For homeowners who want their exterior to fit in and to make a personal statement, curb appeal can seamlessly provide both.

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Q: What is curb appeal, and how can I get some?

A: Put simply, curb appeal is when you walk by a house and think, “Wow!” There is something about that house you like, but you don’t know exactly why. Curb appeal should always feel and look welcoming.

Picking the right colors is a huge part of the curb appeal. Stay with more natural colors; gentle or deep tones found in nature are easy on the eye and appeal to a broad range of senses. They don’t shock or turn people off; in fact, they feel comforting and warm the senses.

Curb appeal is not necessarily something that catches your eye. It’s subtle and influences you in a very interesting way. For people who want to fit in yet make a personal statement, curb appeal can seamlessly provide both.

Which colors should you start with? Greens and browns are my favorites. They’re great for curb appeal because they’re the first colors your eyes see in nature and therefore are a natural attraction. They are warm and welcoming and a great base for that colorful accent flare on a front door or inset.

A dramatic front-door color such as maroon red or sharp teal is pleasing to the eye and adds to your curb appeal. Since it is in a small area, you can always change the color if you don’t like it and go to something more subdued.

Picture a hanging fuchsia plant or a flowering rhododendron, and how they look and feel. They are subliminal, yet dramatic. Now think about how a Starbucks or Tully’s paint scheme makes you feel — they invite you to stay and relax.

Powder blue is a color in contrast, and in nature you typically see it if you look up at the sky. Powder blues and pinks are great colors for bathrooms and nurseries but not for curb appeal. Think instead about deeper richer blues as accents or accessories.

One color to avoid is stark white. In direct sunlight, this shade of white is too bright and the eye doesn’t see the home. If you do choose a stark white, soften it with a darker trim. Otherwise it feels too institutional. Whites can also present another concern with additional cost, like having to potentially add a third coat to achieve proper coverage.

Color selection is a challenge because you are choosing a color off a two-inch sample in the paint store. Buy the color you chose in a pint or quart can then apply it in an area large enough to get the feel of the color. Take a few days before making a final decision to observe the sample in all lights, including overcast days, in the sunshine, at morning and at dusk, if possible. Why? Colors appear to change hues in different lighting.

Remember also that the higher the sheen, the lower the touch-up capabilities.

The quality of the paint job is important. A bad paint job may not be noticeable from the curb, but it will be painfully evident as you come up the walk. Make sure your paint application is perfect around the entrance and any other areas where people will sit or linger for any length of time, like deck areas.

Painting previously unpainted chimneys and overspray on roofs takes away from curb appeal. Protect your investment and make sure all areas not being painted are either covered or protected.

Curb appeal is not complicated. Whether you do it yourself or hire a qualified professional contractor, choose colors that provide optimal curb appeal. After all, it is your investment — let others enjoy it as much as you do.


Darylene Dennon of Solid Energy, Inc., is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column.  If you have a home  improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to