Friday, September 24, 2010

Register to Win U of M/MSU Tickets!

Staring today--Friday, September 24, 2010--at 3:00 in the afternoon, you can stop out at any RepcoLite or Port City location and register for your chance to win tickets to the Michigan/Michigan State game on October 9th in Ann Arbor.

There's only one pair to give away and you've got to register on site to have a chance--so get there!  If you need directions to our locations, click here!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Self-Centered Portrait of Grand Rapids

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you realize that RepcoLite got involved with a number of Art Prize artists this year.  We worked with them and donated all the paint they needed in order to complete their projects. 

We've already spotlighted Dan Fenelon and Michael Mayorsky.  Today, we'd like to introduce you to Brian Reeves and his one of a kind entry. 

Brian's work is entitled a "Self-Centered Portrait of Grand Rapids" and that's exactly what it is--though probably not for the reasons you may think.  Watch the video to get a feel for what Brian's doing--it's very cool.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meet Michael Mayorsky, Art Prize Artist

This week, I've been spotlighting some of the ArtPrize artists who RepcoLite was fortunate enough to work with during this year's contest.  Today, I want to show you some of the work done by Michael Mayorksy.

Michael's from Illinois and he's tackled one of the most ambitious ArtPrize projects I've seen:  a 5-story mural on the side of the Goodspeed Lofts building on Grandville Ave. in Grand Rapids.

I stopped by and spoke with Michael yesterday and was surprised to hear that none of this painting was worked out ahead of time--none of it.  He simply pulled into Grand Rapids a couple weeks ago, took a long look at the side of the building and started painting what came to mind.

It's an amazing piece and it's easily going to be one of the highlights of ArtPrize this year.  Be sure to get there and check it out in person.  But, in case you can't make it . . . or to whet your appetite . . . here are some shots of the work in progress.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meet Dan Fenelon, Art Prize Artist

ArtPrize starts tomorrow--it's a huge art competition in Grand Rapids involving, among other things, a Grand Prize of $250,000.

It's an amazing event that will draw thousands and thousands of visitors from all over West Michigan and beyond to see the works of over 1,700 artists from all over the world.

Today I want to briefly introduce you to one of these artists, Dan Fenelon.

Dan's a mural artist (among other things) who's created a huge, 30' x 120' mural on the side of the Witters building in Grand Rapids. This building houses The Dwelling Place and Ferguson Dental Center and is now home to an enormous, colorful mural painted entirely with RepcoLite Paints.


Early this summer, Dan contacted RepcoLite and made arrangements for us to supply all of the paint he'd need for this bold, bright and colorful mural. We were happy to comply and, after seeing the results, we're thrilled to be associated with Dan's work.

So often, our exterior paint is made up in the colors of the day: clays, taupes, greys, forest greens . . . and occasional burgundy for a front door . . . you get the idea. It's not often that we get to go nuts and show people that our paint can be as bold and bright and powerful as they can imagine. It just takes some creativity and you can do wonders!

And that's not just true in the art world. I'm hoping people will see Dan's work for Art Prize and will start to realize that they can make a powerful statement in (and on) their own homes. Oh, maybe not as bold or crazy as Dan's work--but still, something that stands head and shoulders above the crowd.

Anyway, check out Dan's mural during Art Prize and be sure to cast your vote for him!  (And follow his progress on his blog!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My First Night on the 15-Minute Home Improvement Regimen

Well, if you haven't been reading this blog lately, you need to check out the last post.  In that one, I talked about what I think is potentially one of the best home-improvement ideas we've ever talked about:  The 15-Minute Home Improvement Regimen.

It's a big, long name . . . but the concept behind it is extremely simple:  just take 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week, and work on some of the little projects around your home.  

Now, you may wonder, why 15 minutes?  Why three times a week?  Why not longer?  Why not more often?

