Have you ever sat in a waiting room and flipped through a design magazine like House Beautiful? Everything looks perfect, both inside and out. But, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself wondering how to add curb appeal.

A truly beautiful home makes a statement when you pull up to the curb or into the driveway. It’s something warm, welcoming and stylish. It’s everything that a home should be.

But quality curb appeal is elusive. It’s not something you can create overnight or without intention.

I’m fortunate to have a background in both residential real estate and interior design. The blend of these two careers gives me a unique perspective on curb appeal and how to enhance it.

Here’s a look at 8 ideas for how to add curb appeal, sorted with the easiest-to-execute ideas first and the more costly and time-consuming ideas last. Use what works for you, and see the attractiveness of your home skyrocket.

Something to keep in mind with curb appeal: You have to stay in your architectural lane. You may have always dreamed of having a modern, aluminum-and-glass garage door. But a modern-looking garage door isn’t going to look right on a mid-century bungalow. Make sure that whatever you do is complementary to your home’s natural architecture — its era, its look, its feel, etc. If you reach for architectural notes that aren’t present in your home, it will feel like showing up to a party either very under- over very overdressed.


1. Make Your Windows Sparkle

This is just about the simplest thing you can do, and it’s what I told my clients to do first when I worked in residential real estate. All sorts of nastiness turns up on windows. Kids lean fingerprints on the inside, and bugs and weather can muck up the outside.

So grab a bucket of water, a soft rag and some dish soap, and start attacking those windows. Once you’ve washed away the dirt and the grime (and dried the windows), use Windex or a similar streak-free glass cleaner and paper towels to create that bright shine.

When your windows are clean and sparkling, anyone who arrives at your home will immediately notice the difference. It should only take a couple of hours or an afternoon, depending on how big your house is. Or, you can always hire a window-cleaning company.


2. Power Wash Your Driveway and Sidewalk

This is such an overlooked way to add curb appeal to your home. Over time, allergens, dust, dirt and other things begin to create a barely noticeable coat over our sidewalks and driveways. This grime can turn concrete a brown-green color. It happens so slowly over time that you most likely haven’t noticed the transformation. But, spend an hour power washing these surfaces, and you’ll see just how dirty they had become.

This is slightly more difficult than washing windows. If you don’t own a power washer, you’ll need to rent or buy one. I’ve found in the past that a family member or neighbor typically has a power washer I can borrow. I also had my house painted one time, and the painters power washed before starting their work. I asked for a quote on power washing the sidewalk and driveway, too, and they were more than happy to add it onto the job.

One of the great things about power washing is the contrast. Assuming you only power wash your own sidewalk and driveway, your surfaces will stand out when compared to your neighbors, which immediately gives you a boost in curb appeal.


3. Add Some Landscaping

A yard makes a statement. It’s one area of your home that truly indicates how much work you’ve put into maintaining your property. But here’s a secret: You can landscape in a way that doesn’t require a ton of effort or maintenance. In fact, you can have truly beautiful landscaping that only requires attention once a month or once a season.

Start by finding plants, flowers, shrubs and other greenery that can thrive in your area with little care and attention. You’re looking for resilient greenery that can take the cold of winter, the heat of summer, and even a few weeks without rain without dying altogether.

Then design where you’re going to put these plants, flowers and shrubs. Incorporate some beds and hardscaping, and you’ll soon have a landscaped front yard that you can be proud of. Don’t go too big, though: An overly landscaped yard can start to look messy and overgrown.

And don’t be afraid to call in an expert. Ask questions at your local nursery or hardware store, or even sign up for a consultation with a local landscaping company. Once you install your landscaping components, you should be able to maintain it fairly easily.


4. Enhance Your Porch or Patio

Your entryway should be a welcoming passage through which your visitors gleefully pass. I can remember trick or treating in years past, and some of the houses on my block featured downright scary entryways — not Halloween-décor scary, but rather year-round scary.

