Steal the deal with a curb appeal

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:53

    Because the view from the street is the first impression our friends and guests receive, it's worth spending time to give your home curb appeal. You don't need to spend much money or live in a mansion: the view of your home can be inviting and attractive if it appears tidy, is lovingly maintained and flashes a few creative touches. Getting started Presenting your home's facade in its best light may be a daunting task to those of us who don't garden or are too busy to power wash the eaves. If you have proper motivation and a method for approaching the project, the time and effort spent sprucing up will be well spent. Here are a few suggestions: • Set up a social gathering a month or two in advance to have a goal to work towards. If you're like me, you'll want a tidy yard and welcoming entryway to greet your guests. • Commit time to the project. Break your list down into manageable chunks. Schedule 15 minute to two-hour blocks of time on your calendar over two months. Use the odd few moments of free time to complete one small task. • Team up with a friend or neighbor. Spend an hour at his or her house today and work at your home tomorrow. Make a list Once properly motivated, you're ready to take the first step. Get out a notepad and pen and stand in front of your house. Brainstorm a list of everything that needs to be done to give your house that Better Home's and Garden magazine look: • Can you see your house from the street, or do low hanging branches or overgrown bushes block the view? Make sure the walkway leading to your front door is free of branches blocking the way. Take a look at the lawn n if it's not green and lush, fertilize and deep water it. If it's tired and clumpy-looking you might need to re-sod. Sod can cost as little as $0.29 a square foot, delivered, and can instantly freshen your home's presentation. Manicure your lawn's edges to give it a clean outline. • Check your planting beds and remove weeds and dead, misshapen or tired plants. Assess your color scheme. Select two or three predominant colors in your blooming plants and make sure these colors are repeated in each of the beds. • Take a look at your home's paint job. If it is an outdated color and peeling, it's important to repaint to protect your home from further decay, and to increase its resale value. If the body of the house is in good shape, try re-painting the trim in a subtle color. For recommended color combinations, pick up a flyer at your local paint store. If your paint is still in good shape, but looks dirty, rent a spray power washer and clean your house. If your house was painted five or more years ago, be careful n the paint may flake off. Other areas that might need attention: • Train your kids to store toys, bikes and balls in a designated area in the garage or side yard. • Re-tar your asphalt driveway (A five gallon bucket can be applied with a broom in a matter of minutes). • Repaint or replace your mailbox. • Add beauty bark or redwood compost to your flowerbeds to give uniformity. • Mend or prop up fence; repair gate. • Install new house numbers or polish/paint the old. • Store garden hoses, garbage cans and recycling bins in the side yard or garage. The Entryway Walk up to your front door and pretend you're a guest. It is especially important that this area be clean, tidy and cheerful, as your visitors will be surveying the area for a few moments while waiting for you at the door. To spruce: • Sweep or hose off cobwebs and dust from the eaves and walls. • Clean the front door and its threshold. You may want to paint the door a new color or touch it up. Take a look at your neighbor's front doors for possible color combinations. • Clean or replace the light fixture. • Remove brown or scraggly potted plants. Cluster plants in terra cotta or wood containers by the door (No plastic pots!). • If you do not open your front door for ventilation, remove the screen (ever see a mansion with a screen door?) • Clean or replace the doorbell button surround. Polish or replace door hardware. Add a brass kick plate. • Make sure the view through any windows in this area is attractive; are the backs of your curtains and accessories presentable? Anything on the counters or fridge you don't want people to see? • If your porch is spacious, add a wicker or wood bench. Avoid plastic or metal furnishings. For a final personal touch, add outdoor decor, such as a bundle of dried flowers on the door, an unusual doorknocker, a sculpture piece nestled amongst the potted flowers, decorative stepping-stones, wind chimes or a birdhouse