entryway -- so make it look good.
The entrance serves as the transition from outdoors to indoors and can leave an indelible impression in the mind of a potential buyer.
"Don't underestimate the importance of the entrance to your home," says Robert Irwin in his book, Improve the Value of Your Home Up to $100,000: 50 Surefire Techniques and Strategies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003). "It helps define the quality of your property when people enter. If your entrance exudes richness, buyers will think of your home as a rich property and be prepared to make offers accordingly."
And Irwin says the opposite holds true as well.
"If the entrance is shabby, then no matter how well appointed the rest of the home, 'shabby' is what will be imprinted on the buyer's mind."
Irwin says having flooring in the entryway that varies from the rest of the house is one way to set off the entrance. He suggests tile flooring, whether it's ceramic, marble, granite, or synthetic.
"In a sense it almost doesn't matter what type of tile you choose, since they all signal a fine entrance," he says.
An entryway is the place to make a statement. Italian ceramic tiles come in a range of colors; those from Mexico come in rich browns and reds.
"You want the tiles to accent your home, but not dominate it," he adds, saying you should impress the buyer, but make sure the rest of your house measures up.
The World Floor Coverings Association says you can tile a typical entryway for about $500.
Irwin also says a nice chandelier can do wonders for your entryway. Considered the jewelry of the home, lighting and other fixtures are by themselves of limited value.
"But when it comes to dressing up your property, they add value," Irwin says.
Irwin says most production homes fall short in the chandelier department. While they can be expensive, you can get a high-quality piece in the $500 to $1,000 range. He also says to keep your eyes open at garage sales and flea markets.
He suggests not going overboard and staying tasteful -- don't go with ones that are too big or gaudy.
"A fancy chandelier is a luxury," he says. "Buyers like to think they're purchasing luxurious homes."
Meanwhile, Cathy Whitlock, an interior designer in Nashville, Tenn., offers some general entryway decorating tips on the Home and Garden Television Web site -- tips that can help make your home more attractive to those picky buyers out there. They include:
Add plants. Ficus trees are good for traditional décor; palm trees are a good fit for contemporary.
Throw an area rug on the floor.
Use a chest or console table to anchor the area. Display a favorite collection or a lamp. Hang a picture or mirror above the table.
Paint a shade of yellow. It goes with everything so it's a good choice for an entryway, which flows to other rooms in the house.
Finally, make sure the area is clean and sparkling. If your entryway leads into a staircase, make sure the banister and railings are clean. Keep the area clear of the clutter that may otherwise accumulate during your everyday routines -- kids' backpacks, coats, mail, etc. Make sure the floor is always swept or vacuumed and make sure the entryway is fully lit, whether it's by a hanging fixture or a lamp.