14 Secrets of Curb Appeal for a Beautiful Home Exterior

Teal Blue House with Navy Blue Front Door and Dog
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Container Arrangements: Tom Ericson/The Transplanted Garden; Location: The Cottages at Ocean Isle Beach, NC

It doesn't take a significant overhaul to perk up your home's exterior. So why wait until something breaks, chips, or rots to make some changes? There's no need for a "For Sale" sign in your yard to consider investing in projects to increase the curb appeal value of your home. Adding fresh accents to your home, like buying new throw pillows or even a pair of hanging plants, can offer a significant bang for your buck. Plus, you'll get a little thrill every time you pull into the driveway. Let the curb appeal sprucing start by trying a few update suggestions.

01 of 14

Paint a Bold Front Door

Brilliant Red Front Door on a Light Blue House with Containers of Hydrangeas
Laurey W. Glenn

It's not a significant financial investment, and it's also relatively easy to repaint. If you want a more conservative approach, choose a historic color typical for the area or neighborhood, such as an almost-black Charleston green or a soft coastal blue. Going bold is fun too. Anne Daigh, founder and principal of Daigh Rick Landscape Architects in Nashville, says her go-to pick is yellow "with a gold or mustard tone to it, almost like an ocher." It can work on a brick or white house," she explains. "It really pulls everything together." What's her second-favorite color? "A raspberry shade on a white house," she adds.

02 of 14

Plant Colorful Pots

Snapdragons Container Garden
Laurey W. Glenn

Consider planters' accessories that change with the seasons. If you have steps leading to the front door, add a pair of topiaries or groupings of pots. You can plant topiary boxwoods or other evergreens as year-round fillers and then add blooming annuals. "Keep it simple with contrasting shades. If you have a redbrick house, you don't necessarily want pink blooms right next to it. Purple and blue stand out against a white clapboard house, but then again, so does green!" says Daigh. Bottom line: Don't go overboard and pick plants in one or two hues (like white and green) that contrast with the exterior of your home.

03 of 14

Build a Great Fence

White Picket Fence with Pink Azaleas Blooming and a Teal Bike
Ralph Anderson

Even if you don't technically have a classic cottage, you can create the same warm, friendly vibe. "I love a picket fence," says Daigh. "I know it seems cliché, but it makes a place so inviting, like arms extending around the house to welcome you." A wooden fence with simple diagonal cuts is ideal for a bungalow or Craftsman-style home. Or invest in a wrought iron fence for more stately architecture, like Georgian. "Keep it low—no taller than 32 inches. You don't want your home to seem like a prison," she says.

04 of 14

Spray Away Grime

Teal Blue House with Navy Blue Front Door and Dog
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Container Arrangements: Tom Ericson/The Transplanted Garden; Location: The Cottages at Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Pressure washing is quick, inexpensive, and satisfying. Much like getting your shoes shined, it's a simple task with a huge payoff. "And it's considerably less expensive than a full-on paint job," says Chauncey Clark, a Realtor and the vice president of The Peninsula Co. in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. You can rent a pressure washer from your local home-improvement store.

05 of 14

Show Off Your Home

Daniel Keeley's Garden and Home
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Daigh says one of the biggest mistakes that take away from the house is having too many plants. Her advice? "Let the architecture shine. Allow the foundation to show; it will give the home presence. Layers of overgrown landscaping can muddy up the look," she says. When in doubt, stick with boxwoods. "They are my favorite anchor plants—make groupings at the corners to provide structure, but don't block the foundation," Daigh adds. Then fill in with grass or a low ground cover (no more than 6 inches tall) that runs right up to the foundation.

06 of 14

Wow With Window Boxes

Wow with Window Boxes
Hector Sanchez

They're a lot like puppies—high maintenance but cute. Daigh says window boxes require frequent, sometimes daily, watering, so ensure that you can easily reach them. They should be at least 12 inches deep (to give plants enough room to root and grow) and have adequate drainage. Daigh likes to use dwarf boxwoods and ivy, adding pansies in the winter and another annual in the summer.

