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Landscape Design Ideas: House Exterior Curb Appeal

In my next life, I want to be an interior designer. I love decorating and home decor, taking on projects, and helping others do the same.

Many homeowners spend a lot of time and money taking care of the outside of their house.  In addition to the lawn, this involves roofs, gutters, the structure itself, and pavements too.  Good maintenance and upkeep is necessary in order to not only keep up the appearance, or curb appeal, but also to keep up the property’s value.

Some homeowners are concerned about “keeping up” with neighbors, some are motivated only by resale value, and some simply enjoy the pride one feels when their home is and appears well maintained.  Whatever your motivation is, anyone can benefit from a few basic tips to make their house look better. Of course, the first step is to make sure your lawn is green and mowed and basic repairs are taken care of, like a loose mailbox or light fixture and such. 

Your House's Trim

Some houses are balanced or symmetrical, meaning that the front door is in the middle of the structure and it’s flanked by en even number of windows on either side.  Some are not.  If your house is symmetrical, your trim can be just about any color that you like, even if it contrasts sharply from the rest of the house.  On the other hand, if your house is asymmetrical, or not balanced, then its trim should stay somewhere in the same color family as the rest of your house’s exterior.  It’s less visually jarring and creates a more elegant look that way. 

This home's exterior is asymmetrical and the trim is close in color to the rest of the house which gives it an elegant look and feel.

This home's exterior is asymmetrical and the trim is close in color to the rest of the house which gives it an elegant look and feel.

Ths house's tan trim stands out from the pale blue paint on the rest of the house, but it looks good because the it's balanced - symmetrical.

Ths house's tan trim stands out from the pale blue paint on the rest of the house, but it looks good because the it's balanced - symmetrical.

Focal Points Are Not Just For the Interior

The outside of your house should have a focal point, too. When you step back and look at your house, ask yourself if it draws you in and if feels balanced. Focal points for the exterior of your home can be an ornamental tree, a symmetrical hedge, a stone pedestal with a sundial, or a decorative sculpture. See some great focal point photo examples below.

I’m on the Outside Looking In

Sometimes, when decorating the insides of homes, people forget to think about how certain things, like window treatments, will look from the outside.  If each room in your house has different window treatments, it can make the view from the outside choppy.  Create a smooth visual appearance by keeping your window treatments uniform – or at least line the backs of your treatments the same, so they appear the same from the outside of your home.  If you have a multi-story home, the treatments on the first floor should all be of the same material and color, or at least appear that way from outside. 


This perhaps is a matter of personal taste, but to maintain an elegant and balanced look, all of your outdoor (potted) plants should be in the same type and style of container or pot.  This also applies for hanging plants, if you have them. 

Stash the Trash

If you have no choice but to leave your garbage cans outside, make sure you do something to conceal them, such as a covered bin made of wood or a tall hedge.  Except on trash day, seeing garbage cans on a home’s exterior is one of the most unattractive things that you can have and it can drive your curb appeal way down. 

You Have Mail

Every exterior detail of your home is exposed, so it’s important to pay attention to them, and that includes your mailbox. Many homeowners forget to consider the effect that a crooked or badly painted mailbox will give to the overall outside appearance of their home; but in fact it tells the world that the house behind the mailbox may not be cared for either.

For a customized look, paint your mailbox and the post the same color as the trim on your house, or paint the box solid black or white.  Use paint to neatly apply your house number to the mailbox or attach metal or wooden numbers to the mailbox post.  Don’t use self-stick numbers because they can look sloppy and cheap. 

Traffic Patterns

Just as you would make sure not to place a chair of sofa in the middle of your living room’s traffic pattern, you need to consider how people get from your driveway to the front door.  If the existing pattern forces people to waste steps, then consider changing it; many homes have pathways that make a decorative statement but are very impractical for both residents of the house and guests.  Try and cut down the distance one must walk from your driveway or street to your front door.

Avoid "Cutesy" Decorative Items

Unless you have a tiny, colorful bungalow in Key West, please no plastic flamingos!  Other things that should be avoided to maintain a refined appearance are wind socks (too “cute”), whirligigs, lawn ornaments, and plastic outdoor accessories.  Some of these may be acceptable for your backyard, though, which is not so visible. 

...and for some interior home décor, check these out:


Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on August 17, 2011:

Great hub, I love the curb appeal Do's and Don'ts, some really good points here. We have a sidewalk in front of our home, but it didn't stop us from trying to make it look good. All the more reason as more people walking by. Thanks for sharing this info!

RichardCMckeown on July 01, 2011:

Fantastic hub and photos. Thanks for sharing important tips for landscaping.

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Ingenira on July 11, 2010:

Yes, avoid "Cutesy" Decorative Items, something real and natural is better.

equealla from Pretoria, South Africa on July 11, 2010:

I think you gave me an idea for a fun hub. Just have to go and take some pic's first!

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on July 11, 2010:

@equealla - I would love to see it, I bet it's fun! There are, of course, exceptions and different "rules" in different countries and/or cultures.

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on July 11, 2010:

@BkCreative - you're right. People complain about HOAs, but sometimes it's a necessary evil in order to "keep up appearances" of neighborhoods.

@2besure - you, too, are right! I often do that as well, especially in my neighborhood - I always look at the houses before mine as you pull in to my neighborhood and two or three of them always stand out, in a bad way, because of their lack of curb appeal, yet it wouldn't take much to give them a needed boost...

Thanks for the comments!

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on July 10, 2010:

Very cool hub! I often drive down the street and look at nice house that would be beautiful houses only if they added a little splash of color and design to the landscape. It makes a world of difference.

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on July 10, 2010:

Such a good idea - curb appeal. I think this is where homes should begin - outside and with the community. No one wants to look at a horror show. There has been such a tremendous movement to HOA - homeowners associations because of the horrors some people have done to their landscapes. Not to mention the neglect.

Thanks for the information!

equealla from Pretoria, South Africa on July 10, 2010:

You will be amazed to see some of the colour mixtures of some houses here in South Africa. The most non compatible colours are mixed together. Surprisingly, it actually looks not that bad. But I must agree, the flowers and the postbox, well uhm....!

breakfastpop on July 09, 2010:

This is a really smart and helpful hub.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 09, 2010:

Thank you for a wonderful and helpful hub

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