Episode #109: (MINI) Ways To Increase Curb Appeal

In this mini episode, we’re chatting about ways to increase curb appeal. If you are looking to list your home or simply want to spruce up a bit, this episode is for you!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Thank you to Allform for sponsoring this week’s mini episode! Right now, ABM listeners can take 20% off their order by visiting allform.com/abeautifulmess.

Show notes:
-We share ideas for small, medium and large budgets.

These are the sconces I used recently (they are on the back of our house around the pool area). I used the white ones.

-It’s fresh doormat time. Here’s my favorite Etsy shop from which to buy doormats.

-Here’s a link if you want to hear more about my painted brick.

-I love shopping for vintage door knockers and vintage horseshoes on Etsy.

Thanks so much for listening!

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Episode 109 Transcript

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast in this mini episode, we’re diving into ways to increase curb appeal. With house prices skyrocketing throughout the U.S., we know many of you are planning to sell or maybe you’re just hoping to cozy up your outdoor space in a budget-friendly way. Either way, we’ve got your back and we’re here today to share ways that we’ve increased our curb appeal even on a small budget. Keely is with me today. And I am so excited because we have both been working on our exteriors this year. So we have lots of tips in this mini-episode. And there are so many different ways that you can fix up your house. So I know like in my first couple of houses, we were on a very like I want to say a very poor budget, very small budget. And like, I would only do the small budget things and it still made a huge difference. I want that to encourage anyone like we are going to talk about, like painting brick and things like that, full landscaping. And I feel like that’s a kind of glamorous for, you know, outdoor spaces. But there’s so many little things you can do, including like painting your door or getting plants that really don’t cost almost any money and they’re a fun weekend project. OK, so we’re going to go small budget, medium budget and large budget. And then I’m also going to give personal tips for just things I’ve done that made a big difference. And then I’m going to give you the ultimate house listing tip. That’s like the number one thing you can do if you’re listing your house and you — if you happen to be doing your own photos or even if you’re just working with a photographer who’s coming over, you can sort of like direct this.

Keely: I am so intrigued, Elsie.

Elsie: Ok, so for small budget. So just stand outside in your yard and ask yourself which things can I paint myself? And there’s probably something. If you have any kind of like peeling paint, like if you have a house with wood trim or decking or anything like, like sometimes there’s a concrete steps that are peeling anything like that that, you know, you can do yourself. That’s a good thing to put on your list because it’s like one trip to the hardware store and you can be started on your project.

Keely: And so inexpensive.

Elsie: Another thing is painting your front door. So a lot of times in our houses we’ve painted our front door and it’s such a nice little touch. I think that it shows your, like, personality on your house. You can pick a cool color. We’ve had a yellow door before, blue door, a black door once when I was, like, trying to feel like a real adult. And then the pink doors, yeah.

Keely: I love a pink door and I, I really regret not having a pink door at our last house. And I think I’m going to do it on this house because we’ll get into this later. But we’re planning on painting our exterior. So right now it’s just white. But I agree wholeheartedly. I think painting a door is such a small thing you can do that adds instant personality. And I also love, like thinking about color psychology when you’re painting your door because, you know, yellow is happy, green is calming. Like it’s so fun to kind of choose what you want your guests to feel like when they see your home and like, enter your home.

Elsie: So true. Last year I painted a door for staging our house to sell when I had my house I lived in for six months. That’s another story.

Keely: I love the color you chose for that door.

Elsie: Yeah. So I wanted something that had personality, but also that wasn’t like my personality. So what I chose was kind of like a sage green color. And I think it was really pretty and it kind of brought like a lightness, you know, and like…

Keely: Yeah. Very calming.

Elsie: But it also was very neutral. I guess it’s actually not neutral, but it felt pretty to me…

Keely: It really complemented the color of the paint on the exterior brick.

Elsie: And I’ve driven by the house and they did not repaint.

Keely: Oh I drove by our old house all the time and I wonder if they repaint it and they don’t. And I agree. Like it’s I feel like if I ever drove by and they repainted it, I would feel such mixed feelings. Like I’m sad that they didn’t like my color, but I’m also excited for them that they put their own spin on it.

Elsie: Right? Yeah. Yeah, I support you. Yeah. But our first home in Nashville where we had the pink door, I drove by it recently and they painted it purple.

Keely: Oh.

Elsie: So that was different. Yeah.

