Even though the weather of late might make us think otherwise, spring is officially here and with its arrival comes the urge to “spring clean.” But let’s not think only in terms of scrubbing and dusting, but also cleaning up your act in terms of curb appeal.
It has been said that “first impressions last.” So regardless of whether you are selling your home or planning on living in it for years to come, a clean, fresh, cared-for appearance from the street will attract buyers or make coming home at the end of the day a more pleasant experience.
Curb appeal encompasses everything that can be seen from the curb: your driveway, landscaping, walkway, and façade, including the front entrance. Even your roof. To help you be more objective, consider snapping a photo of your house from the street and studying it to determine what could be spiffed-up. That ladder that you’ve been meaning to put away is hard to ignore in a digital image, but easy to walk past with an “I’ll get to that tomorrow.” Be sure to take a look during the day and evening, as different aspects will stand out, depending on lighting conditions.
As you analyze your photos, use our 10-step checklist to make sure your image is squeaky clean:
- Clean any surface that looks dirty, dingy, discolored, or streaked. Sweep away those cobwebs and all of the debris that gets caught in them. Pressure washing makes surfaces sparkle. And make sure your gutters aren’t growing gardens of their own.
- Add some polish: repaint trim that is chipped, peeling, or discolored, consider changing the color of your front door, and add a nice, unfaded welcome mat.
- Repair and replace anything that isn’t in ship shape: shingles that are missing from the roof, louvers that are missing from shutters, pickets that are missing from fences, and more.
- Declutter by relocating old flower pots, ladders, and even bicycles strewn about the front porch and lawn.
- Change out house numbers, mailboxes, planters, front door hardware, and even bigger ticket items like garage doors that aren’t stylish and attractive. Maybe add wooden trim details under the peaks of your roofline. Is your home contemporary, traditional, or transitional? Choose styles that create either pleasing cohesion or contrast. And be sure the scale is right for your home; if too small, the additions look more like cheap clutter than substantial statements.
- Repair your driveway or sidewalk if cracked. This can be expensive, but can make all the difference in ridding your home of an unkempt appearance. If you don’t mind spending the money, consider changing out your ho-hum walkway for one made of stone or brick to add style and charm.
- Spruce up your planting beds with fresh mulch for crisp, clean contrast, and be sure to plant for year-round interest. But never seek to add needed color with artificial plants; they look, well, artificial. Prune overgrown trees and shrubs and replace any plants that aren’t performing well.
- Replace any dead plants in containers and flower boxes. Nothing says, “I don’t care” quite like scraggly potted plants or empty pots. If you don’t have flower boxes—and will keep them up each season—consider adding them in a style compatible with your home. Not all flower boxes are “cottage-y.”
- Treat your windows to window treatments that create a neat and tidy look from the exterior. They need not be identical, but they should look balanced.
- Replace any broken or missing outdoor lighting fixtures in the landscape or on the house. If they are outdated, switch them out for something more current, correctly scaled to add interest, depth and even drama. If they are leaning this way or that, straighten them up so that they look uniform, neat, and tidy.
These are a few of the main items on our checklist. I invite you to share your “top ten” with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.