The exterior of your home can make a big difference to its value when it comes time to sell. It can even affect how other homes are perceived within your larger neighbourhood. Curb appeal is definitely an important factor in visually increasing the appeal of a house when in a competitive selling market. It’s obviously not the only thing a buyer looks for but it can affect a buyer’s first impression.
Here are some design ideas to consider when wanting to improve the visual value of your property which will hopefully translate into dollars when its time to put it on the market. At the very least, it will look great when you arrive home after a long day of work.
The garage door dilemma
If you have a large garage and it’s at the front of the house, do not emphasize it more. It’s positioning already makes it strong. Paint it to blend into the substrate around it. If you have orange bricks however, that does not mean orange paint. Try a neutral like Benjamin Moore’s Kingsport Gray, which will be closer to the mortar colour instead. This helps to blend the garage doors into the area and allows you to create architectural balance.
That said, improving the look of your garage doors in general could add a lot to a house too. Plain doors that were once only flat have morphed into ones with much more detail and better design overall. For several thousand dollars, this upgrade can add a lot to the front of a house. Look for carriage style, paneled, shaker details etc. All of these are way more interesting than the old “chocolate bar design” (lots of little equal sized panels in one large slab).
Nothing will improve the ambiance of a house better than a variety of lighting options. Obviously this is only visible at night but it can change the entire feel of your property. Add soffit lights to highlight the architecture of the house, ground lights to accent trees or high bushes and porch lights to create a welcome glow near the front door. Don’t forget about adding light near your house’s number sign. This is important to guests and visitors. Don’t misunderstand this as an opportunity to add a fully lit number sign that looks like the electronic stock exchange board. This is not what I mean and it is not very welcoming despite its good function.
Paint it black
It has been noted in areas where homes are all “light” in colour that they are perceived as potentially less sturdy. Of course this is completely subjective and not a rational assumption but it does speak to our learned understanding of colour and marketing.
In North America, darker colours are perceived to be “heavier” so adding a touch of black or a darker colour to a house can help to ground it. Paint the cement parging close to the ground a darker colour, or add a black planter to the front of the house. By adding elements that provide contrast the house will seem more balanced and interesting.
Extend your flower garden
Several years ago, nurseries researched the value of adding coloured flowers to the front of the house. Of course they made people happy and they beautified the neighbourhood. But another interesting tidbit came out of the studies. When flowers were extended to the front of the property and were the same colour (or relatively close) to that of the front door, it made people believe the house was larger. Strange but true!
This is not for those looking for a budget solution, but an investment in a dark flagstone even on the porch and stairs of a house can significantly upgrade the value of the property. This is not only a permanent solution for those in less than ideal climates but it adds visual weight to the front door and entry. Again, this creates a sense of permanence, an important aspect for potential buyers when looking to invest in a home.
Install permanent planters
If you aren’t much for gardening, one or two permanent planters at the front of the house can add that garden feel without the work. Colour and texture can break up a plain house and the deep colour of a planter can add needed contrast to houses that lack character. And planters offer a four-season opportunity to decorate the exterior with timely colour and accents.
Rethink your roof shingles
This is an expensive upgrade so this is one area you want to spend some time researching. In the past, asphalt shingles were an alternating pattern and were very flat. Today, there are so many different “textures” and shapes so they can appear much richer and thicker overall.
The days of avoiding black roofs for venting/heat reasons have gone so look at a darker roof if you have a strongly coloured home as this can add a neutral feel to the building. In addition, lighter coloured asphalt shingles haven’t been perceived as a value-add, unlike mid-tone or darker ones. And lighter shingles will show discolouration or markings much sooner than darker ones.
The outside of your home is like putting your best foot forward. A little investment now will pay off later!
About the Author: Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D. is the founder and principal designer of Jane Lockhart Interior Design