Increase your home's curb appeal
What is curb appeal? Old houses, with details like stained-glass windows and finely crafted trim, exude curb appeal. But any house, with the right mix of appropriate and well-maintained architectural elements, can have curb appeal. To pragmatic real estate agents, it's money in the bank – in your account and theirs! No matter how it's defined, you know it when you see it. If you look at a house and say, “Wow!”—that's curb appeal.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canadians plan to spend on average more than $10,200 this year, and nearly seven per cent of renovators plan to spend more than $25,000. The most popular renovation activity? Exterior repairs.
In the end, curb appeal isn't hard to achieve. It's simply the unmistakable charm that any well-kept, well-loved home can exude. A home like yours.
The first Cape Cod-style homes were built in the late 1600s in the American colonies, which is why the terms Cape Cod and Colonial are often linked. Today's Cape Cods mostly date from the mid-20th century, when the style flourished in North American suburbs. Despite little exterior ornamentation, the Cape Cod's shuttered windows, clapboard siding and shingles give it a cozy, cottage-like appearance. Add curb appeal by updating siding and freshening paint.
Easy tips: Making an entrance
If you're selling your house, improvements to the front entryway are an essential investment that's sure to pay off. A Cape Cod-style house, with a door that's front and centre, can especially benefit from a facelift.
- Invest in a new door. Cape Cods often sport a Colonial-style raised panel door (the number of panels varies depending on how elaborate the house is). Paint it a colour that contrasts the shutters to make it a focal point.
- Spruce up your door hardware. Hand-hammered iron hardware suits Cape Cods. Choose a style with a handle on the outside and knob inside.
- Shop for a new address plate in a finish that coordinates with your door hardware, or choose an attractive traditional style, such as today's popular white enamel plate with black numbers and decorative edging.
- Install lighting that enhances the style of your home. A ship's-lantern style is ideal for a nautical East Coast feel.
Focus on siding
While purists may insist on wooden clapboards, a smart alternative to getting the Cape Cod look is to take advantage of today's technological advances in siding products. Fibre cement siding is a great alternative to vinyl siding, which does little to enhance the architectural integrity of an older house. James Hardie Siding Products makes a siding from Portland cement, ground sand, cellulose fibre and other materials. Not only does it look very similar to wood, but it also comes in planks and shingles, and is installed just like wood. Yet unlike wood, it's noncombustible, doesn't rot or crack, and resists damage from insects, moisture and hail. It won't delaminate, as vinyl siding can, and it can be painted any colour, holding the paint up to three to four times longer than wood. It's also available in colour finishes that are guaranteed not to crack, chip or peel for 15 years.
Focus on garages
A garage that complements the architectural style of your house can add immense curb appeal and resale value to your home, yet it's often forgotten when renovating. Cape Cod-style houses often feature attractive attached or detached garages. Enhance their charm with these tips.
- A new garage door quickly and easily updates your garage. Not only will a new door be easier to use (no more back-breaking lifting of stubborn, heavy doors), but today's wide range of sophisticated designs, like Garaga's sturdy, lightweight-steel Standard 138 door make it easy to find an architecturally appropriate style. When shopping for a new garage door, choose one made from rust-proof lightweight aluminum or steel with a high R-factor for insulation (a must-have if you use your garage as a workshop or it's attached to the house).
- Add a cupola topped with an attractive weathervane for a traditional country look.
- New siding or cedar shakes can dramatically improve the appearance of a garage; choose finishes that coordinate with your home's exterior finishes.
- Flank the garage door with porch lights—a Colonial lantern style is best for an East Coast feel. Post lights and lampposts near the street add a welcoming touch.
Between 1890 and 1940, the Tudor style gained prominence, peaking in popularity in suburbs built in the '20s and '30s, then reappearing again in the '70s and '80s. Its timber-framed woodwork, which is purely decorative, not structural, and charming leaded-glass windows evoke Medieval cottages; but other influences are evident, too, such as Gothic rounded or arched doors. It all combines to create a romantic yet rustic mood with enduring appeal. Increase a Tudor's curb appeal by adding stone to the façade or installing new leaded-glass windows.
Easy tips: Light, bright ideas
“Leave the porch light on!” That's if you want to up the curb appeal of your home. Effective lighting adds aesthetic appeal and increases safety. Follow these tips for a lighting scheme that will light up your life.
- Choose fixtures that reinforce the architectural style of your home. Heavy wrought-iron lanterns are perfect for a Tudor-style house. Check out reproduction lighting companies and larger lighting centres to find an architecturally appropriate style.
