Photography by Christopher Testani
First impressions, for better or worse, tend to stick. No matter how much time has gone by, or what other events can be layered on top of an introduction, it's usually easy enough to remember how it all started. A home's curb appeal is no different.
"Besides increasing the value of a property, great curb appeal is a wonderful way to welcome one home," says Eduardo Rodriguez, founder and owner of DSGNER, and the designer of the front porch and patio at the 2021 Real Simple Home. "It also gives a sneak peek of what to expect inside."
No one wants to make a bad first impression, but if the lead up to the front door is the design equivalent of "nice to meet you," some of your home exterior's details may be doing just that. Maybe your grass has overgrown or a pathway is tough to navigate, or perhaps your paint has faded and a patio is bare. And while it is possible to overlook these tidbits—after all, everyone has made first impressions that unfortunately fall flat—it isn't too tough to turn things around, either. Rodriguez defined three rules when designing the curb appeal of the 2021 Real Simple Home, and by following his lead, it's easy to put forth a memorable first impression that makes your home seem as friendly as you are.
Photography by Christopher Testani
Use a Color Palette With Personality
When Rodriguez was figuring out the curb appeal he wanted to achieve for the Real Simple Home, he imagined a casual gathering place for both the homeowners and their guests. "I was going for a Scandinavian vibe, so the black and white color palette I chose was a perfect way to create a serene and comfy ambiance," he says. This color palette also complemented the clean lines and shades of the rest of the home, while providing a streamlined backdrop for bolder furniture. As you consider your front door design, Rodriguez recommends creating a palette that's equally flattering to your home's architecture and the other items you'd like to incorporate nearby. Even if there isn't room for furniture, you can still introduce this palette with lighting, a mailbox, and even address numbers.
A Pop of Color Sets Your Property Apart
Once you have a palette in place, Rodriguez recommends making one color pop. Not only will this bring some personality to your front steps, but it'll also do one important thing: "It sets your home apart from neighboring houses," he says.
Besides painting the front door a cheerful shade of teal, making the Real Simple Home stand out on the block, Rodriguez found interesting ways to layer black and white through patterned rugs, striped pillows, and a mix of playful and traditional furniture. "When designing outdoor rooms, it's necessary to use materials that are resistant to the elements, however, function and comfort come above all," he notes. "As for the front door, I always like to use a color to make it the protagonist of the house—it's like putting a smile at the front of your home." Painting your front door a welcoming hue can be a fun weekend DIY that has a lasting impact, but accessories can get the job done, too. "The idea here was to bring the feel of the inside out," Rodriguez says. "With that in mind, think of choosing pieces that can give your outdoor space some unexpected character while also being functional."
Pay Attention to Greenery
It's no secret that in order to capitalize on your home's curb appeal, you'll probably have to nix unwieldy bushes, uneven grass, and wilted flowers. "No curb appeal project is complete without taking care of the landscaping, however simple and low-maintenance you want to make it," Rodriguez says. But while lawns and gardens require time and attention, introducing pots and planters can also instantly improve the look of your front porch.
"I feel no outside space is complete without bringing in some greenery to pull the whole theme together," Rodriguez says. "I played with different planters and a variety of foliage to complement my design and also separate the different areas of the porch and patio."
Follow suit by using taller trees to establish a more private seating area, or let a large hanging plant greet visitors at the front door. As you wrap up your design with a handful of verdant plants, you'll be more than ready to invite guests to come for a visit.