Keely: What color purple? Like what shade? Lavender?

Elsie: Lavender.

Keely: OK, ok, ok. I can get behind that.

Elsie: And I think it’s a one day. Well ok, it’s a weekend project to do it right. I would say two days. I’ve done it you know, with a couple podcast several times. So even if you like you can pick kind of a crazy color and then you can decide that later on you’re going to repaint it when you’re selling your house like it’s not that.

Keely: Not a major commitment.

Elsie: OK. So a couple other things you can do on a small budget are swap your lighting. So if you have sconces a lot of times houses from the 80s, 90s and newer have really kind of ugly sconces. You can swap those out for something either modern or something vintage-y or whatever you’re going for. I got some recently. I’ll put them in the show notes. They’re kind of like a like a white, like modern-looking lantern. I put them in the back part of our house and they just look really pretty like they look pretty and fresh and like they weren’t expensive. It just kind of was like instant upgrade. And another thing is to put a few plants around the door like two pots for each side of your door, put a cute plant in it. I definitely recommend snake plants are awesome for exterior because you don’t have to water them that much and they take a very long time to die like you can keep up with them and a fresh doormat. So.

Keely: Oh, yes!

Elsie: Time to haul ass to Target.

Keely: It’s a little bit sad when you look at your doormat and it’s totally faded. And like patchy a new doormat. It’s like rearranging your room or something like it kind of gives you a whole new outlook on life because it’s so fresh. (laughs)

Elsie: Yep, I agree. So that’s the small budget things and they do make a big difference. OK, so let’s move on to medium budget. So on medium budget, if you need to landscape like you can do a landscape job, like recently we ripped everything out and started over, but our landscaping was really bad. Not everyone needs to do that. A lot of times you can just trim it up or, you know, like just add if you’re landscaping is pretty good, you could just trim up a little bit and add fresh mulch and maybe that will refresh it to where it looks like a 10 again. So when we were painting her house a few months back, we, so our painter Lance, who he has been, I think we shared some of his tips on the podcast before, I will link to him in the show notes. But anyway, he was like, basically, don’t send me before and after pictures or don’t take after pictures until you redo your landscaping. And I was like, what? Me? I was very shocked. And at the moment I will admit I was like, disappointed. I was like, oh my gosh, how much is that going to cost? Like, that feels like a major thing. But then when he was pointing it out to me and showing me, it’s like everything was a different size, there was things that were dead, it just wasn’t right. And so if you have a chance to do it over, this is my number one tip. This is what we did: go for a uniform look, it can feel kind of like boring, like you’re doing like a preppy house. But I think that it looks like fresh and new and clean and maybe on landscaping, it’s good to be boring. So my priorities were to find something that was low maintenance and to find something that would last through the seasons. So in our last home, we did a lot of these like palm plants and cactus plants, which looked awesome in the summer, and it really like played to our personality. But in the winter, the palm plants all died and the cactus is kind of like drooped down like they were sad until spring came again. So in this house, I wanted to try something that would kind of like stay consistent throughout the year. So what we did was kind of like a plant for every season. So we have those big, like Christmas tree looking they’re, they’re trees, I guess, in place of bushes. So I feel like that’s exciting for Christmas because it’s like we can decorate them with lights and then we have peonies and hydrangeas for spring and summer. And so I’m excited about that. And then we have a Ginko tree for the fall, which it will just be a regular boring green tree and then in the fall it’ll turn bright yellow and beautiful while it’s…Yeah, I think that’s exciting to have something blooming each season. I think if you’re planning a like you know that you have to landscape from scratch like I did, try to take the time to plan yourself like a little treat for each season. I think that is like really special.

Keely: I’m taking that tip and I’m going to run with it. I love it.

Elsie: Are you going to landscape?

Keely: Oh, yeah. We are really entering into this full-fledged makeover of our entire exterior and landscaping.

Elsie: OK, so next we’re going to do a large budget. So the first tip is painting a house. So why don’t you tell our listeners about your experience? Because this is your first time to paint a house.

