Virtually every house is some variation of a box.
So, WHAT makes houses attractive?
Picture a long characterless ranch. It has a low-pitched roof without gables. The windows are small. The siding may be either brick or lap siding.
It’s probably boring.
If it has a for sale sign in front of it, NO ONE CARES!
But there may be a house just down the street that is SO CUTE people knock on the door to ask if the owners will sell it. BUT, it’s not for sale.
But what happens when the owner WANTS to sell. He calls the list of people who are interested. He’s taking bids. He doesn’t pay a realtor or go through a long bargaining phase. He can hold a private auction and make money faster WITH THE EVER ELUSIVE CURB APPEAL!
A real estate appraiser we know always makes value decisions based on sales in a particular area. He wouldn’t know cute if it bit him on the butt.
The house he built for himself is rather ugly. The floor plan is awkward and dated. He’s isn’t planning to sell it, but what if he wanted to put it on the market?
Other cuter houses in the same area would sell first. They will attract more lookers and maybe more money.
So how do you get curb appeal?
It’s a moving target but some things are immutable.
Think about the characterless boxy, ranch we discussed earlier.
Suppose it looked like a coastal cottage with a row of French doors leading from the living dining rooms to a porch or patio? Remember to put shutters next to the doors.
Get a better looking garage door, too. Maybe you could put a weather vane and cupola on the roof, you trim out the other windows and hang rustic shutters, and finally you create some landscaping and a friendly attractive track to the front door.
Viola! Curb appeal!
There are a lot of possibilities. Maybe you really like the modern esthetic or Tudor or Southwest. Take what works with your place and building.
Where do we usually go wrong?
1. Windows should be trimmed out attractively. This is a problem even builders can’t seem to figure out. The single most expensive item in any house is windows. Usually they do not come from the factory trimmed. If they aren’t trimmed out, you don’t get the visual impact you hope for when you buy them. Go the extra expense and finish the job! If you bought a house without this detail, it’s an easy fix.
2. Pay attention to paint colors and materials like brick, rock, roofing and sidewalks and drive ways. All these materials need to work together in an attractive color package. Your focal point at the street side of your house needs to be your door. Paint it an attractive color like red and point guests in the right direction. Color is an important part of curb appeal and don’t forget that your roof color is a part of your color palate. Multiple colors and materials make a better visual statement. A single color is boring. Colors need each other to look their best. Cools need warms and vice-versa. We had a home that was the prettiest on our street because of color alone!. It sold really fast when we were transferred. Our next door neighbor’s similar home languished on the market for months.
3. Do you have a row of overgrown bushes planted 50 years ago by a builder in a perfectly straight line that prevents ANY light from entering your front windows? Pull them up! Get some new stuff that grows in curving beds that frame the structure in more welcoming ways. If your trees or shrubs are initially planted too close to your house, they can actually damage it. Get landscaping that’s low near the house and extends and grows higher as you get further from the house. It’s more complimentary to the structure. Avoid straight lines.
4. Make your walkways and patios wider, curving and more welcoming. What good is a sidewalk that is so narrow, two people could not walk on it side by side? Why do patios have to be square? Make sure these surfaces are clean and attractive, too.
5. Plant some flowers. Maybe a few containers are enough, but get some seasonal color.
If you haven’t bought curb appeal initially, you can actually make money and please yourself and your family by creating it. No house is hopeless. You can find people (architects, landscapers, and workmen) who can help you with this task if you feel unable to make the decisions yourself. If you expect to resell at some point, curb appeal will put more money in your pocket!