Rules for Winning Exteriors

1. Beware of grand gestures: Exterior improvements should be in keeping with the scale and proportion of your house and fit in with the neighbourhood. So as lovely as a formal colonnade might look on the front of your boxy Colonial, it may seem over the top when viewed in context with the simple saltbox next door.

2. Don’t stand out like a sore thumb: When picking paint colors, it’s best to match the intensity of your neighbors’ shades. If pale blues are the norm, try a creamy yellow. Contrast that with a more saturated accent color for shutters and doors, and a lighter one for windows and trim.

3. Be a tree hugger: If an old maple is obscuring the front of your home, don’t cut it down. Hire an arborist to trim it instead. Most real estate experts agree that mature trees enhance the value of a home.

 4. Plant for all seasons: Your landscape should be eye-catching year-round, even in the dead of winter. So choose a mix of plants to provide four seasons of interest — spring and summer flowers, bright fall foliage, and colorful berries or showy bark in winter.

5. Too much of a good thing: Over-improving your facade can mean recouping less of the cost when it comes time to sell. Gauge how much to spend on renovations by checking what well presented homes are going for in your community, and stay under the bar.

6. Do sweat the small stuff: New house numbers, a special light fixture, and potted plants are inexpensive and go a long way toward dressing up an entry.

7. Preservation pays: Before you apply stucco over those weathered clapboards for a clean, low-maintenance look, consider that restoring architectural details may offer more bang from your renovation dollar. Authentic historic details often appeal to buyers and command a higher price.