You’ve dreamed, you’ve planned, you’ve spent endless hours perusing Pinterest and magazines. You know what you want your home to look like when you pull into the driveway, but the curb appeal you want is not quite there.
As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and whether you’re preparing to put your house on the market or simply want to add curb appeal for your own pleasure, you might be surprised by the changes you can make in a single weekend when armed with a plan, some supplies, and perhaps a few extra hands.
Better yet, when the results are long-lasting and low maintenance you have a recipe for curb appeal that will affordably boost your home value, and be the talk of the neighborhood.
Wherever you fall on the DIY skill scale, there are swaps and improvements you can implement to ramp up the allure and value of your home. Bring out your weekend warrior by considering some or all of the suggestions below and make a good first, and lasting, impression with the results.
1. Paint the Front Door
Weathered or striking, the front door commands attention, even from the street. So it makes sense a fresh coat of paint or stain will draw the right kind of interest.
Evaluate whether your door is metal or wood and match the right kind of paint to the task for the best results. Properly prepare the surface by repairing holes, sanding, and using a primer for premium paint adhesion.
2. Dress the Front Door
Once you have a fresh coat of paint, the eye will be drawn to the hardware, so it’s the perfect time to give that an upgrade too.
Replace the handle, knob, and even the hinges for a quick modernization of the look. You can also add a wreath for a homey touch. Make sure the windows are clean too.
3. Shutter the Windows
Shutters can be functional or decorative. Either way, they add personality to the design appeal. If you’re a handy woodworker you can build shutters yourself, or you can order your preferred style online.
For stormy areas, take advantage of the protective qualities. However, if you’re just looking to add visual interest, go with a simple shutter that permanently mounts to each side of the windows in the front of the home.
For existing shutters, dress them up with a fresh coat of paint, coordinating with the accent and primary paint colors of the house. While you’re at it, touch up the trim around the doors and windows.
4. Replace the Porch Light
Like any other functional or decorative piece, porch lights start to look dated after a few years. Freshen the space and crank up the welcoming vibe with a new porch light.
You can also paint the existing light fixture for a quick and inexpensive upgrade. Remember to put safety first by turning off all power before digging into the wiring.
If you want to make a smart upgrade at the same time, select a porch light with a built-in camera and motion sensor that you can control using a smartphone app or home assistant hub.
5. Replace Rotting Wood
Look along the exterior of your home and replace any rotting wood around windows, doors, and the garage. Similarly, replace decaying fencing and weather-torn siding on the house.
6. Add Flowers
In beds, pots, or window boxes, flowers provide an instant punch of color and tranquility. Buy, build, or repaint a few planters for each side of the front door or garage and fill them full of vibrant petals.
Annuals only last one season but provide a lasting color display. Perennials will return each season and work well in pots or beds. Choose native plants for the lowest maintenance.
Moving off the porch, build mounds or raised beds to house a combination of plants. You can include vegetables, herbs, shrubs, flowers, bulbs, and even a fruit tree or small Japanese maple.
Consider the amount of time you want to spend maintaining plants when making your selections. Trees and shrubs require little, while garden vegetables will require more of your time and energy.
If you have a well-established tree in the front yard already, add a circle of flowers around the base. Once plants are established, they require little more than regular watering, yet earn high marks for visual interest, color, and joy.
7. Create a Seating Area
Nothing invites guests to linger more than a bench nestled into the landscape. It also gives you (or potential home buyers) a place to rest while working in the yard.
Figure out what works for your space. Buy or build a bench and consider adding an arbor for added appeal.
If your landscape layout doesn’t allow for a bench, consider placing a bistro set on the front porch instead. You could also hang a porch swing for a true southern welcome.
8. Buy a New Doormat
A dirty, worn down doormat is the last thing you want to come home to, let alone have guests or interested buyers look at as part of that first impression. Fortunately, throwing down a new welcome mat takes mere moments, and the return on investment is high.
9. Paint or Stain the Porch
While you’re focused on porch lights and door paint, take a look at the surface of your porch. If it’s wood, cleaning and restaining will freshen it up. If it’s concrete, hit it with the pressure washer for a deep clean and brightening.
Another option is to paint the porch. It’s amazing what a layer or two of paint can add to the space, especially when coupled with other improvements and colorful blooms.
Pressure washing is a great way to make a concrete patio or driveway look nearly new again so definitely put that on your weekend warrior to-do list. But don’t stop there. Hit the sides of the house and fencing with a light-pressure spray too.
Use caution when spraying wood since too much pressure can cause damage. If in doubt, sweep the eaves and use a hose on wood fencing instead. Also, remove and clean screens and make the windows shine through.
