First impressions aren’t only important, they tell the world you care. It’s why we dress up for a dinner date, or put on business clothes for work. And it’s why we keep our homes, especially the front, maintained, clean and welcoming.
Spruced up front yards and entryways aren’t just pretty to look at, they make the neighbourhood safer and lead the way to greater community building, according to the author of the Great Neighbourhood Book by Jay Walljasper. Any community can be improved upon and enlivened by the people who live there, Walljasper says.
A warm, welcoming exterior is not difficult to achieve, and here are some ways to take your curb appeal up a notch.
The front door is the focal point of your home so start there with a fresh coat of paint. To make it really stand out, try a complementary colour on the trim, railings and windows. A complementary colour is essentially contrasting, that is colours opposite each other on the colour wheel. For example, red and green, orange and blue, yellow and violet.
If you’re stuck and don’t know what to choose, head to your local paint store and browse through brochures from reputable paint manufacturers. They all offer comprehensive colour charts as well as a variety of combinations. Usually, there’s one main exterior colour (which could be the brick, but can also be painted wood or siding), a second colour for trim (windows, rails, windowboxes, steps), and a third for accent.
This last can be a punchy colour — yellow, turquoise, coral — used on the front door to make it a stand-out focal point visible from the street.
Wood boxes should be the same colour or material as the trim (around windows, railings), but will need to be maintained more often than copper or wrought iron, which actually look better over time.
If you have an older home, chances are you have brass accents such as door handles, a knocker, a house number, mail slot or mailbox and porch lamps. If yours are beyond repair, or can no longer be spruced up with polish or paint, replace them but just make sure all are consistent in style with each other and with the style of your home.
Copper, on the other hand, oxidizes to a lovely dark green and needs no maintenance to look good. Window boxes, railings on the porch or leading up the steps are lovely in this burnished look especially if they’re handmade creations.
There’s nothing like clean sparkling windows to make the front entry more welcoming and attractive. Clean the eaves to allow rainwater to flow freely out and pressure wash bricks, windows, trim, doors, concrete, vinyl siding, driveway, and deck floors.
Call a handyman for repairs, such as missing roof shingles (roofers rarely do such small jobs.)
Choose according to your home’s style. Brightly coloured Muskoka chairs have country cottage appeal, while small wrought iron bistro sets suggest urban. But go for the most comfortable version of that style, especially if you intend to while away serious time on the porch, enjoying a glass of wine in the evening, or coffee with the newspaper in the morning.
A porch glider or swing (if you have sturdy beams to hang it from) is a pleasure to rock back and forth in, and looks great from the street. And opt for durable materials – nothing resists the elements like resin wicker. Finish it all off with a chandelier suspended from the porch ceiling, either wired in electric if possible, or a true candelabra.
For a burst of spring colour, plant annuals in your window boxes and match the type of plants to your home – clean-lined modern homes go great with spiky leaf plants or succulents, while country cottages benefit from a riot of colours. Naturally this all depends on what kind of light levels, and soil, you have in the front garden.
If you’re short on time, or a green thumb, give your front garden some help with container pots and then line the steps of the front porch with them.
Raking and mulching the garden, especially if you use mulch in a deeper colour (red or black), are instant facelifts.
Exterior light fixtures are easy to change – and inexpensive – when purchased from big box stores. Again, keep it consistent with the style of your home. Throughout the garden and along the front walkway, you can either wire in low-voltage lighting or use solar lights for a nice evening atmosphere, as well as an element of safety.
Birdbaths, sculptures and wind chimes all add to the whimsical atmosphere of your garden.
Water features provide soothing sounds in addition to being “yard art.” (Don’t install them where leaves are likely to drop, though.) All of these can be purchased at a garden centre, where you’ll also get instructions – and sometimes even seminars – on how to install them.
Arbours, fencing and garden gates lend an artistic flourish (if you have the room for them) and an air of seclusion or mystery. If custom made is beyond your budget, most big box stores carry kits, but keep in mind that resin coated steel is more durable than wood.
Depending on your home’s style, be creative in the style of walkway you choose. If your front yard is long and narrow, a curving walkway will visually widen it, and create a sense of space. If the space is small, keep details to a minimum and materials unfussy. Match the material to your home as closely as possible – brick with brick, flagstone with wood or siding, gravel or concrete with stucco.
|Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com). Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel. Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.|