Four Ways to Add Curb Appeal to Your Home

Curb AppealWhether you’re sprucing up your home to sell it or just to enjoy the improvements, adding curb appeal is worthwhile. When you pull into your driveway, you’ll feel proud of your accomplishment and ready to show off your newly improved home to the neighbors. Here are some great tips to help you get started.

Come up with a concept.

The first thing you should do is “walk as far away from your house as you can so that you can still see the whole front of the house,” says exterior designer Berstler. “Now take a really good look at it.” Notice what draws your eye right away. In most cases, the front door should be the main focal point; that’s how visitors enter your home. If it’s not, it’s a good starting point for improvements.

Many landscape designers will come to your home for a consultation and draw up a plan for your front yard that could include paths, patios and driveway treatments, as well as planting schemes, says Ann Nickerson, a landscape designer based in Hillsboro, Ore. The cost for such a consultation is usually $200 to $400 (and that fee is often credited to your account if you go ahead with landscaping installation through your designer). Other designers will include consultations on paint colors and even remodeling tips for the entryway.

Having a plan is important, says effects designer Jim Riley, because it means there will be consistency to the work you do, even if you end up doing it in phases. “Not that everything has to match,” says Riley, co-founder of Effects in San Francisco, “but there should be a reason why something is done.”

The Front Door

“Make sure people know where your front door is, and then work on drawing people toward the front door,” says landscape designer Nickerson. Berstler worked on one house that had two doors in front, one to the left and one to the right, so that visitors had no idea where to go. She created a curved path from the sidewalk to the house that led up to the front door, and a large patio outside the door that created an outdoor foyer for the home.

Not all fixes need to involve major — and expensive — work. “It can be as simple as painting the front door a different color,” says designer Riley. “It’s a quick and easy thing you can do yourself.” Nickerson loves to paint the front door a bright color and “put out a really big welcome mat.”

Tim Thoelecke, owner of Garden Concepts in Glenview, Ill., says you can create an outdoor foyer to welcome visitors and direct attention to the front door through the strategic placement of a bench or some potted plants. “You feel as if you’re arriving somewhere rather than just stepping up on a stoop,” he says. It’s an important part of curb appeal, which he defines as “the entire experience somebody has from the time they arrive in the driveway until they pass through the front door.”

Downplay or Dress Up the Driveway.

Berstler says that for many newer homes the driveway is often the first thing you see. “Is that the most welcoming thing for someone coming up to your home? Not really. It might be the most welcoming thing for your SUV.” Because the driveway is the largest hard area near the house, the material and look of the driveway and garage have a huge impact on curb appeal. “It’s probably the number one thing I’m asked to deal with,” says Berstler. “It’s either, `How do I make this look better?’ or `How do I direct people’s attention away from the driveway and toward the front door?'”

Berstler’s first choice is to reorient visitors away from the driveway by creating a path to the front door, either from the street or from the driveway. She also looks at the driveway itself. “A big old gray concrete driveway is pretty unattractive,” she says. “But stain it and make it look more like stone, or apply one of these brush-on coatings that gives it a dimension like stone or even paint it with a sealer and a pigment in the sealer.”

Riley and partner Keith Chinn once coated an old driveway with a thin coat of brick-design concrete to complement the brick chimney and porch. It wasn’t inexpensive, “but you don’t have to rip out all the old and put down a new driveway,” Riley says, “and it was a great way to make a bunch of different surfaces match.”

Pay Attention to Details.

Curb appeal is also “the whole package,” as Riley says, which means the small details are as important as the big picture. “The finishing details are what really pulls it together,” says Riley, who once inserted small, colorful ceramic tiles into brick steps to carry through a color scheme.

An easy detail project that provides a big bang for the effort is simply edging the lawn, says Nickerson. “Just having a crisp edge on a lawn really has visual impact.” Nickerson also uses pots to fill empty spaces in the garden, making sure the pots have a common look, such as a combination of terracotta pots and glazed pots with terracotta interiors.

Finally, don’t forget to tidy up. Curb appeal also means a place that looks neat and clean, the kind of place you’d like to live.

Source:  Kathy McCleary

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