Well, I'll tell you.  15 minutes is the perfect amount of time because it's manageable.  It's a painless amount of time to spend and it's easy to dig up an extra 15 minutes here and there.  Doing this two or three times a week is perfect because it guarantees that you'll be able to keep up on it without too much difficulty.  It won't overload you.  It won't fill you with dread.  If you set your goals or standards too high, you'll wear yourself out quickly and you'll abandon the program right away.  But if you set manageable goals, you'll be able to stick with it.  And if you do that--if you stick with it--you'll see tremendous results by the end of a year.  In fact, as we mentioned last time, if you spend 15 minutes a day for 3 days a week and do that for an entire year . . . by the end, you'll have put almost 40 hours of maintenance into your home.

Anyway, that's the idea.  Last night, I started my own 15 minute regimen and in so doing, I quickly discovered two benefits of this idea that I hadn't anticipated. 

Let me explain:  I finished up my RepcoLite work around 5:15 or so last night and then went out and mowed the yard.  That took another 20 minutes or so.  When that was done, I came in and asked my wife to set a timer for 15 minutes.

Well, she looked at me with a confused look on her face and asked me what I was doing.  When I told her, explaining my plan to accomplish little jobs around the house in 15 minute increments, throughout the next year, she surprised me.  She told me she'd start the timer, but that she'd also work on little jobs she wanted to accomplish while I was working on mine.  

I hadn't anticipated this.  In all my talk and writing about this idea, I hadn't envisioned multiple sets of hands at work.  Needless to say, I was excited.  If we both stuck to this schedule, we'd accomplish almost 80 hours of work on the home by this time next year--twice as much as I had hoped.

That was the first discovery I made--and I urge you to keep that in mind.  Bringing your spouse into this program will instantly double your productivity.  And don't be afraid to expand from here.  I've got 5 children--4 of whom can actually do a fair amount of work when they are asked.  If we'd all commit to spending 15 minutes a night working together on little tasks--sanding some trim, cleaning a room, organizing some toys, cleaning some closets . . . if we'd all do that, we'd accomplish nearly 234 work hours on the home by the end of the year.  Pipe dream?  Possibly.  But it's definitely worth thinking about.  

Also, before you label me some kind of child-labor proponent, let me point out that bringing your kids (and your spouse) into the work can be a good experience for all of you.  Your kids will learn the value of hard work, you'll be spending time together, and, if you keep the work time limited to 15 minutes, it's never going to be too much of a burden for any of you.  So think about it.

Anyway, that's the first discovery I made.  The second one was just as exciting--at least to me.  

See, when my wife set the timer, we both jumped straight into our tasks.  She went straight downstairs to start organizing a messy storage area we have down there while I headed outside to tackle our storage shed.

When I opened the doors and looked at the mess, I realized I had a job ahead of me.  The summer had taken its toll on my barn and as a result, there were piles of bikes and scooters and extension cords all heaped over with various kids toys--bats, balls, gloves and little shovels.

Now normally, I would have stood there for a while, staring at the mess and growing progressively more and more angry.  But last night, I didn't have that luxury.  I didn't have time to stare and get angry.  I had 15 minutes--probably 14 by now--to get that barn clean.  And so I went to work.  

I hauled everything out, stacked it, organized it.  I threw away the garbage and swept out the grass clippings, the dirt and the dead leaves.  I worked quickly, almost nervously, because I knew that timer was going to go off any minute.  It became, in my mind, a race against time.

And that's when I made the other discovery that surprised me:  I realized I was having fun.  I was hustling to finish the job before the buzzer.  I was up against the clock and I loved it.  

Now, I don't know about you, but when I've got a deadline . . . time seems to fly.  When I've got all day  to accomplish something, time seems to crawl.  Last night, I accomplished that entire barn-cleaning and re-organizing in 16 minutes.  It looks great and the time it took to do it literally flew by.  My wife expressed the same thoughts when she emerged from her task.

We both accomplished a lot of work in a short amount of time and we had fun doing it.  Tonight is our next work night.  Then, our plan is to put in another 15 minutes on Thursday and tall it a week.  I won't report our progress every night--who'd want to read that--but I'll keep reminding you of this idea from time to time because I really believe it will make a difference in your home.

