15 Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home

Ready to sell your home or just ready to upgrade? Starting with the first things people see when they drive by your home or walk up to your house you’ll find there are plenty of ways to instantly increase the curb appeal of your home, and the good news is: none of these home improvement projects will take very long at all!

15 Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home  Ready to sell your home or just ready to upgrade? Starting with the first things people see when they drive by your home or walk up to your house you’ll find there are plenty of ways to instantly increase the curb appeal of your home, and the good news is: none of these home improvement projects will take very long at all!

  1. Add Outdoor Art

Think of sculptural and colorful ways to increase your home’s curb appeal. Think about the elements: add a water feature, a fire feature (maybe pathway lanterns, or a fire pit), stone statues, or even tile.

15 Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home  Ready to sell your home or just ready to upgrade? Starting with the first things people see when they drive by your home or walk up to your house you’ll find there are plenty of ways to instantly increase the curb appeal of your home, and the good news is: none of these home improvement projects will take very long at all!

  1. Add Arbors & Garden Gates

Arbors and garden gates are an elegant way to section off your outdoor space, essentially creating vignettes as you would with your interior spaces. This can also be done at a variety of price points. There are plenty of inexpensive, prefabricated options on the market, but for a price, this is also a great way to get creative and customize your outdoor space.

15 Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home  Ready to sell your home or just ready to upgrade? Starting with the first things people see when they drive by your home or walk up to your house you’ll find there are plenty of ways to instantly increase the curb appeal of your home, and the good news is: none of these home improvement projects will take very long at all!

  1. Replace Old Door & Window Hardware

If they’re dated or just plain dirty from weather and typical wear and tear, replacing your door and window hardware can be an easy and inexpensive place to start with increasing the curb appeal of your home.

15 Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home  Ready to sell your home or just ready to upgrade? Starting with the first things people see when they drive by your home or walk up to your house you’ll find there are plenty of ways to instantly increase the curb appeal of your home, and the good news is: none of these home improvement projects will take very long at all!

  1. New House Numbers

Installing new house numbers with a stylized aesthetic is another easy and inexpensive way to update your home. Particularly if your home address is difficult to spot, this is also one of the more useful ways you can increase the curb appeal of your home. For added flair, consider backlit house numbers or an uplight that illuminates at night.

Installing new house numbers with a stylized aesthetic is another easy and inexpensive way to update your home. Particularly if your home address is difficult to spot, this is also one of the more useful ways you can increase the curb appeal of your home. For added flair, consider backlit house numbers or an uplight that illuminates at night.

  1. Planters and Lanterns for Symmetry

Vary up the greenery with some potted as well as planted flowers and plants. Potted plants can be great to accent either side of the front door. Additionally, lanterns are a great front porch accessory that can double as an additional light source. Adding planters and lanterns on either side of your front door can help create that comforting symmetry that is really attractive to guests and potential homebuyers.

Vary up the greenery with some potted as well as planted flowers and plants. Potted plants can be great to accent either side of the front door. Additionally, lanterns are a great front porch accessory that can double as an additional light source. Adding planters and lanterns on either side of your front door can help create that comforting symmetry that is really attractive to guests and potential homebuyers.

  1. Color Splash

There are a couple of great ways to introduce color in a decorative and functional way with your home including a home’s trim, colorful mailbox, flowers, or a front door. Adding a bright front door is one of our favorite and easiest ways to instantly improve the curb appeal of a home. It’s also a great way to take a bit of a design risk because it’s easy to fix!

There are a couple of great ways to introduce color in a decorative and functional way with your home including a home’s trim, colorful mailbox, flowers, or a front door. Adding a bright front door is one of our favorite and easiest ways to instantly improve the curb appeal of a home. It’s also a great way to take a bit of a design risk because it’s easy to fix!

There are a couple of great ways to introduce color in a decorative and functional way with your home including a home’s trim, colorful mailbox, flowers, or a front door. Adding a bright front door is one of our favorite and easiest ways to instantly improve the curb appeal of a home. It’s also a great way to take a bit of a design risk because it’s easy to fix!

