Fall has always been one of my favorite times of the year, simply because it is absolutely stunning outside. Bright blue skies, crisp air, orange pumpkins, crimson/rust/yellow mums and of course the gorgeous changing leaves. But in addition to nature, houses begin to perk up too. The long slump of August and early September, where the grass is dry and window boxes are wilting has ended. Now, the burst of dressing up your home begins. Many associate this with decorations (scarecrows, hay bales, stacked pumpkins and twig wreaths), but this is also the prime time to literally tackle that outstanding punch list. Add new landscaping, touch up the trim and finish any other exterior upgrades to your home, before the harsh winter starts knocking at your door.
This brings me to my subject today. Curb Appeal. Creating curb appeal for your home can not only make you and your neighbors happy, it can also add value to your investment and interest for other potential buyers down the road.
I am not sure if I habitually gravitate to homes whose exteriors I think I can upgrade for instant curb appeal, or if it’s just happenstance. In any event, over the last 12 years and 3 houses, I have found myself leaning towards the “fixer-uppers” and away from the “already improved.” I’ve learned how investing in a few key exterior upgrades can add immediate improvement to a house’s ultimate appeal and inadvertently increase its return when sold.
This is a picture of my second house when my husband and I first bought it 8 years ago.
My newly purchased 1920′s Tudor was in a charming historic neighborhood. It had all of the bones of a great home but looked a little sad and dated…it just needed a little love. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
Here was my punch list:
Paint: The brick was painted a creamy white, which I could tolerate. It was in good shape and I didn’t want to spend the money on repainting the entire house. The trim color was a different story. Powder/Periwinkle blue. It was painful to look at. There were no warm fuzzies being felt whatsoever. It had to go. I chose a dark chocolate brown Sherwin Williams color in the “Duration” weather resistant variety. I can vouch that this paint held up the entire eight years I lived there. That’s impressive!
Shutters: If you follow my articles, you will know that I am not a fan of shutters that don’t belong on certain windows. This house had shutters that were all wrong. They were 1970′s shutters on a 1920′s house. After researching, I realized most Tudor homes didn’t have (or need) shutters with their architecture. The shutters were therefore removed altogether. All of a sudden the house was really perking up!
Exterior Lighting: The electric sconce above the front door was entirely too small for the space. In addition, it was old and had a very antiquated look to it. After careful research and thought, I settled on an understated yet classic copper sconce from Carolina Lanterns. The size was appropriate for the space and complimented the new brown trim nicely. I also chose gas over electric. I love the look of gas lanterns and the effortless charm their flames create.
A set of Carolina Gas lanterns similar to the lantern I selected (via CarolinaLantern.com)
Landscape: The landscape was an entire hedge of mangled holly bushes mashed into two pine trees and two giant boxwoods. It was an overgrown evergreen mess. In addition, it completely hid the home and was entirely too close to the house. (When in doubt, pull your shrubs away from the house to allow for growth and room for their roots. It also creates more visual depth to a landscape.) With the help of an unsuspecting neighbor (who is now a dear friend), along with my husband and father, the entire front bed of landscaping was dug up except for the two boxwoods by the front door. Finally, I could see my house again! It looked bigger and taller. I was getting excited.
After surveying the rest of my yard (especially in the back), I discovered to my delight that there were six smaller boxwoods in fairly decent shape but in a very shady spot. With two big labs in our back yard, I knew the boxwoods wouldn’t stand a chance where they currently stood. In addition, they needed full sun to grow to their potential. They needed to be resurrected and shown off. Plus, we would be saving a lot by not having to buy any new bushes! We redrew the beds to add a bit more curve in the lines, and then pulled them out a bit from the house. Next we added the six boxwoods from the back (three on either side of the already existing two) and a few small azaleas in front for color. We trimmed the two original boxwoods up front to better match the new ones just added. The result was so rewarding!!
Roof: Finally, the roof was very old and needed replacing. In addition to its age, the color was faded and flat. I wanted something to blend but also add a bit of visual interest, since the rest of the exterior of the home was more simplistic in tone. I opted for the CertainTeed Lifetime Independence Shingle in Colonial Slate. This created a huge improvement from the existing roof. It complimented the home nicely, but also added a good balance of texture and variety.
Certainteed Lifetime Independence Shingle Color Samples (via certainteed.com)
So, here again was the BEFORE of my house:
And here was the AFTER once the essential changes were made!
And the night shot to show off the lantern…(pardon the soccer balls…)
I know I am biased, but doesn’t it just LOOK happier??
Curb appeal is how the rest of the world sees your home. It’s what gives them a glimpse of your personality, taste and style. I’m also a believer that homes have souls too. When they are neglected, they look sad and unloved. When they are taken care of…they shine and sparkle. So in this season of transition, make sure to dote on your home a bit. It’ll thank you for it!
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(Unless noted otherwise, all pictures courtesy of Interior Canvas; Picture 7-zillow.com))