In the real estate business everyone talks about curb appeal but, you ask, what the heck is that anyway and what does it have to do with me? Seriously, who cares about what the curb thinks?
Actually, everyone cares about curb appeal -- even you as a property owner to some extent – and especially anyone buying or selling a property. We may think we couldn’t care less about what other people think about our curb appeal, but the truth is how you feel about the look of your property influences how you feel about your home – and your home life.
Remember the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, curb appeal is all about that. It doesn’t matter if you plan to sell your house soon or if you’re going to spend the rest of your days there. What you present to the world says a lot about you – and it does have an effect on how you feel.
You know when you feel great – your hair and clothes are right and you’re feeling at the top of your game. You have a spring in your step, right? You feel invincible. Well, when you have pride in your home and its appearance, it helps with that spring, for sure!
There are 7 curb appeal must-do’s that, when embraced as part of your landscape design strategy, will make your home stand out and make you proud every day. To achieve that, your landscape must be:
It’s gotta make sense. If there’s a feeling of imbalance and messiness, then no one is going to be impressed. You create organization by having an intentional design for your front space that includes balance, maybe symmetry, some repetition, and the scale has to be right – nothing too big or too small.
There is nothing worse than dead and dying plants to detract from a home. Yellowed, wilted, half-dead, or sheared-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives does not communicate health. Your landscape needs to have life, flow, and vitality. Lush greens accented with vibrant colors and perhaps some pleasant aroma signals healthy. This creates appeal which creates pride.
The different doors and changing grades are easily traversed with bold steps and wide comfortable walks.
There is nothing worse than a blurred landscape where the lawn blends into the beds and the shrubs are squishing into one another and crowding the house. Weeds are confused with perennials and ground covers or plants are sheared into odd-looking unnatural shapes. This is all distracting to the eye and makes a landscape confusing and disjointed rather than appealing.
One of the best ways to create curb appeal is to layer the landscape. Having a flat line of shrubs at the front of the house does little to excite the imagination. Flowing bed lines that allow for large, midsized, and small plants will create a pleasing tapestry of textures and diversity of colorful foliage and flowers. This excites and intrigues the eye in a way no line of boring green shrubs can.
The layers of common boxwood, Knock-Out roses, two layers of tulips, Phlox subulata (Carpet Phlox), and Waldsteinia ternata (Barron Strawberry) all play well with the paver walkway, granite stoop and beautiful urn planters.
Depending on where you live, you may have distinctly or at least slightly different seasons. Either way, it’s important to find seasonal differentiators and use those to create some pop in your landscape experience.
New England has four unique seasons and we love to use planters to add excitement to the landscape. Spring, summer, fall, and winter each offer unique opportunities to add interest and “wow!” to the garden with plants and planter accents that feature colorful foliage and branches, even when the plants are cold and dormant.
Annual bedding plants, spring flowering and summer flowering bulbs, and art...don’t forget the art - elegant or whimsy - that can be added to build the interest and fun in your landscape.
When we talk about curb appeal, we’re talking about being attractive, which also means inviting. It’s super important that the front of a home says ”welcome.” That won’t work if you have oversized shrubs hiding windows and doors or pushing visitors off paths. It certainly doesn’t work if the place looks untended and unruly.
Remember, the front of your home is the first impression of you, so follow steps 1-5 and consider how it feels to take in your home from the road or the sidewalk. Do you look at your home and think, “what a nice place that is”?
An important but overlooked aspect of curb appeal is the approach to your home: is it comfortable or intimidating? If you have a scary driveway (“Oh, man, how will I ever turn around?”), a dangerous walkway (“Whoa, I wore the wrong shoes for this house”), or a confusing approach (“Yikes, where do I even go to knock on the door?”), these situations make the visitor uncomfortable. And that’s just not appealing at all.
You may not have visitors often, but you still need to consider how it feels to approach your house because it is a reflection on how you feel about your home, other people, and the welcoming (or repelling) nature of this most important place of your life.
Real estate agents talk about curb appeal all the time because they know that first impressions are everything. Get that wrong and there is little chance for recovery. If you’re like me, you have no intention of ever selling your house -- I always say they’ll be taking me out in a pine box. Hopefully a LONG time from today! But even so, the appeal of your home – the approach and what you see and feel when you drive home after a tough, long day – is critical to your mood and your life experience. Subtle feelings permeate your full expression of you. If you drive home and are disgusted by what you see, that feeds whatever negativity may have occurred in your day, or it erodes the good feelings you may have brought home. If you drive in and are greeted by vibrant color, lush healthy greens, and sweet smells, then there is every chance the negative feelings of your day may loosen their grip just a bit, and the positivity will be amplified by the joyful greeting of the vibrant and pride-filled appeal of your home. I say this is worth the investment in time and money to ensure that your house feels like “Home Sweet Home!”