  1. Path and Uplights

Properly lighting the exterior of your home is both inviting and a good security measure. Pathlights are a great, decorative way to lead guests in the right direction towards your front door from the street, and uplights can function similarly to art lights, highlighting accents, drawing the eye upward towards trees and windows and other details.

Pathlights are a great, decorative way to lead guests in the right direction towards your front door from the street, and uplights can function similarly to art lights, highlighting accents, drawing the eye upward towards trees and windows and other details.

  1. Keep That Lawn Manicured

Although the drought is officially over, with Californian water in short supply, we’ve all been trying to continually reduce our usage. But it’s a double-edged sword because keeping a well maintained lawn is good for more than just the aesthetic curb appeal of your home: It also helps reduce erosion and runoff and purifies the environment. Contrary to popular belief, your lawn may can actually go awhile without water and may not need as much as you think it does, if properly trimmed. Opt for a system that catched runoff and utilizes recycled water to maintain your lawn and be sure its properly fertilized.

keeping a well maintained lawn is good for more than just the aesthetic curb appeal of your home: It also helps reduce erosion and runoff and purifies the environment.

  1. Match the Landscape Architecture to the Home’s Style

You might love your succulents and segos, but if you have a more traditional home, op’t for a more tame landscape that compliments the style of your home. Of course, if you’re a rule-breaker like us, you read that and instantly want to rebel against it. As with all rules, design rules are also meant to be broken; what’s important is that they’re broken in a deliberate fashion.

if you have a more traditional home, op’t for a more tame landscape that compliments the style of your home.

  1. Add Seating

Too often in Southern California, we don’t fully utilize all of the outdoor space in front of our homes. Take a page out of the Southerner’s handbook and put a rocking chair or keep in typical So-Cal cool  with an eclectic space to lounge on the front porch or deck complete with seating and garden stools. Few things are more welcoming than a cozy chair.

Take a page out of the Southerner’s handbook and put a rocking chair or keep in typical So-Cal cool  with an eclectic space to lounge on the front porch or deck complete with seating and garden stools. Few things are more welcoming than a cozy chair.

  1. Upgrade Gutters & Downspouts

This is an area of the home you probably haven’t thought about in a while, but left unmaintained, it’s a surefire way to decrease your property value with shown signs of neglect. From snap-fit vinyl, to copper, there are a multiple ways to upgrade gutters and downspouts at various price points.

From snap-fit vinyl, to copper, there are a multiple ways to upgrade gutters and downspouts at various price points.

Tile Your Doorstep, or Your Door, Walkways, and Patios

  1. Tile Your Doorstep, or Your Door, Walkways, and Patios

We’re huge proponents of the architectural style that tile adds to a home. In many of our indoor-outdoor focused Southern California projects, we love a tile that starts outside and continues inside the home. We’re also always looking for new, innovative ways to utilize tile: as a walkway trim, or to frame a doorway.

Tile Your Doorstep, or Your Door, Walkways, and Patios Tile Your Doorstep, or Your Door, Walkways, and Patios

  1. Dress Up Your Driveway and Garage Door

Driveways take quite a beating. They’re often one of the first things we’d suggest sprucing up whether with new concrete or planters framing the outside. Adding a new garage door can be a pricey upgrade, but is always well worth the investment, especially with newer construction that has the garage and driveway prominently on display at the front of the home, as many SoCal homes do.

Driveways take quite a beating. They’re often one of the first things we’d suggest sprucing up whether with new concrete or planters framing the outside. Adding a new garage door can be a pricey upgrade, but is always well worth the investment, especially with newer construction that has the garage and driveway prominently on display at the front of the home, as many SoCal homes do.

  1. Add a Stone Veneer (With Caution)

You’ll want to work with an experienced architect or contractor to avoid that stone stick-on look of early aughts McMansions, but adding some stone to your home’s exterior is a great way to add style and texture.

You’ll want to work with an experienced architect or contractor to avoid that stone stick-on look of early aughts McMansions, but adding some stone to your home’s exterior is a great way to add style and texture.Repaint, Repaint, Repaint

Perhaps the single BEST way to increase your home’s curb appeal is with a fresh coat or paint, and trim. Need we say more?

