Save the big cash for major projects. Update your porch — and curb appeal — with these inexpensive tips.
When you’re hoping to add curb appeal to your home, look no further than the part that’s closest to the curb: your porch. A porch makeover can help you make a great first impression on visitors, and it provides you with a pleasant place to spend some time, whether you’re living in Nashville, TN, or San Diego, CA. Here are a few ways you can update your porch’s look without spending more than $1,000.
Before you start any porch upgrade, walk across the street to get a feel for how your home looks from afar. “Decide if the shrubs, furnishings, shutters, door numbers are proportional and in good condition,” says Kim Trouten, a Charlotte, NC–based real estate agent and interior designer. You might find that your porch has lost its luster, or that the landscape bed beside it is too shallow, or your columns are too narrow. It’s a good starting point.
There’s rain, heat, and possibly snow, plus foot traffic and other wear and tear — your porch can look dull over time, and a simple cleaning can help. “Paint and power wash go a long way,” Trouten says. Use an outdoor bleach solution that’s available at a home improvement store. It attaches to your hose and works fast. After you clean, you can better evaluate what needs painting and updating. Here’s a tip when painting outdoor columns and shutters: Avoid semigloss paint that reflects sunlight, Trouten says, and opt for satin for trim.
Update your entrance
Perhaps nothing can make a front porch pop more than a freshly painted door. “Doors are where you should let your personality shine,” Trouten says. Keep in mind that paint shows up more intensely outside than on the swatch. Light colors, for example, tend to wash out and appear pale. “Get samples and try them,” she suggests. “Once you find one you like, live with it for a week before making a decision. The shock of a new color on a door can take time to adjust to, but with the right accessories, can be a fabulous statement.”
Replace your door
If paint’s not the problem (your door maybe just has no style), buy a new one. If you don’t need a custom size, you can usually get one for under $1,000 with installation. “It can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your house,” Trouten says. She suggests a three-quarter glass or transom style for the most up-to-date look (half-glass can look too traditional). If you have a storm door, evaluate how well it’s working and whether it adds to or detracts from the style of your home.
Mind the little things
Add appeal with hardware. “Unique and substantial door handles, door knockers, vintage mailboxes, doorbells — they all add new interest,” Trouten says. Just be sure to look for quality solid metal, nothing too kitschy. “An old 1940s screen door can look wonderful, but a 1970s one? Not so much,” she says. Make certain the house numbers on your porch can be clearly seen from the street.
A welcoming sitting area or porch swing can add warmth. Be advised, though, that a porch swing needs plenty of space. No room? Pair a couple of small chairs with bright seasonal throw pillows that can be changed to add interest year-round. “These are all ways you can make your porch beautiful and functional,” Trouten says.
Increase style and substance
Using cedar or paintable wood to beef up columns can make a huge difference, especially on a newer “production house,” Trouten says. “Remove the manufactured shutters and have rustic painted cottage-style shutters added for a custom look,” she adds. Also, trim windows and add larger trim around your door; it will make your home feel more substantial. “Try adding a flagstone step or a stone veneer to your foundation front. This can also add style and substance,” she says.
Perfect the path
Guests will know whether they’re welcome and whether you take pride in your home based on their walk to the front porch. For starters, ensure your pathway is wide enough. If it seems too narrow, line it with bricks or pavers on each side to give it a bit of character. “[The path to your porch] should have a gentle curve to the house, an introduction,” Trouten says. “Your walkway should be well-groomed, clean, and inviting to your porch, which is really an extension of your home.”
Very few porches are large enough to hold lots of stuff. So you love roosters? It’s fine to show your personality, just don’t go overboard. If your porch is big enough to sit on, be sure you choose the right-size furniture. If your porch is small, add accents like a console table, rug, or bench. Make sure you choose complementary colors and use them carefully in throw pillows, large pots, and maybe one or two other accents like lanterns, Trouten says. It’s best to use less on your porch than you think. “The point is to make it inviting to sit on, not a display area for your favorite decorating ideas,” Trouten says. “If you keep it simple, it’s a fun spot to create a little peek into your home and life.”