Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Four "C's" of Curb Appeal

Pulling into the driveway, distracted by the competing interests of a busy household, the exterior curb appeal of a home becomes nearly invisible to the occupant at times.  Thus, it's important to occasionally regard it with a fresh eye. 

Pull over and spend a couple minutes observing your abode from the street.  What is the impression given to a first time viewer? Look at the other homes on the block.  Which do you admire most, and why?  Glancing back, would you wish to be your own neighbor?

If the answer's "No," perhaps a few improvements are in order.

Curb appeal of a home depends upon the four "C's": 

Compatibility, Color, Contrast and Cleanliness:

Compatibility:   Are the features of the home and garden consistent with the style and period?  Coach lights on a modernist cube would not be complementary.  Cape Cods and Tudors call for a different exterior planting style than a Colonial.  A tangled English garden is lovely, but confounds the clean lines of an American bungalow.

Color:  Is the color of the home and trim consistent with exterior plantings?   Purple pansies or wave petunia look fabulous against a yellow sided home.  The most stand-out color?  Surprisingly it's white!  Clean white blooms against dark or red brick or planted along evergreens really pop.  Red blooms may fight in tones with a similar exterior.  Lay down some red Knockout Roses against a white Cape Cod and the contrast is lovely.

Contrast: Too much neutrality renders the home invisible.  It's difficult to duplicate the same hues amongst plants and bricks and mortar.  There's no need for the yard to be "matchy matchy."  It's not just the blooms that provide contrast, and thus interest.  In the long run it's the staples of the garden, the shrubs and trees.  Lighter bark stands out against reds and browns, darker trunks against whites, tans and yellows.

Cleanliness:  Nothing spoils curb appeal like overgrowth or an unkempt look.  Shrubs and trees shouldn't block or overwhelm windows.  Hedges are meant to be clipped and thinned.  Sweep the front porch, and send dried annuals from the previous year to the compost heap.   Crisply edge not only the lawn, but the front beds which should have some curvature to soften the lines of the home.  Shrubs should be trimmed and natural mulch is mandatory.  If the yard contains growth other than trees from grandmother's era, then some removal and updating is necessary.

Recycle bins should be stored out back. Welcome mats are exactly that. 

Rule of thumb--less is more.  Keep it simple and clean. The front steps are not the best place to display the entire collection of antique butter churns.

Play up the highlights, the unique features of your home--the appeal won't end at the curb.

More Articles of Interest:

Curb Appeal -- Leaving Normile

Hens and Chicks -- Garden Bouquets are Cheep!

When Should I Plant Annuals in Southeast Michigan?