How to Choose Materials for Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops

We’re excited about this week’s post because we’re discussing building materials for some of our favorite rooms in the house to design: kitchens and baths! This post is going to be a bit more technical than most. We’re really getting into the nitty gritty of selecting counter top materials, including the pros and cons of each. First, let’s talk about tile:

Click to Shop this Tile

When considering what tile to choose for a countertop, you’ll want to think about hardness and thickness. Look for tile that’s a Class 3 hardness rating on the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) scale. Generally, standard countertop tile thickness is 5/16 inch, though sometimes you’ll see quarter inch tile used.

Tile complements a variety of styles, whether traditional, contemporary or Southwestern. The heat-resistant material is ideal around ranges and cooktops, but its uneven surface isn’t ideal for baking centers.

Two Most Popular Tile Types:

  • Ceramic is the most common and least expensive countertop option. Ceramic tile is crafted from pressed clays and finished with a glaze to protect the porous material from water and stains. This can look dated when using 4×4 tiles, op’t for large slab Porcelain tile without seams instead. 
  • The second most popular tile type is porcelain. We love Porcelain! Composed of clays and minerals fired at higher temperatures, porcelain is a more durable surface, but is pricier and more difficult to install than ceramic. You’ll want to make sure you have a great general contractor on the job!

Design Details to Consider When Choosing a Tile Countertop

  • Size. Choose from a variety of sizes: from tiny mosaics up to 48-inch squares.
  • Finish. Smooth-glazed, matte, hand-painted, crackled and printed. Less glossy finishes help mask damage overtime.
  • Grout. Grout can be tinted to match or contrast.
  • Accents. Tiles can be inlayed near the range as an integrated trivet or seamlessly installed up the wall for a matching backsplash.

Solid Surfaces/Quartz Countertops

Solid surfaces and quartz are a popular selection because of their durability and how low-maintenance they are. Engineered quartz countertops are stain, acid, scratch, heat and impact resistant and, because of their non-porous surfaces, quartz doesn’t need to be sealed like natural stone countertops do, and any scratches can be easily sanded out. Made from resin-bound crystals, quartz gives the illusion of its natural counterparts, but without the same demand for upkeep. Quartz is also available in a range of colors and patterns, and ranks close in popularity to the perennial top choice: granite.

Stone Countertops

Granite & Marble

Granite, of course, is a popular choice, but it’s a surefire way to date your kitchen! We hope in  reading this guide, you’ll be open to less popular, but more timeless countertop options. Marble and granite surfaces are popular for their tough-as-rocks durability, but they do need to be resealed regularly to protect them from stains. (Granite, once a year; Marble, every few months)

Soap Stone Countertops 


Highly stain and bacteria resistant, soapstone is a non-porous natural stone that’s available in a range of gray tones with subtle veining. Unlike other natural stones, soapstone doesn’t require yearly sealing but regular applications of mineral oil will mend surface scratches, deepen the stone’s color, and add sheen. 

You’ll recognize soapstone from historic homes’ countertops, but is being used more frequently today in modern homes as countertops and sink materials.

Travertine Countertops

Travertine stone has a pitted surface that needs to be filled and sealed so it doesn’t trap food and bacteria and absorb liquids. This makes it more high maintenance than other countertop surface options. 

Concerete Countertops

Concrete countertops are highly customizable: They can be stained any color and even the texture can be customized. Concrete countertops also mix well with a variety of other finish materials, such as glass, tile. Because of its customizability, concrete counters can be on the pricy end. Concrete is heat and scratch resistant; it captures the heat as the temperature in your home rises and releases it when it cools.

Wood Countertops

For a cottage, woodland look, consider butcher-block style wooded countertops. Popular wood types include maple and oak. In the kitchen, wood countertops are both decorative and functional: they’re great surfaces for meal prep. Wood countertops are also an economical option for your kitchen, and unlike other less-expensive options, wood countertops are heat resistant. That said, wood countertops need to be properly sealed because they’re susceptible to cracking and and warping from water damage.

