7 Simple & Affordable Curb Appeal Ideas

7 Simple & Affordable Curb Appeal Ideas

Making your house look great at the first glance doesn’t have to be a costly investment. These simple and affordable curb appeal ideas can update your home while boosting its appeal to visitors and potential buyers.


House number wall planter box
This house number wall planter adds natural texture to a brick exterior. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

1. Dress Up Your House Number

First on our list of curb appeal ideas is stylishly displaying your house number. Not only does it add curb appeal but it also clearly shows your house number for first responders and ensures packages get delivered to the right home.

This house number wall planter project is a two-for-one – you get a wall planter that also prominently displays your house number. Plus, it can be built in less than half a day.

Materials 

Here’s what you need:

  • One 6-foot-long 1×6 cedar board
  • One 6-foot-long 1×4 cedar board
  • Elevated house numbers
  • D-rings
  • Titebond II Premium Wood Glue
  • Miter or circular saw
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Pocket hole jig and screws
  • Drill
  • Wood screws
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Tape measure
  • Nail gun
  • Clamp
  • Wood sealer (optional)
  • Dirt
  • Faux plants

Instructions

Using a circular saw to cut a board
Cut boards to size with a circular saw. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 1

First, measure and cut the wood for your house number wall planter. For this project, we used cedar because of its scent, but you can use any type of wood.

Here are the cuts you’ll need:

  • Three 1x6s at 24 inches
  • Two 1x4s at 3.5 inches
  • One 1×4 at 12 inches
  • One 1×4 at 13.5 inches
Drilling pocket holes into a board
Pocket holes prevent wood screws from penetrating the panel’s front side. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 2

Choose whether you want the rough side or the smooth side of your cedar facing out, then drill pocket holes on the backs of two of your 1×6 boards. 

Applying Titebond wood glue to a board
Wood glue creates a water-tight seal between each panel board. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 3 

Apply wood glue and drill wood screws to attach the three 1×6 boards together to form the wall planter panel.

Drilling a d-ring into a board
Drill the D-rings into the back of the top board. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 4

Drill the D-ring hangers to the back of the panel.

Applying Titebond wood glue to a planter box
To keep dirt from escaping, seal the planter box with wood glue. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 5

To assemble the planter box, use the 12-inch piece for the bottom, the 13.5-inch piece for the front and the two 3.5-inch pieces as the sides. Apply wood glue and then nail them together. 

Installing planter box on house number panel
A scrap piece of wood is the perfect height to hold up the planter box place while you attach it to the panel. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 6

Use a scrap piece of wood to hold the planter box three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the panel. Then, attach the planter box to the panel using wood screws from behind. Sand the house number planter box. If you want a glossy look, apply a wood sealer.

Install house numbers to the right of the planter box. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 7

Lay out your house numbers and mark the holes’ locations. Drill mounting holes with a 3/16-inch drill bit and attach the elevated numbers.

No green thumb? No problem! Use faux succulents instead. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Step 8

Hang the wall planter up on your house before adding the dirt and plants. 


Mailbox with flowers surrounding the post
Your mailbox says a lot about your home, and you. To maintain curb appeal, keep it painted well or purchase a new one that meets United States Postal Service guidelines.

2. Replace Your Mailbox

While we’re on the subject of house numbers, give some attention to your mailbox! 

Mailboxes serve a dual purpose: they collect your mail, but they also send a message about the homeowner’s attentiveness to their dwelling.

A tattered old mailbox suggests a lack of care. Don’t risk sending the wrong message: install a sparkling new mailbox.

From traditional to polished-nickel options, choose from dozens of styles and sizes. Consider whether you’ll need to enlist help for installation: a wall-mounted mailbox will only require some screws and a screwdriver, but roadside mailboxes that sit on posts might require an expert’s help.

If you have to dig a post hole for your new mailbox, call 811 before you dig to ensure that you stay clear of any utility lines.

And before you do anything, always review the US Postal Service’s mailbox requirements.

Yes, the USPS has requirements, and it enforces those requirements! For instance, roadside mailboxes must be at least 6 inches back from the curb.

