Entry — published on March 29, 2009

Secrets to Curb Appeal

What kind of first impression does your front entry make? We will be bring you some quick-fix ideas to transform your home.

front-porchWhat constitutes true “curb appeal”? While the term embraces everything between your front door and the street, it doesn’t take much to make dramatic style improvements, whether by adding flower boxes, sprucing up the mailbox, or constructing an elegant driveway.

With a little faith in your vision, and a few tips, you can transform a dowdy exterior to an inviting, welcoming entranceway.

Entry — published on September 15, 2008

Curb Appeal: Entry

Set the tone for the rest of your home with a welcoming entry featuring a clear path to your front door, an attractive porch, and well-tended greenery

The entrance to your home, as well as the walkway up to your front door, send an immediate signal to all who arrive on your doorstep. A clear path that’s well-lit and maintained sets the standard. But with a little planning, some decorative accents, pretty plants, and other thoughtful additions, you’ll offer a memorable welcome that instantly draws guests into your home.

SYMMETRY

Symmetry is key. Place potted plants in pairs to convey a well-balanced entrance. Choose larger-scale pots and plants for a dramatic flourish.

CREATE FOCUS

A white picket gate is one of the most classic ways to define your entryway. It also provides a measure of safety. Enhance the simple gate’s appeal with a flower-laden arbor that creates an airy, romantic doorway. Don’t hesitate to mix materials. A wooden gate and iron arbor strike a nice balance.

Front yard — published on March 27, 2008

Front yard landscaping

It’s quit a good feeling to know that someone has found their dream home — your house. It means that you’ve done it right. The home improvements were the right ones. You added the right touches to the yard and landscaping. You created the curb appeal you were hoping would excite potential buyers.

Putting a house on the market can mean facing a lot of decisions about home fix-ups. Make the right decisions and home improvements should pay for themselves. Building strong curb appeal should be the heart of your fix-up plan. Start by getting solid advice about how to create curb appeal that is right for your house and its setting. You want the first view to speak charm. You do this by putting together a good curb appeal plan.

Front yard — Shrubs should be scrutinized now. Ask yourself: do they look healthy and well formed? Generally the tallest plants should be at the corners of the house. Others should be there to soften the foundation but not be conspicuous. Keep in mind that plantings look best in groups. Consider moving some or buying new plantings, if necessary. Groupings of 3 or 5 shrubs, varying in size and height can enhance a house setting.

The walkway — The walkway is the path someone takes to get to the entrance of your home. Its dual purpose is functionality as well as playing a key esthetic roll in the high stakes game of curb appeal. Make sure that someone’s grandmother could make the trip without tripping or wishing for a handrail. Any obstacles should be attended to. But just as important as safety and functionality is good looks. It should send an invitation to any visitor that they are welcome. A border of colorful annuals and ground cover can be a quick fix.

Front entry — Front entrance is all about curb appeal. An attractive, well designed entry will score a lot of charm and beauty points if done right. The first thing to think about is the view from the street. Ideally the view should not be obstructed. You’ll have a more balanced look if the tall shrubs are at the corners of the house. If your not knowledgeable about pruning do some research or hire a professional before grabbing the loppers. Branches of mature trees will offer a more pleasing view if their lowest branches are above eye level.

A focal point — The primary purpose of creating a focal point is to direct the eye to the entrance to the house. Adding a secondary point can be a good idea, if it helps to lead the eye along a visual path. For example, this is very useful on corner lots where the normal entry route is from the side of the house and the front door is not visible from that angle. Adding an interesting, welcoming element is a way to invite visitors to come forward. An attractive garden bench, very large pot or arbor could serve as a target for the eye.

The Rock factor – Rock is for ever, at least that’s the feeling we get. Rock, when associated with architecture and landscaping offers an appeal that carries a lot of weight in our mind. A sense of permanence and property. Once the bane of farmers, we now we see it as a natural element in our home and yard. Sloping terrain is a natural way to put rock to work. Erosion can be contained and beauty added with a graceful curving rock wall. A great way to increase usable space and add charm and curb appeal to any yard.

Entry — published on March 18, 2008

Adding Curb Appeal – The Entry

An entryway has the unique position of welcoming visitors to a home and setting the mood for the rest of the house. A front door design theme can be carried from the exterior to the interior and throughout the entire home. Since today’s door manufacturers offer an abundance of striking entry systems that are compatible with most budgets, it’s possible to create a million dollar look for almost any home.

By adding sidelights and transoms, you can can create an elegant entry system. Transoms are shaped windows, usually with decorative glass, above a door. Sidelights are windows, with decorative or clear glass, that frame a door. Included below are tips to create an impressive entry system to fit most budgets.

Even with a limited budget, homeowners can create an impressive entrance. Fiberglas, steel and composite doors are now crafted to emulate the look of wood, while offering energy-efficiency. Steel doors are extremely strong and cost-efficient; Fiberglas doors resist rusting, cracking and splitting; composite doors withstand all types of weather. These types of doors are low-maintenance and cost-effective.

