If you’re selling your home, adding curb appeal can increase your home value 3% – 5% according to Consumer Reports.

What face does your home present to the world? Is it inviting or standoffish? Elegant and stately or rambling and quirky? Does it express who you are and communicate what you’d like it to? If so, great! You’ve managed to create a home with curb appeal.

If not, don’t fret. By looking at exterior design elements we’ll explore how to create that much-desired curb appeal. And in today’s highly competitive real estate market, homes with curb appeal will sell faster and at a higher price than those without it.  

So let’s look at 10 ways to create homes that are better looking and more valuable. Sounds like a win-win situation for all!

Landscaping

Landscaping is an opportunity to extend the feel and character of your home to the edges of your property. Doing this can create a streetscape that’s not only enjoyable but valuable. After all, who doesn’t want to live on a beautiful street?

Hardscapes — driveways, walks, stoops, patios and so on — reinforce the overall character of a house and draw visitors in. So do softscapes, such as grass, flower beds, bushes and trees. Fences can act as both invitation and barrier, depending on your location and privacy needs.

Siding and Exterior Materials

Wood, fiber cement, stucco, stone, brick, metal and more can be used as an exterior siding material. Which makes the most sense for your home? Would it be vinyl lap siding, which is very cost effective but can buckle; or wood lap siding, which is costly and needs refinishing every few years; or a fiber cement material that is low maintenance but not the least costly?  

And each material evokes something different aesthetically. For example, a Cape Cod home looks better in horizontal wood siding than stucco, while a home Southwestern-style home is certainly better in stucco than horizontal wood siding.


Roof Shapes, Overhangs and Materials

Gables, hips, low slope and shed are a few of the many roof shapes. Each fits a certain range of styles and aesthetics. For example, whereas a gable is an appropriate roof shape for a traditional home, a low-slope roof is typically seen in a modern design.  

The same holds true for the roof material. While asphalt shingle roofs are the most commonplace, a tile material is more appropriate for a Southwestern colonial house design, and metal might be the better choice for a roof in the Southeast.

And don’t overlook the depth of a roof overhang. A gable roof with a deep overhang has a relaxed and informal aesthetic when compared to the same roof with a shallow, or no, overhang, which tends to be more severe and boxy.

Not matter which you choose, keep in mind that the roof connects the earth to the sky so it is an important design element.

Front Doors, Side Doors and Garage Doors

Available in a range of materials and styles, doors are the portals we use to get from outside to inside. Sometimes these are large portals, like ones we drive our car through, and sometimes they’re more intimate, like the front door to a cottage.  

The key is to have doors that are well sized and appropriately styled to match the home’s overall look and feel. Just as you wouldn’t mix plaids and stripes or mismatch your socks, it’s just as visually jarring and incongruous to place, for example, a Craftsman-style door on a modern house or Prairie-style window grids on a colonial-style home.

And don’t forget the garage door. Make sure it’s carefully considered as it’s more often than not the most prominent door on the front of your house.

Windows

Awning, casement, double hung, slider, fixed, round, elliptical, Palladian, trapezoidal … windows come in an almost unlimited range of functions, sizes, shapes and colors. Yet there are conventions for why you should use one type over another. For example, casement windows (the ones that open like doors, with hinges on the side) are a good choice for many styles (Prairie, Craftsman, even modern) but totally wrong for a colonial design. Simply put, the one large piece of glass all in one plane is just too monolithic and two dimensional for a colonial-style home (unless the design leans toward a more modern and stripped-down version of the colonial).

Details

Shutters, lanterns, home numbers and so on are all details that can enhance a home’s appeal. We’ve already started a discussion about these elements and will explore them more in the future.

Porches, Porticoes and Canopies

These elements are our gift to our home’s visitors. Providing shelter from rain or other inclement weather, a well-placed and inviting porch, formal portico or generous canopy are like the hands and arms that reach out to greet guests and draw them in.  

Even a contemporary or modern design can have these elements.

Color and Composition

Earth tones or bright hues, symmetrical or asymmetrical, two dimensional or three dimensional, opaque or transparent are design elements that communicate a story about your home. If you want a feeling of formality, then a symmetrical composition is your likely desire. If you’re looking for more of a relaxed and casual feel, than perhaps it’s asymmetry that you want. 

And color plays a huge role in the overall appeal of your home. Will it be calming and tied to the earth in shades of brown and green, or will it be bold and perhaps abstract in bright yellows and reds?

Lighting

In addition to being inviting and beautiful by day, the exterior of a home should be welcoming and attractive at night. And make sure that there’s lighting in the needed places, as guests shouldn’t have to strain to locate the house numbers at night or stumble around looking for the path to the front door.

And extend the lighting to the edges of your property to create a place that could be a setting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

All Things Vertical

Chimneys, cupolas, belvederes and so on lift the house and point to the sky. As such, these elements are the first we see when looking from afar. But more often than not these things are poorly scaled and visible only from close up. Rather than being small, these elements need to command the landscape all around.