The exterior of your house is the first thing people see when they are approaching your home, which is why you want to make sure you put your home's best face forward, so to speak.
"A generic home without a personality is just that: unappealing," according to Bryan Alan Kirkland, owner of BAKDesigns, a full service architectural and design firm in Atlanta, GA. But add a few touches of color and texture and your home could come alive.
So whether you're looking to give your home a more modern style or just want to keep it looking fresh and updated, curb appeal is key to creating a welcoming entrance.
"The exterior sets the stage for what you are about to experience when you walk inside," Kirkland says.
To help improve your home's appearance, take a look at these remodeling projects to help you improve the look of your home and also increase your property's value.
1: Get Vinyl Siding
Replacing your old siding with a maintenance-free vinyl siding can increase your home's look and value, but only if you do it right, according to Kirkland.
"You have to be very careful about the appearance so you retain the architectural integrity of the house," Kirkland explains. If you have an old house with real brick, updating the outside with vinyl siding can hurt the value of the home.
For some houses, however, vinyl siding is a good choice because it's cheap and comes in a variety of colors, which should make it easy to match your home's current look, according to Mike LaCava, a house flipping coach and the president of Hold Em Realty. "Most people today are looking for convenience and less maintenance and vinyl siding can certainly provide that," says LaCava.
If you live in a state with harsh winters or very hot summers, Kriss Swint, director of interactive and design strategy at Royal Building Products, recommends insulated siding. "It's aesthetically pleasing and architecturally correct, but it has the added bonus of additional insulation that can help reduce energy costs," Swint explains. It's also low maintenance, with no peeling or scraping to worry about.
2: Replace Your Roof
If you need one reason to replace your roof, consider this: the wrong roof can be a true eyesore.
On the other hand, "The right roof enhances the exterior of your home," says Kirkland.
So, what exactly is the "right" roof? According to Kirkland, it's one that blends in with the rest of the house, but also complements the architectural elements.
If you're not sure what you're looking for in terms of design, the right design expert or contractor can help you understand what works best for your home and what materials are available.
For homeowners who live in areas that are prone to cold weather, for example, consider "an imitation slate that is made of recycled polymers that is lightweight and resistant to storm damage," says William T. Baker, a residential designer and architect.
And if you don't think your roof will ever need replacing, think again. Baker says most homes require their roofs to be replaced over time, as wear and tear takes its toll on even the "healthiest" roof.
3: Install New Windows
If you haven't replaced your windows in the last ten years or so, you're probably behind on energy efficient improvements, according to KC Gifford, owner of Double G, a single design-build source for residential renovation.
That's right. Replacing your windows not only improves curb appeal, but it can also save you money in utilities in the long run, according to Gifford.
Other designers agree. "Older windows are usually painted wood and require constant maintenance," says Baker. By replacing these units with metal or vinyl-clad windows, you can substantially reduce annual energy costs and enhance your home's appearance at the same time, adds Baker.
It's also good to keep in mind that you might need to hire a window expert for the renovations. "A professional can show you a drawing with a few options and take it one step at a time so you know what you are going to get for your investment," says Kirkland.
4: Upgrade Your Garage Doors
If your garage doors are clearly visible to passersby, you shouldn't ignore them during a remodel. In fact, you should put extra thought into their design.
"Some people just think anything will do, but the truth is a garage door should be a style that reflects the house's style," says Kirkland.
What's the easiest way to get garage doors to match the rest of the house? By replacing your existing garage door with one that complements the overall exterior of your house, including the color and style.
Swint offers another option: "You can choose a garage door with windows or window panels as one way to add style and let in some natural light."
5: Paint Your Home's Exterior
What's another way to boost up the appearance of your home? A nice coat of paint.
However, don't go too crazy with the colors, as this could turn off potential buyers when you decide to sell your home.
Instead, LaCava recommends a neutral color that works with most people's tastes and fits in with the neighboring homes. "If you want to add some bold colors, consider painting the trim with contrasting colors, along with shutters and the front door," he says.
And while this project is better left to professionals, if you choose to do it alone, LaCava recommends paying attention to the proper preparation techniques for the paint and consulting with a qualified painting supplier.
You'll also want to keep in mind the logistics of the job. "If you're painting a two-story house, you may have to use a 24-foot ladder to reach many of the high spots, and safety needs to be practiced at all times," LaCava explains.
6: Do Some Landscaping
One of the best projects to help increase your home's outer beauty is landscaping the front of the house.
To start, trim back overgrown bushes (or take them out completely if they're too big) and plant new flower beds to bring some color into play, LaCava recommends. "And don't forget to add soil where needed to fill in any bare areas in the grass," he says.
While you're landscaping, you should also take a look at the pathways and driveway around the greenery. If they don't look their best, do something about it. Applying a driveway sealer to your driveway or repairing the walkway to your front door will give your home a fresh new look without spending a whole lot of money, says LaCava.