The first impression to the style and character of a home is determined with just a single glance. Realtors call this “curb appeal,” and it is of utmost importance when selling a home. But it’s also essential in establishing an attractive home with a finished look. In many cases, simply maintaining landscaping and refreshing exterior paint can go a long way toward improving curb appeal. However, many homes suffer from a flat façade that can make them ordinary and forgettable. The exterior of any home can be transformed with one or several of these simple upgrades that add value and dynamic dimension.
Using color to highlight a feature of the home’s exterior goes a long way toward adding depth. Consider contrasting window moldings that pop against the main house color. Or an apple red front door to brighten the entry area. Perhaps a chimney stack can be highlighted in a different color to add contrast. Outdoor shutters in a contrasting color are also a popular solution to draw attention to windows and even doorways.
A variety of landscape lighting techniques can be used to great effect in improving a home’s curb appeal at night. While a professional landscaper can offer sophisticated lighting advice, any homeowner can make some improvements with a few strategically-placed lights. Lights leading up the walkway to the front door give the illusion of depth and warmth. Often, these can be solar-powered rechargeable lights that don’t even require electrical work. Installing upward-facing lights flanking the front door or highlighting a specimen tree or bush adds a dynamic element to the home at night. A beautiful pendant or large light fixture at the entrance of a home contributes big style at night and during the day.
Using a combination of materials on the exterior of a house is a common practice to add dimension and visual interest. In many cases, different brick and stone materials are used throughout a home’s exterior with impressive results. But for big impact on a remodel, even a little texture goes a long way. The entrance can be brought into greater focus with a stone façade. Incorporating brick or stone on the first story of a home with shingles on the second floor is another common technique that works well. Metal or wood railing around a front porch helps to set the space apart and offers balance. The wide variety of front doors available provides unlimited opportunity to incorporate texture with warm woods, metal scrollwork, or the openness of glass.
Plantings can work wonders in drawing the eye toward particular architectural elements or just adding a pop of color and texture to the outside of a dwelling. The simplest way to achieve this is with large planters outside the entryway. Planters are available in almost every style and color to complement any home. Consider filling them with one highly-textured plant such as a fern or ornamental grass. Or follow the rule of threes when filling a planter and include a thriller (vertical plant that grows tall); a filler (horizontal plant with little flowers); and a spiller (a cascading plant).
Lining the path to the front door with plants is a natural way to guide the eye toward the entry way and give the illusion of texture. Curved walkways are especially pleasing to the eye, as are a repeated pattern of plants for improving curb appeal. Boxwood, hosta and liriope are very low-maintenance options that can be enhanced with annuals for extra pops of color.
For a truly bland façade, often more significant changes are necessary. The quickest and least expensive architectural improvement could be to install outdoor window shutters to give visual interest to the home’s exterior. The construction of a covered entry or a portico will dramatically change the face of a home for a relatively small investment. Adding dormers to a second story is an even more significant project that can break up a large roof line and offer huge improvements in the exterior curb appeal.
Successfully improving curb appeal takes thoughtfulness and ingenuity, but the payoff is huge!