7 Ways to Kick Your Curb Appeal Up a Notch
By Paula Pant
Whether you’re trying to sell your home, rent your house or simply ‘wow’ your neighbors, nothing makes a more dramatic impression than your curb appeal.
First impressions mean everything, and when people lay eyes on your home for the first time, they’ll immediately glimpse your home’s facade and your front lawn. While a massive face-lift, such as new siding, can cost thousands, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways you can improve the look of your home.
Here are 7 ways to boost your curb appeal.
1. Mulch Heavily
You know that flower or shrub bed sitting in the front of your home? You might not be able to force it to bloom (more on that later), but you can still amplify its aesthetics by heavily mulching it at the start of each growing season.
Organic mulches that are colored with vegetable dyes, like red cedar bark, are a double-edged sword. They create the biggest ‘wow’ factor, but the color can also fade quickly, especially if you live in an area with plenty of sunlight and rain. Once this mulch fades in color, it loses its charm, causing you to add more.
The solution? It depends on your budget. If you can re-mulch twice per year, feel free to indulge in the nicer varieties. If you’re really on a shoestring, opt for something more durable, like pine straw or wood chips, or even entertain the notion of landscaping with small gravel.
Which leads us to the next point…
2. Create a Rock Garden
Nothing screams “modern” and “chic” like a contained rock garden. One of the easiest ways to create this is by:
• Setting a border that visually defines an area of your front yard.
• Clearing that defined space of all weeds, leaves, and plantings.
• Laying down landscape fabric and securing it into place with pegs.
• Covering the area with a nice-looking gravel, like decomposed granite or Russian river cobbles.
• Placing an odd number of vertical, eye-catching decorations in the center, such as a planter with blooming annuals. (Why an odd number? It’s a design hack. Odd increments look more visually appealing. Try either one, three or five planters, depending on the size of your rock garden.)
This will instantly upgrade your curb appeal without costing too much money or time. One warning, however: don’t place your rock garden close to any deciduous trees. When trees shed their leaves in the fall, you’ll find that they get stuck in the gravel and are nearly-impossible to remove. (No amount of leaf-blowing seems to solve the problem.) Eventually, these leaves decompose into soil, which then creates a weed problem within your rock garden.
The solution? Be cautious about the placement of your garden, especially if you live in a humid or heavily-forested area.
3. Add Trim
Beyond landscaping, you can also boost curb appeal by adding an extra layer of trim and molding to the windows and doors.
If you don’t want to remove your existing molding, simply add a layer of crown to the top of your current trim. There are hundreds of designs that you can select from, ranging from simple Craftsman styles to more ornate Victorian and Queen Anne motifs. If you’re willing to remove your existing trim, your options really explode. If you want to create an elaborate look, add fluted trim (rather than plain planks), top it with rosettes, and sandwich these between heavy layers of both crown and base molding.
Trim is like adding accessories to an outfit – it can elevate a basic ensemble into something that looks far more expensive than it actually is.
4. Add Shutters
Depending on the architectural style of your home, shutters might be precisely the missing component. Historically, shutters were used to protect dwellings from storms (and in some areas, like along the Gulf Coast, they still are), but more homeowners are now using shutters as decorative elements that add texture and dimension to their home’s facade. You can choose from a variety of styles, ranging from more traditional louvered rectangular shutters to the far more decorative arch-top board-n-batten style.
5. Paint Your Brick
Do you own a brick home? Some homeowners have the good fortune of owning houses that are built from gorgeous bricks, such as old clay-fired red brick from the early 1900′s. But if your house is constructed from an unremarkable brick style, try spraying-on a layer of paint. If you’re opting for a modern-yet-classic feel, try painting your bricks white. If you’re more daring, consider a shimmery grey texture.
6. Paint Your Front Door
Is your home clad in vinyl siding, rather than brick? Don’t worry. You might not be able to paint your vinyl (and replacing it is pricey), but you can still add an eye-catching layer of paint to your front door. Recently, the “red front door” trend has become popular. If your home bears a neutral color, such as beige or brown, painting your front door lipstick-red can add some contrast and really make your entrance pop. If that’s not your style, try a more muted shade like sea-blue, sage-green, or even black.
7. Replace Your House Numbers
Finally, here’s a tip that will improve the look of your home exterior for $50 or less: replace your house numbers with something that’s more stylish or aesthetically pleasing. If your house announces that it’s “123 Main Street” with humdrum text, try replacing that numbering with a typeface that’s art deco, cursive, or a modern sans-serif made from metal.