By Laurie Lee
front of house Curb Appeal
Help your house put its best facade forward with these nine easy, budget-friendly improvements. Photo credit: Alison Miksch
It's no secret that symmetry is pleasing to the eye, so lead guests into your home through an entryway balanced by a pair of high-impact furnishings. Flank your stoop with oversize planters or overflowing baskets hung at eye level. Don't have anything big? Be creative: Two outdoor accent tables or plant stands set with pretty potted arrangements or vines growing up a few feet of trellis can work as well. Photo credit: Getty Images
Create a Welcoming Entrace: Accessorize.
Your mailbox, kick plate, door knocker and house numbers are all opportunities to introduce some shape and shine. Look for decorative accents that relate to the period and style in which your house was built and that are designed in a similar finish to your door's existing hardware. But do make sure that address numbers are readable. Stick to black or oiled bronze if your paint color is pale and use lighter metals for dark surfaces. Photo credit: Lowes.com
COST: From $4.98 each for house numbers at Lowes.com
Create a Welcoming Entrace: Personalize it.
Take the time to create something homemade for a look that's unique and inviting. Use your imagination: A DIY wreath, custom-colored planter (spray-paint a terracotta pot in a glossy finish to mimic glazed ceramic) or hand-painted sign all indicate a lived-in, and loved, home. Visit the "Outdoor Decor" board at Pinterest.com/WomansDay for inspiration. Photo credit: Thinkstock
COST: From $5 for materials
Draw inspiration from outrageous Sharpie art.
Spruce Up Your Yard: Add bright flowers.
Just a little planning now will pay off next spring. Visit local nurseries for new varieties and color combinations of popular flowers like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths to plant this fall, before the first hard frost. For the greatest impact, plant the bulbs in groups to create a pattern around your house. Space them about 5 inches apart from each other in sets of 10 or more for rich blocks of color. Photo credit: Getty Images
COST: $25 to $50 to cover a 20-square-foot bed, depending on the variety and size of bulbs
When it comes to your front yard, neatness counts. No matter how beautiful your house is, unkempt shrubs or an overgrown lawn detract from the overall impression. Cut back bushes that have grown beyond the bottom edge of your windows and any flowers that have spilled onto the lawn or sidewalk. A lightweight cordless trimmer makes the job a quick afternoon project. Photo credit: BlackandDecker.com
COST: $55 for GSL35 Lithium 2-in-1 Garden Shear Combo; BlackandDecker.com
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A yearly power wash will make your house look freshly painted. Rent a 2,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) washer from your local home improvement center to tackle vinyl, aluminum or wood siding (for older, more delicate wood or masonry use 1,500 PSI or less). Water should do the trick, but if your house needs a deeper cleaning, use a mild detergent designed for power washers like Simple Green House and Siding Cleaner. Photo credit: n/a
COST: From $50 for 4 hours, depending on your area
Adding it around your entire yard can be costly, but just a touch of white picket or other fencing is an affordable way to highlight a particularly pretty part of your lot. Knee-high garden fencing will need to be replaced every year or two, but it's worth it because it's inexpensive, attractive and easy to install. Pound 18-inch-high fencing into the ground with a mallet to frame a curbside mailbox, encircle your favorite red maple or mark off the beginning of a walkway. Photo credit: Shutterstock
COST: $4.50 per 3-foot length at Home Depot stores
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Craft a Dazzling Front View: Repaint the door.
A colorful door instantly sets your house apart from others on the block. Vibrant red is popular, but don't count out yellow, turquoise or green as alternatives-consider it an opportunity to try a bold shade you might hesitate to put on your walls. Whichever you choose, go with paint that has a glossy finish so the color stands out and better resists scuffs and scratches. You won't have to repaint as often, saving you money in the long run. Photo credit: Gap Interiors
cost $30 to $50 for a gallon of high-gloss enamel-based paint
Craft a Dazzling Front View: Illuminate your exterior.
Add ground-level outdoor lights and adjust them so the beams focus under the eaves of your home, showcasing its architecture. Try solar-powered floodlights that stake into the ground. They don't require an outdoor electric line, so they won't add to your energy bill (just be sure they're exposed to the sun for several hours a day). If you don't want to keep your whole home lit overnight, set the lights on a timer or spotlight just one zone, such as the front landing or a dark corner of your property. Photo credit: Getty Images
cost $27 for a 2-pack of home solar floodlights at target stores
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