Increasing the value of your house by making it appear more upscale is one way to attract potential buyers. If you're spending more time in your first home than you'd originally intended, a facelift can also mean the difference between enduring an additional year or two at the same address and really enjoying your stay.
When it comes to making your home look better, it's as much about what people don't see as it is about what they do. If you have cracked walls, matted carpet, torn window screens or clouded double-paned windows, adding stainless steel appliances won't make your home look more expensive. Signs of neglect will shout over the shine of a few new updates. To make a home look plush, the first step is to perform any basic repairs your property needs. A few smart embellishments and flourishes will do the rest.
If your home has been well-maintained, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about -- stress on the shouldn't. Most starter homes need some type of rehabilitation. You may have a groaning, wheezing furnace, your vinyl kitchen floor may be pitted and discolored, or your toilets or sinks may be wearing unsightly rust stains or sport mildewed caulk. These things can make your home look like a fixer-upper even if you think you've done a great job of periodic maintenance.
One imperfection won't destroy the country cottage or urban palace ambiance you're trying to create, but your best bet is to repair the obvious stuff before you move on to the niceties. People expect structural and functional elements in your home to look good and work well. If they hear or see anything that suggests otherwise, they start wondering what else may be wrong.