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Nail Your Home's Curb Appeal

The term “curb appeal” gets bandied about a lot, but aside from putting out fresh flowers and a cute mailbox, what does it really mean?


Curb appeal really resonates when a house has the whole package: great architecture, complementary landscaping and just-right details. Help your traditional-style home put its best face forward with the following tips, from choosing a stunning paint palette to the hardware on the front door:

Pick the right color scheme. Freshening up the color palette is one of the most effective ways to boost curb appeal. Be sure to take into account the hues of neighboring homes, so the overall effect of the block is pleasing without being identical. For a traditional-style home, simple is best: Look to neutral and natural hues like beige (or "greige"), slate blue, gray and cream; all are timeless and elegant. Keep paint looking fresh by washing your home’s siding and exterior windows at least once each year.

Siding color: Blue Note, Benjamin Moore

See Also From Houzz: How to Wash Your House

Use white liberally. Crisp, clean and classic, white accentuates beautiful architecture, making it a winning choice for a traditional home with lovely details, like the Colonial-style home shown here. White siding does tend to show dirt faster than other hues, so be aware that if you choose white, you’ll want to plan for one or two exterior cleaning sessions each year.

See Also From Houzz: What Color Should I Paint My House?

Combine white siding and black shutters. White siding and trim with black shutters is a traditional combination for a Colonial-style home. Sticking with white and black also gives you wiggle room when it comes to finishing the front door: A natural wood tone always looks appropriate, but you could also splash out on a rich red or zingy yellow.

Siding color: Brilliant White, Benjamin Moore

See Also From Houzz: Guide to Every Kind of Front Door Color

Play up symmetry. A common element of many traditional-style homes is the use of symmetry. (Imagine taking a photo of the front of your home and folding it in half, with the front door as the centerline: When each side looks nearly identical, that’s symmetry.) If you have an older house that has been remodeled over the years, one way to bring back its classic styling is by making sure that the facade has symmetrical elements, such as:

* The same number of windows on each side of the door

* Matching plantings on both sides of the house

* Symmetrical structures like columns, paths or pergolas

See Also From Houzz: Strike a Balance With Symmetry

Focus on the front door. The eye is naturally drawn to the front door, so paying special attention to this space is well worth the effort. A quality door with fresh paint or stain, working lighting, a well-kept path and stairs, and a few fresh plants are the musts.

Here are other details that will look just right on your traditional home:

* Lantern-style sconces or pendant light

* Door hardware with a classic look, such as oil-rubbed bronze

* A ring door knocker; or, for something with a bit more personality, try a lion’s-head knocker or a pineapple motif

* Round or square planters in black, white or stone (or stone-look)

See Also From Houzz: 77 Front Doors to Welcome You Home

Consider paths and connecting spaces. The way your house connects to the garage and sidewalk can enhance or detract from the curb appeal. Make an elegant connection by paying attention to the materials used in the paths, and keeping these consistent across your outdoor spaces. Natural materials like bluestone, fieldstone, slate and gravel are good choices for enhancing a traditional home.

If you are looking to make a bigger change, consider adding a breezeway to connect your home with a detached garage. In addition to being convenient (no more rainy or snowy trips to lug in the groceries!), it can add a wealth of style to your home’s exterior.

See Also From Houzz: 5 Gravel and Stone Types for a Rockin’ Landscape

Frame your property with fencing. The right fence can enhance your home in more ways than one: It provides a clear beginning point to your yard, it can keep children (or furry friends) away from busy streets, and it acts like a frame around the beautiful picture of your property. For a traditional home, you can’t go wrong with a picket fence in white, natural wood or a neutral hue that works with the color of your home.

Tip: Keep the scale of your home in mind when selecting your fence. Larger homes can handle a taller fence; but, even so, topping tall fences with a bit of latticework can keep them from feeling forbidding.

See Also From Houzz: How to Choose the Right Fence

Soften the corners. With the symmetry and rectilinear forms that most traditional homes have in abundance, it helps to soften things up by adding curves to the planting beds.

A sweeping curve that runs around the edge of your home’s foundation plantings strikes a graceful note.

Fill planting beds with neatly trimmed shrubs and perennials for a landscape that looks appealing year-round.

See Also From Houzz: See More Front Yard Ideas

Spiff up the garage. If your garage is a prominent feature, make sure it’s dressed the part! Garage doors in good repair and painted to coordinate with the rest of your home’s exterior are a must. Add a few of these finishing touches to make your garage look its best:

* Sconce lighting in the same finish as your porch lights

* Shutters painted to match the shutters on your home

* An eyebrow pergola above the garage doors or decorative corbels beneath the eaves

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This article is from Houzz, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.