If you’re installing a door slot, USPS requires that the opening be at least 1.5 by 7 inches.Find all the specifics at usps.com.

Alternatively, refresh your existing mailbox. Read “How to Paint, Stain and Repair Your Worn-Out Mailbox” for more information.


Front porch with rocking chairs, planters and a dining set
A front porch isn’t complete without comfortable chairs and potted plants. (DepositPhotos)

3. Spruce Up the Front Porch

Next on our list of curb appeal ideas is spruing up the front porch.

Here’s an easy formula to improve your front porch’s appearance: furniture, plants and wreaths.

Furniture

Front porch furniture — like gliding, lounging or rocking chairs — welcomes guests and invites them to sit, take a load off and enjoy some conversation.

You can find nice, inexpensive furniture at a thrift store to add character. Shop for something that looks good but doesn’t require refinishing.

Plants

Plants offer a nice break from your home’s hard features (such as windows, doors, roofing and siding). To add texture and soften your home’s exterior appearance, purchase plants at the home and garden center and place them in pots made for outdoor use.

Just get one or two planters — most hardware stores or gardening shops sell inexpensive faux terracotta ones — to arrange near your front entrance. Place two planters on either side of your front door or cascade multiple down the front steps.

Here’s a suggestion for a starter plant: hardy and beautiful hibiscus! These slow growers provide abundant greenery with massive (up to 10-inch) blooms.

When the weather turns colder, move the pots indoors to enjoy them through the winter months.

When you’re picking out your plants, one simple phrase should be the key to your planter or window box: “fillers, spillers and thrillers.”

  • Fillers: Leafy greens will fill the space and complete the look
  • Spillers: Flowers like Creeping Jenny flow over the container’s sides
  • Thrillers: These plants offer the “wow” factor. Pops of color will draw the visitor’s eye

To fully capture the senses, add some aromatics to emit a gentle fragrance as guests enter your home. Keep in mind that your climate will also play a role in what you should plant.

Check the online version of the Farmers’ Almanac to learn what will and won’t grow well in your area.

Wreaths

Who says door wreaths are just for winter holidays? Make any door look great with a year-round wreath. Embellish the wreath based on the current season and add or remove accessories — such as a large initial of your family’s last name — as needed.

Scan the web, shop around and purchase these items in advance and you can move them into position and dress your front porch in less than an hour!


Chelsea Lipford Wolf paints an entry door
You can paint a door on its hinges, but doors with lots of imperfections need special treatment.

4. Paint the Front Door

A new paint color is the most budget-friendly of this list of curb appeal ideas. Don’t underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. The average gallon of paint costs between $15 and $30 — a reasonable investment that packs a punch when it comes to improving the look of a home.

Options for front door colors are as endless as your imagination. However, choose one that complements the color scheme of your home’s exterior. For a monochromatic color scheme, choose darker and lighter shades within the same color. To add eye-catching contrast, pick a door color that’s on the opposite end of the color wheel as your home’s main color.

Playful pops of colors are very on trend when it comes to door updates. But classic colors and stains never go out of style. A simple coat of faux mahogany finish can give instant curb appeal and won’t cost you a boatload.

Tips

Get the most mileage out of your paint job with these tips:

1. Remove any hardware. This includes knockers, kick plates and door handles. By taking these off, you avoid getting paint on your hardware, and you can ensure that you cover the whole door with paint.

2. Clean it. Soap and water should do the job, but if there’s years’ worth of build up, use a pressure washer to power wash the grim away. 

3. Lay it flat. Taking the door off its hinges is an extra step that most likely means a two-person job, but removing the door makes it easier to apply the paint in even coats.

4. Sand it. By sanding your door before you paint, you can remove dust, debris, and old paint layers. Sanding can also help your paint stick better, giving you a cleaner, crisper fresh coat.

5. Change the locks. Now is a great time to invest in some new home security. Replace your old deadbolt and handle with a brand new set and consider installing smart locks for keyless entry.

