Think of curb appeal as your home’s overcoat. The most spectacular outfit won’t impress anyone if it’s covered by a shabby, worn jacket. The same goes for your home: It doesn’t matter how fabulously your rooms are arrayed if your lawn is overgrown and your front porch is sagging.
The front of your house is a point of pride, and it’s also an example—for neighbors, guests, and potential buyers—of how you present yourself. Additionally, well-maintained curb appeal can help you fetch top dollar if and when you decide to sell.
Here’s the thing, though: Sometimes we don’t see what others do when we look at our home.To ensure you’re not committing any design or landscaping faux pas that make your home look woefully outdated, check out these do’s and don’ts of curb appeal.
Dusting the inside of your home is fairly standard, but the outside? Not so much. It might seem like rain, wind, and snow should keep a home dust-free, but take a closer look.
“Cobwebs can appear in unexpected places, and someone sitting around on your porch can notice them hanging around corners,” says Mike Higgins, a licensed real estate agent at Blue Badger Holdings in Wisconsin. “Trust me, it’s a turnoff.”
To oust cobwebs, dust, and other forms of dirt and detritus that naturally build up over time, Higgins recommends power-washing your home once a year.
2. Plastic furniture
Plastic furniture is easy to care for, and it’s practical and cheap. But when we’re talking curb appeal, cheap is what you want to avoid here. It’s fine to bust out the lawn chairs for your next barbecue, but do everyone a favor and put them inside when the guests depart.
“Cheap, plastic furniture on your porch or front lawn certainly lowers your curb appeal,” says Catherine Mack, co-owner of the House Buyer Network, based in Lewisville, TX. “If you can’t afford to replace them with high-end furniture, consider storing them out of sight when not in use.”
3. Shoddy shutters and dirty windows
When you look at your own house, you probably barely notice what the windows and shutters look like. But they’re often the first thing casual passersby take in.
“If your shutters are sun-faded, slats are missing, or they’re crooked, they’re going to stick out like sore thumbs,” Higgins says.
Shutters will take elbow grease and a financial outlay to replace. But dirty windows, another common offender, are an easier issue to tackle.
“Dirty windows make your house look old and unkempt, no matter what,” says Josh Dotoli, founder of the real estate website JoshDotoliGroup.com. “Be sure to clean your windows on a regular basis, inside and out, to keep them looking their best.”
4. Siding and paint color choices
The state of your siding—and even your home’s paint color—can scream of decades gone by.
“Aluminum siding automatically makes your home look outdated,” says Steven Cathcart of Great Lakes Real Estate Investments in Cleveland. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with aluminum siding—it can last a long time—but it shows that the homeowner hasn’t invested in siding over the last 20-plus years. Also, aluminum siding will show nicks and dings.”
And even if you don’t have aluminum siding, you’re not in the clear.
“Out-of-fashion exterior paint colors are a big issue, too,” Cathcart says. “Outdated colors—like mustard yellow, for example—show that a homeowner likely hasn’t invested much in updating the house.”
5. Poorly maintained driveway
For most homeowners, a driveway is simply a means of getting cars in and out of the property. But for anyone pulling in, unkempt asphalt will be a big no-no.
“If your driveway is uneven or cracked, it can really mess with the overall look of your house, no matter what else is happening,” says Tara Spaulding, an interior design coordinator at San Diego’s Patio Productions.
Higgins also warns that oil spots broadcast “a general lack of care for upkeep that will alarm potential buyers and turn off visitors.”
The good news is that resealing your driveway is so easy that you can tackle it in a single afternoon—no professional help required.
6. Trash cans in view
Finally, this aesthetic sin we’re probably all guilty of committing at some point is also one of the easiest problems to resolve.