What Is Curb Appeal?
Curb appeal is anything in the view of the front of the house that can be seen from the street; anything large or small. When everything is taken together they tell a cohesive story about the house and the people who live there.
In this article we’ll talk about affordable ways you can improve curb appeal on a small budget and with your own two hands. When you improve your curb appeal you will raise your home’s value.
Why Is Curb Appeal Important?
Curb appeal is the first impression of your house. It tells the story of the home and the people who live there. At our house, the story is of a busy family that’s creative, artistic, and may not weed as often as needed to combat the 16 hours a day of summer sun that Portland gets. We walk past the overgrown reeds, the dust on the ledge of the front door, the spider webs across our porch lights that seem to reappear overnight and don’t notice them anymore. Everyone has something that they overlook. Improving your home’s curb appeal requires bringing a critical eye to the project, seeing it as a stranger might.
Most of these DIY projects take very little money to accomplish. If you’ve got a small budget to spend on DIY curb appeal projects, spend them where you get the most bang for your buck: replacing a mailbox, house numbers or entry door hardware—things that pull the eye to the entry of the house, the focal point, where you want to welcome people in.
To improve your home’s curb appeal, tackle projects in these four categories: landscaping, painting, the entry, and gates/fences. As you approach each one, try to use the eyes of a stranger: notice the things that you normally walk past and don’t see anymore.
When I bought my house, it had been a rental with a heroin dealing operation in it. Needless to say, the neighbors were thrilled when I moved in! Until a few months later when the grass started to grow a half inch a day; I was a single lady without garden equipment.
One neighbor offered to lend me a lawnmower. A few weeks later, a second neighbor sent his gardeners over to cut my lawn for me. He just didn’t want to look at it anymore! A few months later, a third neighbor, about to put her home on the market, offered to have their landscapers come over and ‘clean up’ my yard. My point is that curb appeal impacts not just you, but your neighbors and the general feel of the neighborhood for people walking or driving through the area.
Landscaping: Clean and clutter-free is the key for landscaping. Even yards full of beautiful plantings can be weeded, trimmed, and tidied. The essentials of landscaping curb appeal are:
- Mature Trees: they add value to a home, provide shade, and make a home look well lived-in. Apparently, your neighbors having mature trees is actually even more preferable to home-buyers, probably because you get the shade, the beauty and none of the raking duty!
- Plants & Flowers: keep everything trimmed and weeded.
- Lawn: keep your lawn mowed and weeded as best you can. Manicured is more than we can hope for at our house, but mowed is a must.
Painting, Etc.: Paint is a really quick way to make your home look good as new. There is a range of projects you can tackle. Painting the entire exterior of the home is the largest curb appeal project you could undertake, but it is a hefty financial commitment. If you can’t afford a huge painting project, consider one of the suggestions below.
- Replace the Front Door: data shows that replacing a front door more than pays for itself. The average cost is $1200, but if you can’t swing a new door, at least paint it. Choose a color that draws the eye from the street and welcomes people to your home.
- Paint and Spruce Up Your Shutters: a cleaning and a fresh coat of paint on your shutters will do wonders. Take a hard look at your shutters, whether they’re decorative or functional. Is something hanging at an odd angle? Fix it! Guaranteed that someone walking past on the street notices it. Adding a few pieces of shutter hardware, like shutter stays or shutter dogs, ties up the package with a bow. It’s not expensive and it completes the look.
- Paint Your Window Trim: again, a fresh coat of paint—whether it’s the same paint color or a new one—on your window trim will make your house look different from the curb.
Entry Area: The entry area is the unsung hero of curb appeal. Minor changes to the entry can create a major impression!
- Paint the Front Door: Even cleaning goes a long way. But painting is a quick and cheap way to dramatically change the door’s appearance and make everything look new. Go out on a design limb and choose Chartreuse or Mango or Spiced Pumpkin! If you have hardware, mailbox, house numbers, and a doorbell cover that you really like, try to choose a paint color that highlights the hardware.
- Look At Your Entry Hardware: High quality entry hardware is not too pricey and can really change the appearance of the front door. Sometimes a 1970’s door set has been on your front door and you don’t even see it anymore. Try changing that out for an oil-rubbed bronze entry set and wow! If you’re painting or replacing the door, consider replacing your handleset and deadbolt, as well.
- Paint or Replace Your Mailbox: A can of spray paint (and a properly prepped mailbox) can be a quick weekend warrior DIY project. If you don’t feel like getting out the sandpaper and masking tape, buy a new mailbox! For between $100-$300 you can find a really beautiful high quality post-mount or wall-mount mailbox. Remember to coordinate with address numbers and doorbell.
- Address Numbers: Sure, you can paint over your existing address numbers, but for the time and effort it’ll take, I suggest replacing them with something new. Architectural house numbers can drive home a style on a budget. Try to coordinate finishes among the address numbers, the entry hardware, and the doorbell.
- Doorbell: Replace it. Enough said!
- Door Mat: Am I the only person who notices the dog hair, spider webs, and slimy leaf fragments in people’s door mats? For $20-$40 you can get a new one (and maybe one that’s washable!).
Gates and Fences: Gates and fences are the oft-overlooked aspect of a home’s curb appeal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by a cute house with a tidy front porch, spiffy mailbox, stylish house numbers…and a saggy, faded gate and fence on the side-yard. Sprucing up the finish on your gates and fences, as well as replacing any hardware that doesn’t function properly (or is just plain ugly and isn’t doing your house any favors!) is a key component of curb appeal.
- Fix or Replace Sagging Gates: Depending on the type of gate you have, you might be able to fix the sag. For gates that are beyond repair, replacing them is probably the best bet.
- Paint, Refinish, or Stain Gates and Fences: A quick sand and a new coat of paint or finish can make a structurally-sound fence or gate look fantastic. If you have a gate or fence that was unfinished to begin with, a stain or paint job will do wonders. It makes it look like a whole new installation.
- Fix or Replace Gate Hardware: Don’t get me started on crummy gate hardware! Again, a very lovely house with a well-tended yard and bright painted door…and a nice new gate with a string hanging through a hole. Even with a tight budget there are many choices out there for gate latches and hinges that add a bit of architectural style to your home.