So, do yourself a favor and give it a try.  No matter what jobs you have to accomplish in your home, this is the perfect way to tackle some of them.  Try it and see for yourself:  it's painless, effective and almost . . . in a weird, race-against-the-clock-kind-of-way . . . fun.

Thank You to our Service Men and Women!

These pictures showed up in my mail the other day with no explanation.  I have no idea (yet) who the soldier is, where he is stationed, how he got the shirts, or how the pictures ended up in my possession.  As soon as I know, I'll post some info here.

In the meantime, though, RepcoLite would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our service men and women as well as their families.  You're all sacrificing so much, risking so much, for our sake.  Thank you for your bravery, your service and your love for our country!  May God bless you all and give you peace and strength!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lose the Pounds in 15-Minutes a Day

In the last couple posts, I've been talking about two different but related concepts:  namely, that I'm getting fat and that my house is also getting fat.  Now, of course when I say "I'm getting fat," you know what I mean.  However, when it comes to my house getting fat, you may not have such a clear idea.  So, to be clear, let me explain it this way:  both of us--my house and I--are exceedingly out of shape.

With me, you can see it in my new bulges and the fact that I get winded while walking and channel surfing.  For my house, it's evidenced by the chipped trim and the dinged-up walls, the old, tired paint and the wobbly cabinet doors.  My house--and I, for that matter--aren't what I'd classify as morbidly obese . . . or even semi-morbidly obese.  But, as I mentioned, we're both out of shape and not that appealing when looked at appraisingly.

And so, work needs to be accomplished--on both fronts.  But the problem is time.  I don't have time to exercise for hours on end and I don't have time to do home maintenance for hours on end.  I don't even have enough extra time to combine the two into some hybrid home-improvement-exercise-regimen.  And so, what typically happens, is that I put it all off.  I don't start exercising because I don't have enough time to do it right.  I don't start doing my little home repairs because I don't have enough time to do  them right.  And so everything piles up--the weight and the jobs.  And I get a little more depressed each day.

But not too long ago, it hit me:  I'd made a critical mistake.  I suddenly realized that I don't need to exercise like the people who are completely and totally committed to becoming fit.  If I could just find 15-30 minutes a day walking, I'd see a dramatic improvement.  And that led me to conclude that the same is true for my home:  if I could just implement a 15-30 minute home improvement regimen two or three times a week, I would see tremendous results in a very short amount of time.

See, the key to any successful exercise program--I'm told--is setting a schedule you can keep.  Setting up a grueling, hour-long, daily program sounds like a great idea, but usually, in 3 weeks time (or far less if you're me), you've given up completely.  

Instead of those marathon, epic, exercise programs, we'd be better served to put our energy into a smaller program we can actually stick to and keep up with.

The same is true when it comes to a home improvement regimen.  And that's what I'm going to implement in my home for the foreseeable future.  I'm going to take a night or two or three every week and I'm going to set aside 15 - 20 minutes each time.  My plan is to set this schedule for the same 2 or 3 nights every week and I'm going to set it for a time that will be as painless as possible.  For me, that's going to be right when I get through with work, while my wife's making dinner. 

If you'd like to try this in your own home, do the same thing:  pick a couple nights and pick a time that works well and get started.  Use this time every night to tackle all the little jobs that would normally pile up over time.  And don't worry about not completing any given task in your allotted 15-20 minutes.

For example, let's say you've got some nail holes that need to be puttied, sanded and then touched-up with paint.  Well, take your 15-minute segment on a given night and run around the room with some spackling compound and a putty knife.  Fill in all the nail holes and call it a night.  Clean your tools up quickly, put them away and carry on with the fun part of your night.  

DON'T BE TEMPTED TO KEEP WORKING!  Extending your work over the allotted 15-20 minutes sounds effective, but in the end, you're just going to burn yourself out faster and you'll end up quitting.  So quit on time and plan to start back up the next day.

When the next work day comes, set a timer for another 15-20 minutes and run around that same room with sandpaper.  Sand down all those nail holes and vacuum up all the dust you just created.  When that's finished,
put your stuff away and call it a night.

