22 Projects to Up Your Curb Appeal While You’re Stuck at Home This Spring

published Apr 7, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
house with doodles on top of it
Credit: Photo: Robert Crum/Shutterstock; Illustrations: Laura Hoerner

Every homeowner knows the joy (or, in some cases, agony) of showing up to their home after a long day at work and seeing it as the rest of the world does. This “first impression” of your home is known as its curb appeal, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it can have a big impact on your home’s value. 

According to Rick Slachta, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Professionals in Stillwater, Minn., your home’s curb appeal can add between three and five percent to its value, as long as your exterior is in good shape. 

The better that first impression goes, the more likely potential buyers are to put in an offer on your place. So how do you make sure your home’s curb appeal is up to snuff? “It’s not about doing one big project to increase curb appeal, but rather a number of small projects that can showcase the pride in ownership,” Slachta says. 

Here are 22 ideas (both big and small) that you can get started on this spring to try and maximize your home’s curb appeal.

1. Update fixtures and hardware

Don’t underestimate the difference new fixtures and hardware can make. Swapping outdated lighting, or well-worn door knobs and hinges, can give your home an instant facelift (without lifting too much out of your wallet). Shops like Rejuvenation and MyKnobs.com offer unique options that can be ordered online. It’s also worth phoning your locally owned hardware store to see if you can coordinate a pick-up order.

2. Fix your gutters

This isn’t just an aesthetic problem: Broken, drooping, and clogged gutters can present a structural problem to your home as well. Make sure that all the rain gutters on your house are set to the proper pitch (away from your house and angled towards your down spout), are firmly attached (check the brackets that secure them to your roof to ensure they’re not pulling away) and that they’re free of debris. 

If that sounds like more work than you’re willing to put in every spring, consider installing gutter guards. The higher-end pieces (not the ones you get at your local home improvement store, but the ones that professional contractors install) can increase the resale value of your home further.

3. Mow your lawn

It seems simple enough, but keeping on top of your routine lawn maintenance can make a big difference. “Regularly care for your lawn by mowing the grass, raking off leaves, and pulling weeds,” Slachta says. Prospective buyers want to see consistency—not an overgrown lawn one week and a perfectly manicured one the next.

4. Throw down a new welcome mat

A fresh welcome mat may only cost you a few bucks, but it’ll elevate your entryway, making it appear more cared-for and more welcoming. You can splurge on a high-end version, but even a cheaper mat will do as long as it’s clean and in good shape. In our mystery makeover series, you can see how blogger Chelsea Foy transformed a humdrum brown welcome mat into a one-of-a-kind piece for $50.

5. Upgrade your shutters

It’s often a forgotten feature—especially when they’re more decorative than functional—but if your house has shutters, you should take care to show they’re in tip-top shape. That could mean a fresh coat of paint for weather-worn plastic ones, or repairing cracks and water damage in wooden ones. Just beware, darkly colored shutters are a haven for wasp nests, so don’t get stung!

6. Water your plants

That goes for your shrubs, your grass, and even your flowers. Vibrant green yards will always look better than ones that have brown spots on the lawn or dying plants in the garden. 

7. Slap on a fresh coat of paint 

Touch up your front door, your mailbox, your fence post, and the trim around your windows. Basically, touch up anywhere your paint is looking worse for wear. 

Credit: Alexis Buryk

8. Up your garden’s ‘wow factor’

You don’t need to spend a lot of money refilling your garden bed with expensive plants and shrubs, but you can splurge on a few fancy ones that’ll make a big difference for your garden’s ambiance. Before splurging, make sure you check that the plants you’ve picked will do well in the natural lighting, soil, and drainage that your home already has.

9. Let there be light

Adding lighting where none exists can do two things: Illuminate the positives (like all those new flowers you just spent your entire weekend planting) and increase your security. Both will thrill any prospective buyers. Slachta says shining a light on your yard is easier than ever thanks to solar powered LED lights. 

