The global pandemic is having an interesting effect on homeowners. According to THV11, there has been “a surge in interest for anything that can make the backyard feel like a getaway” across the country.
Not only are homeowners on a mission to beautify the exteriors of their homes, but they are also willing to put considerable effort into yard work, landscaping, and outdoor home improvement. They are willing to improve exteriors using their own sweat and blood.
Nationwide, homeowners are spending more time putting down mulch and watering their flowerbeds. Luckily, that is great news. Spending time outdoors turns out to be a healthy and worthwhile coping mechanism. Outdoor spaces decrease stress and anxiety, boost moods, and even improve your immune system by ultimately increasing your exposure to vitamin D.
If your plans already include outdoor home improvement, you might as well do it the right way. Follow these tips and tricks to get the most out of your efforts.
Start With Maintenance
If you have an old chair that you want to make look like new, are you going to reupholster it or replace its broken leg first? Any reasonable person will fix a broken chair leg first. Approach outdoor home improvement the same way. Glaring problems and maintenance come first. Use this checklist to get started.
- Check for water damage. Unchecked leaks or water pooling on top of your roof can lead to serious structural damage if it hasn’t already. Look for dark or wet spots, flaking, bubbling, or crackling, or shingles and gutters that are peeling away from your roof. There may also be water damage if you notice a persistent musty or moldy smell. Address any problems right away. Water damage repair is a lot more reasonable than roof replacement costs.
- Look out for signs of infestation. Look for nesting, bite marks, and damaged structures. Invest in pest control before the problem gets out of hand. Pests can damage walls, supportive beams and structures, and cause serious, lasting damage.
- Responsibly keep up on heating and cooling services. If you are experiencing problems with your HVAC system, you may be inclined to believe that has nothing to do with the exterior of your home or outdoor home improvement. In many cases, you would be wrong. For instance, if you notice a considerable increase in your monthly heating and cooling bills, that increase may be explained by leaky doors and windows. Patching up those leaks or replacing necessary hardware will fix the problem, but you have to keep an eye on your bill and notice the problem in the first place. A regular AC inspection will likely flag issues and overly stressed systems as well. Finally, a system leaking coolant or liquid poses the threat of structural damage, just like other unchecked leaks.
Before spending hundreds — possibly even thousands — on aesthetic outdoor home improvements, make sure the exterior of your home is structurally up to snuff.
All outdoor home improvements are not created equal. “If your home has 1970s or 1980s stone cladding, pebbledash, mismatching bricks or a mixture of different external materials, you can remove – or, easier still, cover – them with a different material to create a completely new look,” Real Homes writes.
Of course, while the essence of their advice is true — there are many homeowners who want their home to look sleeker, neater, and more modern — it is best to do a bit of research before diving head-first into exterior home improvement projects. Why? Without proper care, updating old houses can come along with its own unique host of problems.
While you may think you completed the first few steps and dotted your Is and crossed your Ts when it comes to home maintenance and repairs, upgrading an old home may surprise you. The process of renovating the exterior of an old home may reveal failed masonry, decaying windows, and rotted window sills.
Plus, repainting may entail a great deal more when it comes to painting an old house instead of a much newer one. When repainting the exterior of a relatively new home, it is generally safe to apply a new layer of paint on top of the old one.
The more layers of paint a house has, the more likely it is that one or more of these layers have failed, meaning that they are cracked, chipped, bubbling, or flaking. When this happens, it is necessary to remove the old paint before applying a fresh coat. To remove the old paint, homeowners may use chemicals, heat application, or grinding materials.
While an old home or a fixer-upper requires more TLC, there are some ways to make the renovation or outdoor home improvement process work for you. For example, make structural and cosmetic improvements at the same time. If you want to improve the look of your home with a new bay window or some well-placed skylights, install them when fixing rot or decay or when replacing your rooftop.
Draw Your Inspiration From Within
If you need some inspiration before you begin cosmetic upgrades to the exterior of your home, consider starting inside. Drawing inspiration from the interior rooms to dictate the color scheme or style of the outside of your home will give your house the appearance of a cohesive whole.
“The interior color doesn’t have to match the exterior, but a similar tone will provide a smoother, more harmonious transition,” Sherwin-Williams writes. Complement the work of interior painting services with like-color exterior paint. For example, if the interior of your home is comprised of beige or cream-colored tones, consider painting the exterior of your home a light, coffee brown. Talk to professional painters about color schemes that work well inside and outside of your home.