The next time you have your 15-minutes of home improvement time, finish the project by touching up all the spots with paint.  Clean up your tools at the end, put them away and go cross that little job off your list.

Keep working around your home like that.  One night you can replace that vent cover that's all dented because of the kids.  Another night, you could go around and sand all the chips in your woodwork.  2 nights later, on your next "fix-it" night, go around and do your touch-up painting.

Stick to this schedule week after week and you'll be amazed at what kind of accomplishments you've made in six months.  Or a year.  In fact, if you implemented a 15-minutes-a-night work-time, 3 nights a week and kept up on it through an entire year, you'll end up logging almost 40 hours of work on your home.  Think about that!  Nearly 40 hours of work on your home in a year . . . all done in virtually painless 15 minute chunks!  Think of the difference that would make! 

Sure, these little fix-it nights aren't going to get your living room painted or help you accomplish other bigger projects, but they will help you get all the small, obnoxious, time-consuming ones of the way and will help you get on the road to getting your homes back in shape.

I'm starting tonight.  Why don't you think about it, too?  I'll let you know how I'm doing . . . and feel free to post your experiences in the comments here.  Good luck!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The 15 Minute Paint-Exercise Regimen that Will Change Your Life--GUARANTEED!

Last time, I wrote about an email I've been receiving lately that has the following subject line:  "So Now That You're Fat, What Are You Going to Do About It?"  (You can read that post by clicking here.)

It's an obnoxious subject line and I hate seeing it in my inbox because, sadly . . . it's dead-on.  I have gained some weight and seeing that email in my inbox reminds me of that fact and depresses me.  I'm especially depressed when I go on to read about the exercise programs and regimens designed to take off the fat.  They're incredibly grueling and I think their main strategy is to kill you and let the normal flow of decomposition take care of the weight loss.

For example, my wife bought a Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred video.  It's a 20 minute workout that you can do everyday.  If you keep up on it, Ms. Michaels promises that you'll see tremendous results.  I don't know if she's right or not.  See, I've tried to do this on two separate occasions and each time . . . after about day 4 or 5, I found myself at the Dr.'s office trying to figure out why I  was having chest pains, shortness of breath, chronic back spasms and shin splints.

Each time, they've told me I'm healthy and they've sent me off home with a laugh.  But I'm not laughing.  Because the only reason for my symptoms--that I can determine--is that I'm not man enough for Jillian Michaels.

In fact, when I boil it down, I'm not man enough for exercise in general.  It tires me out.  If I do the easy, slow, low-impact exercises . . . I'm going to have to exercise 6 hours a day, everyday, for the rest of my life just to maintain my current weight and not gain any more.  If I do the quick, high velocity, hard-core Jillian Michaels' workouts, I may lose weight, but it will likely be while lying in a coffin.

And so, needless to say, that's a little depressing.  The death part, sure . . . but also the fact that getting back to my slim, high-school body is going to take forever . . . if it's even possible.   In the end, it kind of makes me want to just forget the whole thing and quit trying.  

And finally, that brings me to the home improvement point I wanted to make:  our homes can be just like our bodies.  They get pudgy and out of shape just like we do.  And when that happens, getting them back in shape can take so much work and effort that we sometimes feel like not even trying. 

This all hit home for me last week when my wife and I spotted a house for sale.  Now, I should point out that we're perfectly content with our home right now.  We had no plans to move.  We weren't looking for a new house . . . we weren't even thinking about it.  But then, late last week, we saw one that was for sale.  And it was amazing.  

It was located on the edge of a big city park in Zeeland.  A screened-in porch looks out over a baseball diamond.  There's a huge yard for the kids to play on--a yard that is mowed and maintained by the CITY (does it get any sweeter than that?).  It was a perfect home for my family . . . it was a house we'd looked at for years and always dreamed about . . . and now, it was for sale.  To top it all off, we called on the price and discovered, much to our shock, that it was in our price range.

We were excited.  Shocked.  Thrilled.  Nervous.  Excited.  And then we drove home.  And I walked into our home . . . and the scales fell off and my eyes were opened and I realized how out of shape my home was . . . how fat I'd let it become.

