Does your home inspire more yawns than smiles? Maybe your landscaping projects have been on the back-burner longer than you realized? It may be time to upgrade your home's curb appeal.
Curb appeal is about the overall beauty of your home to passersby, and to yourself when you pull into the drive. Sometimes small touches can make a big impact, and they don’t have to be outlandishly expensive.
Here are 4 home improvement ideas to boost your curb appeal without breaking the bank.
Home Improvement Ideas: Tidy up the Drive
An unkept, or nonexistent, driveway drops your home’s curb appeal dramatically. But on the opposite side of that coin, a neat, well-defined drive goes a long way toward improving the appearance of your property.
If you don’t have a driveway at all, or only have a simple gravel drive with undefined borders, you have several options from which to choose, that can make a big impact. Gravel is the least expensive option.
You'll want to excavate down about 8 inches, line the bottom with a weed barrier and then a layer of sand, to prevent the gravel from getting pushing down into the dirt. Finally you're ready to add gravel or for color, think about red lava rock instead of gravel.
Concrete is another idea. A contractor can pour a concrete drive in a day or two, and it’s a long-lasting surface. You can opt for plain, or go with something much more decorative. Sprinkling concrete dyes on the surface before the material has set can give your drive a mottled, colorful appearance. Concrete stamps can press designs, some of which make poured concrete resemble stones.
Asphalt is another long-lasting, hard-wearing surface. It can even be installed over some other materials, such as old, compacted gravel and concrete.
Home Improvement Ideas: Improve the Landscaping
There are homes with a few shrubs and flowers, and then there are homes with a well-planned landscape. The difference is apparent to anyone passing by, and good landscaping doesn’t necessarily mean it’s expensive.
If you pay a landscaping company to handle the job, you can expect to pay a significant amount and likely be happy with the results. You can hire a landscape architect to come up with a design and you can install your own landscaping. Either way it look beautiful.
The key to a good looking landscape are planning and attention. Big box stores may sell a number of plants that aren’t appropriate for your climate, so do your homework on those that perform well in your USDA hardy zone (learn how to use this information from the National Gardening Association). Pull weeds regularly, keep shrubs and trees trimmed, use mulch, and don’t forget to keep the grass fertilized and mowed.
Home Improvement Ideas: Paint Your Front Door and Trim
Nothing freshens curb appeal like a freshly painted front door and trim. You don’t have to settle for typical white, black, or hunter green for the door. Vibrant yellow, red, or perhaps even purple could be the shot of color that ticks up your curb appeal from bland to beautiful.
If the door is metal, it probably has factory-applied paint. You’ll need primer and paint for metal surfaces. If the door is wood and has never been painted, it’s probably sealed with an oil-based urethane; exterior-grade latex won’t stick. Apply oil-based primer first, then you can paint the door using latex.
Unless you want a colorful cottage look, it’s best to keep bright paint to a minimum. The door alone is probably enough color; the trim could freshen up with a new coat of its original paint. If you paint the shutters and other trim in the same bright hue as the door, your home might look more like a candy shop.
Home Improvement Ideas: Install a New Mailbox
The mailbox is a humble fixture, and one that you use nearly every day. When was the last time you really noticed it? A new mailbox doesn’t cost much, but it can really perk up curb appeal.
A new post for the mailbox might also be a good idea, especially if you’re upgrading to a larger box or one that’s a different style. You can purchase prefabricated mailbox posts made from 4 x 4 lumber. Stain and seal it for a natural look, or paint it to add some color at the edge of your lawn.
A word of caution about planting flowers around mail boxes. Blooming plants certainly look beautiful, but they also attract bees. You wouldn’t want your mail carrier to risk a bee sting while delivering the mail, so consider more leafy plants and fewer blooming ones around the mailbox.
If your budget isn’t generous, think about one or two updates instead of several. Even a minor change can have a big effect. Also, be sure to check with your neighborhood association, if you have one, before making improvements. Some have restrictions on paint colors, mail box styles, and other alterations.
Curb appeal not only improves the look of your home, but also enhances your neighbor's property. Consider it an investment in the community, and one that everyone can appreciate.
Have you got some curb appeal ideas you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!