It Begins at the Curb

It Begins at the Curb

“How did I get here so fast? I don’t even remember crossing town”.

You are certainly familiar with the sudden feeling of arriving at your street corner and realizing your remember nothing of the road between the office and your destination.

We come and go each day on a journey of work, errands and activities that resides in the mind as much as it does on the road, or rather more so. We are constantly pondering the next call to make, the next stop at the grocery store or to pick up the kids, what to make for dinner once we get home and so on.

Our surroundings blend in with the daily hubbub. In fact, our surroundings blend in so well because we have custom-shaped them to be in harmony with our lifestyle. The inside and outside décor provide the stimuli and consistency that make us feel at home.

When was the last time you stood some distance from your home and took a great, long look? It is spring, albeit a wet spring but spring nonetheless. If you are a home seller, this is the time to focus on curb appeal.

“Outdoor decorating may be one of the best ways to improve the value of your home while maintaining a firm grip on your wallet,” points out Sarah Myrick in an article entitled “Curb Appeal Advice”, on the HGTV website.

The first and most important thing you must do in order to assess the curb appeal of your home is to look at it with fresh eyes. Here is a neat trick to help you do this. Grab a camera, walk around the property and take black & white snap shots. A word of caution: You may discover a sudden love for picture hunting and you will certainly discover that the assignment has provided a refreshing break in your routine.

Black & white photos will throw you off from the way you normally see things. They make elements and issues stand out in a new light. Do this first, and also walk around without the camera, making a list of what you see that might need your attention. It could be a hose that needs to be tucked away neatly on its holder or weeds you had not noticed before. Maybe the rocks you had placed around flowerbeds are no longer neatly aligned, or the shrubs need trimming. Now review the black & white photos and see what you’ve missed.

Also ask neighbors for their assistance and honest opinion. Stand across the way with a good neighbor and ask him or her, “If you were buying this house, what do you see right now that you would think you want to change?” Make sure you have a notebook on hand. Jot down their observations.

Often, the simplest thing will do the trick. You may love how big the shrubs have become, but if they conceal windows or other architectural elements, they also take away curb appeal. Conversely, if your property lacks the decorative touch of flowers, trees and shrubs, visit a garden center for ideas on inexpensive ways to add the right touches for an appealing, landscaped look.

Of course, you also want to pay attention to structural issues, paint and cleanliness. Plan ahead so you do not get overwhelmed or feel rushed. “Start small,” says Paul James, host of Gardening by the Yard. “For instance, plant shrubs or flowers one month. The next, decide whether to repaint shutters or pressure clean the outside of your home.”

Regardless of the extent of improvements you may require, do not be surprised to find it offers a surprisingly pleasurable new twist to your usual activities.