07 of 14

Design a Pretty Pathway

Paver Pathway in Garden
Laurey W. Glenn

Like a picket fence, a slightly curved walkway adds quirkiness to make a home feel unique. If rerouting the path isn't possible, choose materials with some age, such as reclaimed brick pavers or well-worn stone. "It's like you're adding a bit of mystery to make people want to come to the front door," says Daigh. "Even simple concrete can be mixed with materials like limestone chips and a bit of pea gravel to make the pathway look old."

08 of 14

Grow the Good Vines

Flowering Vines Growing on Front of House
Alison Miksch

Not all climbing vines are created equal. At their best, they give any house that storybook feel. At worst—shriveled and brown or overgrown—they make it look more like a haunted mansion. So choose wisely. "Climbing roses are a lot of work to train," says Daigh, who suggests the climbing hydrangea as an alternative. "It's an amazing vine that clings on its own with woolly stems that are pretty even when they lose their leaves," she adds. Another option is the Jackson vine, which is evergreen and thrives in Alabama and Georgia. Daigh also recommends star jasmine. "It has a delightful scent and nice blooms but will grow only in the Deep South," she notes.

09 of 14

Splurge on a Big Swing

Elegant Black Porch Swing
Laurey W. Glenn

The bed swing is the new porch swing. This style isn't as ubiquitous or as easy to find, but what says "neighborly and fun people live here" more than a wide, comfortable, pillow-topped lounger hanging on the front porch? Old wrought iron gliders and wooden rockers will do the trick too.

10 of 14

Accessorize the Right Way

Blue Gray House with American Flag and Orange Front Door
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Container Arrangements: Tom Ericson/The Transplanted Garden; Location: The Cottages at Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Do make sure you have an attractive mailbox. Clark says it should generally match the style of your neighbors' ones for a more unified look. Skip the college flag in favor of a not-too-huge American or state flag if your home is on the market, advises Clark. "Potential buyers could be from a rival alma mater, and that's no joke in the South!" he says.

11 of 14

Focus on Windows

Windows with Black Shutters and Hydrangea and Ivy Window boxes
Ralph Anderson

If the windows in your home need replacing, potential buyers may wonder what else has been left unattended inside the house. Windows connect the homeowners with the surrounding environment, neighbors, and people passing by. Having enough natural light is crucial, so chipped window frames or unwashed glass can be very offputting to buyers looking for idyllic curb appeal. In addition to the actual window, the shutters also provide an opportunity to allow your home's personality to shine. Adding a pop of color or coordinating the shutters with the visual aesthetic of the house's history can make a significant impact.

12 of 14

Let the Colors Talk

Best Vacation Rental Investment Florida Panama City Beach
Arpad Benedek/Getty Images

Take a simplistic approach to your home's curb appeal by forgoing excess decor and allowing the colors in the trim, shutters, or plants to highlight the house. Let the colors speak to the style of the home. Add a patriotic red on the window shutters of a colonial or shades of blue surrounding a beach cottage. You can also play up the contrast to accentuate your favorite house features or add a bright accent to denote a unique architectural element.

13 of 14

Support the Structure

Old Oyster House Plan Built in Spring Island, SC
Robbie Caponetto

Structural fundamentals might not be your favorite home renovation idea, but maintaining these components helps create a more visually appealing house without drastically changing the characteristics. Roof care can make a big difference when looking at a home's curb appeal. Loose shingles or sunken spots denote a run-down atmosphere and can dissuade future buyers. Another way to change the house's visual interest is by extending the front porch. Nothing is more inviting than seeing a deck extend the width of the home's front exterior, plus classic welcoming features like swings, rocking chairs, and gorgeous plants help support this situation.

14 of 14

Get Into the Holidays

Andrew Howard with Family in front of house decorated for Christmas
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Liz Strong

Holiday or seasonal decor is a foolproof way to boost your home's curb appeal. Perfect your house's trim by outlining it with lights, or show off the beautifully painted front door with supporting decor that complements its bright color. Use seasonal plants to infuse life into the decorations, and be sure to change according to the time of year.

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