DIY: Upping Your Home’s Curb Appeal

The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly applies to real estate because the first thing we do when we pull up in front of a house is judge. Maybe we like what we see, or maybe we don’t and that’s why first impressions count in real estate. It’s called “curb appeal.”

If you’re planning to list your home — or if you’re just looking for a good weekend project — updating your home’s front exterior is a great way to improve your curb appeal. Plus, it’s just wise to keep things looking good while investing in your home.

The cost of a curb appeal project will vary from the scope of the project you tackle and can cost, anywhere from $100 to $10,000 plus. But what you can achieve in a weekend, with a little money and effort, can dramatically change the look of your home. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Plan ahead: Before you get started, consider the style of your home. A contemporary home’s curb appeal could be improved with simple iron house numbers and a mid-century front door while a 1920s bungalow may get a face-lift from new shutters or trim details.
  2. The front door. The front door is one of easiest, quickest ways to get instant results. While the exterior of your home may be painted in a conservative color, the front door is a place to have a little more fun by adding a bright pop of color that will lift your home’s main color and complement the trim (see photo below). Don’t be afraid to go bold, or hire a color expert if you’re unsure. Consider replacing your front door with something that has carved details, a window or other unusual aspects that will add interest to your home’s exterior.

    This Seattle home gets a boost from a bright orange door.

  3. Porch and front steps: Whether your entry way has concrete steps or a flagstone walkway, there are ways to step up the impact. If you have concrete, consider painting or staining it. Most home improvement stores carry paints and stains specifically made for concrete. If you have a brick or stone entry, hose it down or power wash for a quick improvement. Line an existing walkway with plants, or a type of stone. If you don’t have a walkway, consider adding one with stepping stones, affordable pavers or brick.

    A brick path leads to this home in Pleasant Hill, CA

  4. Molding and trim: Frame your windows with freshly painted trim. If you want to really make your home pop, consider buying pre-made molding that attaches easily to the front of your house. Create a contemporary lattice or fake Victorian detailing with gingerbread molding. Add window boxes and shutters to give it depth and dimension.

    Shutters and window boxes add to the charm of this Nashville home

  5. Accessories: Consider the accessories around your front door to be the jewelry for your home. You want it to be cohesive as well as match the overall style of your home. A contemporary home will benefit from brushed nickel house numbers or door knobs while a more traditional home will look better with brass or bronze-finished accessories. Don’t forget light fixtures, welcome mat and porch seating — if you have room.

    This Oklahoma City home charms with a porch seat and pillows

  6. Foliage: Another cheap and easy way to improve your home’s curb appeal is through greenery. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can achieve an expert look with pre-planted containers, hanging plants or window hangers. If you have a formal walkway, try edging it with a small plant like juniper or azaleas. Cut down on weeding between flagstones by planting a ground cover like Blue Star Creeper or Irish Moss.

    Colorful planters welcome you to this Santa Fe home for sale

Still looking for ideas? Zillow’s Dueling Digs exteriors may give you the inspiration you need for your home’s curb appeal project. Or, post photos of your home in Zillow Advice and get input from the Zillow community.