Envisioning Curb Appeal

Sometimes we first –time buyers can be a little underwhelmed by the houses our agent takes us to see. In our mind, we see our first house as an extension of our personalities, but in reality, many of the homes we can afford still look like they belong to someone else. And that someone has different taste than we do.

Lessons in DIY

Since I have rented all my life, DIY projects used to seem like an exotic, foreign, and exclusive language. They intimidated me because I had no experience with them, and because I didn’t know how much they cost or how much time they would take. What I have had to learn though—and this is actually a fun lesson—is that much of the “curb appeal” a home has is up to the creative spirit of the owner. And soon, if all things go planned, I will be that owner.

The house my husband and I are in escrow to buy, a 1920’s Portland, Oregon bungalow, has great bones. But it’s been a rental a long time, and (understandably),  tenants don’t have a lot of motivation to remodel a home they don’t own. In our case, the exterior colors, porch area and gardens are actually pretty depressing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want this house. We love the neighborhood; the size and style of the home are perfect; and, we can afford it! So now that I know more about what I can and can’t do to improve the way a home looks, I can actually get excited about working to make this place my own. It will be labor, for sure—but the good kind: a labor of love.

Envision Curb Appeal

With ZipRealty’s Drop In and Win Spring Promo in mind, I present a simple buyer’s guide to improving curb appeal.  Since Lowe’s is among the choices for the winning gift certificates, this blog focuses on improvements you could easily do with help from that store—particularly since not only the materials and tools you need are on offer, but so is the expertise a fledgling DIY buyer needs to feel confident.

Start with the Way You Feel as You Approach Your Front Door

You want to feel “welcome home” every time you see your house.  Speaking aesthetically, that feeling largely comes from the curb appeal you create—as in, how does your house look to you when you're standing on the curb in front of it? You want it to appeal.

This before and after, brought to you by the genius This Old House Blog, with an estimated cost of $9000, shows how dramatic a front door/porch area makeover can really be. The door here is the original, but has been painted, while the steps were rebuilt and the cedar columns and deck are new. These columns were painted, as were the built-in benches added on either side of the porch. A plant and unique light fixture complete the look. (Note: I found how to articles on all of this stuff on Lowe’s homepage, including building your own deck.)

Before:

How to make your new home appeal to you

 

After

Front doorway before and after

 

A less ambitious make-over is a simple paint job on the front door. You don’t have to keep the boring color your new house has. Today’s paints are more creative than ever, and the color you pick can really change the feel of your home as you approach the front door. Here are two examples, first from This Old House and second from The Design File.

Creative paint colors

 

Need inspiration? Lowe’s offers a user-friendly “pick your color scheme” application on its website, as well as multiple articles on color and its effect.

The Welcoming Doorstep

A well stocked store like Lowe’s offers a ton ideas for creating curb appeal,  because you can find everything from the least expensive DIY items (such as a wide variety of house numbers to pretty-up your address)  to splurge pieces (such as ornate outdoor light fixtures). Metals, such as oiled bronze and brushed nickel create different patinas when lit, while inventive lattice-work casts charming shadows in an entryway. Think about tiles, plants, and paint as ways to add unique charm. Note the modern, warm feeling created here by Better Homes and Gardens, as opposed to the more romantic and nostalgic feeling of the second example, via Mandy Jean Chic.

Increase curb appeal

 

Create Curb Appeal

 

The point is: most first-time buyers won’t find a home that’s already “perfect.” But part of the joy of being  owners is that we can finally make the changes we want to make. So get out and visit some of those houses you’ve been looking at online. You need to see the curb appeal (or lack of!) in person. Your agent will then confirm your visit for the Drop In and Win giveaway. If you win,  you’re not only that much closer to owning a house, you’re that much closer to transforming that house into your (welcome) home.