Increase the Curb Appeal of Your Home
First impressions are important, especially when it comes to your home. A house with an unkempt yard, peeling paint and sagging gutters doesn’t look nearly as appealing as one with a well-maintained exterior. Whether you plan to sell your home or live in it for years to come, sprucing up the outside will make coming inside more inviting.
“This is your residence, where you spend most of your life. It’s part of you, so you want it to look as good as you,” says Avi Moyal, owner of Atlanta Curb Appeal (www.atlantacurbappeal.com).
Where to start
To transform your exterior from drab to fab, begin with an honest assessment of what your home looks like from the street. Survey every angle visible to passersby, and take note of areas that scream for improvements.
When creating a budget, determine your objective: Do you want to give the façade a mini-facelift or an extreme makeover? Are you creating curb appeal to attract homebuyers or to make your home more welcoming to family and friends? If you’re planning to sell, ask an expert if the enhancements will add to the value of your property. At a time when home values are down and there are so many foreclosures on the market, make sure you can recoup some of the costs of the improvements in your selling price.
Ideas for improvement
You can make your home more attractive by doing something as simple as installing outdoor lighting, putting in a new walkway or garden, incorporating natural stone in the exterior, building a new front porch or replacing garage doors.
“People think this kind of project takes thousands of dollars, and it does not,” says Moyal. “You can pick one thing that’s inexpensive and make it look really nice, or you can work on a plan and implement it in three stages.”
A major facelift that involves architectural changes to a house can cost around $5,000 to $30,000 depending on the project, according to Heather Shuster, project development director for Renewal Design-Build (www.renewaldesignbuild.com), an Atlanta remodeling company.
“One of the most important things with curb appeal is to have a defined entrance,” she says. “You want to give folks who pull up in a car or walk by a really good sense of where to enter.”
To give the entrance a strong focal point, Shuster recommends adding a path, a porch or an awning over the front door. She also suggests adding molding at the front door, windows and roofline to give the exterior a sense of balance that is attractive from the street.
Don’t forget to consider art when adding curb appeal, says Moyal, who also happens to be an artist. Any detail you can add to your home, whether it is an abstract sculpture on the lawn, an artsy mailbox or unique street numbers will make a home stand out among the rest.
In addition to upgrading or improving the exterior of the home, don’t forget the importance of a beautifully landscaped lawn and garden. Lawns take a beating during the hot summer months and often need additional nutrients in the fall. Proper landscape maintenance can help turn damaged, patchy grass plush again.
Five more things you can do to increase your home’s curb appeal:
1. Remove weeds from planter beds and add new mulch and borders.
2. Repaint the house or key areas of the exterior such as the front door, siding, shutters and trim.
3. Repair porch railings to eliminate sagging or replace a wooden porch with brick or stone.
4. Repair cracks in the driveway and widen it with pavers. Stain the concrete in a shade that accents the color of the home.
5. Replace a damaged roof with a new one with architectural shingles. The shingles come in a variety of textures, patterns and colors. Also consider replacing old gutters and downspouts and paint them to match the house.
Resources for more inspiration
For more ideas on how to boost your home’s “wow” factor, check out www.houzz.com, a website that specializes in home design, décor and remodeling ideas. For jaw-dropping home exteriors, enter “curb appeal” in the site’s search engine to access more than 4,000 photos, find local architects, designers and remodeling professionals and engage in discussions with other homeowners. The free website also enables users to upload photos of their own homes to get ideas from other members and create an ideabook to take to a contractor.
Homeowners also can get ideas from online visualizers by product manufacturers such as Ply Gem, James Hardie and Sherwin-Williams. These online design tools are loaded with digital renderings of a variety of home styles that you can dress up with windows, siding, paint and more. In many cases, you can upload a photo of your own home to work with and generate a product list customized with your selections to print out or e-mail to a contractor.
As with any home improvement project, be sure to do your due diligence before hiring a contractor to do the work. When meeting with potential contractors, ask for references from customers whose projects were similar to yours or ask friends and neighbors for referrals. Make sure you have a mutual understanding about how long the project will take and what will happen in the event of delays.
Be sure to check with your local government about any permits that will be required before the work starts. If your project requires tree removal, city approval might be needed before they can be cut down. All these steps—from concept to completion—add up to a good first impression that will attract both houseguests and future homebuyers.
Curb Appeal Tips from John Gidding
• Play up the pathway to your front door—the most important path for curb appeal—with materials such as brick soldier, asphalt and painted or stained concrete.
• Lawns are out. Try a cool xeriscape instead, with hearty decomposed granite boulders and pebbles. It still looks lush but is better for the environment and much easier to maintain.
• Garage doors make a big difference without a huge investment. Due to advances in manufacturing, today’s garage doors are less expensive and more high-end looking.
—John Gidding, star of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal: The Block”
Get more curb appeal tips from John Gidding Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, at the Fall Atlanta Home Show at Cobb Galleria Centre. Visit www.atlantahomeshow.com for more information.