I looked and I saw cabinet doors that needed to be painted, others that needed to be touched up.  I saw chipped-up woodwork and dinged-up walls.  I saw wallpaper that was coming loose in a couple spots, a kitchen that needed a new paint job.  A back entry wall that needed to be cleaned and a floor that needed some work.  I saw little things like a broken switchplate or two and some lights that were burned out.  And I saw big things like carpets that needed cleaning, porch screens that needed sanding and repainting, and the exterior trim that needed to be completely redone.

If I was going to try to list this house and get people interested in time to have a chance at this other house, I would have to list it now--almost immediately.  But I couldn't.  I had months of "home exercise" to do before my house would be even close to being in shape. 

That was a depressing realization. It's exactly how I felt about myself after receiving my "So Now You're Fat" emails:  getting back in shape was going to take months of grueling work and effort.  In fact, getting back in shape (both me and my house) was going to take so long that I found myself wondering if I had the energy to even start. 

But since we were interested in this new house, I decided I needed to buckle down and start working for hours on end for the foreseeable future until I had all these little projects finished.  But then, before I started my work, we toured that new house and decided it was not for us.  Beautiful on the outside . . . but not big enough for all my kids on the inside.  The whole new-house-thing was a no-go and I slowly downshifted and slid back into my planning-to-live-in-our-current-house-for-awhile mentality.  

However, even though we're not moving anytime soon (as far as I know) this experience has taught me something.  It has taught me that you never know when the right opportunity might present itself when it comes to buying a new home.  That particular home wasn't the right one for us . . . but who knows . . . next week we might find the perfect place.  That meant I still needed to tackle the jobs at my home and get them out of my way.  So I resigned myself to horrible nights of grueling, 4-hour and 6-hour shifts with only time to sleep and eat in between.

But that's when the light dawned and hope sprang to life.  See, right around that time, I read an article about the benefits of walking for 15 minutes a day while eating the right food. 15 minutes a day?  I re-read the phrase . . . I could do that. And that's when I realized that I don't need to do the Jillian Michaels' Kill-Yourself-To-Get-Thin Exercise program to see results.  I can watch what I eat and I can find time to walk or jog 15-20 minutes every day.  Something low-impact and manageable . . . something I won't tire of instantly . . . .  Something like that will produce results in the long run. 

Oh, I may not ever find my way to the cover of People magazine . . . but at least I won't be able to nestle my mountain dew in my belly button when I'm trying to change the channel on the tv.  

Once that dawned on me . . . I realized the same is true with my home.  I looked at all the projects I had sitting around and I realized that each one of them could be tackled . . . in tiny, bite-size chunks . . . if I'd just allot 15 minutes a day . . . or even every other day. 

With that in mind, I've decided to implement something I'm calling RepcoLite Paints'15 Minute Paint-Exercise Regimen that Will Change Your Life.  Yeah, it's a mouthful . . . but it's going to work.  And it's going to produce results.  And I'm going to invite all of you to try it. 

Next time, I'll tell you how it works. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So Now That You're Fat ....

Now, I don't know how this happened, or what I looked into once upon a time on the internet, but suddenly, I'm getting emails with the following subject line:  "So Now That You're Fat, What Are You Going to Do?"

OK . . . when I started getting those emails, I  found I had a couple questions.  First off, who thought up this marketing campaign?  I mean really, as a marketing guy, I found myself wondering who thought this was a good idea to start an email campaign with that subject line.  After all, starting with a line like that is no way to win friends and influence people. 

Try that kind of brutal honesty on a first date--(or a second date--or even on your wife of 50 years) and see how far that gets you.  Seriously, can you picture it?  You arrive home after a long day and your wife greets you at the door.  You give her a hug and then, before you pull away you give her another hug.  Then, you kind of step back and reach out and poke her in the stomach.  And then, just to make sure, you slowly and gently  squeeze her sides with both hands.  Finally, you loosen your tie and say, "wow honey, now that you're fat, what are you going to do?"