11. Trim Bushes and Shrubs
The benefits of cleaning also extend to your landscaping. Make sure the plants in the ground and even those in pots are working for you in your goal to rock the curb appeal. Cut away dead branches and cut back shrubs that may be blocking windows or doors.
In contrast, make sure to leave or plant bushy shrubs to cover electrical boxes, garbage receptacles, AC units, and other eyesores.
12. Bring in the Bark and Gravel
Few things change the look of your home front quicker than a fresh layer of bark throughout the beds. Make sure to pull weeds and set new plantings before adding bark mulch or chips.
If the space calls for it, add a path that connects typical parking areas to the front door. You might bring in a professional if you want to pour concrete, but most homeowners can plan and execute the installation of a meandering crushed gravel walkway themselves.
For a longer-lasting pathway option, install paver stones. The natural makeup of stone pairs with nearly every landscape design and adds functionality too. Stone is also one of the best options for low-maintenance care.
13. New House Numbers
While you’re at the home improvement store or clicking through the internet, toss some new house numbers into your cart. Whether you’re selling your home, have invited friends over, or simply want to be sure you can be found by delivery drivers, make sure the house numbers pop.
There are innumerable choices for numbers ranging from whimsical to classic font. You can dress them up in tilework or keep them black and basic. If you like the style of the faded numbers you currently have, just paint them instead!
14. Add Support for Birds
With the porch looking spiffy, the landscaping cleaned up, and a bench waiting for a sit, invite birds to the party with spaces of their own. Hang birdhouses or bird feeders from shepherd hooks or the eaves of the house or tree branches.
If you have an older-looking birdhouse that is still in great condition, give it a coat or two of bright paint to bring it back to life.
15. Bring the Lights
When we think of curb appeal, we often envision arriving at the home during the day. But short winter days will often see you getting home after dark. Fortunately, lighting innovation has come a long way, especially on the solar front.
It’s easy to light up a pathway with solar lights or add uplights to the base of steps. You can also incorporate string lights that are solar powered or plugged into a nearby outlet. Use LED lights to dress up the landscape, the porch, and beneath the eaves.
16. Add a Patio
If your home lacks a formal deck or patio, consider adding one made out of paver stones. This is a project that will eat up a weekend for one or two people, but could be completed in a long afternoon with a group.
Your patio area can connect to walkways and will benefit from the previous suggestions of flowers, clean furniture, and lighting.
17. Add a Water Feature
The sight and sound of water invites relaxation and a connection with nature. Find a space amongst the landscaping to place a fountain or add a tabletop model to the bistro set.
18. Paint the House
The biggest impact for the curb appeal of your home comes from a whole-home paint job. Depending on your skill set and tool selection, this project may benefit from the help of professionals.
While it’s not something you can likely whip out in a weekend, painting the house is a huge return on investment. Not only will it dominate the curb appeal, but it’s also a critical step in maintaining the integrity of your home.
Paint is a protectant that can save you tens of thousands of dollars in damage repairs when properly applied. Yet, a good paint job can last many years with little additional maintenance.
19. New Roof
Similarly, a new roof both protects the home and adds value to the curb appeal. If you’re due for a roof update, consider the options for materials and textures that will work in conjunction with the overall look you’re hoping to achieve.
20. Window Boxes
Particularly if your home lacks architectural interest, adding window boxes will bring depth and contrast. You can buy and mount pre-made boxes, which are easy to find at nurseries or online. Wooden window boxes are also easy to make, DIY style by simply building a box in your preferred shape and adding the mounting hardware to it.
For the ultimate low maintenance, yet colorful, result, fill your upper boxes with high-quality artificial plants. You’ll benefit from the color and texture without having to water them.
On the main level of the home, particularly near the front door, keep flowers real. Go with perennials for repeat blooms. If you don’t mind a bit of gardening, annuals provide the best long-lasting color throughout the season, but you will have to plant new flowers again next year.
21. Replace or Update Furniture
If you’re blessed with a welcoming covered porch, it can be a central element of your curb appeal. Bring together cohesive design elements that invite guests into the space. Think of it as interior design for the exterior.
Start with the major furniture pieces, whether that’s a single porch swing, a bistro set, or an entire living room ensemble. Give existing furniture a fresh coat of paint or stain. Replace discolored cushions and throw pillows too. Remove broken furniture pieces and build or purchase better looking options.
With the furniture in place, layer in decor elements such as an area rug, wall art, tables, and flowers. If you really want to create a comfortable front-porch vibe, consider adding a ceiling fan to the space.
When it comes to home enhancement that increases value or attention, few things matter more than curb appeal. Turn that scrapbook of torn-out pages into reality with a weekend warrior mindset, a supply list, and a comprehensive plan.