Watch: How to Paint an Exterior Door the Right Way


Red front door with wreath
Installing a new door handle is a small change that can make a big difference. (Jason Finn, Getty Images)

5. Add New Hardware

Number five on our list of curb appeal ideas is upgrading your front door’s hardware.

It’s a simple, cost-effective and you can choose from a variety of colors and metal types, like silver, gold, satin nickel, copper, and oiled bronze.

Plus, hardware comes in many shapes and sizes, so before heading to the home center, consider the look and function you want — for instance, do you want knobs or levers? Do you want to turn, pull or push the handle to open the door? 

With all of these options, you can easily find hardware to match your personal style and enhance your home’s aesthetic on a budget.

Just consider how the new hardware will look compared with your interior doors’ hardware. You may not want, say, an oiled bronze lever on the front door if brass knobs are on two close-by interior doors. 

Or you may want to replace all your interior knobs with levers to match the front door for a consistent look throughout the home. Or at least spray the existing knobs with an oiled bronze finish to match. 

Either way, it’s your home, and it’s your decision.  


Flower bed with concrete border in front yard
Add concrete borders to give any flower bed a sense of order. (©Mariusz Blach, Adobe Stock Photos)

6. Install Concrete Borders

Lawn borders contain your mulch and define flowerbeds and pathways, giving your landscaping a finished look.

It doesn’t cost much to install concrete borders — expect to pay an estimated $2 per linear foot for materials. Out of all these curb appeal ideas, this is the most hands on, do-it-yourself project, so keep in mind the time and labor it will take.

Expect to dig a trench, build and install wood forms, pour in some gravel and then top that with concrete mix. Add just a few extra steps if you want to color the concrete mix, and give this project about three days to cure.

In a week, your flower beds will look better than ever and your front yard will have a sense of order to it — all thanks to a simple border!

Read “How to Build Concrete Borders” for more information. 


landscape lighting
Want to add ambiance to your yard? Add landscape lighting. (Alberto Sava via Canva)

7. Install Exterior Lighting

While we’re on the subject of lawns, here’s another home curb appeal idea: install exterior lighting.

Adding a few lights to your front yard allows you to literally shine a spotlight on your home’s best features. 

Landscape lights are easy to install, and solar varieties are self-sufficient, so they won’t put a strain on your energy bill. 

First, light walkways with garden lights or bollard lights, then move on to accent lighting. Use spotlights or up/down lights to highlight features like a large tree or a flag pole. 

Want to add some ambiance to your patio? Hang some string lights

Before you install landscape lighting, test the layout and determine the focal point for the brightest light. Simply tape flashlights to stakes and position them around the yard at night to see how halogen or incandescent landscape lights will look. 

You can also place luminaries – composed of a white bag with sand and a candle inside – around your yard at night to mimic the look of solar-powered landscape lighting.

For more inspiration, read “Landscape Lighting Design Tips.”


Did we miss a project? Add more curb appeal ideas in the comments below!


Further Reading

Concrete Garden Spheres: Add Some Whimsy to Your Garden

Concrete Garden Spheres: Add Some Whimsy to Your Garden

Concrete garden spheres add curb appeal or enhance your backyard with whimsical hardscaping. Think of them as a modern interpretation of the classic garden gnome!

This post is sponsored by Quikrete

Nestle these spheres between plants or use them to accent porch steps or the patio. No matter where you put them, they’ll make a great conversation piece.

Here’s how to make your own.


Plastic planters hold the forms in place while the concrete cures. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Materials

  • 4 hollow half foam balls
  • Hot knife foam cutter
  • Toothpicks
  • Caulk
  • Planter or container filled with dirt
  • Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix
  • Water
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Mixing container
  • Drill with a mixing paddle
  • Garden trowel
  • 120- or 150-grit sandpaper

creating forms for concrete garden spheres using a foam ball and hot knife
A hot knife makes a clean cut in the foam ball. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Create the Forms

You’ll need two hollow half foam balls for each garden sphere you want to create. I’m making two spheres at a time, so I’ve got four half foam balls. 

