How to upgrade curb appeal on a sideways house?

yotariderApril 16, 2010

Ok, well we bought a house last year that is a MI style tri-level of about 1500 sq ft with a 2 car garage, the house in all doesn't look to bad and we are actually cutting the grass (which the last owner did NOT do) and keeping the yard clean. Just not sure what else I can do to improve curb appeal to potential buyers when I transfer in 4 years. When parked in the driveway the ONLY thing you can see is the garage, I am thinking maybe keeping the small sideyard/backyard clean and tidy will help and having some nice landscaping in the sideyard/frontyard. I already have plans to make the fenced in backyard look nicer, which includes adding a kids playground (just installed last week), a nice fire pit/sitting area (this summer I hope), a nice size garden, and painting the shed and doghouse.

I am baffled for ideas on the front though. Any thoughts?

heres some pictures from when we were moving in last November.

currently all we have really done outside is replace the ugly old peeled gold paint lamps with nice black lamps with frosted glass.

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I also want to add that we are going to do some landscaping, 2 owners ago someone actually cared about the house and had a small pond and some stuff put in, we are going to clean that up and redo it so it looks nice. Heres a few pictures of that:

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 8:02PM
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The pictures are not showing for me. Can you please try again.

Sounds like you have the right idea on keeping any thing visible from the front neat and tidy. The rest is hard to comment on with out seeing.

We have a side way house too. the actual front door is on the side of the house. But it was the only way it would fit on our lot.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:17PM
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What does it look like on the back side of the house when viewed by the street? When the truck isn't there?

One option might be running an arbor or something from the front porch to the edge of the garage, or something with a roof - so there is an attractive entry facing the street.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 12:25AM
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yotarider, I can't see any pics either. can you post a link?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 12:59AM
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Marti, your idea of an arbor was in my mind before I read your reply.

I was wondering what "sideways house" meant. Does it mean that most folks will approach the house from the driveway side? If that is it, I'd make sure to keep the garage closed. It also needs to have some indication of WHERE IS THE FRONT DOOR when folks drive up there. And that is where I realized you could put an arbor on the right hand side (front yard) of that garage, make it have the same sunburst pattern as above your garage door, and plant something hardy to vine upward on the arbor. If you do not want to invest in a long wooden arbor, you can try a series of just archway arbors, and make a really solid surface walkway welcoming folks to your front door.

I'm not a fan of that rock garden in the front of the house. It detracts from the house, draws attention to itself, and it is far from attractive. Rock gardens on flat ground just do not look natural being there. If you are a fan of such features, put it in the back yard which can be more personal. And if your home is in Michigan, which is the way I read MI, then it might not work to put bricks down to replace the rock. But even in MA where my DH has a house, he has those cement pavers to make a walkway, and also made part of it wide enough to be a patio...the patio in FRONT of your house would be more useful to future buyers than the rock garden. You could also landscape around it with dwarf boxwood, purchase them small when they are cheaper, and in 4 years they will look more impressive.

Do you have a deck or a porch to sit outside? I'd put a couple of rocking chairs out, in the right season, to watch the sunset--or if it is a morning sun you get, put a small table and two chairs like that is where you have coffee. A patio set--table, umbrella, 4 chairs--would look pretty good to any family.

Is your neighborhood mostly younger families with kids? Then the playground equipment would be of interest to those families with smaller kids. But not so much for those with teens or college age kids.

Sorry this reads so disjointedly, but my internet connection keeps blinking out on me. I can see your pics.

There is another forum called BUYING AND SELLING HOMES or something like that. You can learn a lot by reading their posts and getting the feel of the way they look at things. Some of them are professional realtors, not just folks who want to make their homes comfortable and attractive and well maintained. Hope you come up with a plan you can live with. We can respond more on-point when we know your house better too.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 2:21AM
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Love to see the photos too. Why are some of us not seeing them?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 5:28AM
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LOL Emaginer when you said that I went back to the first post to try again to see pictures. Hover your cursor around in the blank area where the link is supposed to be. The cursor will turn to a hand, Click and the pictures open. Stroke of luck I discovered this. I suppose it has to do with the tags used or another GW thing going on.

