First impressions are everything. That’s as true for job interviews as it is for making your house the best version of itself it can be. No matter how big or small your remodeling budget, your first plan of attack needs to aim at improving the curb appeal of your home. Aside from major system issues, this is the decision point where a future buyer is going to eventually come inside or drive on by. No matter how flashy your interior is, if your exterior doesn’t say “love me!” you’ve already lost the real estate game.
What, Exactly, Is Curb Appeal?
Not that long ago (in the early days of the Internet, even), it was a lot harder to get an idea of what a house looked like simply from a listing. Instead of an online database, many markets had giant bound books that looked a lot like a phone book. But instead of telephone numbers, there were listings upon listings of properties for sale. Realtors would send their clients to drive by these homes to see if they thought they’d like to have a proper viewing. These potential buyers would pull up to the curb to take a look, and thus, the concept of “curb appeal” was born.
You may not think that how your house looks from the street really matters. After all, you’re going to live there forever / you have years and years to tick that box / you think a sterile lawn and worn out shutters are fine. Whatever your reasoning, you’re looking at this all wrong. It’s not just that curb appeal is good for a sale (though it is), it’s also a powerful tool for maximizing the property’s appraisal value. If you need a home equity loan or to refinance down the road, you’ll wish you had bothered.
So, let’s bother today. We’ll take a walk around the yard and figure out how to turn your boring house into a dazzling wonder with the budget you have.
Tips and Tricks for Better Curb Appeal
First of all, you’ll want to get cozy with the neighbor directly across the street from you. You’ll be popping over pretty regularly to see how your house is looking to a passer-by. After all, how can you judge the effectiveness of your efforts without seeing it from the same angle they would? Curb appeal is a difficult concept, and often an overwhelming one, but that’s why we came up with these tips to get you started:
Clean up any debris. Hey, whether it’s your leaf collection or just a bunch of junk you’ve been meaning to get rid of, get rid of it. Think about your home the way some people think about mullets: “Business in the front, party in the back.” Or to put it another way, keep the front of your house clean enough to eat off of, do all your cluttery things in the back. Your neighbors will also thank you.
Trim the hedges. Overgrown shrubbery and beds that need to be weeded are worthless, trim those and clean them up so you can make use of them. If someone chose to plant a tree in a poorly chosen spot, you should be the one to correct that tragic error. You can always plant a smaller tree in a better spot to make up for the one you cut down.
Paint the front door and shutters. There’s something exceptionally special about a front door. It sets the whole tone for the rest of the house, so if the paint is worn out or just the wrong color, people will notice. Consult a color wheel for suggestions or spend a lot of time standing at a paint counter going through paint chips. This is a big deal, take your time. While you’re at it, buy some shutters or choose a paint color that will give your old ones new life.
Consider an all-over paint job that really makes features pop. Every house has some architectural features that make it special and place it within its own time. Unfortunately, too many people bury these features with the wrong paint pallet. Plan your home’s exterior colors to emphasize these good bits of awesome.
Replace the old, worn-out lighting. New lighting can make a huge difference to the way your home looks. Choose something that fills the space appropriately, but is also period appropriate. After all, you’re working on a theme here.
Add to the softscape. When you’ve got a yard that’s kind of meh, it’s important to pump it up a bit. Choose plants that will be easy to care for in your climate and that will come back year after year. These softscape elements can make your place far more interesting, plus perennials will multiply over time, giving a nice, full look to the garden.
Give the whole front yard white glove service. Whether that means rebuilding your cement driveway or adding a new mailbox, carefully go over the entire front of your property. Clean windows, take care of crumbling patios, make people eager to get out of the car to see what else you have in store.