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Spruce up your home with these quick projects

First impressions are important for your home, too. This summer, accent the front of your house with these simple tips from fix-it expert Lou Manfredini.
/ Source: TODAY

Summer's a great time to give the front of your house a facelift. “Today” contributor and home fix-it expert Lou Manfredini explains how to improve your home's facade.

You know when you are looking at a well put-together home. There is a sense of style, purpose and detail that helps bring it all together. While you may think those attributes are only for the rich and famous, you're mistaken. There are ways to inexpensively accent your home, and it starts before you actually enter the front door. Not only can you add a few well-made items, but you can create a new space or centerpiece to really brighten up the look of your home.

One of the hottest trends is front yard sitting areas, which can be done with a simple well-designed, two-seat bistro set. The Carmel wicker three-piece set from Target ($188) looks great. But to really set it off, you need to create a small patio to place it on. This can be done with simple stepping stones that you can get at a good garden center or home center. Carve out an area in the front of your home that is at least 6 feet by 6 feet. Remove about 3 inches of soil, then place about 2 inches of sand in its place. Set the stones over that, and tamp in place with a rubber mallet. This will create a wonderful base to set plants and lighting around your new bistro set. Another item also from Target is the wood barrel outdoor fountain. This adds a peaceful water sound to your area. This unit costs about $129 and is completely self-contained, so all you do is fill it with water and plug it in.

Adding flowers, bushes and greenery is a great way to spruce up the front of your home, but using containers can create many different levels and allow you to design the area more easily, especially if you are tight on space. Lightweight foam containers look great and hold up to the weather, and they come in many different styles, costing around $15 to $20 each. Larger sizes are more expensive, but they look like they cost even more.

One simple accent is to upgrade your mailbox. Choosing one with style, like the Eden Park Luxe mailbox from ($89), will really give a spark to your front door, and may even help the letter carrier fit everything in. If you need a mailbox on a post, check out the black Coronado mailbox and post from the same retailer. This will cost you a little more — $199 for the box and $249 for the post.

Front lighting can make a nice statement and add some pizzazz when your guests arrive. The Northbridge sconces from Smith and Hawken cost $199 each and are easy to install, and will really bring the whole look together. As with any improvement to your home you need a plan — avoid a willy-nilly collection of items. Start with a theme, and then buy and install what your budget will allow. You’ll be surprised by the deals you can find at department stores, hardware stores and home centers. 

If you have questions or comments, email Lou Manfredini at . For those in the Chicago area, check out Lou's new show, “House Smarts,” on NBC5 on Mondays at 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. This fall, look for the show across the country on your NBC station.