I agree you might be better off with a more distinct path up to your front door to direct people that way. Since we do not use our front door I have not done that yet. We have a porch on the end of our house where your garage is and use that door.

Very cute house. A little more landscaping around the front door area and wide path could make a huge difference.

One little nit picky thing to me and not meant in a mean way. Maybe put a facing on the steps in back on front side of the treads. In the pictures they look like a stack of pallets and a facing would make them look more substantial with out much cost.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 10:35AM
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I agree on the steps. they look rickety. also, is there a bush in front of the doorway? I'd remove that so the door isn't hidden from view. I'd also remove the rock garden (tho I love rocks - I have tons of them) and maybe pave that area in (or cement) for a patio area. A porch or deck would be good also. I'd do 1 or 2 places with several flower pots and that's it. they're too spaced out now and look cluttery.

you need a nice pathway from side of drive to front door area.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 6:37PM
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Hope I did not sound too abrupt in my first post. I apologize.

The rocks do bother me, and I see it as a potential trouble spot, because kids will be kids, and seeing who can throw a rock the furtherest will be a big challenge.

If you want to keep them, try putting them in a pattern which looks like a dry stream bed, and planting flowers around the edges. But in my book, small rocks equal big trouble.

Let us hear what you think about the suggestions so far. Have you found more places to look for advice or at least ideas? If you are not familiar with plants that are hardy in your area of Michigan, jump on over to the Garden Forums on this site, and find the forum which covers your area of the country. They know a lot which could help you get a lot of bang for your buck in the time you have.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 11:21PM
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OK, so I went out and took some photos of the front from the street without the moving truck.


Here is a link to the entire album:

you can look at all the older pics and the new ones I just took.

The "Front" Door and main entrance is around to the right of the house.

There is a Sliding Glass door from the dining room on the left side.

We had some flowers that came out of ground and my wife is working on getting some more stuff ready to plant. (shes still growing them inside until were done with frostings)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 6:29PM
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Oh, also wanted to say thanks for all the feedback I have already gotten, its given me a few ideas of things to try.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 6:36PM
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OH I did not notice the walk way in the first pictures.
Guess it was registering in my brain as flowerbed edge. So that is good. I would remove the four round stepping stones and put more cement out to the drive.

Then another nit picky thing. If you do not have aversion to spraying weeds.I would use some weed spray to make a definable line between lawn and driveway. Pull out a string to get it straight. then when it dies off rake the brown up. Make crisp lines.

I know when you have already worked so dang hard on a place to make it look good it gets hard to keep doing more. I have been in your shoes so not being critical. After all what it is now looks so much better than it was. But for curb appeal in this awful economy for selling a house you just have to have the whole house and yard shine way above the rest.

The little paver path from street to the front door would be better if it were also wider. That might be really costly.

I also think an arbor would look nice over the sidewalk and a flowerbed on the right of the sidewalk as wide as the front deck might make it look wider.

Can you move the play set a little further away from the driveway so it does not show as much as a first impression? Maybe back in the corner of your back yard. It is cute but not a drawing card to a prospective buyer. If I were looking I would be hoping you were taking that with you. but I do not have children. Maybe those with children would love it.

Tee Hee very nice touch to have that snowmobile match close to the sun burst on the house. Now my husband would like that.

All in all I love the gray and white of your house. Nice color combination. House is really nice looking.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 7:36PM
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Glad to see your replies to our ideas. Sparking ideas in you is the best thing that we could hope to happen.

I was thinking too, you might put a short sort of picket fence with a low gate to the LEFT side of the garage, as a way to make a barrier to keep the kids from getting to the drive or to the street. It would mostly be a visual barrier, and a reminder to them. For guests or passersby, it would be a way to stop their eye, and the big concentration of playground equipment would mostly disappear for them. The fence itself would become the focus. It would also serve to make the end of the house wider and more substantial. I would make the gate if you put one sort of disappear and not confuse folks into wondering WHICH WAY is the front door.

With the garage door closed, that sunburst design is even more beautiful. I'd definitely use that design in the first arbor/archway to indicate the way to the front door.

If your wife is a gardener, she will know how to trick out the series of arches with plants. I wish I had the picture of such a series of arches all in a line, leading the eye and the feet onward to the end. It would be outstanding and a great architectural element to add to your home.

