They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to your home, outward appearances make an undeniably forceful first impression. And while simple aesthetic updates — a fresh coat of paint, a new set of shutters — can certainly go a long way, some thoughtful investments can increase your home’s value and curb appeal.
The best exterior home upgrades strike a balance between affordability and return on investment, creating long-lasting value that will increase over time. For example, replacing old siding with a product that features the latest technological advances, such as Hardie Panel fiber cement siding, can both create a striking change to the facade’s appearance and help increase its overall durability and weather resistance. And certain types of constructed additions, like outdoor kitchens and screened-in porches, can significantly increase your available living space (and home value), without the hassle of intrusive interior renovations.
Read on for more on our outdoor-upgrade ideas that can create real, long-term value for your home.
There’s little that alters the appearance of your home more dramatically than an entirely new exterior, whether you’re inspired by the classic Hardie Plank lap siding, (a product backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal) or are more drawn to a vertical design. The brand’s high-performance fiber cement products are a long-lasting and sustainable alternative to classic wood or vinyl paneling, meaning your investment will be well worth it in the long run. Unlike wood, the material is fire-resistant and pest-resistant; unlike vinyl, it’s extremely durable and won’t crack or warp in extreme weather. And thanks to James Hardie’s wide range of products — as well as the variety of design-savvy colors and textures they’re available in — there’s something for every style of home, from Hardie shingle siding for a Cape Cod–style cottage to large Hardie Architectural Panels for a contemporary one.
Who would turn down a new outdoor living room? Constructing a deck or a patio increases your overall living space while adding an attractive new design element to the exterior of your home. An elevated deck will preserve your green space, while a paved stone patio lets you create a natural-feeling environment that fits in seamlessly with the rest of your landscaping. Depending on your dedication to the vibe, you might even consider building a screened-in porch, complete with a ceiling fan, lighting and seating.
Beyond the grill
It doesn’t get a lot better than dining alfresco on a warm evening — except maybe if you can do all the cooking outside too. And while hovering over a grill is all fine and good, a full-service outdoor kitchen will add another level of appeal to your home, especially for those who love to entertain. Durable stone countertops, composite or stainless cabinets, and built-in appliances make for a functional exterior space that allows you to spend time with your guests rather than constantly heading back indoors to check on things. Consider installing a built-in wood-fire grill for searing steaks in style — or even, for the truly ambitious, commissioning a custom brick pizza oven.
Planting a garden filled with long-lived, low-maintenance perennials is a relatively simple way to dramatically transform the exterior of your home. For every hardiness zone (check here to find yours), there are a vast number of plants that will return year after year, growing more and more impressive as they mature. Colorful bloomers like daylilies, hostas and coneflowers will thrive in most zones, or you can opt for foliage-focused plants like holly, smoke bush or burning-bush shrubs, which turn a brilliant crimson every autumn.
If you’ve got the space and can manage the maintenance, even the humblest swimming pool, whether built-in or above-ground, can translate into a major home-value increase. It’s a much-sought-after amenity for many prospective home buyers — and in the meantime, you won’t regret the summers spent enjoying it with family and friends. If you already have one, consider adding related luxe amenities — like a cabana, hot tub or outdoor bar — to make the most of your poolside real estate.