Don’t let this be you. It’s not that hard to create a beautiful entryway. Start with simple things like stylish house numbers, a new welcome mat and some sort of sitting area if you have the space. A porch swing works, or you can simply purchase a pair of Adirondacks. Also, get rid of old, corroding light fixtures, and make sure you have shiny new fixtures with lights bright enough to keep the porch area from feeling dark.

A strong entryway, porch or patio draws your visitors in, dashing away any reluctance. A new entry door is important, too, but it’s important enough that I’ve addressed it as its own idea below.


5. Paint the Exterior

When was the last time you painted your home or even just its trim? If you can’t remember, it’s probably been too long. Why? First, because trends in home color change through the years, and what looked good when you first moved in may now feel dated. And, second, even the best paint job begins to chip and fade over time.

Make sure you choose a color that complements the natural hues and outdoor features at your house. You can often find online services that let you upload a photo of your home in order to test out different colors.

Any home includes three different types of colors: an accent color, a trim color and a primary color. It’s your home’s primary color that makes the biggest impact. If you can get this primary color just right, you’ll see your home’s curb appeal greatly improve.

Need help? Paint stores and home design consultants live for this. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get the information and advice you need, and then make sure you consider a lot of different colors. Swatches are your friends! The actual paint and painting should be relatively inexpensive — especially if you paint yourself.


6. Fix Your Fence

You can have a perfect, pristine home, and a broken, sagging or falling down fence will completely steal the spotlight. There goes the curb appeal, right? Fence companies will provide free estimates and recommendations. It may be that you just need a few repairs, which is relatively inexpensive. Or, you may need a full replacement, which is just a fact of life. When you replace your fence, don’t forget to talk to your neighbors to see if they will participate in the costs — they do share the fence, after all.

Even when fences are still standing, they can begin to look gray and faded. A coat of brown paint (or a similar color) can do wonders for a fading fence, reviving its attractiveness and making it look far younger than it is.


7. Replace Your Entry Door

OK, so here comes one of the big ones: Replacing your entry door. I understand that standard-issue fiberglass or aluminum entry doors may be inexpensive. But a high-quality front door does wonders for curb appeal. I’m talking about a wood door (or a faux wood door) that includes beautiful hardware and perhaps windows.

I replaced my front door about 2 years ago, and the impactwas dramatic. (Thank you, Front Door Company.) Yes, a new front door can do absolute wonders for your curb appeal. But here’s the best part: You get most of your money back.

A new entry door delivers more than 90% return on investment, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. That’s second only to attic insulation in the “midrange” category. So get your new front door, get the enhanced curb appeal, and get your money back (at least most of it) upon resale.


8. Buy a New Garage Door

You could easily lump new garage doors in with new front doors. Both offer a dramatic answer to the question of how to add curb appeal to your home, and both are high on the scale of improvement projects that deliver strong ROI.

You can also pair your new entry door with a new garage door. Many companies offer both, so make sure you explore your options. Again, as I mentioned in the lead note, just make sure you’re staying in your architectural lane. You wouldn’t want to get a modern glass-and-aluminum garage door for a mid-century bungalow. It just wouldn’t look right.

Once you dive into the world of garage doors, you’ll realize just how many options you have: color, style, material, insulation, etc. I know Dale Johnson, our home improvement writer, will have more on garage doors at a later date, so check back soon. But, for now, get expert guidance from garage door manufacturers and providers about what will look best at your home.


Final Thoughts on How to Add Curb Appeal

A home is most likely that largest single investment you will make. Why not make sure it looks its best? So often cost gets in the way of making improvements need to enhance curb appeal and make sure your home reaches its peak potential. But, as you can see with entry doors, these curb appeal-enhancing improvements often provide strong return on investment that nearly covers the related costs.

You should love the way your home looks — always. So pick out the ideas for how to add curb appeal to you find most enticing, and get started on making your home look fantastic. Have questions? You can always get in touch via our contact page, or simply ask your question in the comments section below.