It is a truth universally acknowledged—by real estate brokers and home improvement sites alike—that anyone looking to increase the property value of a home on the market need only renovate their kitchen or baths to see maximum results. But the real truth is that, short of a major overhaul, there are lots of smaller, less time-consuming—not to mention more affordable—things you can do to guarantee your house makes an impact on potential buyers.
“Did you know that the front door and surrounding details can make or break a first impression?” says Annie Hoover, associate broker at ERA Reardon Realty in Jackson, Michigan, who has seen firsthand what a difference a little paint can make. Curb appeal will not only attract prospective buyers—and maybe even generate some healthy buzz in the neighborhood—but it will also make your house feel like new. Even if you’re not quite ready to sell, you might as well enjoy your property to the fullest, and these updates will catch the eye. Every time you look out your front window or pull into your driveway, you’ll notice how great things look, and is there any feeling better than that?
With all that in mind, we asked Hoover to share five easy fixes that will transform your home’s exterior without breaking the bank (or your back). Some of them will surprise you.
Consider the front door
“If you’re on a budget, give doors a face-lift with a fresh coat of paint and a new or recently polished handle and door knocker from your local or online hardware store,” Hoover says. “Paint can be bought for less than $200 depending on the brand, and a really elegant door knocker or handle starts at $45.” Of course you could replace the door altogether with something more dramatic. “An arched distinctive door with sidelights will knock the socks off any buyer.”
In search of front door ideas? We’ve got you covered with these beautiful examples from the pages of AD. When it comes to paint colors, there is no shortage of fun options. Classic reds, royal blues, and forest greens complement traditional exterior styles, while funky teals, yellows, corals, and lavenders add personality to contemporary or midcentury modern houses.
Grab the gardening tools
“If you have the room, anchor each side of the door with potted plants,” Hoover says. “Potted plants are an efficient, fragrant, and inexpensive way to add a pop of color, which is important to buyers. Also avoid plastic containers and be sure to use ceramic or terra-cotta pots to add a touch of subtle opulence.”
You can find affordable potted plants almost anywhere these days—order them online or scoop them up at your local hardware store. Try simple boxwood topiaries, ferns, colorful petunias, or even cactuses, depending on the look at your house.
Create a walkway
“Create an inviting walkway to your front door with beautiful blooms or shrubs,” she says. Hydrangeas are among Hoover’s personal favorites. “Depending on your preference, many can be found for under $30 and are easy to plant. If you have an area along a walkway leading up to your front door, go for bright blue and pink colors—they have a huge impact and are typically very low maintenance and cost efficient.”
Mask with mulch
“A few bags or a small truckload of mulch can turn dry or imperfect soil into a rich and striking border along walkways and around trees and foliage,” she says. “Depending on how much you need, you can find it for as little as $3 to $10 per bag.”
If you’re looking to invest in your home’s beautification, you can seek out higher-quality mulch. “Don’t get the chunky wood bark nuggets from the hardware store; go to a landscape supply yard and get the rough, imperfect-looking stuff,” landscape designer David Godshall of Terremoto once told AD. “It’ll gray out in the sun and look beautiful, and keep the roots of your plants cool and healthy.”
Make it inviting
“To add character and warmth to your exterior entryway, purchase a new (read: clean) welcome mat and hang an elegant outdoor wreath (these can be as low as $40),” Hoover says. “Nothing says ‘curb appeal’ like a welcoming and warm entryway.”
There are so many attractive doormats to choose from that won’t be an eyesore. Plus, they are practical—ensuring that any guests or prospective buyers don’t track mud inside.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest