Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Curb Appeal of Our Homes

PHOTOS: Annie the duck (in her new dress), and Jeffrey Bob the tree)

How is the 'curb appeal' of your home? In other words, is the outside of your home appealing and welcoming to others? Is it pleasant and warm? Does it appear approachable and welcoming to family and friends?

We try to be warm and welcoming once folks make it to the front (or back) door. To help guests feel welcome before they get to the door, we've enlisted the help of a couple of characters (no, not our dear neighbors!) to assist us in this process. On our front porch, Annie the duck keeps an eye out for visitors, wanting to be the first to say 'Hello'! Now, we realize that most people who have these family members (from the 1980's!) have geese, but Annie thinks she's a duck, so we'll just leave it at that. We acquired Annie during the surprise Bed & Breakfast weekend getaway my husband planned for our anniversary earlier this summer. We purchased Annie at that time as a fun way to commemorate the weekend. Ken named her "Annie" in honor of our anniversary. So, when you come to see us, you'll find she's ready to welcome you to our home!

In the backyard, we have another family member we've named Jeffrey Bob. He's full of personality and he changes his look from season to season, as his hair-do (and its color) changes. When the tree is especially full, he sometimes look Jamaican. Other times, he looks a bit older, with thinning up on top.... Jeffrey Bob is visible from the kitchen and breakfast room on the back of our house and he keeps me company as I cook or work in the kitchen.

My friend Donna has a lovely decorative pond in her backyard landcaping. It's relaxing to sit by this little pond, complete with beautiful lillies and frogs (live and not), all in and around her pond. I always think of Donna when I'm out shopping and see ceramic frogs in the outdoor landscaping area of stores!

I have a neighbor who uses an old bicycle with baskets on both front and back which she fills with seasonal items. It's so cute! For the Christmas season, she might have a bunch of weatherproof poinsettias in the front basket and a wrapped "package" or two in the back one. During the summer I've seen fun seasonal items like gardening items and a straw hat in those baskets. What a fun way to decorate the outside of your home! I drive by sometimes just to see what treasures await passersby.

These are all fun ways to show your personality and welcome family and friends to you home. It's also part of the curb appeal of your home. When I sold real estate (in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina), the quality of a house's curb appeal was always my first thought when looking at a house. It's sometimes very difficult to get a buyer inside a house with poor curb appeal. To sell a house, it's obviously important to get folks inside, so as an agent, I worked with my clients to help them overcome that potential barrier by helping them make the outside appear more welcoming.

I suppose it should go without saying, but the first part of making the front area of our houses welcoming is to keep it swept and free of cobwebs, leaves and critters (well, except for the aforementioned family members). I have found that keeping glass cleaner stored near the front door is an easy way to keep the glass and hardware clean and shiny. Sometimes I specifically go in and out the front door just to see what others see when they visit. When we use the back door or garage door all the time, it's easy to forget to check the front area. (With all the rain we've had last night and today, this reminds me that our front porch needs to be swept!)

Experts say when possible, paint your door a bright, welcoming color. Ours is a bright red door, which complements the gray brick and siding. A bright yellow or deep green also works well, depending on your color scheme. Lovely wood doors can be welcoming, too. Accessories become more important for these entries as the focus tends to land on peripheral items.

Using seasonal color is an easy way to brighten the entry areas to our homes. Obviously, spring, summer and even fall flowers are a terrific and easy way to accomplish this. Use colors that complement the exterior of your home. This summer we again have red flowers, which I love. They are mandevillas and are easy-care and bloom all summer. Unfortunately, flowers sometimes 'lose' their beauty as the summer wears on and the heat takes its toll. Quite honestly, for me, I get bored with some of the care involved after a while, especially with the flowers we have in the backyard. As my cousin, Lynn, used to say about such things: "The new wore off it!" It's true. After a while, I just don't have the interest and energy to keep working the summer flowers... I figure that's why God gives us new flowers for each season! In the meantime, Ken is always faithful to water the flowers and tomato plants that I so energetically begin in May!

I should say that when trying to sell your home, it's important to make it welcoming, but not too personal. Buyers need to be able to see themselves living in the space, not the current owners' possessions. But when we're not selling, just loving our homes and making them warm and welcoming, personalization is wonderful! Does the exterior of your house reflect the personality of you and your family? What does the outside of your home say about you?


Anonymous said...

As I was reading your blog, my eyes lit up to see my humble little pond and frog friends mentioned! What an honor to make your blog!! Thanks for the compliments! =)rrrrbttt!!

Vanessa said...

You're quite welcome, Donna! We never know how our efforts to welcome friends and family impact them - such is the case with your lovely pond! I have fun memories of being with you and Harold and all the gang in your backyard. :) Thanks for sharing with all of us!

Love you guys!