Real Estate

First impressions last: Creating curb appeal for your home

Posted July 15, 2013

By Jane Paige
For New Homes & Ideas, Jodi Sauerbier, Publisher

New Homes & Ideas

You only have one chance to make a first impression and the same can be said for your home. Creating curb appeal is key for homeowners, buyers and sellers alike, local experts agree. If the house doesn’t pop from the road, then you can be out of luck.

“You can have the greatest house in the world inside,” says Don Fraley Jr. with Bill Clark Homes, “but if it is ugly on the outside, homebuyers are not even going to get out of the car.”

Everyone, from those trying to sell or to continue to live in their home, should focus on creating the appeal that grabs and won’t let go. New homebuilders and those who remodel homes know that going the extra mile outside is important.

A good elevation from the road is the first step in making the home feel and look special, says Colen Davidson, the division manager of NVHomes. Many of today’s new homes feature a combination of stone and wood that creates a special feel from the curb.

Creating curb appeal

Landscaping is Key

Proper landscaping also can add a finished touch to a new home.

“We try to use larger plants that can help frame the house,” says Davidson. “If the landscaping is not done right, it can have a big impact on the look and feel of the house. You want the landscaping to set off the house from the others on the street.”

Take a critical look at your shrubbery. Do you really like it, or is it just what came with the house so it never occurred to you to change it? The old version of "landscaping" that many homeowners inherit is a strip of old shrubs planted along the front of the house that were purchased because they were cheap when they were young. They are planted way too close to the house in a bed that is way too narrow. With the variety of plants available today, buy some to fit the space, allow them to grow in their natural shape, and eliminate a huge amount of work.

Let's say your shrubs are actually healthy and nice, and you like them, but you want more color, or a different look. Consider making the planting bed deeper using your mature shrubs as a backdrop, and adding smaller, more colorful plantings in front of them to give your design depth. A more interesting look can often be achieved without adding a lot of extra gardening work.

“The right landscaping is a critical part of curb appeal,” says Fraley. “Everyone has stepped up their game with the landscaping in order to create a total attractive package.”

Creating curb appeal

Color Goes a Long Way

Small cosmetic changes can also make a big impact. Fraley points out that the color of the front door and gutters can make a big impact with just a little bit of work and effort. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint or a new color on the front door can improve things tremendously.

"Nothing looks worse than a beat-up old door that you can't get unlocked due to faulty locks,” he says. "Same for the screen door, if there is one. All of these items are important, as they are the first things the prospective buyers see. If it's really bad, they may not go inside."

Fraley says changing the color of the gutters also makes an impression. Gone are the traditional dull gutters, replaced by black or brown ones that actually frame the house. While the homeowner may not actually notice the new gutter color, they will know that the house has an extra special appeal that they like.

The Difference is in the Details

Just like decorating your living room, you may want to add a few bright decorative touches as focal points. A birdbath, bird house, a stick-in-the-ground trellis or a bench are useful, fun and attractive. They also can be moved around and changed out as the spirit hits you. For a bright spot of color, try some planted containers.

Buying a new mailbox is another simple step to add some appeal. They are relatively inexpensive but can make a huge impact. New house numbers too can boost the look of your home with various styles from wood to metal offered today.

Replacing an old light fixture with a new design is another easy upgrade. Shutters can dress up a drab exterior. Available in wood, metal or vinyl, shutters can fit any home’s style and your budget. A new door mat is another easy purchase. And, an investment in paint can do wonders to improve the look of your home.

Cleaning up around your home may sound like an obvious way to improve the curb appeal. However, it often can be overlooked too by eager homeowners going for big changes.

Creating curb appeal

Don’t Forget Decks and Driveways

Chris Miller of Renew Crew, formerly Wood Renew, helps give homeowners a brand new look by cleaning and sealing exterior siding, decks, driveways and walks. Through the years, mold and mildew can collect on surfaces outside the home. Getting these cleaned is a big boost to your home’s appearance.

“We work to really wake up your home with our cleaning and sealing,” he says. “With a good, quality job, your home can look brand new.”

Replacing or repairing existing concrete at your home is another way to impress your guests or potential homebuyers. Rebecca Lavigne of Precision Concrete Design provides an overlay system with patterns such as brick or slate to give your home a new appeal. Gone is the cracked concrete on the driveway or front walkway, replaced by a fresh look.

“We offer a lot of different options that can give your home just the update that you need,” she says. “Nothing dates your home more than worn, cracked concrete. We can take all that away and give you a new look.”

From paint to plants, creating or updating the curb appeal of your home can bring big rewards if you are trying to sell it or just enjoy living in it, local experts agree.

“Creating curb appeal used to be an optional feature with your home, but not anymore,” says Davidson with NVHomes. “Everyone wants to have the best looking house in the neighborhood.”

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