Stainless Steel Countertops

Modern and easy to clean, stainless steel is a sleek, low-maintenance choice for a modern kitchen. The reason you see stainless steel in industrial kitchens all the time is because they don’t need to be sealed or filled and never require more maintenance than a simple wipe-down, making them one of the most hygienic choices. Stainless steel also pairs well with numerous other styles and materials. Unless you’re opposed to stainless steel aesthetically or because of it’s often-high price point, we really can’t recommend it enough! The only other con is that you can’t cut on it the way you can with wood.

Formica / Laminate Countertops

As the most budget-friendly option, we’re seeing a resurgence of laminate countertops. They’re also increasing in popularity thanks to new patterns resembling natural stone, wood, and quartz for a fraction of the cost. Laminate is popular in retro, mid-century looks homes, but are highly stylized and trendy. They’re fairly low-maintenance and practical, but if chipped or damage, it’s nearly impossible to repair without complete replacement. 

Glass Countertops

Glass countertops are pricey, but are increasingly popular because of it’s sleek modern aesthetic. Glass countertops are easy to keep clean, and its non-porous surface makes it stain-resistant. It’s one of the most hygienic countertop materials. Not just any glass will do, however; for durability, choose glass that’s at least 1 inch thick and tempered.

How to Light Every Room in Your Home

Lighting in Layers

Lighting is decorative, yes, but it’s also a practical necessity in every home. When you’re picking out lighting for your home, you’ll want to think like a designer: think of lighting a room in three layers: The first layer is your general or ambient light, this is the source for most of the light in a room. Secondly, think about the smaller sections, or vignettes in your rooms where you’ll need task lighting. These are spaces where you may find yourself reading, cleaning, cooking, applying makeup, etc. Lastly, think about lighting as decorative accents– these are more architectural light sources that serve as much decorative purpose as plants or art, while still illuminating the space. Read on for more specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home:

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Bathrooms

In lighting your bathroom, it’s best to avoid overhead sconces because they cast shadows on your face making you appear tired, giving you big bags under your eyes. Op’t instead for sconces, which should be wall mounted at the same level as your face, typically that measures 66” from the floor, with one on each side of the mirror. This direct and balanced light on your face which will make you look your best. For an ambient night light, undercounter light strips allow you to see without turning on the lights full blast. This is great for those midnight bathroom breaks.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home and needs the most variety of light for cooking, cleaning and just showing off, so you’ll want to use a variety of task and ambient lights. This includes under cabinet (at the counter and floor level, recessed lights, or ceiling mounted fixtures like Chandeliers or Pendants above island). While cooking and cleaning, having overhead and under cabinet lighting will help you see what you’re doing. The under cabinet light strip will add more light to the work surface of the counter.  Without them, sometimes the cabinets cast a shadow on the counter making it difficult to see what you’re doing and you could chop your finger off.  (Trust me, I’ve done that! But it was also after a bloody mary, so…. Perhaps that’s a story for a separate blog post on kitchen safety!)  

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

And when you’re not in the kitchen, keeping the under cabinet LED light strip, inner cabinet with glass doors, and Island lights on dim, allows the kitchen to be the highlight of the home: a star even while it’s in the background. A natural approach is to center the sink between 2 windows for natural light along with installing a can light or pendant directly above the sink so you can see what you’re doing when cleaning dishes.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Dining Room

The dining room is where you are encouraged to bring on the drama! This is a room where you’ll want your lighting on controllable dimers. Beautiful lighting from a chandelier will cast gorgeous light on dinner guests so that everyone looks stunning. Wall sconces, and decorative mirrors will also help to bounce dimmed light around the room.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Living Rooms

Although it’s popular, we’re not a big fan of multiple recessed can lights in rooms, because they can make a ceiling look like swiss cheese.  Again, it’s best to think in layers of lighting.  Floor lamps, table lamps, chandelier, ambient like a reading lamp, directional plant lighting, or art lights. Consider how much natural light sources might come from the windows, candles, or the fireplace as well. And much like in the dining room, chandeliers are great for bouncing light up and off the ceiling rather than casting light directly on someone’s face casting shadows.  

