top of page
  • Dana Tutela

Curb Appeal for Sellers and Buyers

Updated: May 29

Whether you're putting your house on the market or buying a new property, curb appeal is important for both the sellers and the buyers. Let's do a walk through on pulling up and putting down roots to make your house a HOME.

res for sale sign in front of brick house
Please keep in mind that I may receive commissions at no expense to you when you click my links and make purchases. However, this does not impact my reviews and opinions. I only endorse products or services that I believe are worthy of such an endorsement.  Link to full privacy disclosure here.

In the past 25 years, my husband and I have sold 6 houses, purchased 7, built one from the ground up and lived in a rental property. I know a thing or two about putting a house on the market and making a house a home. The following tips (and mistakes to avoid!) will help guide you through the process of adding valuable curb appeal to your residence as either a seller or a buyer.

person pressure washing steps

Clean! Clean! Clean!

The first step to boost your curb appeal? Clean your house until it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building! (Can you name the ginger who said that?) Hire a crew to pressure wash the exterior, clear the gutters and downspouts, and remove all of the debris and gunk that builds up over time.

If that's not in your budget, consider investing in your own pressure washer. It's perfect for quick cleanups of the patio or porch. I use ours to rinse off pollen, refresh the porch and decks, and even clean the outdoor rugs.

*Ginger Tip: I'm not a psychologist, but there is something about cleaning your home for the first time to establish that feeling of ownership. Likewise, the final cleaning seems to help with the farewells.

people cleaning up yard with rake

Remember to clean up the yard, too. Hiring a landscape crew to do a one time clean up of the yard is not only a time-saver, it's a back-saver. Trim the bushes, pull weeds, edge the beds and sidewalks, and remove dead plants and debris. Obviously, if this isn't in your budget either, put some elbow grease into it and give the yard a refresh yourself. In order to add the curb appeal, it's imperative to start with a fresh clean slate.

The goal of curb appeal is to draw your eye to the house. Have you ever driven by a property and had to slow down to marvel at its charm? Let's make yours eye-catching, too.

luxury home with stone fireplace

Clear the Path!

Once everything is clean, it's time to have some fun making your house sparkle. Is there a clear path to the front door? It's very easy for entryways to become "lost" due to overhanging tree limbs, overgrown bushes and runaway vines. If this wasn't done in the clean up phase, now is the time to open up the visual space to the front door.

brick house with red Japanese maple

Brick house with slate stone walkway

*Ginger Tip: If you have a place to store them safely, remove the screens from the front windows of the house. This is an instant refresher and makes such a difference!

Update the Front Door with Paint and Hardware!

Another eye-catching change to consider is replacing and/or painting the front door. We replaced our outdated and weathered wood front door and painted the new one orange. I color matched it to the clay soil in our area because it always ended up on the dogs' paws and eventually the door anyway!

white house with wood door

white house with orange front door

The first part of your house that you physically touch is the front door handle. It should be clean and secure. Why not make it attractive, too?

Add a unique door knocker or wall mounted mailbox to draw attention from the street to the front entryway.

brass fish door knocker

brass pineapple door knocker

*Ginger Tip: Did you know the pineapple is a symbol of southern hospitality? What better way to make your house an inviting home than with a pineapple door knocker!

Have fun with paint colors! When selling a house, experts will tell you to keep colors neutral. But once a house is yours, put your own stamp on it. When done correctly, a thoughtfully colored door can add some serious charm to your home.

*Ginger Tip: If you live in a neighborhood with an active HOA, check if approval is required before changing paint colors.

red front door

orange house with blue metal railing and door

Brighten up the House with Accessories!

Adding the little touches to your house can make a big difference. Consider window boxes, potted plants, new house numbers, a fresh doormat and updated lighting.

white picket fence with red mailbox

I love this little red mailbox attached to the picket fence! I'm thinking of adding a similar wall mount mailbox to my garden to keep small tools and gloves within reach.

white house with window boxes

I found these quaint house numbers on a trip to the Netherlands. Similar blue ones are available here.

roses and house numbers

These charming ceramic house numbers are a very close match to the ones below.

curb appeal front door numbers

When adding container plants to your home, remember the "Thriller, Filler and Spiller" formula to make an attractive composition of flowers and foliage: one tall plant, a couple middle plants, and a few trailing ones!

container plant by front door

Two matching potted plants placed on either side of the front door is always a classic enhancement to your home's entryway.

checkerboard entry with planters

Another option is to place two different sized containers on one side of the entry for an asymmetrical look.

container plants by door
Photo Courtesy of Ruby Eye Photography

For more ideas on potted plants (including free designs), read my post:

container garden ideas

An attractive birdbath or statue adds appeal to a flower bed.

white birdbath in flower bed

Create Cozy Outdoor Gathering Spaces

Creating comfortable outdoor gathering areas will make a house inviting to buyers. There are several opportunities to accomplish this task with any size home or budget.

Here in the South, porches or verandahs are a classic setting to sit a spell and sip some sweet tea. How's that for alliteration? Picture a front porch with rocking chairs, a back deck or patio with outdoor conversational seating, or a balcony with a bistro table set. Potted plants, a small outdoor rug, and outdoor lanterns will make these spaces cozy and inviting.

screen porch with white furniture and plants

*Ginger Tip: When selling your house, keep outdoor rooms simple and uncluttered. The spaces will appear larger and neater.

