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Face-lifts for Your Home

Real estate agents swear by curb appeal. They know that the impression your home makes on potential buyers can make or break the deal. It only takes a few seconds to turn someone off.

What message is your home sending? Would it entice a buyer to actually buy? Or does it fall flat? Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when giving your home a face-lift.

The good news is that just because your home needs some work doesn't mean it needs to be drastic. The small touches are often the most effective. And what is better is that nearly every home can add or restore curb appeal. Take heart, then take a realistic assessment of your home's exterior. What does it say to you? And, more importantly, what will it say to potential buyers?

Rule 1: Make It Like It Was Always There
Changes don't need to be big, but they do need to blend. There is nothing worse than a home where the additions and changes stick out like a sore thumb. You want to make sure whatever modifications you make to the home look like they were a part of the original structure.

You should aim to make the exterior better without being obvious. Talk to your architect about maintaining the original architectural character of your home. Your changes should grow naturally from the design of your home. It will dictate how the changes are designed and implemented.

The only time this is not appropriate is when restoring an historic home. There are strict rules about the preservation of historic homes. The rule about adding space is that the new addition be different, but complementary, in design and materials so that the historic part is maintained in its entirety. Be sure to consult a professional familiar with historic renovation.

Rule 2: Go Back the Original
Always consider the style of your home before making changes. Since the new should blend with the old (except in the historic home), you will want to take time to investigate the original structure. This is particularly true if the home has been modified since being built. If possible, find the original drawings for the home. This will help you restore what curb appeal there may have been that was lost with previous remodeling jobs. Look beneath the surface. Strip your home back to its original materials. You may find some curb appeal lurking beneath that filigree work that was added ten years ago. Remodeling projects are not always so well planned. It is entirely possible that your home's character was lost along the way by mistake.

Rule 3: Choose Wisely
Once you discover the original style of your home, use it as your guide for material selection and products. You don't want to add casement windows if they didn't exist in the time period in which the home is set. If you were restoring an old farmhouse, for example, you would want to use vertical-muntin, double-hung units. Make sure your choices match the home you are restoring. It doesn't matter how much you like turrets if your home is a ranch house. You will want to maintain the same texture and color too.

Rule 4: Connections Matter
How you connect a new porch or entryway to a home does matter. You don't have to match exactly. Try connecting the new to the old on a different plane. Set your addition back one foot from the original face of the home. Push your porch out so it doesn't set on the same plane as the original home. Try to create some depth that differentiates the old from the new. Use your material choices to blend the two seamlessly.

Rule 5: Mass Proportions
You always want to match the mass of the new to the old. Use the same scale. You don't want to overpower the original structure with an addition that is too big or that is too visible from the front. Some architects design from the inside out. This means that they are designing for the living space but not for the external view. This is great for finding usable space, but it can wreak havoc on curb appeal. How many times have you seen a home with a huge addition looming in the backyard? Try to keep things in perspective, from the portico addition to the new four-room suite in back.

Curb appeal doesn't always mean structural changes. You can boost your home's appearance with a new coat of paint, new landscaping or just by changing what sits in front of your home. Remember that not everyone thinks your rusty old car is appealing.

Source: This article is based on information from Today's Homeowner Magazine.

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