Keely: It’s actually our second time to paint a house. So we had on our previous home, it was a 1950’s ranch and we did paint it white and the accents were black. The brick was a really intense, like orange color. It wasn’t a pretty brick and it was also historic brick. So it was actually built from demolished buildings from downtown Nashville. It was very porous and it was very fragile. And so they recommended that we paint it to like prolong the life of the brick and seal it. So we did paint that house white and then our current home, it — I’m telling you guys like the curb appeal is zero, the inside of the house is what sold us on it. But the outside, it’s painted a dark brown. So it completely blends in with all the trees. Like it’s like when you drive by our home, you don’t even see it. It’s like camouflaged. So our goal is to do some things to make it stand out. So we’re going to do very similar to what you’ve done with this home is go with an earthier white, like almost a cream color that’s not so stark and that really complements, like, the mature trees and things like that. I love that tip from your painter to not go with stark white, but almost like a little bit of a green tint.

Elsie: I’ll put those colors in the show notes so everyone can see. But it reads as white when you drive by the house. But some houses when you drive by they’re like a glowing, like bad white and that is true white.

Keely: Like white out, they look like they’re painted with white out or something like it’s like very, very stark.

Elsie: Yeah. It’s really interesting. Like the idea of like perceived color versus actual color, like you can hold up a paint chip and it looks brown and then you bring it into a room or put it on a door or whatever, and then people say it’s pink. So it really depends on what you’re up against. And when your exterior is surrounded by grass and trees. There’s a lot of reflection going on there. So that’s the whole theory behind that. And it’s one of the best tips I’ve ever gotten and I love the color of our home.

Keely: Yeah it’s seriously a gem, and I’m going to use it for sure.

Elsie: So are you doing a garage door?

Keely: We’re going to do a garage door. So right now our garage was dented, which is a big, sad party fowl, like it sucks. (laughs) So we’re just like, OK, we’re going to wait to replace the garage door until we for sure have the house painted. We know we’re going to do. And I think we’re going to go with the wood garage door because really the house is just kind of flat. Like I guys, I mean it the curb appeal is zilch, like nothing. It needs some dimension. So I think the wood garage door will, like, kind of bring it together a little bit. Give it some interest.

Elsie: Yeah. For a house where the garage door is on the front…I love the wood garage door.

Keely: Yeah our garage door is on the front, so. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we’re, you know, excited about that to hopefully bring it up to.

Elsie: Yes!

Keely: Bring it up to something fun.

Elsie: Well yeah. When the time comes you’ll have to share the before and afters. I will say you’re going to love landscaping because like painting your house is the best feeling. But the second-best feeling is the day that it gets landscaped.

Keely: Oh my gosh. I can only imagine.

Elsie: It felt amazing. And I will say and the last little bit, it’s definitely the best splurge I’ve made that had a big payoff. And yeah. Let’s stop right there and take a quick break for this week’s sponsor.

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So let’s see, other large budget tips, OK, so updating your windows, so updating windows or a front door in the suburb where we live, it was like — it’s kind of funny because I was, like, joking with my friends. Like, if you drove through this suburb in the late 1980s or the 1970s, was it just a field? Because every single house was built in the 90s or the early two thousand. It’s like they built a whole bunch of houses all at once. And there’s like four historic houses. I mean, there’s more than that. But there’s very few — little bit of mid century, lots of newer in the last, you know, like I call them, middle-aged houses.

Keely: Yes. I love that.

Elsie: Houses built 40 years. Ago anyway for a 90s house or something in that realm, 80s, early 2000s. I think updating windows and your front door can be such a big improvement because a lot of times the windows can make your house look cheaper or dated and you can kind of lean it into the era that you wish it was. Which is what we’re doing with improving our windows. And the last tip I have is improving a porch. So I love porches. Porches are like a big thing to me on my house shopping list this past time. One of the things that I was not a — it wasn’t a need, but it was a nice to have — was two porches like one in the front and one in the back. And I felt like a dream house would be, you know, a wraparound porch. Like, I love porches sometimes, you know, you have the balconies and other things. So anyway, a lot of times with homes from the — middle aged homes — you can really improve your porch by basically ripping it off and building a new one, which I know sounds intimidating, but it might not be that big of a deal. So I would say if you’re in the large budget category, keep an open mind to, like, rebuilding your porch or improving it. Sometimes they need that. So personal tips. These are just a few things that I’ve tried out before that I recommend. So one of them is removing the glass storm door from the front of your house. This will give you a more photogenic front door, like if you want that, like Instagram front door, you can’t really have the glass door in front of it. And in my experience, the glass door wasn’t really like doing a lot anyway. So I didn’t feel like I lost very much by just removing it completely and just having the wood door there. My next tip is to ignore the things that you can’t afford to change, or maybe there’s things that you just like aren’t feasible to change for your home. Like every home is going to have some type of flaw or some type of thing that you would do differently if you were building from scratch. Like that’s normal. It’s OK. But my advice is don’t fixate on it. Just focus on the things that you can do and that will keep you busy. And when you walk up to your front door with, like your new doormat and your new pots of herbs and cute plants, you’ll feel that happy feeling in your heart and you won’t even notice whatever thing is that you know isn’t possible to change. OK, this is very personal, but and you can find your own thing. But I like to celebrate when we move to a new house with getting a vintage doorknocker. And when we were in the phase, when we were doing the AirBnBs, I did it for each one of them. And they each kind of had like a symbol of the city or something about the house that was special. So I also like to get a vintage horseshoe and hang it like around like above the front door or somewhere in a significant spot in the home just for good luck. So I think stuff like that is cute. Yeah. And then the last thing is to find a signature plant that you love to always plant. I like to plant peonies and I loved having them in our last home. We did two — so in this home we did six. And I was like, upgrade!

