What adds the most curb appeal? 5 ways to create a good first impression

From simple updates to radical rethinks, turning your attention to the outside of your home will get it looking its presentable best

What adds the most curb appeal
(Image credit: Future)

If you are wondering what adds the most curb appeal to the front of your home, you're certainly not alone. The quest to beautify our homes all too often leads us to overlook the very aspect that first caught our attention: the exterior. To some extent, it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind, plus it’s tough to prioritize it over more glamorous projects that perhaps offer a greater feel-good factor or are more of a necessity, such as a new kitchen. But, in the long term, devoting attention to the façade of your house can reap both aesthetic and practical benefits.

'Your chosen front yard landscaping, front door and porch ideas can say so much about the occupants: The entrance is the first point of contact for you, your visitors and the interiors that lie within,' says designer Monique Tollgard, founder, Tollgard Design

So whether you’re thinking about selling your home, or simply  want to make some exterior home improvements for your own enjoyment, adding curb appeal is often an inexpensive way to make your house look nicer, more expensive – and boost its value.

What adds the most curb appeal?

If your frontage is decidedly off putting, a radical makeover can transform it from ugly duckling to prime property. Or you may want to rethink your front yard, swapping weeds and crazy paving for elegant topiary or crunchy gravel. On a more modest scale, there is a roster of tweaks, be it a gleaming oak front door or a new flight of steps, that will enhance your property’s allure and put a spring in your step when you return home from a hard day at work.

1. Invest in a front porch renovation

home with brick walkway

(Image credit: Gray Malin)

As well as offering a warm welcome, a new front porch will add space, and boost your property's value and curb appeal.

Start by thinking about how you intend to use it. An open porch generally consists of a roof installed onto the exterior of your property and offers shelter and a place for storing boots and logs, but little in the way of weather protection. 

A fully enclosed structure is a mini extension to the front of your property. It offers aesthetic impact and can be double-glazed, insulated and heated to create an additional, functional space in your home. Insetting a porch within the footprint of the house is another idea, although this can impede on floor space. Before making your final decision, take proportions into account; a large enclosed design on a modest home will look out of place, for example.

It’s important to ensure the porch you choose is sympathetic to your property, particularly if your home is close to other houses. Typically, this will involve using the same materials, although contrasts can work well in some cases. Always bear in mind that the porch roof should reflect the style of that on the house for cohesion.

2. Lay the foundation for a driveway

Spring porch with hard landscaping and lawn

(Image credit: Emily Kates / Vivian Johnson Photography)

Not just somewhere to park the car, a new driveway will boost your property's value and add that all-important curb appeal. An attractive exterior and off-road parking add to a property’s appeal, value and desirability.

If you’re building a new driveway, rather than replacing an existing asphalt or concrete one, think about how much space you can spare. When choosing materials, think about your property’s exterior or front yard walls, as you’ll achieve a better look overall if they complement each other. Another important factor to consider at the initial stage is where rainwater will go.

Gravel (or aggregate) is a popular choice and the one most associated with country houses. It’s good for drainage, as rainwater will seep into the ground below. The scrunch factor will alert you to visitors (welcome or otherwise), so it’s good for security and it’s one of the least expensive options, too.

Permeable paving is a good option if you like the look of traditional paving, as it’s specially developed so that surface water can pass between the blocks into a sub-base and drain away naturally, so you won't need to install a drainage system.

Resin bound permeable driveways are manufactured from natural aggregate and bound in resin so it’s a neater alternative to gravel as the stones are not loose. It’s a pricier option and will need maintenance, but can be laid over an existing asphalt or concrete driveway. 

3. Update your front door 

spring porch with symmetrical topiary

(Image credit: Tim D Coy / Margaret Ash Design & Home)

Make a great first impression with a stylish and secure front door design that enhances the curb appeal of your home.

The most common deciding factors are thermal efficiency and durability, but do bear in mind that style details can also have a beneficial effect on your home. If your entryway is dark, for example, it makes sense to choose a door with windowpanes that bring much-needed light into the space. Or, if you have large windows, you might want to think about a solid door for extra privacy.

Choosing a door design and front door color scheme that’s sympathetic to your property is the best way to achieve that all-important curb appeal. It’s worth doing your research to achieve an authentic feel as small details can make a difference.

4. Replace and restore gates and railings

Spring door decor with painted details and door number

(Image credit: Heaton + Williams)

Whether you're restoring or replacing your front garden gate or railings, make sure you maximize curb appeal with stylish, secure designs.

Much more than a security or safety feature, metal railings and gates help define the look of an outside space. The earliest designs date back to the 15th century and were made from wrought iron – still a popular choice today, along with steel and aluminium.

If you’re lucky enough to have original metal railings and gates, there are plenty of companies that specialise in sympathetic restoration services. Their offerings range from basic cleaning and simple hinge, latch and fitting adjustments, to a full refurbishment – it depends what’s needed. When there’s too much damage to the railings or gates to allow for restoration, there are expert firms that can take moulds from the originals and recast exact replicas of them using recycled metals.

When it comes to design, it is better to go bespoke. There are many companies that will provide a fully bespoke service, which includes assessment of layout, help with design, manufacture and installation of your railings and gates. Perhaps surprisingly, it often works out to be the most cost-effective option, too.

5. Plant a front yard that is big on style

A stylish front porch area with a smooth path leading up to a green door on a modern home

(Image credit: David Papazian)

If you want to make a front yard look nice, give your front yard walkway and flower bed ideas some serious thought. The best front garden ideas combine pretty planting and practicality to create an inviting entrance to your home.

Situated in Rancho Mirage, California, this front yard is a thing of architectural beauty. Designed to blend in with its surroundings, the carefully curated courtyard garden with front yard flower beds and paving is a lesson in how to adapt to your surroundings. 

Here, the designers and architects at Stuart Silk Architects have ensured that the plants can not only survive but thrive next to the rugged, inhospitable Santa Rosa Mountains. 

'Aim to work with existing materials. An amber-brown gravel, for instance, looks smart against older bricks,' points out Ben Skinner of Town & Country Gardens. 'Drought-tolerant plants such as olive trees and lavender work well in a space that doesn't get much rain.'

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.

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