You’ll walk through your front garden, or down your driveway, almost every day of the year, so ensuring these areas are as well-presented as possible makes sense if you want to enjoy your home to the full. It’s also a great way to increase the value of a property (not to mention make the neighbours jealous). From a quick lick of paint to more involved projects, these ideas will boost kerb appeal.
Take an objective look around to identify jobs that need doing. Blocked, overflowing guttering not only looks bad but can lead to water ingress and maintenance issues, so clear it out and replace broken sections if necessary. Cracked or missing roof tiles should also be replaced to prevent bigger problems further down the line.
Wiping down dirty fascias and soffits can give a house an overnight facelift (many larger window cleaning firms offer this service). Your home’s main facade can also be washed, but be as gentle as possible as high-pressure water can damage certain materials; loosening mortar, for example. What’s more, the patina of age is a desirable feature, especially on period houses, so think twice about removing it if it’s not doing any damage.
Declutter by pulling out weeds and removing fallen leaves, and consider concealing your wheelie bins behind a willow screen or in a timber hide.
And don’t forget the driveway and paving – give them a wash to blast off algae and other grime that could make the surface slippery underfoot.
Finishing touches for the front door area include replacing or polishing the ironmongery; adding decorative window film to side lights and over-door lights; and replacing door names and numbers with modern versions.
Timber window frames and front doors (as well as elements such as metal railings and wooden fencing) benefit from a new coat of paint every few years. This isn’t simply to make them look better but also to offer a coating to protect against the elements.
Keep an eye out for cracked or damaged masonry, which could lead to damp problems inside. Repoint brickwork where necessary (the rule of thumb is, if the mortar has recessed to more than its height, then it needs attention), and use masonry filler to repair minor cracks and holes in render before finishing with a coat of masonry paint.
Always apply products that are suited to the age of your property – older homes were built with porous lime render and mortar, so they’re not a good match for non-breathable cement.
Replacing dated front and/or garage doors can have a transformative effect. Look for companies offering matching products to create a neat, unified look – try Urban Front for its contemporary oak ranges, for example.
While modern units can refresh the look of some older properties, houses with a very definite period feel (a 1930s semi or rural barn, for example) tend to look better when paired with styles that match their original features.
A new driveway is a serious investment, but one that can make a profound difference to your home’s exterior. However, large amounts of paving can have an effect on drainage if it’s non-permeable. “Look at how to create a balanced front garden, with sufficient beds for drainage or a soakaway,” says Claire Blake, head of domestic product management at Marshalls.
Clever design can make a uniform driveway less boring. “There’s a trend for using different products together to break up the space, such as natural stone setts in small areas combined with concrete – for example, a pathway can be done in an unusual material,” says Claire. “Walling, edging and even a water feature can all make a space flow properly.”
Front-of-house illumination has a practical purpose: guiding your car on to the driveway; allowing you to see to get your key in the door; or providing an additional element of security.
Drive-over lights, incorporated into the paving, are designed to take the heavy load of a car, while low bollards add height and a sculptural element to an otherwise flat space.
Choose products with movement sensors (PIRs) if you only want the lights to come on when you’re in the vicinity.
Large, uninterrupted swathes of paving can look pretty bland. Good planting not only softens those hard edges but it also creates height and structure for visual interest. Beds can be incorporated into a new driveway, bordered by attractive edging stones that match (or contrast with) the rest of the paving.
“Too many people pave over the front garden. It prevents drainage – but it also stops you having anything pretty,” says garden designer, Dawn Perkins, who suggests a greener alternative to a small paved driveway. “You could have two strips of bricks for the car, with ground-cover planting underneath, or decorative gravel.”
For a front garden to have kerb appeal it must look good all year round. “Use a succession of flowers, but lots of structure, too, such as by teaming yew topiary balls with evergreen climbers,” says Dawn. “Opting for good-quality materials is important as they will be more on show in winter.”
Window boxes and planters by the front door are good quick fixes. Topiary balls or standard shrubs give a smart architectural appearance that’s great for modern or urban properties, while flowering plants, spilling over the top, give a softer, more profuse look.
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