With a more open budget, a homeowner can select from a wider range of entryway designs. Whether the home is stucco, brick or wood-sided, wood doors make a remarkable upgrade to the front of most houses. Wood doors are offered in a variety of species, including oak, fir and pine to fit the homeowner’s personal style.

An inviting entryway can be fashioned within any budget. By creating a unique doorway, a homeowner can change the look of the entire house and increase curb appeal with an inviting, new exterior.

02: Improvements — published on March 8, 2008

Your Front Door

One of the first impressions people make about your home is the front entrance, the division between what awaits them inside from what’s out there. What kind of statement does your front door make? Is it dingy with chipping paint, looking tired and out-dated, screaming for replacement or just plain forgettable?

Your Front Over Time

Nothing spruces up the entrance to your home more tastefully than a fabulous door, one that is durable enough to withstand the elements and enhance the look of your home. But, sometimes meeting those needs in an entry door can be challenging. Over time, exposure to sun, rain, and snow can cause a door to lose its former charm. Many older doors are constructed of wood or wood veneer that crack, chip, splinter, warp and discolor. Although metal doors may last many years, they also don’t last forever. The surface on older steel doors tends to peel, causing an unsightly and dated appearance.

Fortunately, there are many new door manufactures that offer state-of-the-art craftsmanship, durability and quality design. For top door manufactures and trends, check out the Window & Door magazine website.

Adding A New Door

To add a door with character to your home, consider one of these ideas:

  1. Bring more light into your foyer and home by hanging a door with panels of beautifully etched or beveled glass.
  2. Create an impressive entrance, with old world charm, by hanging an ornately carved wooden door with a stately door knob or handle You can finish the look with a fabulous antique knocker.
  3. For a clean and modern look, consider a metal door with simple lines and detail. You can create a similar feel by painting an entry door in a striking color like Chinese red or brilliant blue. This works especially well on a house painted in a neutral hue – adding contrast.

Installing a door requires a bit more technical know-how then it may first appear. If you buy a pre-hung door (already hinged to it’s frame and casing), this will save you a lot of time and money. Otherwise, it’s recommended that you hire a professional contractor that specializes in door installation.

Whether you’re planning to sell your home and need more curb appeal or simply want to make the entrance to your home grander, a new door may be the perfect touch.

02: Improvements — published on March 3, 2008

Equity-building home improvements

Depending on who you listen to, the burst of the housing bubble is either imminent or somewhere down the road. But most real estate experts agree that it is inevitable.

One way for homeowners to minimize a dip in their property value is to invest in home improvement. While interior improvements to kitchens and baths are top equity-builders, homeowners shouldn’t overlook the exterior of their houses.

Exterior home improvements add to home value by increasing both the home’s durability and curb appeal. Work done on your house’s siding, roof or landscaping can offer appreciable returns when it comes time to sell the house.”

Five common equity-building exterior improvements include:

1. Roofing – This is a top area of concern for many potential home buyers,” Seiler says. “An old or damaged roof can cause huge headaches if not taken care of.” The average asphalt shingle roof (now installed in four out of five new homes) should last about 15 to 20 years. Metal, slate and tile roofs will last significantly longer. All need regular maintenance and repair to maximize their lifespan.

Check the integrity of your roof every year, at least once a year, more often if you live in a particularly harsh climate, and certainly after every significant storm. High winds and hail can cause considerable damage to even brand new roofs.

2. Deck/patio – Creating an outdoor living space is one of the hottest trends in exterior home improvements. If your home currently has no deck or patio, adding one can be a low-cost way to increase your warm-weather living space. If you already have a deck or patio, consider dressing it up with additional “hardscape” items such as a built-in bench seat, gazebo, arbor, pergola or awning.

3. Landscaping – One of the first things potential home buyers will notice about your house is the landscaping. To maximize the value landscaping adds to your home, you must walk a fine line. If your lawn looks like you’ve never watered, mowed, weeded or fertilized it, a buyer may see it as too much work to bring it up to snuff. On the other hand, if you’ve gone overboard with shrubs, floral displays and excessive plantings, it will also look difficult to maintain.

The best bet is to keep lawns cut and patch any obvious bare spots, keep shrubs neatly trimmed and plantings to the minimum needed to enhance your home’s curb appeal.

4. Sheds/Garages – Canadians notoriously love our stuff and we always need more space to put it. Often, yard work equipment and patio furniture wind up stored in the garage. Consider adding a shed. You can either hire a professional to build one for you, purchase a do-it-yourself kit or opt for a pre-made plastic shed. Whatever shed you choose, the important objective is to contain outdoor clutter that might detract from the house’s curb appeal.

5. Siding – Wood, fiber cement, vinyl, brick, stucco and aluminum are the most commonly used siding materials. Periodic painting is required to maintain the appearance and efficiency of wood, fiber cement and aluminum siding. Vinyl siding needs no painting, but can crack in extremely cold temperatures or leak at the seams where panels meet.