First, use a hot knife foam cutter to make a 2- or 3-inch-diameter hole in the tops of two half foam balls. (These will serve as the spheres’ tops, in which you’ll pour the concrete — but we’ll get to that later.) 

Then, set the other two half foam balls in planters or containers filled with dirt to hold them steady. (These will serve as the spheres’ bottoms.) Stick toothpicks into the rims of each bottom half foam ball and apply caulk all along the rims. The toothpicks keep the top foam ball from shifting, while the caulk creates a seal so no concrete mix seeps out. 

Inserting a toothpick into a foam ball
Toothpicks secure the half foams balls together. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Place the other two half foam balls on top of the bottom half balls, ensuring the toothpicks connect the bottom halves with their tops, all the way around. Wait for the caulk to dry. Most silicone caulk takes 24 hours to dry, but some fast-drying caulks only take one to three hours. 


Trowel mixing concrete in a plastic bucket
Mix Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix and add water until it’s the consistency of oatmeal. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Mix the Concrete

When the caulk is dry, you’re ready to mix the concrete. I’m using Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix because it strengthens quickly. 

Tip: When working with cement-based products, always wear a mask, eye protection and nitrile gloves.

Use a drill with a mixing paddle and follow the bag’s instructions for mixing. 

Your concrete mix should look like oatmeal — if it doesn’t, slowly add more water to get this consistency.


Trowel pouring concrete into a foam ball
A small garden trowel is a perfect size for shoveling the mix into the sphere. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Fill the Spheres

Once the concrete is thoroughly mixed according to the instructions, scoop it into the forms with a garden trowel until they are full. 

Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix takes about five days to cure in warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or seven days in colder weather (50-70 degrees Fahrenheit).


Removing foam from a concrete garden sphere
The top of the sphere where the concrete was poured will be the sphere’s base. (3 Echoes Content Studio

Remove the Foam

After the concrete cures, remove the foam balls. 

Chelsea Lipford Wolf uses a hot knife to remove foam from a concrete garden sphere
Cut the foam vertically with a hot knife — this helps to remove larger pieces of foam at one time. (3 Echoes Content Studio

For easier removal, cut long triangles along the balls with the hot knife to help leverage the form off the concrete sphere.


Chelsea Lipford Wolf sands concrete garden spheres
Rub sandpaper in a circular motion for a smooth finish. (3 Echoes Content Studio

Sand Any Imperfections

Once you remove all the foam, sand the entire sphere with 120- or 150-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish. 

Sealing concrete is always a good idea — it will keep the garden spheres from getting moldy, and it will add a slight sheen. Use Quikrete Acrylic Cure and Seal once the concrete has hardened and the surface sheen has disappeared.

Now, all that’s left to do is decide where you want to show them off in your garden!


Further Reading

Keep Essentials in Sight With This Sofa Arm Tray

Keep Essentials in Sight With This Sofa Arm Tray

A sofa arm tray keeps everything you need in the living room within close reach.

Let’s face it, your couch can easily swallow everyday items if you lack table space to keep them stable and in view. Remotes mysteriously vanish moments after you set them down, and phones slip between cushion gaps.

From reading glasses to snacks, and everything in between, a sofa arm tray can keep these items in plain sight and easily accessible. Plus, it’s the perfect spot to set down a drink so you don’t have your hands full while lounging in the living room. 

This is especially useful if you use your hands a lot while talking — it eliminates any chance for your drink to spill during a spirited conversation!

You can easily build this small sofa arm tray in less than a day. And, depending on how long it takes the finish to dry, you can enjoy its convenience and receive compliments from friends in no time!


Trim screws and a countersink drill bit next to a wood board

Materials


Measuring the width of a sofa arm with a tape measure

Determine the Size

First, you’ll need to measure the width of the armrest where you’ll use the sofa arm tray.

Measuring a sofa arm with a tape measure.

Then, measure the distance from the top of the armrest to the cushion. 


Making a pencil mark above a tape measure on a wood board.

Cut Wood Pieces

From a piece of 1-by-8 board, cut one piece 1 1/2 inches wider than the armrest and one piece the same length as the distance to the cushion. 