Read Cozy Porch Ideas for more tips!

What if your house doesn't have a front porch or back deck? Of the 5 homes we've owned in South Carolina, only 2 have had a covered front porch. I swore I would never own a house again without one. Lo and behold our last two houses have not! That means getting creative to add cozy seating areas. I like to add a chair or footstool by the front door.

blue door and rocking chairs

Set a metal bench or chair in a garden bed if possible.

bench in flower bed

Portable fire pits can be perfect for small spaces and for new homeowners that aren't ready to commit to a permanent outdoor structure.

fire pit with chairs

Hide the Eyesores

There's no getting around it. Every house has one (or more). Take the time to camouflage certain aspects of your property that might not be attractive to possible buyers. For example, trash bins can be tucked neatly behind a fence or privacy screen.

planter screen

Trellises with fast growing climbers like Trumpet Creeper can help hide an untidy neighbor. Strategically placed potted plants, especially palms and ferns, can go a long way in filtering an unfortunate view and offering privacy for new homeowners.

deck with chair and potted plants

Let's Put Down Some Roots!

My favorite step in making a house a home is gardening! It creates an authentic connection between the homeowner, the structure and the land.

My words of advice for the new homeowner?

Take your time and live with it for a bit.

Observe how the sunlight moves and the rainwater flows.

Most importantly-start small and keep it low maintenance!

Plant Appealing Annuals

Annuals (plants that only live for one season) are typically brightly colored and fast growing for sunny areas. They are perfect for a quick pop of color in containers, hanging baskets, and bare spots in the landscape.

*Ginger Tip: Annuals are budget friendly, easy to grow and non-permanent. They're perfect for quick curb appeal when selling and ideal while working out a broader garden plan as a new homeowner.

stone patio with table and chairs

Warm weather marigolds, geraniums, petunias, verbena and lantana add curb appeal with their eye-catching vibrance and long lasting color.

pink geraniums in window

Cool weather pansies, violas, mums and snapdragons look lovely in containers and beds when the rest of the garden is sleeping.

purple pansies

*Ginger Tip: If you don't know what or when to plant each season, pay attention to landscapers who are swapping out plants in front of subdivision entrances, city public areas, and shopping centers. They know what they're doing and are easy to copy!

Plant an Herb Garden

Putting down roots with an herb garden is another fast and low maintenance way to make a house feel like a home. An herb garden goes beyond adding curb appeal to your property. Growing nutritional plants connects the homeowner to the land mentally and physically and can be done easily in a small raised bed or containers on a patio.

Digging into the Benefits of Gardening by the Mayo Clinic provides an informative connection between plants, nature and the human body's health.

herbs in pots

What NOT to Do

Do not skip developing a plan and budget for a landscape makeover.

It's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating a new garden and coming home with tons of expensive plants only to find that you don't know where to put them all or how much space they will take up when they’re mature.

Do not invest in high maintenance plants.

Unless you are an experienced gardener with plenty of time and appropriate landscaping tools, avoid plants that will be demanding and will make you wish you had never put their roots in the ground. This is the fastest way to kill any new gardener's enthusiasm.

Examples of plants that have become a love/hate relationship for me include:

English Ivy-it looks lovely, but it grows EVERYWHERE and covers innocent plants and structures until they disappear. It requires serious maintenance to keep it manicured and under control.

Boxwoods-another beautiful specimen that I have in my own gardens that requires attention. Constant clipping and shaping are only the beginning. Pray you never have a bald spot on one bush that needs to fill in or that you lose an entire bush in a hedge that creates a "hole".

Elaegnus-a silvery evergreen shrub that grows fast and gets very large is often planted for privacy hedges. It definitely fits the bill, but comes with an invoice that never seems to get paid in full. My husband nicknamed it "Icky-agnus" because he had to spend so much time cutting it back at our last house.

Fruit Trees-who doesn't love the thought of growing their own fruit trees? It seems so easy to pick one up at the garden center and wait for your bounty. However, know that certain ones require intense spray schedules for fungus and insects. They require careful pruning and they drop fruit that needs to be picked up to avoid more pests.

Rose Bushes-you might seem surprised to see this on my list, but hear me out. I’m not talking about Knockout roses which are relatively new varieties and work well in the landscape. I'm talking about traditional roses like floribundas, grandifloras and hybrid teas. Depending upon your climate, these babies can need some serious attention. Japanese beetles love them. Aphids suck the life out of them. Black spot creeps in after the first hot muggy rainfall. They require special pruning methods to develop ideal growth patterns. Commitment, people!

Stick to low maintenance plants as you progress with updating your new property and put down your roots.

stone house with blue door

Remember that Less is More when it comes to adding curb appeal to your home. Whether you are putting it on the market or making it your own, a house feels like a home when it's clean, updated and connected to nature.

key in door

For more makeover inspiration, read Lake House Remodel Part 1.

lake house makeover

Read Hit Refresh! to learn tips for making a fresh clean start!

organized drawers

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page