- Install path lights. There are many styles available in finishes like pewter, bronze and copper; any of these would work with a Tudor as long as they coordinate or complement other hardware and fixture finishes.
- Spotlight significant architectural features, such as a curved archway or stone wall, to draw the eye to these special elements.
Focus on windows
One challenge owners of older homes face is choosing historically sympathetic replacement windows. The Tudor style's highly detailed diamond-paned leaded-glass casements can present particular problems. Whatever the style of your house, spend a good deal of time researching this crucial feature that really sets the tone of your home.
Look for companies that have collections appropriate to the style of your home. The Liberty Collection from Pollard Windows, for example, has a maintenance-free vinyl-clad exterior and a wood interior for a traditional feel. Pollard also offers decorative glass options in custom configurations, so you can enjoy the beauty of leaded glass without giving up the energy efficiency and ease of use that new windows offer.
Focus on stone
The beauty of stone is enduring. Applied to a façade, stone gives a solid appearance to an exterior and seamlessly ties architecture to environment. While it's not a quick-fix solution to superficial curb appeal challenges, adding stone, especially to Tudor-style houses, will return your initial investment over time, and add character. While no one beats Mother Nature at making stone, some manufactured stone products offer a great alternative to waiting a few million years for new material. Arriscraft International's stone products are cement–free and made in a natural process that can include hand–chipping, rocking or tumbling for an aged look. To ensure you get natural-looking products like Arriscraft's stones, avoid manufactured products that are formed in a mould. Some advantages to using stone and stone products include:
- Reduced maintenance Stone never rots or needs painting.
- Instant old-home look Perfect for giving an aged appearance to new houses or additions.
- Highlights architectural features Stone can be added to a feature to draw attention to it, such as the stone detail around entryways on Tudor-style houses.
Houses of the Victorian era (1830 to 1910) are unified by one telltale factor: an exuberance for ornamentation. Nowhere is this more true than in the Queen Anne. Elaborate, rambling and often eccentrically designed, Queen Annes embody the Victorian belief that more is more. A Queen Anne might sport bay, stained-glass and Palladian windows, porches, balconies, turrets and decorative trim. Excessive? Perhaps, but the style's enduring popularity proves that we share the Victorians' love of beautiful detail. Treat your Queen Anne to fresh paint and repair or replace damaged trim to increase its curb appeal.
Easy tips: Front porch style
Whatever style of house you have, these decorating tips will make your home queen of the street.
- Repaint the porch, and repair broken steps and porch boards.
- Add lighting along the front path and purchase a new porch light. A reproduction gas-style fixture complements Queen Anne architecture.
- Put a new welcome mat down; consider cocoa matting on the stairs.
- Lay a natural-fibre area rug under porch furniture for an indoor feel.
- Light candles in hurricane lanterns for a relaxing mood in the evening.
- Keep planters freshly filled with healthy, seasonal arrangements.
- Add personal touches, such as propping a pair of old skates and an antique toboggan in a corner near the door in the winter.
- Cover seat cushions in colourful mildew-resistant outdoor fabrics.
- Don't try to match historical colours, as they were manufactured differently than modern paint. Instead, choose colours that capture their mood.
- Consider the colours of nearby houses and choose ones that will
- enhance your neighbourhood's streetscape.
- Create a cohesive look with a combination of light and dark shades of the same colour.
- Look at swatches outside both in the sun and shade.
- Test colours before committing.
- Pick the main colour first, then the trim colour and a secondary trim colour (if necessary), and finally an accent colour.
- Choose colours that work with existing features, such as the roof, vinyl siding, bricks and stonework.
Focus on planning
Before investing in exterior renovations, visit www.cmhc.ca, where you can read CMHC's Before You Renovate guide. These questions from the guide will get you started in the planning process.
1 Is your renovation practical? Some renos, like a new roof, are essential; others are lifestyle. Which ones are smart to make now?
2 Is your renovation worth the money? How long will you stay in the house? Will you get your money back if you sell soon? Also, consider whether the reno will price your home out of the real estate market you're in.
3 Is your renovation adaptable? Future needs, such as converting a nursery into an office, should be considered now.
4 Does your reno make your home healthier? It should make the interior healthier, and reduce household demands on the environment.
Find out more about the products and services discussed in this article by contacting these companies and organizations.
- Arriscraft International
- Beauti-Tone Paints exclusive to Home Hardware Stores Ltd.: beauti-tone.com for information or homehardware.com for links to stores.
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Garaga Inc.
- James Hardie Siding Products
- Pollard Windows Inc.