Whether you’re looking to sell or stay put, our handy guide explains how your house can create a fabulous first impression before you even open the door
How to create street appeal whether you’re selling or staying
Real-estate agents love to bandy the phrase “street appeal” about when selling houses – but there’s no doubt about it, people generally judge a house on how it looks from the street. Even if you’re planning to live in your home for ever, it’s still nice to think that the face it shows to the world is one that looks loved and cared for. Sadly, a scruffy front garden with cracked paving or a broken letterbox says the opposite. Here are 12 easy projects to help your house look its very best from the street.
1 Front of house
It may seem obvious but there’s no underestimating the impact a freshly painted front door can make on the look of a house. Or, if it works with the style of your place, you could buy a ‘designer’ door with hardware to match. Make sure the letterbox is up to scratch, too.
2 Clear the way between the gate and the front door
The route between gate and front door may be short but it also needs to be very obvious. If this is not the case, to avoid visitors stumbling around the garden trying to find the entrance, try placing a large pot or piece of sculpture on the path as a pointer to the door. Rerouting the front path might also be worth considering. But make sure new paths follow a natural access pattern to the door or you’ll risk people cutting through garden beds.
3 Separate spaces between the driveway and the pavement
If space allows, separate pedestrian and vehicle access with planting such as low hedges or tough perennials like dietes, dwarf flax or lomandra. Even simply using different paving materials for cars and people will avoid the front garden looking like a parking lot.
4 The right-size pathway
The path to the front door should be generous, 1200mm wide at least. Replace chipped and stained pavers, or remove old-fashioned paving units and lay more up-to-date ones. Larger pavers create a more spacious feel and can often be laid over existing concrete. Ideally, select paving colours which work well with existing materials in the garden and house exterior.
5 Create a sense of arrival
Signal to visitors that they have arrived at your place with a lovely feature such as a large handsome pot, piece of art, decorative screen or architecturally shaped plant.
6 Create an area to pause and admire the garden
If you have the room, create an area where people can pause and admire the garden en route to the front door. Place a bench or raised pond with wide edges for seating alongside the path perhaps, or add a lovely artwork.
7 Get your front fence in shape
That front fences need to be in good nick goes without saying. If building a new boundary structure, consider stepping it back from the footpath a little so you can plant in front. This also leaves space for a lovely threshold area at the gate, separate from the public footpath.
8 Street wise
A great way of connecting your garden to the street is with screened openings in fences and walls. Burglars love high, imposing walls where no one can spot them from the street; strategically placed gaps would put a spanner in their works as well as allowing more light into the garden and creating a more interesting boundary structure.
9 Open up
Many contemporary homes, especially small ones, are opting for no boundary structures at all. This makes the front garden feel much bigger and sets off the architecture of the house beautifully. Carefully positioned trees, rocks and mounds can deter passers-by and animals from straying into the garden.
10 Create a planting plan
Without a fence, the planting in front gardens needs to be top-notch. Your plant selection should reflect the style of the architecture and be based on well-performing species. Don’t rely on annuals unless you plant them in pots and replace them regularly. Better to use low-maintenance species that have good form and foliage such as bromeliads, camellias, coloured flaxes, libertia, succulents, corokia, box and michelia.
Like your front door, the front gate is a portal to the space between street and house. Its appearance is a marker of your personal style so don’t settle for the bland or average, particularly when there are some great custom-built designs around. Make sure existing gates are in good condition.
12 Add some outdoor lighting
Well-designed outdoor lighting which highlights lovely architectural and garden features will significantly enhance the front of your house at night. Downlights marking steps, paving edges and the front porch are also essential.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Tobias Kraus; Robert Reichenfeld; Maree Homer; Anson Smart; Matt Lowden; Andrew Lehmann/bauersyndication.com.au.