Of course, you do not have to take the suggestion to match the interior and exterior colors quite that literally. Instead of drawing inspiration from the walls, consider drawing inspiration from appliances and furniture instead. For example, if your kitchen features prominent granite countertops, pick one of the colors from your countertops — or pick a shade that complements one of those colors. If your granite counters are white, gray, and black, paint the exterior of your home charcoal or slate gray. Drawing inspiration from main indoor features will bring things together when moving from the outside in.
Bring It All Together
Just like you should aim for a smooth transition between the interior and exterior of your house, the elements outside of your home should all come together as well. That means the outside of your home, your landscape, and any hardscaping elements should fit together nicely.
Of course, sometimes this is a straightforward process. If you have textured, terra cotta residential roofing that is not going to pair well with a traditional chain link fence. In this instance, your roof creates a certain air of sophistication. Choose a type of fencing that will communicate the same thing. For example, black fences are a chic, modern choice. Tall black fences, whether they are made out of heavy wooden materials or long-lasting metals, look stylish and tend to draw the eye away from the fence — and to your home or landscape instead.
Hire a landscaper to bring it all together. Your landscape should complement the exterior of your home, your patio, and the driveway and hardscape surrounding it. “Create a transition from the house to the grade by using species that descend in height from the house. This will give the appearance that the house is married to the landscape rather than plopped on a lot,” Houzz recommends. Start with tall trees. From there, transition to medium-sized trees and shrubs, and top off the look with low-lying flowers or ornamental grass.
For the backyard, bring hardscape and landscape together by adding water elements. A fountain or man-made pond may include components of hardscape and landscape, acting as a feature that helps blend them together.
When it comes to outdoor home improvement projects, remember you do not want your hard work to look scattered, disorganized, or random. When working with a landscaper, ask how to seamlessly incorporate features around the exterior of your home. Think of the entire exterior and surrounding area as a unit, not as separate or disjointed pieces.
Pay Particular Attention To The Entryway
What will most visitors or prospective buyers see first? The answer is generally your front door and the area around it. For that reason, it is important to focus on the entryway when making changes.
One of the simplest and most dramatic ways to makeover your entryway is to change the look of your front door. That can involve a simple layer of paint — choose a markedly different color for a sharp contrast — or it can involve replacing the door altogether. This outdoor home improvement runs the gamut. Homeowners can select a classic front door with some striking windows, or go for something modern, chic, and eye-catching, like a corrugated iron barn door.
Take another look at the surrounding features as well. Change old, tired light fixtures. Swap out old house numbers for new, elegant ones. Purchase modern metal house numbers, or dress up the front of your house with a house number planter. For an extra touch of class, consider buying letters and spelling out the house number.
Add sophisticated vases and other well-placed adornments. Add a couple of chairs and a table. Top the chairs off with cushy, plush cushions, and spruce up the table with a small vase of flowers.
Draw attention to your front door with a new, vivid arch or lead the eye to the door using a long, dramatic walkway. “A wide, stone front walkway gives a feeling of discovery and importance to the home,” according to Better Homes and Gardens (BHG). Make sure the path is at least three to four feet wide. At least two guests should be able to share the path, walking side by side, BHG continues. To draw further attention to the walkway, line it with well-defined shrubs, flowers, or stone pavers.
Whatever you do, do not ignore your front door and front entryway when tackling outdoor home improvement projects. These small enhancements make a big difference, and they are improvements just about everyone will notice.
Anything you can do to make the entryway of your home look more inviting will make the rest of your home look more inviting, too.
Think About The Future
Many of us do not plan to live in our current homes for the rest of our lives. If this describes you — and especially if you have plans to sell within the next year or next few years — make a point of prioritizing curb appeal.
“Curb appeal is everything when you’re trying to sell a home because that’s the first thing buyers see to get interested,” says Sidney Torres from CNBC’s “The Deed.”
If packing boxes are in your near future, do not settle for just tidying up around the exterior of your home. Make it pop. Make it nice. Plant colorful shrubs and flowers. Consider a fresh layer of exterior paint. Install a new front door. Do what it takes to encourage potential buyers on the outside of your house to come inside and look around.
If greater prospects of selling your home are not enough to inspire you, consider what else you stand to gain. Often, investing in curb appeal packs an ultimate return on investment (ROI) of 100%.
To make yourself feel more “at home,” start with your house’s exterior. Until recently, people across the U.S. spent an alarming 93% of their lives indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since March, the average person has been spending even more time inside. One of the few silver linings of the coronavirus is that it is drawing attention to all this time spent inside and inspiring us to do something about it.
One of the things that we can safely do is to fully enjoy the green areas surrounding our houses. Use the tips above to spruce up your home’s exterior so you feel more comfortable spending time outdoors.