Putting your home’s best face forward
by Cheryl Cook
Spring has sprung! Or if it hasn’t quite yet, it’s imminent. If you are like me and endure winter with a grim stoicism that can only
be relieved by rising temperatures, any indication of warmer times is greeted with a frenzy of activity around the home.
But let’s not restrict the spring cleaning to our home’s interior. Your home’s exterior is its outward face to the world, and the first thing you, and anyone else, sees.
So let’s talk curb appeal. Of high importance to those thinking of selling their homes, it’s also a great project to take on simply to improve your own enjoyment of everything that surrounds you.
Here are a few ways, from small to large, that you can create a bit of curb appeal this spring.
There’s nothing quite so satisfying as power washing a buildup of grime off your siding, driveway, walkway, and deck. You can rent a power washer from most big box building stores and see what lies beneath.
Not every surface will benefit from a power wash, however, and some may even be harmed. Wood siding can be susceptible to high pressure water working its way up and under it, and at high enough pressure you may dent aluminum siding. Similarly, old mortar and brick can be damaged, with loose material getting washed away. Care should also be taken with painted surfaces such as porches, where a power washer may strip bits of paint away.
If in doubt, you can always hire an experienced power washing company to get the job done.
Once you have the heavy stuff taken care of, you’ll need to break out the ladder and do the dreaded gutter cleaning. This is another task that many leave to the pros, and if you take it on alone, a sturdy ladder and a spotter/assistant are musts.
Finally, whether you prefer a squeegee or good old vinegar and newspaper, it’s time to wash the windows. If you have tilt and turn windows that lean inwards, you can easily do this from inside your home. If you’re attempting it from the exterior, and you have a two-storey home, an extension for the squeegee is in order. As always, if you lack a sturdy ladder or the proper equipment, it’s time to call in the pros.
Doors and windows
At the very least, give these a good cleaning, and once their true, clean selves have been revealed, consider if it’s time to repair, replace, or maintain these. Window frames and shutters may need a coat of fresh paint, and you can consider giving your door a brand new look with a fresh colour. If you are hoping to make it pop, consult your local paint store and their handy colour wheels to find the best complementary colour to your home’s exterior.
Painting your front door is one of those projects that is often suggested for curb appeal, without any mention being made of how tricky it can be. Depending on the type of door, you may need to sand and prime before painting. Your paint should be chosen carefully for exterior resilience and prep work is everything when doing work like this. You may need to remove the door, or leave in place and tape off anything around it. If you are applying the paint by hand, will you roll it or brush it? If you choose to spray the paint (and by this I don’t mean or recommend spray paint in cans) you will need to mask off everything around the door that you don’t want paint to stray on to, and rent or buy a sprayer. It’s a bit of a task, so if you are purchasing a new door, it can be worth it to ask about having it painted before it is delivered. If you are painting an existing door, take a trip to the internet and watch a few how-to videos before you begin.
Basic greenery and gardens
This can be as simple as tending to the lawn after it’s rested under the snow all winter. Rake up debris, keep the lawn trimmed, and seed any sparse areas.
Hedges and trees can be trimmed in the spring, but bear in mind that heavy trimming may reduce your flower displays on these for a year or two. A light pruning will help maintain the shape and health.
If your ambitions are larger than a bit of maintenance, why not give your garden an overhaul? A large expanse of lawn can be broken up with landscaping displays.
Landscaping and hardscaping
When planning landscaping, don’t just focus on the shape and size of your yard, consider the shape and size of your house, as well as its colour.
If you have a large house, a small row of flowers along the front will be dwarfed and fail to make an impression. If you are bringing in flowers and shrubs for colour, consider how these will look against the backdrop of your home’s colour. Will they blend in or burst forward?
Keep in mind that we have four seasons here and the plantings you choose should include some that remain green and vibrant through the winter months. You can use permanent displays and supplement these with flower boxes and containers, which are a great way to bring in seasonal greenery and flowers that you can arrange and rearrange to your heart’s content.
While planning your plantings and containers, give some thought to symmetry. While it’s not necessary, or even desirable, for the entire garden to mirror itself on either side, symmetry can add wonderful elements of balance to areas like doorways, walkways, and driveways. Large planters on either side of your front door, sculptural elements around the driveway, plants that follow a walkway on either side—all of these can be very pleasing to the eye and offer structure to your design.
And don’t forget the hardscaping—this is everything from stone walls and walkways to fences, decks, and pergolas. These can also help add organization and structure to your landscape design.
If this all seems exciting but daunting, you can call in a local company to assist in any step from design and planning to execution.
The easiest spring lighting project for your home’s exterior is to simply update your porch light. But if you are feeling the spring buzz, why not go a bit further? Recalling the idea of symmetry from your landscaping, consider having lights on either side of the door, particularly if these are matched with flower or shrub containers on either side. Why not expand your outdoor lighting from the front step to include pathway lighting or driveway lamp posts?
Proper landscape lighting can highlight your garden displays, hardscaping, and even your home. It goes without saying that this takes a bit of planning to achieve the right effect.
Take some time to decide what effect you want the lighting to have. Are you illuminating for use of the yard and security, or perhaps you have a statue or feature that you want to light up at night. It can be helpful to draw a quick plan of your yard and decide what features, areas, or objects you want to light up. From this, you can then consider what type of lighting will work best for each task.
Lighting from above can give enough light to allow outdoor entertaining, while placing lights low in the ground can be used to highlight a particular object, or an interesting bush, tree, or wall. Lighting can also be used to project shadows or silhouettes, and water features can take on beautiful, dramatic appearances when lit at night.
Much of this can be achieved with fairly inexpensive solar lighting. You can also choose low or high voltage landscape lighting, but this may require hiring an electrician.
Now that we’ve covered what those of us in the business would call the sexy parts of your curb appeal, let’s give a moment to the less glamorous work that may need to be done. Look up. Waaay up. How’s your roof? Spring is a great time to take stock of your shingles and chimneys and have any repair or maintenance work done. Your roof is often out of sight and mind, yet it’s one of the most important elements in your home’s value and comfort.
Another important element is siding. Take a walk around your home and check its condition. Does it need a coat of paint, or perhaps it’s time for something more drastic. Spring is the time to take stock of these vital components of your home’s exterior.
Take a moment to prepare
Once you have considered many
projects and options, take a moment to stand in your yard and have a look at your surroundings. What needs the most work? What projects are you most excited about? You may want to draw a quick sketch of your home as it is, and then as it could be with some changes added. From this, you can prioritize your needs and wants and create a manageable list. But don’t let pragmatism dull your enthusiasm. Boosting your home’s curb appeal is good not just for your home’s value, but for your sheer enjoyment of the space you live in.