10 weekend projects to improve your home's value (© Stewart Cohen/Riser/Getty Images)

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to freshen up your home./ © Stewart Cohen/Riser/Getty Images.

Fetching top dollar for your home in today's tough market doesn't require an $80,000 kitchen remodel or an expensive landscape redesign.

Real-estate experts say your best bet is to invest a little sweat equity into a series of small weekend jobs — $300 or less — that boost your home's appeal and eliminate buyers' biggest objections.

Here are 10 quick ways to add value to your home without breaking the bank

1. The de-clutter weekend
De-cluttering should be the first job sellers cross off their list before starting any other project, agents and real-estate investors say.

Most people, says Atlanta house flipper Brian Trow, get used to their clutter and don't realize what a distraction it is for buyers. "You want to give a buyer the chance to see their stuff in your house," says Trow, whose firm Foundations Investment Group is featured on A&E's "Flip This House." Moreover, he says, it gives the illusion of space.

Get a friend, colleague or casual acquaintance (who won't mind offending you) to walk through your house and give it to you straight. What is distracting? What needs to go?

What's your home worth?

Figure out a way to get your clothes, books, appliances, papers, toys, art and photos under control. Shoving everything into cabinets, closets and the garage is not the answer, says Toronto-based home staging expert Debra Gould, owner of The Staging Diva.  People will look there and think, "If they can't fit everything in there, neither can I."

Pack things away in boxes and put them in the attic or put them in storage. Gould recommends coming up with a system of folders for bills, mail and important papers. Clean out a junk drawer or drawer in your entertainment center to hold these folders, so they can be cleared off counters easily. Likewise, clear the decks of a lot of your kids' toys, putting only 15 or 20 in rotation at a time. Donate some and store the rest in boxes in the attic or garage.

"You have to think, 'What can I live without?' for the next few months," Gould says.

2. Make over your cabinets
The kitchen is the most important room in the house to get right, says Timothy Dahl, editor and founder of home-renovation blog Charles & Hudson. And cabinets are often one of the biggest problems, he says.

You don't need to get your cabinets refaced or replaced to make them look presentable. If they're scratched or look dated, just spring for a couple of cans of paint and put a new finish on them.

White and other light neutral colors work best for most kitchens and bathrooms. If you have a larger kitchen that gets a lot of natural light, you could even try a dark chocolate brown or black, Trow adds.

Once you're done painting, don't neglect the finishing touch: the hardware. "It's an accent that people notice," Dahl says.

Choose something simple and relatively modern for the pulls, preferably in a brushed nickel. Steer clear of brass, brightly colored glass or anything decorated with pictures of birds or flowers.

3. Patch and paint
A fresh coat of paint in the living room, kitchen and master bathroom — the most important rooms in the house — will pay big dividends, says Elizabeth Blakeslee, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Washington, D.C. "Paint is one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to freshen up your home and add zip to it."

Just don't try to jazz things up with bright colors, experts say. The most universally appealing shades are neutrals: yellow-based tones such as off-white, mushroom, medium brown or taupe, Trow says. And stay away from anything too dark. It will make the room look small.

A few more paint don'ts from the pros:

  • Don't try to experiment with accent colors or walls. (Most people don't get this right.)
     
  • Don't choose four or five different colors in the house. A satin wash of one color or a couple of related colors should flow smoothly from room to room.
     
  • Don't leave those wallpaper borders up when you paint. Their time has come and gone.
     
  • Once you're done painting, don't ruin the fresh look by re-hanging too many of your family photos or pieces of art, Trow says.