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Bedrooms

Think soft, subtle, and simple in the bedroom: Nightstand lamps or hanging pendants on either side of the bed, a chandelier above the bed. In closets, choose lighting above the rods or inside the cabinetry. Op’t for either a pretty pendant, ceiling mounted fixture, or recessed lighting.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Focal Points, Hallways, and Stairs


In choosing lighting, think like caveman: Light is the source that helped them navigate in the right direction, towards safety. If you have a long hallway, have a light at the end. If you have beautiful art, light it in a way that will highlight its depth of color. If you have stairs, make sure the steps are lit to prevent anyone from accidentally falling.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Landscape

Think of lighting in terms of distance – the house or close to the house, mid range and street level. Don’t forget to light the street numbers so visitors can see your address. Consider uplights on plants and trees, path lights to guide guests from the street to the front door, wall sconces around the perimeter (perhaps, on motion sensor), front door chandelier or sconces on each side of front door.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Entry

First impressions are everything. Make it big and bold, illuminate the entryway. If you have a tall ceiling with a window above the door, hang a chandelier so it’s completely visible from the exterior.

A Couple Lighting Terms You Should Know:

LED Lighting
Use warm white light, staying away from anything that feels unnatural with a cold blue undertone to it.

Dimmers

Dimmers are great. They save energy and offer flexibility in bright lighting for cleaning and working, or low ambient lighting.

10 Home Renovation Tips for New Home Buyers

So you’ve got the keys for your new home–now what? It’s time to get to work renovating your new house, but you don’t know where to begin. Home renovations can be extremely overwhelming, especially to new home buyers. So read on for our top 10 tips to keep in mind when renovating your new place.

  1. Plan Appropriately

Budget, design, and schedule ahead of time. You don’t want to get impatient and dive in head first, or you’ll inevitably find yourself overwhelmed and over-budget! With that said, you do want to be flexible. Various issues often arise throughout the design-build process, which we wrote about in a separate post here.

2. Prioritize

Separate ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’ Some home improvement projects are purely for vanity’s sake, which is fine, but don’t prioritize these over those that will improve the function of your space.

10 Home Renovation Tips for New Home Buyers

3. Keep a Contingency

Keep a realistic contingency (will vary based on the scope and age of your home) 7%-10%. If you don’t use it, you don’t lose it – buy new furniture or go on vacation from renovating your home.

4. Test for Toxins

Before beginning any home renovation, you’ll want to have your contractor test for lead and asbestos. 

10 Home Renovation Tips for New Home Buyers

5. Think Outside

Don’t forget the outside of your home! Add some curb appeal with some custom landscaping and utilize your outdoor space as a living space. Outdoor kitchens and living rooms are among the most in-demand outdoor renovations. We wrote all about how you can revamp your outdoor space here.

6. Small Facelift Vs. Major Overhaul

It is tempting to want to do everything at once and get a little overzealous in doing so. Realize when something just needs a small facelift instead of a complete redo. Consulting with a designer or general contractor can help you figure this out, which can save you lots of time and money in the long run.

10 Home Renovation Tips for New Home Buyers

7. Take Your Time

Do it right – don’t rush things and cut the wrong corners by doing things like buying cheap materials that won’t stand the test of time. Consult with your general contractor who can help you come up with a realistic timeline for your renovation.

8. Add Value

Consider what is adding value to your home. Adding a pool in your backyard may be tempting, but it’s more likely that kitchen or bath renovation will better increase the value of your home, if renovating is all about getting return on your investment.

10 Home Renovation Tips for New Home Buyers9. Think Long-Term

Part of adding value to a home is making sure it’s built to last! You don’t want to be too trendy – think classic in terms of style and materials, especially if you’re renovation with reselling your home in mind.  

10. Hire a Great Team!

Home renovations can be incredibly stressful when you try to do it all yourself. Leave it to a professional but make sure you’re hiring the perfect contractor for the job. We wrote all about how to vet your general contractor before you hire them in a separate blog post here.