You might have a beautifully decorated house interior and a wonderful backyard deck or patio, but the only feature that most people see is the front. Many suburban front yards consist of a lawn, walkway, concrete porch stoop, and a couple of evergreen shrubs.
Think of this area as a place that’s full of potential: a space that reflects your talent as a gardener, your consideration as a neighbor, and your unique taste as an individual. Below are ten fairly simple and relatively inexpensive ways you can enhance the “curb appeal” of your property.
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This is the part of the house that creates a visitor’s first impression. Improve a bland exterior with a covered porch and vestibule combination. An ordinary two-story Colonial-style house gains Greek Revival overtones with such a decorative addition. And when built with energy-efficient materials, this entryway becomes an “airlock,” providing a thermal barrier for your entrance.
On a smaller scale, you can obtain a fresh look by adding a new front door/storm door combination. Choose from solid wood, fiberglass, or steel, in a range of styles from contemporary to classic. Include detailing such as leaded-glass panels, side windows, and transom for more light and a custom effect. A truly low-cost upgrade is to paint the existing door a vivid color that complements the exterior and transforms the door into a focal point.
This element makes a big impact on a yard. Use it to create a specific look or mood, delineate an area and provide security, safety, and privacy. For instance, a picket fence functions as a charming border, a stockade design blocks unattractive views and affords seclusion, while a post-and-rail fence defines and adds interest to a large area.
Before you begin, however, consider your needs. Do you want the fence to be decorative or do you want a secure structure that will keep pets and toddlers safe? Do you want to frame a good view – or block a poor one? A well-placed gate can add a great deal to the design, maintaining privacy, but also revealing a hint of what lies beyond the fence.
Utilize color to make a small house appear larger, unify the “scattered” look of a rambling house, or give a plain facade visual interest. A structure looks larger with one unifying color, accenting vertical trim makes a compact building appear taller and a large, rambling house gains focus if you paint structural features, such as dormers and windows, in a darker color.
Unify a split-level house with two tones of the same color. A Colonial-style is well-suited to classic white or traditional soft tones such as light gray, ivory, or pale blue. Because the profile of a ranch-style house hugs the ground, it looks best painted in natural, earthy hues.
No other landscaping element enhances the value of your property more than trees. A great way to perk up a mundane front yard is with a colorful ornamental. Red maple, cherry, flowering dogwood, or crab apple are excellent choices. Fall is considered the best time to plant, with spring a close second.
Costs vary between species and regions. It is possible, however, to buy a 12-foot tree for a few hundred dollars or less. For quick results, choose a fast-growing species. These include willow, mimosa, locust, and weeping cherry.
Lighting adds beauty, safety, and security to your property. A low-voltage lighting system is a do-it-yourself project that is relatively inexpensive. Strategically placed fixtures highlight architectural features, handsome plantings or garden ornaments, or cast dramatic shadows on the ground or a wall.
Improve the safety of steps and walkways at night with a string of path lights. Provide security lighting around all windows, doors, and shrubbery close to the house with floodlights.
With this one project, you can change the appearance of your home both inside and out. Consider replacing two small windows and the wall space between one large expanse of glass. Choose a one-piece picture window, a “bumped-out” bay window, or a bow window, which curves out slightly in three or more sections.
Don’t be afraid to think big: Today’s energy-efficient windows allow you to create a wall of glass without increasing heating costs. The wide range of styles and shapes available today lets you fashion any look you want, from ultra-modern to historic.
If your traditional concrete pavement is deteriorating, or if you simply want a new look, consider installing brick, flagstone, cobblestone, or slate. Several companies manufacture paving that imitates the look of stone, wood, and even worn granite. These pavers come in many shapes and colors: Install cobblestones to create instant “Old World” charm or a granite finish for a more contemporary look.
Adding a few small-scale landscaping features such as retaining walls and decorative borders greatly alter the appearance of your yard. If your property is flat, raised flower beds create different levels.
For paths or driveways cut into slopes, a retaining wall of masonry or treated “railroad ties” prevents movement of the soil and adds visual interest. Decorative edgings, such as bricks, stones, or treated wood blocks, placed around lawns, trees, and flower beds define individual plantings or wide-open areas.
To make the most of your outdoor space, consider one of the following projects: A gazebo can be a charming addition to almost any yard and is surprisingly useful as well. It offers filtered shade from the sun as well as a sturdy support for climbing plants and container baskets.
An arbor is a framed structure that also serves as a support for plants. As a gate, it often acts as an entrance point, framing a pathway, seating area, or part of a garden. getting away from it all.
On a smaller scale, a trellis serves a number of uses, such as a frame for vines, a privacy screen, or a focal point for vertical interest. A tree bench provides visual appeal as well as a shady place to relax.
Since the little things count, here’s are some details that make a difference: Starting at the top: Add a crowning touch with a weather vane or a reproduction cupola. Embellish a dull exterior with shutters, moldings, door and window trim, and latticework.
Mount window boxes to add color and depth to a flat facade. For a personal touch, install a specialized house-number plaque and mailbox or add a lamppost, birdbath, or yard sculpture.