Curb Appeal - Designing the Front of Your Home

You know the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover"? Well, let's face it -- people do judge a book by its cover, and not just when it comes to people. If your house is starting to look a little tired, outdated or just plain blah, here are some quick fixes to help you transform the outside of your home.
View the slideshow above for design ideas for the exterior of your home.

1. Paint your door. Painting your front door is an easy fix, but it's not an easy decision to choose the right color. Should you paint it the same color as your shutters? What color fits best with the style of your home?

There isn't a rulebook for paint colors, so you can select just about any color that you like. We recommend choosing either a complementary color to your home's exterior siding, stone or brick, or going out on a limb with a bold choice. For example, if your home's exterior is blue siding, you might choose a bright yellow door for a bold pop of color or a darker shade of blue for a more subtle, cool look. For brick homes, you can play up the red in your brick by painting your door a deep red. A cool gray or blue would shine when matched with a stone exterior.

Before you commit to a color for the door, bring home some paint testers from your local hardware or paint store and test them just as you would with interior wall colors. Paint a large enough swatch so that you can stand back and get a good idea of what it will look like from the street.

Make sure to do 2 to 3 coats of paint, otherwise the door will look unfinished. You don't have to paint the interior side of the door if you don't want to.

2. Add new house numbers. You don't want to send your guests on a scavenger hunt to find your home, so choose helpful and handsome house numbers. House numbers come in lots of different materials and fonts, and there are even lighted or solar versions. With all of these options, choosing the right one can be tricky.

Here are a few tips for choosing house numbers that suit your home:

  • Be sure that they can be seen from the street. Have someone hold them up and check them out from the curb to make sure they're visible to guests and delivery services.
  • If your lights are not solar or LED, place them in a well-lit area so that they are still visible at night.
  • Select a readable font. Don't get too over-decorative because the numbers can become difficult to discern. A "1" can easily look like a "7" in the wrong font.
  • If your home is a specific style, such as a bungalow or a mid-century modern, then try to make choices in keeping with your home's style. When considering fixtures, ask yourself: Does my home have mostly wrought iron, brass or nickel-plated fixtures? You might consider choosing house numbers that are an extension of the interior's fixtures.
  • A few great places to add your house numbers are: the front door or right next to it, a post or column of your porch, on your mailbox (especially if it is a street-side mailbox) or right under an exterior light.

3. Update your mailbox. Just because you get more email than you get snail mail these days doesn't mean that you should neglect your mailbox. A rusty mailbox is a no-no, whether you have a freestanding mailbox at the curb or a wall-mounted one next to your front door. There are lots of beautiful mailbox options to complement just about any exterior, from freestanding classic boxes to compartmentalized units to mail slots. But how do you choose what kind is right for you?

First, take a closer look at the mail that you get -- do you have lots of magazine subscriptions or receive lots of packages? If so, you may consider getting a post-mount box because they tend to be slightly larger in size and they're able to accommodate multiple magazines, letters and packages. If you're the kind of person who gets a letter here or there, choose a smaller, wall-mounted version.

Which style is best? We love classic mailbox looks best. Then you know that you'll love it for years to come.

4. Light it up! It's important to have exterior lighting: First, it makes your home look much nicer from the street, and second, it helps people find your home by lighting up the area near your house numbers. Plus, well-lit homes help deter burglars.
Tips for choosing an exterior light:

  • Opt for lighting that fits the era or style of your home. If your home is a Victorian or a Craftsman, you can find original or reproduction lighting from that era. For originals, try Craigslist or eBay.
  • For homes with porches, consider overhead lighting or a wall light. An overhead lamp will flood more light into the area than a wall sconce. Another consideration for overhead lighting is the addition of a ceiling fan.
  • If you sit on your porch or stoop in the summertime, consider switching out your regular bulb with a yellow bug light to help deter insects.
  • If you have a walkway, install solar lights along the path to guide your visitors to the front door.

5. Accessorize. Even if you don't have a porch, potted plants, doormats or door knockers can add quite a bit of curb appeal to a bland exterior. Adding color with accessories and plants makes for a more inviting experience for your guests. Try unexpected elements like an upside-down planter, this stone door knocker, a solar planter or this funky timber doormat.

But don't overdo it. It's easy to get carried away at the nursery buying pots and flowers. Instead, go for one large planter or a bright, bold plant for impact. You don't want your guests hunting through a forest to find the doorbell.
By Design Milk (Photo Credit: Huntstock, Getty Images)

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