Creating curb appeal is a wise investment that often requires brains and brawn, but not necessarily a big budget, says Jeffrey Fick of Fick Bros. in Baltimore.
“With the new year, people are making personal resolutions to look better. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your home?” he says. “Spring is right around the corner, and freshening up the front of the home is in the air.”
Fick encourages homeowners to try and look at their home from the street with new eyes. “It doesn’t matter if your home’s worth is $50,000 or $500,000, how it looks from the street certainly affects the property’s value,” he says. “You don’t have to wait to sell it to spruce it up.”
Named the National Association of the Remodeling Industry2014 Contractor of the Year award winner for residential exteriors, Fick Bros. is a century-old company spanning four generations. Fick offers this advice for giving your home curb appeal.
▪ Front door: The entryway to your home creates a first impression. The front door pulls double duty. It welcomes guests, yet protects a household from intruders. Fick says a fresh coat of paint on the front door works wonders for the front facade.
Your home design can take a turn for the better when you get a grip on the door’s hardware, too. A decorative exterior handset will open the door to a home’s design, and swapping out an old doorknob for a new one can make for a grand entrance. The doorknob is, in turn, both functional and ornamental.
But, if the welcome has been worn out on your home’s front door, it might be time for an upgrade. Today’s doors are becoming more warp-resistant, energy-efficient and secure. Fick says to take cues from the existing door’s size and style for an appropriate replacement. Fiberglass doors with a foam core are one of the most popular choices when replacing an old front door, with costs starting under $1,000.
▪ Ring in spring: When at the front door, a visitor’s first point of contact is the doorbell or knocker, so give the uninspired buzzer the ding-dong ditch. One of the most overlooked components to a front door’s decor, a decorative doorbell ringer or doorknocker can be an inexpensive upgrade to the front of a home, starting under $100. A doorbell or doorknocker is also a small but mighty motif foreshadowing a personal sense of style found inside the home.
▪ Illuminating style: Shed new light on the front of a home by creating a warm, inviting atmosphere with new light fixtures. Fick says swapping out old lighting is an easy fix, but it’s important to choose fixtures that coordinate with the door’s hardware and complement a home’s architectural style. Light fixtures used outside should also be rated by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL Wet) to be safe when exposed to the elements.
▪ Into the gutters: While gutters and downspouts serve important functions, these elements are also architectural details that run the perimeter of the house. Whether constructed from aluminum or high-end metals such as copper and zinc, Fick says dented gutters falling off a house and full of tree debris never leave a good impression. Regardless of the material used, all installed gutters must be slightly pitched toward downspout holes, and water should be directed at least 2 feet away from the building’s foundation.
▪ Driving design: Drive up a home’s street appeal by focusing on the largest front entry — the garage door. An attached garage door can constitute more than one-third of the front of a house, making it one of a home’s most prominent curbside features.
A fresh coat of paint on the garage door — coordinated with the front door design — can pull the look of an entire home together.
If it’s time for a new garage door, today’s homeowner doesn’t have to settle for builder’s grade, standard raised-panel and windowless garage doors. Manufacturers are rolling out new garage door options that are more insulated and energy-efficient, with eye-catching styles accented by decorative hinges and pulls.
▪ Hardscaping: Homeowners can pour creativity into their driveways and walkways. The first impression of a house can start at the driveway and sidewalk as visitors make their way to the front door.
Concrete, stone and pavers crack over time. Fick says repairing or replacing damaged areas is a matter of safety and shouldn’t be considered a superficial fix. “Secure any loose bricks or pavers back into the walkway, and fix any deteriorating concrete as soon as you can,” he says. “Not only are these imperfections an eyesore, they can be considered a tripping hazard, and there’s nothing pretty about that.”
As a homeowner, don’t curb your enthusiasm for the outdoor aesthetic. The appearance of the front entrance sends a message about the homeowner. “You can make a big impact without spending big bucks: plant flowers and put down a fresh bag of mulch in beds around the front door,” he says. “How a house looks from the street is a reflection of the homeowner who lives inside.”
National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), www.nari.org. To find a professional, click “Consumer,” then drop down to “Find a Pro.”