First impressions mean everything, and when prospective buyers or realtors take their first look at your home, they'll immediately study your home's facade and front lawn. While an overhaul such as new siding can cost thousands, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to improve the look of your home.
Though you might not be able to force your flowerbeds to bloom, you can still amplify their aesthetics by heavily mulching it at the start of each growing season. Organic mulches that are colored with vegetable dyes, like red cedar bark, create the biggest 'wow' factor, but the color can also fade quickly, especially if you live in an area with plenty of sunlight and rain. The solution to this depends on your budget. If you can re-mulch twice per year, feel free to indulge in the higher-quality varieties. If you're on a tight budget, opt for something more durable, like pine straw or wood chips, or even entertain the notion of thoughtfully landscaping with fine gravel.
One of the easiest ways to create a more chic and modern exterior is to build a contained rock garden. Set a border that visually defines the area you want to create, clear it of all debris and plants, lay down landscape fabric, and cover the area with an attractive gravel, like decomposed granite or Russian river cobbles. By placing an odd number of eye-catching, vertical decorations like planters or blooming plants, you can visually hack the appeal of the garden. Try either one, three, or five planters. However, beware of placing this too close to deciduous trees, as the leaves it scatters will decompose into the soil, causing a weed problem within the rock garden.
Beyond landscaping, curb appeal can be boosted by amplifying trim and molding on the windows and doors of your home. If you don't want to remove the existing molding, a layer of crown added to the top can be added, with styles ranging from simple Craftsman to ornate Victorian. If you're willing to remove the existing trim, your options abound. An elaborate look can be created by adding fluted trim, topping it with rosettes, and sandwiching these between layers of crown and base molding. Remember: trim is like adding accessories to an outfit - it can elevate something basic into looking far more luxurious and expensive than it is.
Depending upon the architectural style of your home, shutters might be the missing link to a fantastic curb appeal. Historically, shutters were used to protect homes from inclement weather, but more and more they are being used as decorative elements to add texture and dimension to a home's facade. Styles range from traditional louvered rectangular shutters to far more decorative board-and-batten styles.
Some homeowners have the good fortune of owning homes that are built from bricks, such as old clay-fired red brick from the early 20th century. But if you have a cookiecutter brick exterior, try a layer of paint to freshen it up. Depending upon the desired look, you can try white for a more modern yet classical feel, or a more daring shimmery grey. If your home is clad in something other than brick, try adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door. The "red front door" has become very popular in recent years, and works very well on neutral-colored houses, adding a much needed lipstick-red pop. A more conservative home should opt for muted shades like sea-blue, sage-green, or black.
Finally, an upgrade that is friendly for all budgets - replace your house numbers. Humdrum text doesn't announce your address like a unique typeface can. Try art deco, cursive, or a modern sans-serif for a new twist.