The first impression counts.
In today’s busy real estate market, where homes often close in a matter of days, potential buyers can decide whether or not to examine the inside of your home based on how it looks from the outside. Even if you’re not selling, it’s important to make your home look inviting to you.
There are a few basic principles to good curb appeal, and many that are quick and inexpensive. So the next time you step closer to your home, keep these tips in mind while you take a cold, hard look at the message the front of your home is sending out.
Show them the door.
People shouldn’t feel like they need a machete to reach your front door. It’s human nature to want to see where we’re going, so show them the door—or at least the walkway that leads to the door.
While vegetation is great for softening the hard edges of a home and providing shade, gardens at the front of a home should be tended to.
One low-maintenance shrub to consider is boxwood. A quick spring shear in any shape makes for a well-coiffed image for the rest of the year.
Any tree or shrub that has a compact growth habit also tends to work well in the front and corners of a home. Examples of some naturally cared for shrubs include Slender Deutzia, Sixteen Candles Summersweet, Yakushima Rhododendron, Duke Garden Japanese Plum Yew, and Tiny Wine Ninebark.
Small trees that will add texture to your landscape without obscuring the front of your home include Japanese maple, native dogwood, some flowering crab apples (malus; there are many varieties, check label for mature size), serviceberry, and redbud.
You should also take care to clean up old plant debris and prune or remove overgrown shrubs. Hire an arborist for any trees that need to be cut or removed.
Whether on the mailbox or directly on the house, eye-catching house numbers look good and also help to find the right address. If there is more than one front entrance to your home (which is surprisingly common), provide visual cues as to which door to use. This can be as simple as placing a decorative pot of seasonal plants, a doormat, a mailbox, or a wreath on the door you want people to enter.
A crooked mailbox, peeling paint, or a cracked or broken sidewalk mean neglect. If that’s the message the outside of your home sends out, potential buyers might not give it a second glance. Sometimes a simple power wash is all it takes to polish up dirty side panels or shutters.
A fresh coat of paint on the front door in an attractive color is also an easy way to beautify your home. Blue is currently a trend color for front doors in a wide range of shades, from deep slate blue to turquoise and aqua. Don’t be afraid to go for something flashy like chartreuse, black or red. If you don’t like it, you can just repaint it.
Aesthetics aside, walkways and steps shouldn’t be tripping hazards; If yours have seen better days, you should repair or replace them. A safe handrail is also important on steps.
Go outside and see what your house looks like at night. Is the lighting sufficient for a safe path from the sidewalk or driveway to the front door? If not, there are countless lighting options available at hardware stores, including front door side lights, pole and ground lights, and accent lights. Many are solar powered or have a twilight function.
A cover over the front door also provides a place for visitors to escape the weather, as well as a place to securely store supplies. Beyond a porch, a ledge, portico, or awning can be an attractive option to complement your front entry.
Trash and recycling bins aren’t attractive, so store them on the side of the house or install a fence to hide them. Be sure to put away snow shovels and bags of de-icer at the end of winter; Remove clutter such as piles of bricks and stones, building materials, unused sports equipment, and children’s toys from the front of your home.
Broken cars and RVs can also indicate neglect. So if you have one in your driveway consider selling or donating it. There are many charities that accept old vehicles.
Put it on.
Think about investing in a few things to make your home look inviting. This could include a few tall planters, an arbor over the front walkway, or a wreath on the front door. Changing planters and door decor seasonally also keeps the curb appeal fresh.
When it comes to containers, there is a wide range of planting options available at the garden center. New cultivars from Million Bells are flowering powerhouses all season long, and most Scaevola cultivars stay neat and blooming from spring through late summer. Euphorbia or “Diamond Frost” and “Diamond Snow” can also add a foamy texture to containers.
Don’t forget the foliage – you can’t go wrong with vigorous Coleus, and they come in a striking color palette. Perennial coral bells also have leaves of many hues and help anchor a container planting.
For large containers, consider using compact woody species such as boxwood, cotoneaster, hydrangea or roses. Smaller Japanese Maples also make stunning specimens in containers.
Just remember that most shrubs and trees will eventually outgrow the pot, but this gives you a reason to change things up – and the plants can be relocated to your landscape.
Adding furniture to a porch is another way to make it look inviting. Beautify your worn-out furniture by cleaning it and giving it a fresh coat of paint, then add new throw pillows and pillows that complement your home’s color scheme.
A few well-placed items like statues and flags can also add personality, although you may want to remove these things when you’re selling your home because they detract from first impressions – rather than enhance them.
You can always find ideas on how to improve your home’s appeal by walking or driving through different neighborhoods, watching home improvement shows, taking garden and house tours, reading magazines, and scrolling through online sources like Pinterest. Take photos and jot down the ideas that would work for your home.
In the meantime, roll up your sleeves and remove anything that makes your house uninviting and clean and repair the rest.