Six cheap DIY ways to improve a home’s curb appeal

First impressions are everything. Whether you’re selling and looking to increase the value of your property, or simply want to beautify, some TLC for your home’s exterior and front yard can instantly make it more attractive. Here are six essential — and cost-effective — ways to boost your curb appeal.

1. Big pot-ential

Flower gardens are a good way to make a strong first impression, but not everyone has the space. So we recommend creating a garden made entirely of potted plants. “Pots themselves can be beautiful,” says Karen Sebastian, a landscape architect based in Waltham. She suggests plastic pots because terra cotta can freeze and break in New England winters. Geraniums and petunias are smart bets because they flower throughout the growing season.

2. Step back, declutter

The hardest mess to recognize is usually your own, which is why Cape Cod landscape architect Bernice Wahler recommends looking at your house from the street for a different vantage point. Then clear out anything old, misshapen, or outdated, including dead shrubs and toys your children aren’t using. Decluttering your front yard is just as important as decluttering your living room, according to Wahler. “The landscape is setting the tone for what your visitors and/or buyers are going to be expecting inside,” she says.

3. Keep it clean-cut

Keeping the edges of your lawn and garden clean and tight is like getting a haircut before a job interview — simple but a major confidence booster. Weeding out anything that isn’t supposed to be there and, using a spade or edging tool, clearly defining boundaries, can have a dramatic aesthetic effect on your property.

4. Light up the night

Nothing beats natural light, but when the sun goes down, opportunity arises. Use lights to illuminate your porch, trees, and shrubs — creating a dramatic, inviting effect. The abundance of solar-powered LED lights makes this cost-effective and energy-efficient. Wahler recommends low-level downlighting to help create “spatial depth and expression.” In addition to pleasing the eye, outdoor lights boost home safety by increasing visibility.

5. Front-door makeover

A new paint job goes a long way. Repainting the entire house can be costly, but a fresh coat on the front door can breathe new life into the facade. Pick a color that pops — purple, red, or orange — especially if your home’s exterior is muted. “When you’re talking about curb appeal, you’re really dealing with distance because your viewer is going to be primarily someone that is passing by in a vehicle or walking on the sidewalk,” Wahler says. “So whatever you do, it does need to be a little bit more bold.” High-quality paint from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and the like is worth the investment, and shops often have someone who can consult on color.

6. Furniture isn’t just for inside

Speaking of front yards, think of yours as an extension of the home and furnish accordingly. Whether placing a table under your favorite tree, for reading or coffee, or finding stylish chairs for the front porch, Sebastian says the right furniture makes “people want to imagine they can live there.” Outdoor furniture is abundant at most home improvement stores, but consider buying secondhand, vintage furniture to add character.

Julian E.J. Sorapuru is a Development Fellow at the Globe and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JulianSorapuru

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