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  • Better Homes and Gardens

Easy Exterior Home Tweaks

Whether your home is an often-renovated Cape Cod or Craftsman or a relatively new build, chances are good there’s something you don’t like about the exterior.

A complete exterior home remodel can be expensive. Luckily, there are some easy tweaks you can do yourself that will boost your home’s curb appeal and transform it into a house everyone wants to visit. Read on for a few suggestions.

Change Outdoor Lighting Fixtures

You may only need one light to see by in order to get your key in the lock, but does it have to be ugly? Does it have to be centered over the door? Think about your home’s symmetry when replacing light fixtures and choose a design that works with your home’s style. Eclectic exteriors can quickly become neighborhood eyesores, so “ye olde carriage lantern” fixtures are unlikely to work on a Craftsman style house.

Make Your Door the Focal Point

If you’ve got an old or standard builder’s door, think about replacing it with a door that welcomes visitors. There may, of course, be some exterior colors that just won’t work with a red door. But if you can pull it off, it’s well worth it. If your interior entryway is dark, buy a door with a decorative glass pattern at the top and consider installing glass panels on either side of the door. It gives the illusion of a much bigger, more expansive entryway. If you worry about privacy, you can always apply adhesive panels that let light in but prevent people from seeing your interior hallway. Door panels come in dozens and dozens of designs these days, and they’re another way to showcase your home’s personality.

While you’re working on your home’s entryway, consider replacing your street numbers with ones that are easily visible from the street.

Rethink Front Yard Landscaping

There is lush and there is jungle. As your home matures, trees, shrubs, and perennials expand to fill the space available to them. While there’s no doubt the shade from a deciduous tree can lower your cooling costs significantly, it can also darken your interior in a way you can’t control. If you have mature trees that are reaching the end of their lifecycle, consider removing some of them and installing shutters instead. That way you can keep heat out when you need to and let light in when you want it.

As our summers get hotter, replacing standard grass that needs constant watering with drought-resistant plants and lawn cover that never needs mowing makes sense. You can still get a lush, bursting out all over midsummer look you want by installing hanging baskets and porch-flanking flower containers. You can donate perennials you no longer want at plant exchanges, and you may be surprised by the visual impact a less-is-more approach to landscaping can have.

Paint and Restore

Sometimes builders or previous owners just don’t get it right. A combination of brick, stone or stucco on one part of the house with the wrong color siding on the rest of the exterior can be jarring. The good news: brick, stonework and stucco can all be painted, and this is one of the cheapest and most dramatic exterior transformations there is. If you decide to replace the siding instead, remember you can always replace the siding at the front of the house and leave the existing siding on the sides and back for a later date.

If you live in an older home whose exterior has been renovated in a way that doesn’t match its original design, consider restoring it. Wrought iron porch railings are never going to work on a Craftsman home, and replacing them with something more in keeping with the home’s original design will eliminate the visual disconnect.

Transform Your Porch

An enclosed front porch can be claustrophobic if it’s too small, and unless you use it often, you might want to consider ripping it off and installing a portico instead. The inherent drama of a classic, column- supported portico gives your house instant curb appeal and the open front and sides give the same impression of space as high ceilings do in a home’s interior. This is one of the easiest exterior home remodels you can make. And if you invest in stylish bistro set and some nice pavers, you may find yourself sitting out in your front yard more than you ever thought possible.

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