It’s not the outside appearance, it’s the inside that counts. Except when it comes to your house. Even if you’ve got Italian carrera marble bathrooms and a custom-built kitchen upgrade, potential buyers see an ugly façade and won’t manage to click on the inside photos. Even if your home isn’t on the market, you’re that house, the one with the cringe moniker or the butt of neighborhood jokes. Or even. . . dum dum dum dum . . the one bringing all the property values down.
For everything you’ve done on the inside, it’s time to take a few steps back and look at the outside. No matter your budget, there are things you can do to improve the curb appeal of your home and make another house on your street the butt of all the neighborhood jokes.
The first step in any budget is to give your yard a great trim—weed eat, mow, and freshen any beds with flowers, perennials or even just a fresh layer of mulch. For one afternoon and under a hundred dollars you can make your yard and exterior fresh and neat. A little more time and planning, and you can highlight architectural features of your exterior with window-boxes or hanging ferns. Nothing is more appealing than a front porch with lush ferns. Another cheap option to freshen up your exterior is to paint your front door. Pick a bold color that complements the rest of your exterior. For about the same amount of money you can replace your mailbox and house numbers. Other cheap ways to freshen up your exterior are by adding a wreath, power-washing your driveway and siding, or change out your door handles.
Once you decide to put some money and time into your exterior, there’s a wide range of options—both DIY and professional. You can start investing in your landscaping—professional landscaping design, sprinkler maintenance, new plants or simply hiring consistent lawn care. A couple hundred dollars will also replace your lighting, paint trim and shutters, freshen gutters and add a porch swing or furniture, reseal your driveway, add slate tile in small concrete areas in the front, fence in the garbage cans or any visible AC units.
It’s always easy to think a renovation becomes easier with more money, but with more options comes more decisions. Even on the most expansive budgets, it’s important to focus on what brings the most value—whether that value is joy or ROI. For a larger budget there are all sorts of options—retaining walls, patios, more complicated landscaping and lighting schemes. You can also invest in changing the entire exterior of the home, whether by painting, replacing siding or adding stone veneer. New porches, decks, garage doors, and windows are also options, as well as adding decorative architectural pieces that fit with the overall design of your home. Really the sky is the limit. You can spend thousands in irrigation, sod, water features, or privacy fencing.
Just remember, whomever you decide to work with, at whatever budget, make sure you check insurance, licenses and references to ensure you are working with a reputable company and don’t come up short in the end. With a little time and planning, at whatever budget, you can make changes to benefit the curb appeal of your home.
Well planned outdoor lighting can give any house an upgrade, as well as making it safer and a more relaxing space. But it can be one of the costliest parts of your landscaping. Outdoor lighting doesn’t have to break your budget. Here is how to plan outdoor lighting for any price range.
What is Your Goal? What do you want to accentuate? Do you have any safety concerns to address first? Do you need light for security or ambiance? Understanding what you need will help you make a responsible plan and prevent you from overspending once you are at the store or with the landscaper and electrician.
Solar Powered or Wired? Look at your existing infrastructure. Would you need to install all solar powered lights? Do you need to bury wires? Or is there an existing outlet near where you need lights? Do you have the budget to hire an electrician to put in an outlet or wire your lights into your home? Is it cheaper to install exclusively solar or wireless? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of how much your project will cost or where you can trim expenses.
DIY or Hire A Professional? If you have a simple setup and know your needs, doing it yourself can be a cheap alternative. Floodlights start at about $10 per piece, deck lights can be had for around $10 a strand. Wireless and solar start around $20-30, depending on the size and wattage of the light you need. Basic single stick solar lights are sold in packs for $20-$60. If a decorative light effect is what you are after, those options begin at $80 a piece. If you have a large area to light, a complex concept, are working with a mature landscape, or are unsure of what you need, it can be a good idea to at least speak with a professional and find a way to work in your budget.
Don’t forget you can complete a plan in phases. Maybe right now you simply need a security light on your back deck and some solar lights leading to the front door, but you know later on you would like a complete lighting overhaul. Figuring out your goals now can help you budget and save for the eventual lighting you would like to install.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21