Spring is a great time for great curb appeal. If this is the year you will be selling your home or this is the year you want to max out your pride in your home, this will get you going on the right track.
View your property with fresh eyes as a visitor or buyer would and identify the best features as well as the challenges. It may be easier to see what others see by taking pictures and viewing what the camera sees. Don’t forget the side and back yards, especially if they are visible to someone driving by. Repeat this process on a gloomy day and in the evening; ensure you have the right lighting both for safety and showcasing.
Are you selling? Keep this in mind. Most buyers cannot visualize changes, and often won’t take a second look at a house if the first look doesn’t appeal to them. The few home buyers who can visualize changes, and are prepared to make them, will probably expect you to reduce the price of the house to compensate for the work they plan to do.
Home is where the heart is. Properties that show character and lifestyle are the ones we are drawn too. Great curb appeal incorporates lifestyle without being overrun by it. If you are selling, remember that people buy on emotion.
Start with a cleanup and repairs of yard, house and outbuildings.
Kill mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, fencing, roof, or driveway.
Pressure-wash dingy siding, steps and decks, driveway and walkways.
Clean windows and gutters, replace any screens, roof shingles, flashing or fascia boards that are damaged or missing.
Paint doors, trim, steps, railings, window boxes, shutters, and even the siding if needed for a fresh appearance or a new color.
Edge sidewalks and garden beds, remove vegetation growing between concrete or bricks.
Turn garden beds or add fresh soil and mulch, keeping beds weeded and plants trimmed.
Mow the lawn, eliminate weeds, and seed or sod any bare patches. A well-manicured lawn gives the message there is pride in the home.
Rake and dispose of leaves, even if your lot is wooded. In the winter, stay on top of ice and snow removal.
Trim tree limbs that are near or touching the home’s roof, or are blocking too much sunlight.
Remove any worn out or outdated chairs, benches and pots.
Stow away garden tools and toys.
Consider changes to the landscaping
Remove or trim any overgrown trees and shrubs, especially those that block the front of the house.
Add garden beds if interest and color is lacking, or on areas of grass which do not grow well. Beds at the base of the front of the house are typically a minimum, to ground the house with the land.
Add variety to your landscape by mixing evergreens and flowering shrubs in a variety of colors and textures. Group plants by height and layer the groupings for visual interest. Consider curving the walkways and gardens for a softer, more natural look.
The strongest appeal to any home is adding bits of charm that welcome you from the street. Add individualized details that will make your home unique from the neighbors. Identify a focal point that tells the eye what to look at first. This may be the entranceway to the home. With a larger yard this can be a fountain, bench, rock wall or walkway trimmed with garden beds. For resale benefits, choose something which will be perceived by buyers as beneficial and easy to maintain.
If you don’t have a clearly defined path to the front door, create one. The cost to do this can vary greatly. Consider your budget; it is best to choose something in line with the value of your home.
Areas which are stark and utilitarian can usually be softened inexpensively with plantings or wooden covers. A chain link fence, for example, can be improved with vines and propane tanks can be camouflaged with trellis material. Finding a spot for garbage bins and green bins which is out of sight yet useable can be a challenge, yet important to consider in your landscaping plan.
If your neighbor’s yard is unsightly, consider blocking the view with a fence or hedge to keep the focus within your own yard.
The front door area is critical. Roll out the welcome mat.
Choose a flattering color for the front door which allows the entry to stand out and beckon with welcome.
Do you need new door handle, mailbox, house number and light fixtures? If these are key to the look of the front, you may want to go bigger and bolder. Make sure the doorbell works too.
Add a welcoming feature such as a small seating area if there is room or a bold floral arrangement to draw attention to the door.
Choose a color for other external doors and garage doors which blends with the siding, allowing the front door to be the star.
People spend time standing at the front door as they wait to be let in, so small details are even more important. Any cobwebs, dirty windows, peeling paint, dirty and worn mats, or rusting metal accessories will be noted and negative impressions will be formed.
In addition to the front door, people look at and through your windows. Choosing the same window treatments for all the front windows is one way to keep your street appeal at its best. Closed window coverings during the day do not speak of welcome, and inside colors which clash with outside colors may spoil all your efforts on the exterior. Looking at the back of a couch is never as appealing as seeing into a room without obstruction. Things to think about as you plan your inside spaces.
Can’t see your front door from curbside? There are still things you can do.
If your home is hidden from the road because of a long or winding driveway, then the entrance to your driveway becomes the first impression. Make it memorable and really difficult to miss.
If your home is a condo, then your front door will have limited opportunities to dress it up. Usually you can hang a wreath or place an urn and seasonal faux foliage at the door. Make it stand out, unique from your neighbors.
If your home is hidden by your own landscaping, consider trimming back to allow at least a generous glimpse of the beautiful home beyond.
Looking ahead beyond Spring
Plan your garden to have year round interest with plants that flower at various times and by using evergreens and grasses which still have a great presence in the winter months.
Don’t overdue holiday decorations and don’t keep them up past the holiday.
An outdoor living space adds to the charm and functionality of a house. Show added living space if possible whether on a deck, patio, flat grassy area, pool side or waterfront, Color and texture can be added with cushions, flowers outdoor rugs and art for comfort and enjoyment.
More significant external changes can vastly improve the appearance of your house but tend to be expensive so do your homework first. Plan ahead and consider carefully with expert advice. Do you need new windows and doors? If you are changing windows, it may be beneficial to change the style or size of them at the same time to change the look of the house. What about the driveway? Does it function well and does the existing material conform to the neighborhood and the value of your home? Do you need more room or want to change the look of the house such as with an addition or new roof line?
Follow these guidelines as they apply to you and you will be on your way to great curb appeal.