Try these ideas to make your home’s exterior the star of the neighborhood.

By Diane Franklin

Summer’s here at last, and it’s the perfect time to work on your home’s “curb appeal.” Curb appeal refers to the impression your home makes from the street. Since there are more people out and about in the summer—walking dogs, riding bikes, taking an evening jog or a morning stroll—increasing your home’s curb appeal is a nice gesture to enhance the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Plus, pride of ownership means you’ll want your home to look its best.

Here are five tips for giving your home the curb appeal that allows it to stand out in the most positive way.

  1. Wash away the grime. One of the first things you should do to create a wonderful outdoor appearance is to wash away the grime on siding, shutters, front doors, trim, garage doors and other outdoor surfaces. Paint stores carry house-washing products that will allow you to accomplish this by attaching the container to your garden hose. If the condition of the exterior surfaces warrants it, you may want to use a pressure washer to clean the exterior of your home. But you have to be cautious not to damage the surfaces that you are cleaning. If you are worried about that, it would be better to hire a professional contractor to do it for you.
  2. Choose a great color scheme. Just like the interior of your house, the exterior should feature a coordinated color scheme. So, for instance, if you paint the body of your home with on-trend gray, you can complement that look with off-white shutters and trim, and a front door painted in a dramatic color like cobalt blue or ruby red. Other potential color schemes for siding, trim and accents include: mossy green, cream and burgundy; pale yellow, black and oak; pewter, white and terra cotta; and taupe, beige and rustic red. There are plenty of other exterior color schemes you can find by taking a look at the paint color cards at your local paint store. Take cues for your color scheme from the colors of permanent features in your home—i.e., brick, stone, garage door, light fixtures—to ensure an overall cohesive look.
  3. Plan you landscaping. Your front-of-house landscaping can spell the difference between a “blah” exterior and a spectacular one. Choose plants, bushes and flowers that complement your home’s color scheme. Or conversely, you can let the colors in your landscaping help you determine your home’s color scheme. Place potted plants on either side of your front door to provide a nice visual accent, and for an added color scheme tie-in, paint your outdoor planters the same color as your front door.
  4. Upgrade your mailbox. A mailbox can be a prominent way to upgrade your home’s exterior. A major trend in many neighborhoods is to have a contractor create a brick enclosure for your mailbox—obviously a better tie-in if you also have brick siding on your home. Otherwise, you can paint, stain or faux-finish the mailbox you already have. With ornate mailbox poles, using an aerosol paint will allow you to get into all the cracks and crevices. Black is a classic look for a mailbox, but you also can create an eye-catching patina for your mailbox using a verdigris painting kit. Tie in your mailbox to the rest of your home by painting the light fixtures on your front porch and around your garage to coordinate. When painting or staining your mailbox, make sure you mask the components that you don’t want to cover, such as the flag and house numbers. And protect the grass surrounding the mailbox with a dropcloth. To give your mailbox more appeal, build and stain a plant box around it and add some colorful flowers or flowering plants to coordinate with the rest of your landscaping.
  5. Reinvent your concrete surfaces. Use decorative concrete finishing products to take your driveway, walkway, front steps or porch from drab to dramatic. You can create interesting stone, tile or stamped concrete looks with popular products like SkimStone (a registered trademark of Rudd Co. Inc.) or Rust-Oleum’s SEAL-KRETE Floor-Tex Textured Coating that you can find at your local paint store.

Pay attention to these elements of your home to create a beautiful exterior impression. With the right paint, landscaping and upkeep, the curb appeal you present will be the envy of the neighborhood.