Keely: Yes! All in on the peonies. That is a great thing to be all in on. So joyful.

Elsie: It’s really joyful. They don’t bloom for very long. It’s just — and it’s a special thing. It’s like we had to buy plants. So I picked like the most special sentimental one.

Keely: Why not have the most precious plants you can have.

Elsie: Ok, are you guys ready for the magical tip?

Keely: I’m so ready. I’m so intrigued about this tip that you have.

Elsie: It’s very simple, but it makes a huge difference. OK, so for your main listing photo, like the first photo that people see on your house listing on Zillow or whatever, the most appealing photo that you can possibly have. So in my opinion, it needs to be an outdoor shot of the exterior. So for your photo, take the photo at dusk and turn on every light inside of your home.

Keely: Magical!

Elsie: You kind of have that glow through the windows like your living in a Thomas Kincaid painting…

Keely: Yes, oh, my God, yes.

Elsie: It’s that magical little thing and it will make your house listing photo, have this like cozy appealing. It’s just a little something special.

Keely: I remember this photo from one of your listing photos, and it really is breathtaking because I don’t think a lot of people do it.

Elsie: And if you’re not listing your house, just take one of these photos for fun for yourself, because I just think it’s like the nicest home photo you can ever have is where it’s like a little tiny bit dark, not all the way dark, and every light on the house is turned on. It just makes you want to walk inside.

Keely: Totally. It’s so warm and cozy.

Elsie: The last tip, this one’s a sad one, but if you know you’re going to sell your home or list your home in the next few years or even if you don’t, this is just good to have. But I recommend always taking some pictures of your home, even if it’s with your phone during its prime season, when it’s really green, when things are really styled and fresh, maybe like when you first had your, like, bushes trimmed in the spring or whatever applies to you, because how sad is it you guys have all seen on Zillow when there is like a mansion with, like dead brown grass or a pool that’s covered is the absolute worst. So sad. I cannot — my heart cannot take it. A pool that’s covered on real estate photos, it’s just like so — it’s like you did not know you were going to sell your house.

Keely: Absolutely. Yeah. Like, oh, there’s so much potential. You know, there’s potential. But you want to see it.

Elsie: Yeah. Yeah. I think having those few pictures done because especially since at least where we live the best time of year to list your house is like March, that’s dead grass season still. So you need to have that picture saved from the year before. Anyway, I hope this was helpful. If any of you are listing your home this year, get that money. We’re excited for you.

Keely: Secure the bag, babes!

Elsie: And if you’re not, I hope that this will give you at least one idea of something you can do to improve your space, your outdoor space, because I think just like driving up to your home and feeling proud of it is a great feeling to have.

Keely: You deserve that, for sure.

Elsie: Ok, don’t forget to click subscribe so that you’ll receive our new episodes every single week. We’ll be back next week. And thank you so much for listening.

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  • Great tips! I was curious what green paint color Elsie used for your previous front door? I’ve been searching for a good green for mine but haven’t found the right one. Thanks so much!

  • Great podcast ep! I really appreciate the small, medium and big suggestions depending on budget, time, etc. I am in the process of sprucing up the exterior of my older home and can be OVERWHELMING if I focus on too much at onc.! These tips are really helpful!

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