Homeowners spend a lot of time and energy on improving their home’s interior. Kitchen and bathroom remodels are among the top renovations people make in an effort to enhance their home’s livability and resale value. In fact, Google trends showed that “kitchen remodel” searches were up 77 percent between 2020 and 2021.
There’s no question that putting your renovation budget toward interior improvements can be beneficial when it comes time to sell. However, exterior improvements can be just as lucrative, if not more so. Curb appeal is king when it comes to ROI, and you don’t have to look too closely to see why.
Curb Appeal Counts
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 94 percent of real estate agents recommend curb appeal improvements before listing a home. But upping your curb appeal isn’t only important for those who plan to sell—it’s crucial for all homeowners.
Anthony Wilder, founder of Anthony Wilder Architecture, Interior Design, and Construction, is a master of hardscaping and exterior architecture. His team has done award-winning work for clients in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and his firm has a special focus on exterior architecture, design, and landscaping. When starting a project for a new client, Wilder’s team focuses on the exterior from the very beginning, understanding the role curb appeal has in transforming a home’s overall aesthetic.
One of their recent projects, a split-level brick home in Falls Church Virginia, is a prime example, Wilder says, of the difference exterior enhancements can make for how the residents feel about their home. “The masking of the building in this case was very shuttered, old, and abandoned looking. We brightened it up with a fresh face, and once it came to life, we knew the client would love what we did with it. They absolutely hated the front of their house, but this made them look at it differently.”
Wilder’s team removed the home’s Antebellum-era pillars and replaced dated shutters with warm wood frames to elongate the front of the home. The key with a split level, he says, is to implement visual tricks, such as they did with the windows, to prevent the home from looking like it’s cut in half.
In the case of this home, the removal of a few exterior elements, the addition of modern hardware, and a new paint job brought it out of the nineteenth century and into the twenty-first century. The crucial role curb appeal had in this project cannot be emphasized enough.
Areas of Focus
While architectural changes can make a world of difference, you don’t necessarily have to go dramatic when making exterior improvements to your home if you don’t want to or feel that it’s needed. Simple changes, such as a fresh coat of paint, new lighting fixtures, and beautiful landscaping can work wonders.
There’s virtually nothing that a new coat of paint can’t fix. Wilder notes that, for many of the projects his team has worked on, painting the home’s exterior has made one of the biggest visual differences and casts a home in a completely new light. In their renovation of a brick Colonial in Potomac, Maryland, his team painted over faded multi-color brick with a creamy white color that makes the home more inviting for its socially active owners. If you want to make a nice impression on guests and passersby, painting your exterior is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to do so.
Stone pavers for entryways and patios are not only visually appealing but also greatly improve the functionality of a front or backyard, especially for homeowners who like to spend time outdoors. If a home’s front door is tucked away or is opposite from the driveway, like in the brick Colonial project, you can create interest with a stone pathway lined with greenery that leads to the door. In the backyard, a paved patio with built-in elements such as a firepit or retaining wall can help you get more use out of your yard for hosting or relaxing.
The right kind of landscaping draws the eyes up and frames the house. It is one of the best investments you can make for your home in terms of return. However, the key is to ensure the landscaping you choose is a good fit for your home and the surrounding area. It’s also important to be mindful of the trees and shrubs you choose because, for example, if you plant a two-foot shrub in front of a window, that shrub could grow to five or six feet, depending on its type. Choosing native plants and trees can be beneficial, too, as they will be more likely to thrive in your environment with minimal upkeep and will look more natural.
The last and most important part of improving your home’s curb appeal is to ensure you maintain it. Anyone can repaint their home’s exterior, plant trees and flowers, and install a new front door. However, if you don’t work to keep up with the improvements you made, your curb appeal and its value will suffer. If you’re not much of a home-improvement afficionado or don’t have time to put toward lawncare, hiring a contractor can help you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to keeping your exterior maintained.
Set a schedule to keep up with small tasks, such as trimming back trees and shrubs, pulling weeds, and pressure-washing walkways, and pay particular attention to your front door and entryway. Keep the pathway to the door free of leaves and debris, and make sure the door is clean and that there are no chips in the paint. The same goes for maintaining the paint job on your window trim and shutters.
While curb appeal is important for your home’s value and visual appeal, it’s not the only reason to improve it. Ultimately, you and your family are the one’s spending the majority of your time in your home. Therefore, changes to your curb appeal can amount to big changes in the pride you have in your home and the way it reflects your personality.
Pay attention to improvements you feel will make the biggest difference for your household. If you’re keen on spending time in the backyard, a new patio and garden could be life-changing updates. If you’re not a fan of cutting the grass, implementing more hardscaping can eliminate the surface area you have to cut. And if your home is one of the oldest in your neighborhood, modern improvements might help you feel more comfortable and at home there.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t allow what’s popular or trendy in your area to completely sway the decisions you make when it comes to your curb appeal. Focus on balancing your own personal tastes and needs with what will look best and appeal to future buyers, but don’t sacrifice your style to do so.
Never underestimate the value good exterior design can have for your home. When it comes to curb appeal improvements, a little bit goes a long way and can dramatically increase your quality of life and the satisfaction you have in your home.