Hone your home to have a street-smart look.
Creating curb appeal is a wise investment that often requires brains and brawn, but not necessarily a big budget, says Jeffrey Fick, winner of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2014 Contractor of the Year award for residential exteriors.
“Spring is right around the corner, and freshening up the front of the home is in the air,” he says, suggesting you give your home a critical look from the street. “It doesn’t matter if your home’s worth is $50,000 or $500,000, how it looks from the street certainly affects the property’s value. You don’t have to wait to sell it to spruce it up.”
The front door welcomes guests yet protects a household from intruders. Giving it a fresh coat of paint works wonders for the front façade.
A decorative exterior handset will open the door to a home’s design, and swapping out an old doorknob for a new one can make for a grand entrance. The doorknob is both functional and ornamental.
But, if the welcome has been worn out on your home’s front door, it might be time for an upgrade. Today’s doors are becoming more warp-resistant, energy-efficient and secure. Fick suggests you take your cue from the existing door’s size and style for an appropriate replacement. Fiberglass doors with a foam core are one of the most popular choices when replacing an old front door, with costs starting under $1,000.
Ring in spring
When at the front door, a visitor’s first point of contact is the doorbell or knocker, so give the uninspired buzzer the ding-dong ditch. A decorative doorbell ringer or doorknocker can be an inexpensive upgrade, starting under $100. A doorbell or doorknocker is also a small but mighty motif foreshadowing a personal sense of style found inside the home.
Shed new light on the front of a home by creating a warm, inviting atmosphere with new light fixtures. Swapping out old lighting is easy, but it’s important to choose fixtures that coordinate with the door’s hardware and complement a home’s architectural style. Light fixtures used outside should also be rated by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL Wet) to be safe when exposed to the elements.
Into the gutters
Gutters and downspouts are functional architectural details that run the perimeter of the house. Whether constructed from aluminum or high-end metals such as copper and zinc, dented gutters falling off a house and full of tree debris never leave a good impression, Fick says. Regardless of the material used, all installed gutters must be slightly pitched toward downspout holes, and water should be directed at least 2 feet away from the building’s foundation.
An attached garage door is typically one of a home’s most prominent curbside features. A fresh coat of paint on the garage door – coordinated with the front-door design – can pull the look of an entire home together.
If it’s time for a new garage door, today’s homeowner doesn’t have to settle for builder’s grade, standard raised-panel and windowless garage doors. Manufacturers are rolling out new garage door options that are more insulated and energy-efficient, with eye-catching styles accented by decorative hinges and pulls.
Homeowners can pour creativity into their driveways and walkways. The first impression of a house can start at the driveway and sidewalk as visitors make their way to the front door.
Concrete, stone and pavers crack over time. Repairing or replacing damaged areas is a matter of safety and shouldn’t be considered a superficial fix, Fick says. “Secure any loose bricks or pavers back into the walkway, and fix any deteriorating concrete as soon as you can,” he suggests. “Not only are these imperfections an eyesore, they can be considered a tripping hazard, and there’s nothing pretty about that.”
As a homeowner, don’t curb your enthusiasm for the outdoor aesthetic. The appearance of the front entrance sends a message about the homeowner.
“You can make a big impact without spending big bucks. Plant flowers and put down a fresh bag of mulch in beds around the front door,” Fick says. “How a house looks from the street is a reflection of the homeowner who lives inside.”