Yeah, just try that.  I dare you. 

It doesn't take a behavioral specialist or an FBI Profiler to know that uttering those exact words is going to end in domestic violenceThose words are just not the kinds of words we use in normal conversation. Which is why I'm always a little stunned and surprised when I get that email in my inbox.  Do they truly think that belittling me, teasing me, mocking me is going to urge me to take action? 

Yeah, that's the first question I have whenever I find this little gem in my inbox.  My second question, however, is much more important:  How do they know?  Think about it:  How do they know that I've gotten fat?  Are they watching me with hidden cameras?  Tracking my purchases at the store and keeping tabs on how many Hostess Apple Pies I'm cramming down?  Are they keeping tabs on the clothing sizes I buy?  The numbers of pairs of sweatpants in my wardrobe?  Did they figure it out because they've monitored my phone calls and have heard me refer to sweatpants as "my wardrobe"? 

Yet, as mystifying as that is (it's probably got something to do with GOOGLE), as much as I wonder how they figured out my secret . . . I still have to come back to one sad little harsh reality, though:  They're right.  And even though I don't necessarily like their assessment or agree with their blatant, in-your-face honesty, I can't dispute the facts:  I'm pudgy.

I've let myself go.  I eat more than I should and rest more than I need.  In fact, I usually double those activities up and do one while I'm doing the other.  As a result . . . I've blossomed.  I've found myself digging through my dresser, looking past shorts and jeans and looking instead for sweatpants or things with stretchy waistbands.  I've noticed that my baggy sweatshirts are kind of clingy and that my clingy sweatshirts are like a second bulgy and unnattractive skin.  Finally, and most alarmingly, I saw video of me swimming in the lake with my kids on vacation.  It was truly horrible to look at.  So much pasty skin occasionally breaking the surface of the water like some kind of large fish going belly-up.  Horrible.

At any rate . . . the bottom line is that I've let things go and I need to get them under control.

And that brings me back to that original email.  Now that I'm fat, they have tons of suggestions for me.  Oh, I haven't opened the email to look, but I know it's all about exercise regimens and diets.  In fact, everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I discover that the only way out of this mess is to buckle down and spend at least 6 hours every night doing crunches and jumping jacks.  It's overwhelming to realize how much exercise is necessary to get back to my suggested weight. 

No, I take that back.  It's not overwhelming.  It's overwhelmingly depressing.

But, the good news keeps coming.  See, after I discovered that I was fat (thanks to that long email campaign designed to thoroughly convince me I'm a blob), I made a secondary (though equally depressing) discovery about my home.  It seems my home, like me, has also fattened up.

And I'll explain what I'm talking about in the next post.  Hang with me and check back tomorrow! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Great Disassociation, part 2

OK, in a previous post, I mentioned something I called The Great Disassociation and how it's such an important concept when it comes to selling a home.  See, when we live in our homes for any length of time, what typically happens is that we become blinded to the condition of the home.  They're our homes.  We see them everyday.  And as a result, little things kind of slip by us.

For example, I have a wall in my bedroom--and this is embarrassing to admit--that had a nail hole in it.  I had tried to hang a picture and I put it in a spot I didn't like.  So, I pulled the nail out, moved the picture and then spackled the nail hole.  Impressive, right?  Well, not so much.  See, that's as far as I got.

In fact, while that happened over 2 years ago, I just noticed the other day that there's still a big white spackled spot in the center of the wall that has NEVER BEEN PAINTED!  I've left that undone for over two years and I never really even noticed it.  It became the new normal and it never jumped out at me as something to think about doing.  (I told you it was embarrassing).

Another example is this:  my basement has a musty odor in the Spring and Fall.  If I run a dehumidifier, it goes away and smells fine.  However, what usually happens is that we get used to the smell.  We walk into our back entry after a day out and it smells like our back entry.  I don't even think about it.  But every now and then my mom will stop over.  She'll walk in and say something like "I should get you our dehumidifier--that way you could clear out that musty smell."  She doesn't mean anything negative--she's just offering her help.  Problem is, she's offering her help with a problem I didn't even realize existed.  And it's because I live there.  I get used to it.  I don't see it as an area of concern.