Measuring a board with a tape measure.

Then, cut a third piece 2 1/2 to 3 inches longer than the cushion height. This piece will go on the outside. 


Applying Titebond original wood glue to a board.

Assemble Sofa Arm Tray

You’ll need some 3-inch trim screws, a countersink drill bit, and some wood glue for assembly. Glue the pieces together with Titebond Original Wood Glue to quickly bond them together. This makes the tray sturdier and drilling the screws easier.

Drilling a pilot hole on a a sofa arm tray next to a bottle of Titebond Original Wood Glue.

Use the countersink bit to drill a pair of pilot holes in each location before you drive in screws to secure the joint. 

Close up of a trim screw

Trim screws have a tiny head, so once they’re in place, they’re nearly invisible. 

Repeat this process with the other leg.


Using a power sander on a a sofa arm tray.

Add the Final Touches

After you’ve assembled the sofa arm tray, sand the edges for a smooth finish.

Applying wood stain to a a sofa arm tray.

Next, apply a coat of wood stain with a cotton cheesecloth. 

Applying polyurethane sealer to a sofa arm tray.

Once the wood stain is dry, brush on a coat of clear polyurethane sealer. A water-based polyurethane sealer should dry in about two hours, whereas an oil-based one will take at least eight hours.

After your sofa arm tray is dry, unwind in your living room with your essentials in sight!


Further Reading

Cornhole Game: How to Build the Board

Cornhole Game: How to Build the Board

Cornhole, a game that’s been around for centuries, is a popular pastime for tailgate entertainment or backyard fun. You just need a cornhole board and some bags — and a free afternoon with family or friends!


History of the Game

Many people believe a cabinet maker in Germany invented the cornhole game in the 14th century. 

As the story goes, Matthias Kuepermann found a group of boys throwing stones into groundhog holes for fun. Worried for their safety, he crafted the cornhole board, replacing groundhog holes with wooden boxes with round holes and stones with bags filled with dried corn.

Because of its simplicity, the game hasn’t evolved much. These days, the corn-filled bags are sometimes replaced with plastic and resin beads. But some die-hard cornhole enthusiasts insist on using real corn kernels.  

Players in the United States even compete at state and national levels. And now, there are efforts to make the cornhole game an Olympic sport

You can build a cornhole board for your backyard. The process is simple, but it might require a few specialty tools if you don’t already have them on hand!


Child grabbing a cornhole bag from the top of a cornhole board game in a backyard.
Whether you’re passing time in the backyard or competing for bragging rights, the cornhole game is a fun activity for all ages.

Building Your Own Cornhole Board

Materials

  • (2) 2-by-4-foot by ½-inch plywood
  • (4) 2-by-4 studs
  • (4) 3/8 by 4-inch carriage bolts
  • (8) 3/8-inch washers
  • (4) 3/8-inch nuts
  • (16) 3-inch wood screws
  • (24) 1-½-inch wood screws
  • Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue
  • Drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 6-inch hole saw
  • Miter or circular saw
  • Carpenter square
  • Tape measure
  • Sander and/or sandpaper
  • Exterior paint or wood stain and spar varnish

Hands holding a pencil and a carpenter square on top of a piece of wood.
Use a carpenter square to get accurate angles for your cornhole game’s leg pieces.

Cut the Cornhole Board’s Wood Pieces

Using a carpenter or speed square, mark 25 degrees and cut along that angle. Then mark a straight line 12-and-1/4 inches from the angle’s long side. Repeat this three more times to create your boards’ legs.

For the frames, you’ll need four straight cuts at 21 inches and four straight cuts at 48 inches.

Edge of a piece of wood cut at 45 degree angles.
The 45-degree cuts on the leg pieces will make them easier to fold

Now back to your leg pieces. You need to cut them on the square side to make them easier to fold and unfold. Mark 1 inch in from each side and 1 inch down on each side. Connect those marks with a straight edge to draw a 45-degree angle on each corner. Cut the two triangles on each leg.


