It’s likely that, if you have one, your outdoor space — be it a yard, front porch, or back patio — has seen more use than normal this year. With everyone spending more time at home, renovation projects have surged over the last six months (just look at the numbers), and upgrades to exteriors have been of particular interest.
If your home is in need of an exterior refresh — maybe after six months of looking at the same color, you just want a change — there are so many ways to upgrade, both cosmetically and for functionality. Any dedicated DIYer has cycled through dozens of projects by now, but there are other changes you can make to up your home’s curb appeal. Here are eight ways that you may not have considered, from easy updates that can be done in a day, like upgrading hardware, to bigger interventions like replacing gutters (yes, seriously!).
Give your home a new look in just a few hours at an affordable price with these simple solutions.
Dress up the hardware
The first thing people think of when considering a front door makeover is the color, but if you’ve already tackled that quarantine project, move on to the hardware. When was the last time you changed your house number? There are hundreds of fun and interesting styles on the market today, from slim mid-century modern digits to hand-painted tiles.
A new door handle in brass or blackened steel can instantly make a door look new, especially when paired with a matching knocker. And don’t neglect the light. It’s worth it to invest in quality fixtures for the front porch since they take a beating from the elements (and are one of the first things people see). But if that’s too much of an investment, refresh the base of the one you have with a coat of spray paint.
Add outdoor art
Outdoor art can easily cross the line from tasteful to tacky — hello, kitschy metal animals and garden gnomes — but when done right, it can add a wow factor that sets your house apart from the neighbors. No need to invest thousands of dollars in a custom statue, but if you do want a statement piece, turn to an online handmade marketplace for a wide range of outdoor sculptures at surprisingly affordable prices.
A stately stone bird bath could be the centerpiece of your front garden, or visit your favorite thrift shops for mirrors that could be repurposed in the garden. Consider hanging metal wind spinners or glass mobiles from a tree or the front porch ceiling to catch the sunlight.
Pile on the plants
A symmetrical pair of planters would look quite classy framing your front door, but for something with a little more personality, take a more-is-more approach. Fall is the best time to create an instant, layered garden because of the abundance of colors found at your local garden center.
Choose sturdy mums in a range of hues to ground your scheme, and add in a few evergreen bushes to keep some color through the winter. Mix in colorful, shapely foliage like purple kale and cabbage for interesting textures. Blooms like pansies, strawflower, and zinnias, along with wispy grasses, can fill in any gaps. Finish the look off with a wide range of pumpkins and gourds.
And don’t stop at the front porch: Install window boxes and add a few plants and flowers around the mailbox in the same theme to create a cohesive look that will be irresistible to any photographer passer-by.
Disguise unsightly items
A super easy way to instantly upgrade your exterior is to hide the things that aren’t so easy on the eyes. For example, you can plant shrubs around your air conditioning unit — just make sure to stay several feet away from it so that airflow is not obstructed and efficacy is not affected. While shading the condenser can be a good thing, you need to account for several feet over top and around the machine. And, of course, easy access to the unit for any repairs or maintenance.
Ready to spend a weekend ramping up the curb appeal? Tackle one of these four projects.
Replace your gutters
Gutters are often an overlooked part of the home, especially when it comes to renovation projects. They’re a utilitarian feature that serves an important purpose — protecting your home from water damage — but are rarely considered an aesthetic addition.
However, gutters are like the molding on your facade: They frame the roof and help protect the exterior of your home.
The one-piece gutter design from LeafGuard, a GH Seal Holder for more than 15 years, offers a streamlined look and comes in a dozen different hues so you can fully customize it to complement your home’s color or style, from colonial and ranch to Spanish-inspired stucco homes with tile roofs. They’re stronger and sturdier than other gutters on the market, and the system has a special scratch-resistant coating to help prevent chips and scratches. Plus, they’re designed not to clog.
Give the facade a deep clean
Before you consider painting the exterior or invest in new siding, give your home a face wash to remove years of built up dirt, grime, and mold. Pressure washing is surprisingly inexpensive, but it is a slightly more advanced DIY project, as you don’t want to get injured or damage your house. An incorrect pressure-washing job can result in water in the walls of your home, damaged mortar between bricks, or gouged wood.
Do your research to determine which type of deep clean is best for the job — power-washing uses heated water, pressure-washing uses normal — and what type of machine you’ll need to rent. If you are the slightest bit hesitant about operating the machinery, you should call in the pros.
Rethink your exterior lighting
Lighting is a key element to any interior design scheme, but when it comes to exterior lighting, practicality often takes precedence over aesthetics. While motion-sensor flood lights certainly have their place, they hardly highlight the house in an elegant way.
Much like you would in your living room or bedroom, take a layered approach to outdoor lighting. Keep a few spotlights for ambient light to illuminate key areas like the garage or backyard, and add dedicated “task” lighting near each entry in the form of wall sconces or a ceiling light on the porch. Finally, add in accent lighting to highlight architectural features and create ambience.
Consider uplighting the facade for dramatic effect, lining the front walkway with solar lanterns for a warm welcome, or criss-crossing string lights across the backyard or patio.
Add a border to your driveway
If you want to elevate the entrance to your home in a big way, edge your driveway. Whether made of plants or hardscape, a border will take your driveway from a boring strip of pavement to an enticing passageway. You want the design to work with the look and feel of your house, so choose elements that complement the exterior and surrounding landscape.
For instance, if a relaxed and rambling cottage garden greets you at the front porch, don’t plant a formal row of boxwoods along the driveway. A low maintenance border with evergreens and grasses and a base of pea gravel is an easy and versatile starting point. Make the entrance stand out with flowering shrubs and perennial blooms, like hydrangeas or daylilies.