If you drive up to your house every day and say, “Now there’s a HOUSE,” do not read on. You do not need me, and you certainly do not need Kimberly Lacy, co-host of HGTV’s Curb Appeal, whom I prevailed upon this week for her curbside opinion of my place.
But if like me, you drive up to your home and say, “Youch! Where do I start?” And then, because you don’t know, you close one eye, squint the other and dash inside with your groceries and your domestic denial, hang with me. You, too, have a case of Curb Crisis.
As with many issues in life, acknowledging you have a problem is a good first step. Knowing what to do about it is what separates regulars at the bar from regulars at AA meetings. You get what I’m saying? Even among the most intelligent, discerning individuals, I’ve noticed that the desire to see what we want to see can trump all reason and fact.
Two months ago I moved into a rental home that I’m staging to help sell. Since I don’t own the place I can only do so much. I have fluffed the inside with furniture and art; outside,I’ve spiffed the yard a little, but it’s not my place to landscape.
Still, I want to do a little more so when I drive up, I don’t want to drive by. So I sent Lacy — who will share her pointers on how spruce up your outdoor space at the Central Florida Home & Garden Show, this weekend, May 25-27, at the Orange County Convention Center — a picture of my place and asked her advice.
“When I first approach a home,” Lacy says, “I look at its curb appeal and imagine what it should look like to make it magazine worthy.”
“You mean like Photoshop?” I ask hopefully.
“The first thing I notice about your place is the gorgeous architecture…”
She’s right about that.
“…but there’s no color to highlight the details.”
And about that.
“This gorgeous home needs curb appeal.”
“It’s like those women you see at the mall, and think, gheeze, with a better haircut and a little lipstick!” I say.
“I like projects like yours where the old saying ‘a little bit can go a long way’ definitely applies,” she says. “You are so close!”
Which is the story of my life.
Then she broke the project down into manageable weekend projects. So I — and yes, you — could chip away in an organized manner. “Proper time management means you won’t end up having a lot of unfinished projects going on in your yard.”
“You mean, the neighbors won’t stop speaking to you because, in a fit of ambition, you put paint scaffolding up, left a heap of tree trimmings on your driveway, had a mountain of mulch delivered on your front lawn, and ordered a Dumpster, then petered out and left it all like that for a month?”
“You have to phase the project,” she said, and offered this divide-and-conquer approach:
Plan: Take a before picture and assess what has to be cleaned up or out. Then draw your ideas directly on a large print of your picture.
Clean: Pressure wash the roof, porch, walkway and siding. Remove debris, weeds, and dead plants. Trim shrubs and trees. Remove glass from light sconces and clean. Replace all light bulbs with clear ones.
Paint: Repaint places that have peeled, pay particular attention to sash details on windows. For my place she recommended painting the front door and side lights “Ablaze,” a fire red color by Sherwin Williams, in gloss, and the porch ceiling sky blue. (It confuses birds and insects into thinking it’s the sky, so they won’t nest there.) She also suggested using a paint stain in red chestnut, rosewood or red walnut color, to refresh the porch floor.
Plant: Cover planter beds with fresh mulch. Come up with a color scheme for plants. (For me she chose white, yellow, orange, red, purple.) Create three tiers of plants based on height. (Think choir, tallest in the back.) First tier foundation plants, second tier perennials on either side of foundation plants, third tier near front annuals or lower growing perennials.
Stage: Install fresh house numbers. (For me, 6” black iron in art deco font centered at the base of the door.) Add six container pots in teal, lime or Terracotta. Fill with flowering plants. Place two on either side of the front door, and one on each of the four pedestals outside the porch steps. Add porch furniture, and a porch swing with pillows that coordinate with the colors house and flowers.
And drive up with pride! While I may not invest in all the tasks on Lacy’s list, I’m definitely doing some, and at least I have a plan, which beats running inside with my eyes closed.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.