That's what I'm getting at--how we live with certain aspects of our home for so long that we don't even see them as trouble-zones.  And while we're living in our homes, that's not such a big issue.  But when we're trying to sell our homes, it becomes enormous.  After all, I may not notice the spackle spot on the bedroom wall . . . but new buyers will.  I may not notice the musty basement stink . . . but new potential buyers will.  And who knows . . . those things might be enough of a turnoff to steer those folks away from my home.

So that's why the Great Disassociation is so important.  It's all about disassociating yourself from your own home--about forgetting that it's yours--about looking at it with new eyes--with the eyes of potential new buyers.  Doing this is going to help you spotlight some of the areas that are going to need your attention--areas that should be repaired or attended to before you put your home on the market.

So, to do your best to eliminate these little turnoffs, you first need to find them.  And to find them, you need to look at your house as if it was somebody elses.

Now, that's not easy to do . . . so here's what I recommend.  Drive away some night and go out for dinner with your family.  Maybe, if you're brave, invite an honest and good friend of yours along.  After dinner . . . and here comes the hard part . . . drive up to your home and do your best to pretend that it's not yours.

That's right.  Don't pull into the driveway--because it's not your house.  Don't pull into the garage--it's not yours.  Don't get the mail out of the mailbox, don't pick up the newspaper off the sidewalk . . . treat this house as if it's one you just drove by, saw the "For Sale" sign, and stopped for a look.

Park on the road--where everybody else would park--and get out of your car.  Look at everything--what's the mailbox look like?  Is it rusting away on the post?  Will you have to replace it if you buy the home?  Will you need to stain the post? 

Check out the roof--that's always one of the first things I look at--what condition are the shingles in?  Does it look like you'll be replacing it in the next couple years should you make the purchase? 

What about the trees in the yard?  Do they look healthy or are they full of dead branches?  And what about the yard?  Is it green and growing or brown and dead?  Is the grass cut or completely growing out of control? 

As you walk up the driveway, pay attention to the cracks or the weeds that are growing there.    What about the landscaping in the front?  Is that out of control?  Are the bushes growing like mad or have they been trimmed nicely?  Are there weeds choking out everything else?

Check out the front steps--are they covered with newspapers?  Are they littered with flower pots full of dead plants?  Are they full of cracks?  Is the welcome mat a mess?

What about the front door?  What shape is it in?  Is it rusting?  Is it peeling?  Is it faded and boring?  Could it use a new color, a new paint job?  Are there spiderwebs everywhere?  Dead leaves?

You get the idea.  Do that . . . analyze your home that way . . . and take notes.  Look at it as if you might be purchasing it.  What jumps out as you as a neat feature?  Would it be better if you did x, y or z to enhance it?  What jumps out at you as a big turnoff?  Is there anything that you instantly would have to fix if you bought the home? 

After you've gone around the outside of the home, it's time to head inside and do the same thing.  Analyze everything and keep yourself in the mindset that this isn't your house.  Keep telling yourself that everything you see that's not perfect is going to have to be repaired by YOU (the new buyer). 

Do this walkaround (and through) your home separate from your spouse--and then meet up later and compare notes.  What did he or she see that you missed? 

And if you've got the guts and a thick enough skin . . . ask an honest friend or two to do the same.  And don't chew them out when they let you know what they see either.  Ask them to give you their honest opinion of your home as viewed from the road by potential buyers.  Ask them not to sugar-coat anything.  You want the straight scoop--you want to know what they see.

After you've done this, take all this information and analyze it.  Some of the things are going to be too big to tackle when you're trying to sell your home.  As nice as a loft in the garage would be, you don't need to build one to sell the home.  But, if the front door looks dirty and old and the mat is worn out and the mailbox is rusting . . . well, those are all little fixes that will go a long way towards your goal:  getting people in your house so they can see what's inside and hopefully fall in love with it.  Think about it.  And give it a try.