I see that you have an option to make the path to the front door go up the closer set of steps (advantage: get out of the rain quicker) or lead them outside the skinny porch area to make a turn for the front door at the second set of steps.

With the first set of steps, you might put timbers overhead to be attached to the eave if they are strong enough. And then have posts only on the outer side. That post could be the location for a climbing rose, or maybe a climbing hydrangea--both of which would look pretty good but not in the winter. Or some kind of tall skinny evergreen at each post, which WOULD look good in the winter if you did not pick a type that would turn into a monster to overwhelm your front area.

Anyway, just another thought. We'll be here if you want to come visit again. :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 7:55PM
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A nice street type lamp on the left of the path would welcome entry. You can now find them in solar, so electrical wouldn't be an issue.

Not sure where you said you were located. But for me personally (a farm gal) I would think about naming your home/property and make a small entry with two posts and a small farm sign hanging in between. Am a bit off the grid with most ideas.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 7:31AM
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Just a thought here. If you could beef up the four porch support posts, it would really make a difference on the front of your house.

The way my contractor did that to another house he worked on was to encase the existing posts with some wider lumber and then put molding at the top and bottom. Nice change. They ended up looking like columns and not delicate posts.

I noticed that you already have a paved walkway leading to the steps at the end of the porch not the side. So you have that decision already settled. I notice a round window on the garage wall between two other square windows. It would be a very good thing to call attention to this feature. A couple of tall pencil holly bushes flanking the round window would not get too round to intrude on your walkway. Use that narrow bed for some evergreens that would give substance and permanence to the landscaping, not just annuals.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 9:25AM
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yotarider, I thought of you when I read this article in BH&G. The white part of the house is the original and they added the porch and the red part. I guess the original front door didn't face the street, like yours.

I thought the porch part might give you an idea. It would be cute even without the red addition they put on.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 10:47AM
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You know, I think Shades of Idaho is on to something with her suggestion of neatening up the sides of the driveway. Moreso than with other houses, the driveway on your house is the main entrance to your property, and the main view of your house. So I'd think about fixing up the area where the driveway meets the street.

Maybe plant a hedge along the roadside. A lamp on a post out by the street. A tree. A rock formation. Something that clearly delineates that you are leaving the public road and entering someone's home turf.

The area out by the road just looks abandoned, for lack of a better word. It's hard to tell where the lawn ends and the driveway begins, or where the street ends and your property begins. Making the view near the road more welcoming might go a long way to increasing your curb appeal.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 6:41PM
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I would love to do that to my house. Great little house and well done addition.

I have a really small porch, but sure could be enough room for an entry if enclosed. My front door faces to the side. People are odd...they stand in the driveway facing the door rather than walking up the steps to porch/front door. I think they think that the porch is too small and if I open the outside door they'll get knocked off. Someone took the railing off years ago. Am still thinking of how to add one back without making the porch seem even smaller.

Most of the time with additions I give up due to city requirements. They drive me nuts and take too long. So I stick to the minimum that doesn't require their involvemnt. Sorry Chris...not messing with your job.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 8:04AM
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LOL Not messing with my job. I have to go into work today and will look for the size requirement on dwellings. Still thinking it is 8 by 30 minimum. That is not too strict.

The great thing about Midvale is we all are working hard to NOT put restrictions on people. Other than developers that would come in rape the land and the city take their money and run leaving the city in a financial fix. AS it was and some points still are until we get this fee resolution fixed the city is vulnerable.

I was shocked at a size requirement of 3K. That is insane. The biggest building requirement is it meet safety concerns. Proper roof loads electrical plumbing. This is only common sense. Health issues and to keep some one from getting hurt. WE live in a high snow area so snow roof load are 80 pound.Why would a city allow a lesser roof load to be build and endanger the people? That kind of restrictions.

Here you come in with what you want to do and if it is safe you get your building permit. You build it it is inspected. Done deal. Very little needs to be approved other than it fits standard building codes. International building code I believe.

Time to get to work. Darn it.Heavy duty day ahead. Catch you all on the flip side.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 10:39AM
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