The Way I See it: Front door sends a message

Michele Blais shares a few tips for making the outside of your home as appealing as the inside.

What does your front door say — welcome or go away?  I like front doors and on my neighbhourhood walk- abouts, drives and realtor tours I always check them out.

Now that spring is here people are out raking, planting and cleaning up the remains of winter, whether old leaves, lost newspapers, dead plants and bringing to life the front yard.

What I have learned these past few years as a realtor is that curb appeal matters, some people won’t even look inside a house if they don’t like the outside.

Go stand at your front door and take a look around, and look up. What do you see — spider webs, chipped paint, whatever you see is what your guest sees or if you are listed, the buyers. Fresh paint goes a long way.

A freshly painted or stained door, and door sill, cob-web free doorway, with a few plants sends a nice message of welcome. People do look under the mat so paint under there and sweep. Too much stuff just looks like too much stuff; instead of quaint, it can look cluttered. I believe many people are moving away from having lots of belongings to less and a more streamlined look.

I have found in my own world that people have shared that less feels lighter and makes people feel more comfortable, better able to relax rather than trying to fit into that busy space. Our tastes change over time and I am seeing this more and more of people decorating with fewer pieces, and that includes our outdoor spaces.

A front porch or front yard sitting area is to me a way of connecting with our immediate neighbourhood. It’s a place to watch what goes on on the street — the walkers, the joggers, the skateboarders, the neighbours. By enjoying this space we can visit with people, watch the local kids at play, sometimes watch over someone’s property when they are away.

Back in the day a front porch was where the family sat in the evening, watched their kids play, enjoyed a summer’s evening and connected with the community. Then we got into back decks and no one sat out front. People enjoyed that space but lost the neighbourhood connection; now we are seeing both. We have front and back decks and I like it. There is way more going on in my little world than I expected, and I enjoy the view from the front. When we entertain or want a nap we are in the back, where we have been able to extend our living area to have a sitting lounge spot and outdoor dining room; and when I just want to sit I have the front.

Plants at the front of your home look great but watch for them being too close. A tip I have learned is to have gravel around the perimeter of your house, about eight inches deep, and to not have plants or trees really close. What you want to do is avoid having water from the plants going against your foundation and you don’t want bugs from the trees or bushes getting inside your home.

The best ideas are often found at someone else’s house, so take a walk, a drive and see the front yards of this area. There are some beautiful front space with gardens, nice walk ways, lovely urns, often some of the nicest are some of the simplest. At Pearl’s house her mom makes great seasonally appropriate wreaths from Christmas to Bunny ears and sends a very friendly message to those passing by.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist at The Morning Star who writes on a variety of topics every other Sunday.