“With this option you don’t need to spend time or money digging trenches and hooking up wires,” he says. “String lights around the top of the porch, install post lights to highlight walkways and natural areas, or even a put up security light or two to make buyers feel safe.”

10. Try out hardscaping

Do you have a muddy patch in your yard? A shady spot where you can’t seem to get grass to take? Add some hardscaping. You can talk with a pro about installing patio pavers or spend a few weekends putting them in yourself. Either way, this splurge is an investment that extends your home’s living area by adding a lounge space outside. 

11. Build a deck

If you want a more elevated place to kick back outside, consider building a deck. With the low-maintenance materials, available on the market today, like composite and fiber cement, you can spend a little extra up front and end up with a deck that doesn’t require refinishing every other year. That’s an investment that pays off in time saved if you plan to stay in your home for a few years. 

12. Fake it ‘til you make it

If you live somewhere dry, or where grass has a tough time growing, consider lawn alternatives like shrub beds, decomposed granite, water-wise plants, artificial turf, or a combo of the four. Not only will it look better, but it’ll be lower maintenance, which means it will continue to get better looking without requiring extra attention from you.

13. Build a shed

Increasing your outdoor storage space can benefit you in a few ways. Not only does it mean you can put unsightly things away when you’re not using them, like lawn equipment and children’s toys, but it also gives potential buyers more places to imagine storing their own stuff. This can be especially beneficial if you don’t have basement or attic storage, or if those spaces aren’t easy to access. 

14. Re-side your home

If you want to make a high-impact change, consider updating your home’s exterior. Replace old asbestos tiles (contact your local municipality to confirm disposal requirements first) or upgrade dated aluminum siding with fresh vinyl materials. 

15. Install new windows

If eyes are the windows to the soul, then your home’s windows are, well, the windows to your home’s soul. Replacing all of your home’s windows at once can be expensive, but it adds both immediate and long-term value in the boost to your curb appeal—not to mention the savings to your energy bill.

16. Replace the numbers on your mailbox

It’s a quick, cheap, and easy change, as well as one that can make a huge impact if your mailbox has unappealing sticker-style numbers, or rusted, rotting ones.

17. Add a fence

This is another big resale value add. Installing a fence offers your home a defined property line as well as security. And it’s great for letting potential buyers know that their children (or pets) would feel safe and at home in your yard.

18. Repair, replace, restore

Anything that is visibly broken should be repaired or replaced in order to keep up your home’s appearance. This means missing shingles, cracked siding, or busted sections of fence. Anything that isn’t in tip-top shape may make potential buyers wonder what else you’ve been neglecting, and that’s a question that’ll make them look harder at other areas of your home.  

19. Reseal driveways and hardscaping

If you have an asphalt driveway, you should be resealing it once every three years in order to keep it from cracking. If you have a regular concrete driveway, you can get away with waiting a little longer between resealing, but it should still be done every three to five years. As for your hardscaping—those patio pavers especially—you’ll want to reseal those every three years. 

While none of these are super glamorous (or highly visible) updates, they can actually bring down your home’s curb appeal if not done often enough, by allowing cracks and weeds where they wouldn’t otherwise be.

20. Freshen up your patio furniture

If you have a ratty old set of patio furniture taking up space on your front porch, now is the time to replace it or rehab it. (Try this $2 patio table makeover, or another DIY project to save a few bucks.) Even though it’s not usually something you leave behind when you move, it gives potential buyers a chance to picture themselves sitting there someday as well. 

21. Create a welcoming entryway

Make your entryway pop by adding some greenery to it. “Buy some big planters and fill them with varying heights of annuals or perennials grouped together at either side of the walkway,” Slachta suggests. “Part of increasing curb appeal is making sure that when interested parties walk up to your home, the entryway is clean, fresh, and welcoming.”

22. Add flower boxes

If your house already has flower boxes, make sure they are filled to the brim with brightly colored plants that will make your home look warm and welcoming. If you don’t already have flower boxes, consider adding some. The low-cost accessories can completely change the way the front of your house looks. That includes adding depth and dimension to houses with a flat exterior.