If you wince at the thought of your home’s curb appeal, it might be time to implement some DIY improvement ideas. If you wince at the thought of your home’s curb appeal, it might be time to implement some DIY home improvement ideas.
“Curb appeal” refers to how attractive your home looks as prospective buyers walk (or drive) up to it. Think of it as the first impression of the exterior of your home. The better it looks from the street, the more buyers will be enticed to come inside and see more.
Not quite sure how to give your home or small house curb appeal? Here are ten easy, do-it-yourself tips to add to your weekend to-do list.
1. Assess your curb appeal with a quick walkthrough.
As homeowners, you probably walk from your mailbox to the front door—or from your garage into your home—day in and day out. But homebuyers’ eyes automatically turn to the small details: landscaping, grass, walkways, front entry, lighting, and the exterior appearance of a house for sale.
You’ve probably stopped noticing the small details that will make or break your curb appeal for buyers. (It just looks like your house, after all!) To get past this mental bias, start by walking around the exterior of your home and noting all the areas that need attention. Try to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What would you notice if you saw this home for the first time?
Make a list of everything that stands out to you, and make a plan to address as many of them as possible.
2. Look for opportunities to DIY a quick paint job.
A quick coat of paint can transform the entire exterior of your home. The best part? You can pick and choose the areas you paint to make the process easier.
If you want to paint the entire exterior of your home, plan to set aside more time than you think you might need. As a baseline, you’ll want at least two full days for an average-size home.
If you just need to spruce up a few areas, consider repainting features like your front door, trim, shutters, and other smaller areas around your home. This targeted approach will make the process quicker (and easier!) while still giving the overall impression that you care about curb appeal.
Before you paint, just make sure you double-check with your Homeowners’ Association (if you have one) to make sure your paint color is acceptable. Some neighborhoods take their color palettes very seriously, so it’s worth getting approval before you dive into your DIY painting project.
3. Transform your landscaping by planting a tree.
If you want your house to feel more welcoming to potential homebuyers, consider planting something new in the front yard. This curb appeal idea is a simple project that adds life and longevity to your home. Plus, a beautiful tree is sure to catch buyers’ attention. (If you’ve ever watched a home buying show on TV, you know buyers always mention trees on the property!)
If you have enough space, you can even plant two trees to frame your house or your entryway. Planting trees takes only a couple of hours, and trees aren’t as expensive as you might think. You can find tons of great options in your area in the ~$100 range.
4. Give your curb appeal some color with flower boxes.
While you’re focused on landscaping, adding flowers is another quick, easy, low-commitment way to bring color to your home. Flower boxes in your home’s windows or on the front porch will bring loads of curb appeal to your property. This is an especially useful tip if your home looks a little boring from the street—color always helps!
Flower boxes are an affordable curb appeal home investment. In addition to the box itself, you’ll also need to purchase soil and, of course, the flowers. Just make sure you have a plan to water and maintain your flowers so your home looks its best while it’s on the market.
5. Ensure walkways, sidewalks, and hardscape areas are clean.
While it’s easy to only focus on the landscaping or “softscape” of your home, don’t forget about the hardscape areas. Details like your concrete driveway and walkways are important, too. Use a pressure washer to clean off dirt and grime from your walkways and give them a fresh new look.
Ensure paver stones, stepping stones, or bricks are securely in place and create safe footing for pedestrians walking to and from your home. And before each showing or open house, give everything a quick sweep for the perfect finishing touch. Your visitors may not notice these small details, but they will notice the overall impression that you keep the place nice and tidy.
6. Visit your local home improvement store for advice.
When it comes to landscaping and improving your home’s outdoor surroundings, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. You might be unsure which plants to choose for different areas of your home, what shrubbery will thrive in your local climate, or even what color scheme would look best alongside your home.
When in doubt, look to your local nursery or home improvement store for advice on what might work best for your space. Employees at these stores are often DIY curb appeal experts. They’ve done many of these projects themselves, and they advise customers all day long on how to make the most of their outdoor environments.
While hiring a landscaper or a gardener is another option, getting the job done on your own can save you money. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance on choosing the right plants, how best to fertilize your lawn, or how to lay down ground cover such as mulch or gravel. Remember, there is a wealth of information available if you have the courage to ask!
7. Light up your exterior.
Next, new light fixtures can quickly update the look of your property and amplify your home’s curb appeal. Focus your attention on lighting your entryway to allow for safe pedestrian access, then consider any decorative elements (like landscaping) that you want visible at night.
When you buy new fixtures, consider function as well as style. Make sure to choose lights that will provide adequate light and that align with the rest of your exterior décor. And for the easiest installation, choose fixtures that mount to the wall the same way as your existing fixtures.
8. Upgrade your mailbox.
Whether you have a regular mailbox that stands by the road or you have a box mounted to your house, making this easy upgrade is a way to show buyers that you care about details. In fact, a mailbox can sometimes be a deal breaker when it comes to a home’s curb appeal.
The best part: it’s a project that won’t break the bank. New mailboxes range in price from $20 to $100.
“When you install your mailbox, make sure that you are following the regulations that are set forth in the city that you live in,” recommends Tiffany Bell of DIY Network. “If you have a simple mailbox mounted on your house, this home improvement project should take less than an hour to complete. If you have a full-size mailbox at the road, plan for at least 2 hours or so to complete the home improvement project.”
9. Create a front entry that invites buyers inside.
Once you’ve tackled the main vistas of your home, it’s time to turn your attention to your front entry area. This includes your front stairs, railings, porch, door, address numbers, and lighting. All of these factors should be inspected for disrepair.
Consider adding a new coat of paint or wood stain to your front door and polish or replace metal finish door hardware. Fresh cushions on your garden furniture and a new welcome mat can add color to your porch and welcome potential homebuyers without breaking your wallet. Lastly, hanging plants or placing beautiful potted flowers at your front door will create a welcoming ambiance before buyers open the front door!
(Want to declutter before you invite buyers inside? Check out this article to explore short-term storage options.)
10. Add new house numbers.
Last but not least, nothing dims the light on a house search faster than the potential homebuyer not being able to find your house in the first place. If your house has faded numbers, or if the house numbers on your house are out of style, it’s time to purchase some new ones to boost your home’s curb appeal.
To really catch the eye of a homebuyer, look for modern house numbers made from aluminum, brass, or even steel. If possible, this finish should match the finish on your home’s exterior light fixtures. Make sure they’re also mounted in a prominent location that’s visible from the street.
Whether you’re preparing to sell or just want to keep your home in tip-top shape, there are plenty of simple, beginner-friendly curb appeal projects to tackle this weekend.
The projects that add the most curb appeal will depend on where your property needs some TLC. If your landscaping is nonexistent or dead, investing in some greenery will go a long way. If your driveway is dirty and cracked, cleaning and repairs would be a helpful priority. Whatever stands out when you view your exterior will help buyers see your property as a house with curb appeal.
Ready to dive in? Use these home curb appeal ideas to make your exterior your next home improvement project, and you’re sure to have the prettiest house on the block.
Get Inspired: 9 Curb Appeal Projects that Cost Less than $75
Editor’s Note: Updated 6/21/23 & 6/12/20 from an article originally published 4/23/14.