Assembling a wood rectangle.
Lay your cornhole game frame on a waist-high table for easy drilling.

Assemble the Frame

To mark the hole for the legs to attach to your frame, measure 1 and 3/4 inches from one side and 1 and 3/4 inches from the short end. Drill all the way through with a 3/8-inch drill bit. Then set aside.

Drilling in a a screw to a piece of wood clamped down on a table next to Titebond III Ultimate wood glue.
Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue will keep your frame in place and add some waterproofing to your cornhole game.

To lay out your frames, lay two 48-inch pieces parallel to one another and set the 21-inch pieces at the ends, between them. Apply a bead of wood glue rated for exterior use, like Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue, and attach the pieces together with 3-inch screws.

Apply more wood glue around the top of your new frame, and set the 2-by-4 sheet of plywood in place. Attach it with 1-and-1/2-inch screws through the plywood into the frame below.

To create the hole for the bean bags, mark 9 inches from one end, then measure and mark the center of the board near that 9-inch mark. 

Using a 6-inch hole saw, cut a hole with your mark at the center. A hole saw this large can be a little tricky, so take your time!

Flip the board over to attach the legs.


Drilling a leg onto the underside of a cornhole game board.
Folding legs will save storage space.

Attach the Legs

On the end of your board with the hole, set your legs in either corner with the longer part of the angle on top. Clamp the leg half an inch from the end and use the existing hole in the leg to drill a 3/8-inch hole through the frame. Then sand the ends of the legs to round the cut angles.

Next, slide a carriage bolt through the hole from the outside, then one washer, a wood leg, another washer and finally the nut. Hand tighten.

Repeat as necessary until both of your cornhole boards are assembled!


A stained cornhole board game with red and blue bags.
Stain your cornhole game for a finished look or customize it by painting it with your team colors.

Add the Finishing Touches

No matter which finish you choose for your boards, first sand them thoroughly

Start with 150- or 180-grit sandpaper. Once you’ve sanded all of the surfaces, step it up to a 220- or 300-grit sandpaper to create that smooth, slick surface that’s synonymous with cornhole boards!

Gloved hand applying stain to a cornhole game board.

Staining: In long, even strokes rub your wood stain with the grain of the wood. Follow with a clean rag to wipe up the excess stain. Once it has dried for a few hours, start applying a clear topcoat, like spar varnish, that is safe for outdoor use.

Let the coat completely dry before sanding with 220-grit sandpaper, wiping clean and applying another clear coat. Repeat for a third time.

Painting: If you’re choosing to paint your boards, select an exterior semi-gloss paint and make sure your design covers all the wood on the top so the surface will be appropriately slick. Several coats might be required.

Once your topcoat or paint is dry, you’re ready to start keeping score! 

To get your backyard ready for more summer fun, add some hanging string lights. Use planters or shepherd’s hooks to keep the good times going past sundown.


Further Reading

Patio Seating Inspiration: How to Build Paver Chairs

Patio Seating Inspiration: How to Build Paver Chairs

Having enough seating for your outdoor entertaining space is essential to ensure your guests are comfortable.

These chairs made from RumbleStone blocks make a great addition to any patio, particularly those made of pavers.

To create your own paver patio chair, first take small, medium, and large RumbleStone blocks and lay them out in a U shape. These are 24 1/2 inches deep, 35 inches wide.

Next, apply polyurethane construction adhesive before the next row of stones are applied on top of the other stones.

Be sure that the pattern of the stones varies for each new row. This way, no continuous seams will be seen from the bottom to the top of the chair. Also, this makes the chair stronger and visually appealing.

Use trapezoid blocks to fill in the back of the chair once it reaches 24 inches high. Apply construction adhesive to the bottoms and the sides of these blocks to form the back of your chair.

Inside the legs of the chair, glue four 45-millimeter-large blocks vertically to support the seat of the chair. For the seat, use four 2×4 wood planks and a couple of 2×2 pleats.

The result will give you complimentary paver chairs to go along with your paver patio!

Watch the video for step-by-step directions! 

Further Reading