By Liz Greene
You need only watch a few episodes of House Hunters to realize just how important curb appeal is. Of course, those of us who aren’t selling our homes rarely give it a second thought — but it’s time that changed. The outside of your home should reflect your personality and aesthetic just as much as the inside. Here are a few ways to quickly give your home the oomph it deserves!
Give it a Good Wash
If the thought of painting your home and staining your deck is overwhelming, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’s a much simpler solution — pressure-washing. Dirty siding, oil-stained driveways, and faded walkways all benefit from a good pressure wash, and it’s so much easier than taping everything up and breaking out the paint sprayer. If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent one, or hire a professional. One quick note: never pressure wash cars, specially painted items, fragile glass, or asphalt!
A Front Door Makeover
The front entry is the focal point of your home’s curb appeal. A quart of exterior paint costs next to nothing, yet it can do so much for your front door. Pick a bold color to add some brightness — but make sure it works with the rest of the colors on your house. Not only will a brightly colored door draw attention to your house, it will make it feel modern and inviting. If you want to kick it up another notch, paint the trim and add matching molding to make the frame complement your colorful door.
Upgrade Your Hardware
There a number of little things that add style and interest to your home’s exterior curb appeal, such as the handle on your front door, light fixtures, house numbers, and mailbox. These accents help to define your home’s overall look, and if they’re dirty and dingy, replacing them will make a world of difference.
Your local home improvement store will most likely have a large selection of light fixtures, mailboxes, and house numbers. However, if buying new isn’t in the budget, you can always give them a facelift with paint. When buying (or repainting), consider the style of your house and then use the hardware to create either a uniform or contrasting effect.
There’s no lack of accessories to make your entryway feel as homey and comfortable as the inside of your house.Wreaths, door knockers, welcome mats, statues, planters, rugs, signage, wall art, and other decor will serve to give your entryway a hearty dose of personality!
Add a Seating Area
Nothing is quite so inviting as a cozy outdoor seating area. Put out a couple of rocking chairs, a cushioned bench, or a hanging swing — whatever strikes your fancy — and then watch as your front patio becomes your favorite spot for socializing. You can choose to make the seating itself bold and bright, or choose something neutral and dress it up with colorful decorative pillows.
Plant a Tree
Trees are so wonderful. They provide oxygen, shade, and homes for wildlife. They’re also one of the most common ways to add curb appeal to your house. When choosing a tree for your front yard, you’ll want to consider how large it will be when it’s mature, what color the foliage is, whether or not it flowers, and what it will be dropping in your yard. If you have a lot of space, plant two trees to frame your house or entryway. This handy tree wizard from the Arbor Day Foundation can help you find the perfect tree for your yard!
Put In Flowers
Planting flowers is a simple and low cost way to make a huge impact on curb appeal. Plant flowers along walkways, around the base of trees, in front of the house, or in raised beds. If you’d rather stick to containers, you can use flower boxes, hanging baskets, and colorful pots.
Talk to experts at your local nursery to get recommendations on what plants and flowers flourish in your area. Sticking with native plants and perennials will make upkeep easy, and eliminate the need to buy new flowers every year.
Install Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting can be used to illuminate a walking path and emphasize landscaping. Soft exterior lighting makes your home friendly and inviting, welcoming guests after dark. Security is an added bonus, since the lights will reduce dark spots near your house.
While you can definitely hardwire permanent fixtures, solar lights may be a better choice. They’re perfect for sidewalks as they don’t require any cables or cords, are easy to install, and are a relatively affordable option.
Edge the Driveway
Want to give your driveway a crisp, clean look? Install a border with bricks, pavers, or stone! Doing so will add a touch of elegance and bring your boring driveway to life with color, texture, and a decorative design (if you’re feeling especially creative.) You can make the edging level with the driveway, or build it up to keep people from driving onto your lawn. The best part? You can totally do it yourself. Instructions for installation can be found here.
Neaten the Yard
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your home is if it’s surrounded by unkempt greenery. One of the most important things to boost curb appeal is a well-manicured lawn, trimmed trees, and pruned shrubs. Here’s what you need to do to make your yard scream curb appeal:
* Green up your grass with quality lawn food and the right amount of water.
* Cover bare spots with grass seed and mulch (or fresh sod), get rid of crab grass, and mow at least once every two weeks.
* Put a neat edge on garden beds, pull weeds, and water flowers regularly.
* Trim overgrown bushes — or replace them leafy plants and colorful annuals.
* Surround bushes and trees with dark mulch to provide contrast and give the yard a warm feel.
* Cut away any shrubs or tree limbs that cover windows or touch the house.
Once your yard is neat and tidy, your house will truly shine!
Curb appeal is much like beauty, it’s truly in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, spending a little bit of time and money on the outside of your home is bound to have its benefits — even if you don’t plan on selling any time soon. Neighbors, guests, and family will smile every time they pull up to your house; and you’ll puff up with pride knowing that you were responsible for bringing that beauty to the surface.