Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal
5 inspirational and smart exterior upgrade ideas
The entry—and what surrounds it—are key to making a home welcoming. So the "Grey Poupon" yellow aluminum siding and tiny off-kilter portico on this Clarendon Hills, Illinois, house had to go. In fact, such "updating" had left the 1909 four-square-looking like a shell of its former self. Relying on a vintage photograph, the homeowner set about restoring the facade's original charm. Architect David Raino-Ogden drafted the plan for the facade, and a landscape-design course helped the homeoner devise her own plan and hardscape scheme.
1. Porch: An airy pergola runs almost the length of the facade, adding square footage and symmetry.
2. Entry: Shifting the opening towards the center and adding a wider door with sidelights make the front door more proportional and inviting.
3. Siding and windows: Varying the type, shade, and direction of the new taupe-colored cedar siding adds visual interest. The vertical boards on top also complement the muntins in the new, historically accurate windows.
4. Landscape and lighting: A stone wall framed by lush greenery creates a terraced front garden, and corrects what had been an awkwardly sloping lawn. Prairie-style lanterns brighten the front walk and portico.
Value Added: 25%
An all-white paint scheme seems safe, but it does nothing for a home's architectural detail. Such uniformity, from the cornice down to the balusters, made the facade of this 1860s Second Empire?style house on New York's Staten Island look dull and one-dimensional. Bright white was also historically inappropriate. "The Victorians believed in a house being part of nature, and they tried to make it suit its surroundings by using earth tones," says James G. Ferreri, the colorist who came up with this harmonious five-color paint plan.
1. Paint: Testing swaths of various hues on the house and viewing them in natural light helped in the final selection of two beiges for the body and wide trim boards, cream for door and window surrounds, and a contrasting pumpkin to make narrow trim and railings pop.
2. Roof: Repainting the black roof tiles with a muted slate color balances the look of the house, making it appear less top-heavy.
Value Added: 12%
The right shade of paint can make your house stand out...in a good way. But in the case of this 1820s Federal-style rowhouse, the paint covering the cracked stucco was downright repellent, more "exhumed corpse" than soothing gray, says the homeowner. Even worse, people walking by wouldn't notice the house at all—a grave injustice considering its historic significance as the oldest wood-framed house on the far west side of New York City's Greenwich Village.
1. Siding: The new fiber-cement clapboards are a fire-resistant version—mandated by the city—of what was there originally.
2. Paint: An autumnal shade of yellow brings the facade back to life. The green on the cornice and shutters is in keeping with a period palette, and a close match to paint remnants found on the body of the house.
3. Shutters: These cedar replacements for the long-gone originals focus attention on the once-receding windows.
3. Entry: Replacing the bracketed door entablature with one that's angular and clean-lined helps restore
the rowhouse's Federal styling and complements the boxy window casings.
4. Details: Matching the shutter dogs, lantern, and house numbers to the iron railings creates a cohesive look.
Value Added: 30%
A front-facing garage can be a blemish on an otherwise pleasing exterior if its doors are worn or ill suited to the style of the house. For instance, the plain ones on this Arts and Crafts Revival cottage in Newport, Kentucky, scream "builder's special," in stark contrast to the facade's other finely wrought details, such as the stone porch piers and Prairie-style divided-light windows.
Garage: Replacing the existing white-painted doors with a redwood carriage-house pair—at a cost of $5,000— helps unite the look of the honey-hued rafter tails and entry door. The divided lights, recessed paneling, and black iron hardware on the garage doors also echo those on the entry.
Value Added: 10%
Because it's often the first thing you see from the street, an attractive driveway goes a long way toward enhancing a home's curb appeal. The crumbling asphalt leading up to this mid-century ranch in suburban Chicago was not only an eyesore, it was confusing—you couldn't tell where the street ended and the driveway started. "It felt like you were parking on the front stoop," says Peter Stinchcomb, who redesigned the entry as a courtyard with an integral parking pad and walkway, and a lush front garden.
1. Driveway: Laying tumbled concrete pavers instead of a new asphalt slab creates a visual buffer between the street and the house. Two shades of the same paver— terra-cotta in the center with a sand border—delineate the parking pad from the surrounding walkway.
2. Garden: Attention-grabbing flowering plants, such as hydrangea, catmint, and dragon's blood, draw the eye into the front garden, as does the broken flagstone path that curves through it.
3. Lighting: Low pagoda-style lanterns in the garden add depth and sparkle to the landscape design.
4. Fence: A lattice-topped cedar board fence encloses the garden, which is set into a large side yard, directing attention and foot traffic toward the entry.
Value Added: 10%