Give Your House a Face Lift: A Curb Appeal Overview

A well-kept house with driveway and yard.

When you drive around the neighborhood, which houses stand out? If you were going to buy a house, what makes you want to go inside for a closer look? Likely the ones with fresh paint, clean windows, a trim yard and a bit of color in some planters look the most appealing. These are the houses with curb appeal, meaning that the houses and yards have an overall appealing, pleasant look. If yours is lacking these qualities, don't worry because there are small (and big!) steps you can take to make your house the stunner on the block.

Evaluate your house. Walk out to the farthest point of your yard and take a long hard look. What is out of place? What needs repair? What can be brightened up? What could be changed or added to improve the feel and look of your house? How can you make it look “put together” and give it curb appeal?

The Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference. Give the front door an inviting look with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. While you're at it, new house numbers in the same finish as the door hardware is a nice touch. A new mailbox, or at least refreshing the old one, will add a little charm as well.

Look at your sidewalk and driveway. Are they overgrown with grass and weeds? Time to get out the edger and weed killer. If there are any stains on the sidewalks or driveways, find an appropriate concrete/blacktop cleaner and start scrubbing.

The same goes for the house. Could it use a good washing? There are many products that are made specifically for washing houses. Some soaps attach right to the end of a hose and others can be used in a pressure washer.

Are the windows and screens clean and in good repair? They are part of the house, too. An easy way to clean a screen is to use a dry paint brush on a dry screen to dust it. Swipe the screen with the brush in a painting motion. You will be surprised by how much dust is accumulated.

Cut the grass and rake up any leaves, sticks or debris. It is amazing how fast things can accumulate in a yard that is “lived in.” If you want to improve your curb appeal, it is best to go for clean and inviting rather than "lived in."

The Bigger Things

Weed, prune and mulch existing garden beds. A few window boxes or a planter filled with colorful flowers on the porch adds a bit of welcoming charm.

Don’t forget lighting! Lighting along the sidewalks or up the driveway increases the curb appeal at night, which is also important. Go with low voltage inground lighting or solar lights. Solar lights have come a long way in the past few years and come in many styles, finishes and colors. Solar lights are easy to install and, of course, don't add anything to your electric bill.

You may want to consider adding a little outdoor art. Hang some wind chimes, or add a birdbath or fountain. Make sure they complement your house’s color scheme and aren’t so big as to take away from your beautifully refreshed house.

The Biggest Things

Some things few people think about when it comes to curb appeal are the rain gutters and downspouts. Are they in good shape? Could they use a paint job? How about replacing them with a vinyl system that is easy to install and easy to maintain?

You’ve washed your house and discovered that it sure could use a fresh coat of paint. Fresh paint is a akin to giving your house a face lift. A soothing, muted shade with a slightly bolder, complimentary trim color will make your house look like new and give off a comforting feeling.

Do you have a problem spot in the yard where grass is impossible to grow? Why not transform it into a sitting area? Build a walkway from the house to that area and use the same block or stone to build the sitting area. Add a park bench or swing and bingo! -- curb appeal.

Now that you've done your best to increase your house's curb appeal, take another walk out into the yard and admire your work.