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Curb Appeal 101: Your First House

How to attempt exterior updates to your first home, with tips and tricks (and sources!).

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So, you bought your first house! Yay! And it’s a cute little starter home with tons of potential, but, it needs some curb appeal to make it feel yours…if only you knew how to make it happen.

Well, I can help with that, you know.

Here’s a great example of a cute little starter home in Aurora, Colorado. While it is currently on the market, I’m sure it won’t last long, because it is RIPE for a makeover and priced really well.

Anyway, let’s take a look:

White sided house with no detail, clean but plain front yard

My initial thoughts:

  1. It’s pretty flat across the entire front elevation. We should add some details that create depth.
  2. It’s real white, and with the black trim, it comes across as cold. We should add some warmth through color and texture.
  3. The details that are there don’t fit the scale of the house. We should find some plants and architectural details that fall more in line with the scale of the house.

But here’s what I think it COULD be:

Full Curb Appeal plan in Aurora Colorado

Cute, right? Not too much, just enough detail to warm it up and make it feel special.

So how did I get there?

I always think about any project in terms of phases: things that are quick and effective, things that require moderate investment, and how to go all the way. You can start with just one, or do everything, based on your budget and available time.

Phase 1: Quick and Effective Curb Appeal

Exterior of Colorado Home with minor Curb Appeal Enhancements

Window boxes on the smaller windows add affordable architecture, and some greenery at that level softens the entire facade.

Paneled shutters in a wood-toned color on the big window add warmth and detail.

An updated porch light, fresh house numbers, and a new mailbox bring interest. Lining them up gives a clean feel to the entrance.

Remove the security door and update the existing front door with a warm paint color.

Some modern patio chairs with warm red cushions balance the more traditional style of the house and add warmth.


  • $950 + 1 weekend DIY labor (includes S&H & Tax)
  • $20.58 / windowbox, + $30 / box for flowers + $20 for stain to match shutters = $121.16
  • $44.47 for shutters, including hardware
  • $54.43 for lantern
  • $7.98 / number = $23.91
  • $18.99 for mailbox
  • $50 for paint & supplies for door paint
  • $490.34 for 2 lounge chairs with cushions

Phase 2: Moderate Investment

white sided house with moderate curb appeal updates

Phase 2 would be everything from Phase 1 plus:

Landscaping! The original landscaping was minimal at best and lacked balance. Junipers add height to the right bed, while lanky shrubs (maybe currants?) add softness in front of the walkway on the left. Native grasses add texture and provide additional interest to the right bed.

A swanky front door and new door hardware bring richness and add presence to the entire facade.


  • $2500 (including labor & tax)
  • $750 budget for plants and/or labor from a professional greenhouse or landscaper in Denver, CO area
  • $1199 for mahogany front door
  • $142.33 for door hardware

Phase 3: All The Way

Full Curb Appeal plan in Aurora Colorado

Phase 3 would be everything from Phase 1 & 2 plus:

A custom wood pergola over the widest part of the patio and front door adds the architecture the facade is missing and creates a more intimate space to enjoy the shade of that wonderful tree. Wood stained to match the shutters, window boxes and front door adds warmth.

Fresh paint on the siding and downspouts creates contrast with the surrounding houses while adding a modern touch. The warm greige references the color of the soil in the area and the bark of that beautiful tree.


  • $6500 (including labor & tax)
  • $3500 budget for supplies and labor to design and build a custom pergola by a professional carpenter in Denver, CO area
  • $2500 budget to have the entire house painted by professional painters in Denver, CO area

So I think that’s it! Many, many congrats on the new place, and good luck with the Curb Appeal. This is such an exciting time, let me know how I can help, okay?

this post may contain affiliate links, and As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  which means that the company might give me a few pennies if you purchase with my link.  Thanks for your support!

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  1. I love your page but especially this post! As an agent, it can be near impossible to help clients see a vision for a house they are considering when cosmetic updates are really needed. This is a prime example that I can share to give them easy ideas (and therefore vision). This post actually helped recent clients reach a decision to make an offer even! Thank you! I would love to work with you on some ideas for my own home in the future too! Keep bringing these great blogs to us all!

    • Mel Sikorski says:

      Jillian, thank you so much for letting me know how this helped you and your client! It can be so hard to see the forest for the trees with some of these fixers that are currently in this particular market right now. I’m so glad it helped even a little bit!

  2. Laura Lyons, A grateful reader from Arizona says:

    Hi Mel,
    I found you while searching for information on mid century ranch homes. Wow! Yes wow! What talent! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion for design with us! May your success be as beautiful and enduring as all you create!

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