Some of St. Cloud’s senior residents will verify that The Reader’s Digest was once flat-out the most popular magazine in the country. I don’t know how far back that began, but at one point at least, it was the time-saving way Americans kept up with what was being published in the other magazines (there were lots of them). RD boiled lengthy articles down to a couple of pages.

TV is probably what spelled its decline. The internet almost finished the job—but the Digest is still going in various forms. When you come across it online, it never fails to show a whole lineup of almost irresistible Click Me sidebars. Last week, for instance, St. Cloud homeowners might have been snared by “20 Secret Hiding Places for Valuables in Your Home” (if your home will host an open house anytime soon, that one would be fortuitous); “Prepare to Be Amazed By the Gorgeous Way This Woman Transformed Her Simple Camper Trailer” (although the flashy red-white-and-blue stripes on the camper shell might have been overkill); “13 Neat Ways Milk Can Help You Look Gorgeous And Clean Your House Too!”(sour milk can renew tarnished silver; powdered milk can erase fine cracks in china).

But the most relevant attention-grabber of all (for St. Cloud homeowners, at least) would have been “10 Ways to Increase Home Value with Exterior Paint.” We all know that a fresh paint job will give any home a value boost—but what are the other 9 ways? Here’s a selection from the answer:

1.    Color Correct for Value—which means “use eye-catching color schemes.” This was RD’s #1 way to increase value…but I’d have to caution that if a color scheme is a bit too eye-catching, it could accomplish the reverse…
2.    Perception of Color is Very Relative—When choosing color schemes, remember that the colors need to viewed right next to each other to judge how they will actually appear to the eye.
3.    Begin with the Value—The word “value” here means how dark or light the main color will be. Decide on it first, before trim colors.
4.    Don’t Be Top-Heavy (St. Cloud homeowners note: this was really the only one I thought could actually increase value)—Place darker colors below lighter shades to prevent a top-heavy look.
5.    Choose Colors in the Right Light—view swatches in the same kind of light they’ll be seen in).
6.    Play Up the Size (use light colors to enlarge a small house and dark colors to make a large house on a small lot look smaller).

I can’t really agree with #6; most St. Cloud homeowners whose houses are set on small lots would still do well to have the home look as roomy as possible. 

Following the original Readers Digest concept, this boils the 10 Ways down to 6. You really could shrink it all the way down to just #4—but since it would no longer be a list, that would be overdoing it. In fact, St. Cloud homeowners who clicked on the sidebar for “13 Tips for Selling Your Home” might actually benefit most from #9—which was “Get Real About Pricing.” 

No matter how many of the Selling Tips you wound up taking seriously, though, I would have to add one more truly practical one: Call Me!