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How to Master the Art of Curb Appeal

Revel Path Landscape Light by Tech Lighting

How to Master the Art of Curb Appeal

From fresh paint ideas to forward-thinking flowers and trees, we'll give you
the inside scoop on how to make your home give a great first impression.

Curb appeal. You know you need it, but what does it really mean? At the simplest level, curb appeal is what the exterior of your home looks like to the average passerby. It's an opportunity to make nice with your neighbors, as well as the first chance to make a good impression to visitors.

The term comes out of the world of real estate, where first impressions can make or break a sale. In seller's markets, curb appeal can mean the difference between the home selling quickly or languishing on the market. And in buyer-heavy markets, it can give you a leg up on listing your space for more.

Curb appeal has importance regardless of whether you're looking to sell; after all, our homes should be places we love to live in. But getting it up to snuff doesn't happen overnight. Like everything involved with owning a home, there are quick fixes and plans that can play out over decades. Here are a few key ideas to help you nail it:

Shade Trees

While it may not be feasible to plant a full-sized tree in your yard, it might be something to think about when selecting saplings for your space. Consider the long game. Is the placement right for proper shading once the tree gets larger? Smart planning—and planting—now can lead to extra dollars when you do eventually go to sell; experts say mature tree cover can add nearly 10% to your value, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Plus, good shade protects your home during hot summer months, saving energy.

Landscaping

Don't feel limited to the classic flower bed. Native grasses, succulents and even blooming annuals work amazingly well potted or in raised beds and can add a dimension to a flat yard.

While annuals may be flashier, perennial flowers and plants are the better investment—they don't have to be replaced each year. Look for plants that will grow well in your area, look good with your space and are reasonable to maintain. For dry areas, removing old lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant grasses and native plants can be a huge plus for potential buyers (and for your water bill).

Whether you have guests coming, want to sell the house quick or are simply sick of looking at the same old thing, you may need a quicker pick-me-up for your home's facade. That's where a few new planters around the entryway add an instant pop.

Windows

This can be a major selling point and makes a big difference to quality of life inside when it comes to temperature control and sound reduction. Replace old single-pane windows with dual-glazed insulated windows—if you already have dual-glazed windows, make sure to fix or replace panes that fog or steam up on their own. Condensation can be a sign of a broken seal on the window.

Hardscaping

Crumbling retaining walls, rickety gates and cracked driveways send buyers running and make your life a pain—sometimes literally. Maintaining existing hardscapes is critical, but consider updating and adding something new. Adding a pathway or steps to a front door will create a dramatic and welcoming effect, especially with the right landscape lighting

New Hardware

Updating details like your door handle, house numbers, mailbox or doorbell is a quick and low cost idea that gives your home a fresh new feel.

Lighting

This is one of most important upgrades to create that wow factor for your curb appeal, and it's critical to creating a welcoming environment at night. Updating outdoor wall sconces or even installing an entry pendant can add some much-needed pizzazz.

A bit farther from the house—along pathways and stairs, under trees and washing walls—you can't underestimate the drama and elegance that a few well-placed landscape lights can add.

Final Tips

To ensure that your home holds up over the years, you simply must maintain it. Deferred maintenance can cause big trouble down the road, so get a second pair of eyes to evaluate the space.

When you do decide to make changes, choose wisely. Look to timeless styles and versatile paint colors, as opposed to trendy looks that might fall out of fashion. And consider the era of your home; features that look amazing on a mid-century Eichler will look downright confusing on a Craftsman.

And one final tip that goes a long way is simply keeping the front of your home clean. When installing a new hardscape or replanting the whole space is out of reach, keeping what you do have tidy and maintained goes a long way toward making a good impression.

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