Before the pumpkins roll out and the leaves begin to fall, sprucing a home’s exterior with added details can amp up its charm. Although architectural preferences range greatly from market to market, curb appeal can be achieved no matter where a home is located. The often-barren surroundings of a new build can seem less appealing to someone visiting. Yet, with some climate-appropriate landscaping and added features, a new build can feel more complete—and, more important, make a statement.
Patrick Murphy of SMP Environmental Design, who partnered as the landscape architect on the 2024 Virtual Concept Home by Livabl, says, “First impressions are everything! Rich, textural hardscape surface materials coupled with a stunning entry walk and driveway design are important.” He notes that well-designed plant selections can additionally complement a home’s architecture.
Throughout a new-home development, curb appeal can also be boosted with landscaping. Russell Bynum, general manager for Hillwood Communities’ Houston region, shares that the developer enhances landscaping at entrances and common areas by selecting plants and trees based on soil types and seasonal climates to promote growth and sustainability. He adds, “We have a very strict street tree program where we alternate between a variety of trees to create a unique streetscape throughout the communities.”
For home builders looking to boost the curb appeal of new-home projects, BUILDER collected some tips and tricks below for dressing a home’s front elevation.
1. Don’t be afraid of hardscapes and pavers. As mentioned by Murphy, rich paving and veneer materials can elevate a home’s entrance. Genji Nakata, Century Communities executive vice president of national operations, says pavers are used in various markets to elevate curb appeal. He notes, “For example, in Las Vegas, we provide paver driveways versus concrete.” Also in the West, Beazer Homes finds that pavers provide an upscale feel and are especially popular for their Arizona homes.
2. Let paint and finishes make an impression. Beazer Homes has implemented modern paint schemes to meet consumer demand while also refreshing their front elevations' curb appeal. White brick with black trim or gray siding with light accents have been common requests. Nakata agrees that more simple schemes and finishes have become the canvas for curb appeal. “We have been focused on incorporating pure styles and simple massing into our elevations recently while specifying more modern and transitional elevations where possible,” he says.
3. Add some ‘jewelry’ to the garage. A builder-grade garage door can be overlooked when approaching a home, but with a few additional accessories, it can be the wow factor. Throughout Hillwood Communities, home builders are expected to dress the garage doors up. Bynum explains, “We require coach lighting and decorative hardware on the garage doors to finish the look of the homes.” Lighting and hardware of contrasting finishes can add unexpected detail and interest.
4. Shine a light on key features. Statement porch lighting, front door sconces, and landscape lights can turn up curb appeal, especially in the evening. Spotlights positioned on well-designed landscape or sconces that light up a grand entryway, can welcome guests and homeowners alike while also providing functional safety and sightlines. Murphy adds, “A well thought-out solution for the integration and complementing of building materials is important, and how these materials are combined to achieve a functional design solution will make the outcome successful.”
5. Create a friendly landing place. To add an even more welcoming aesthetic without necessarily changing a home’s structure, Beazer Homes completes their new model homes with outdoor furniture. The option to sit and enjoy a new home's front entrance makes it even more appealing. Murphy implemented the idea of outdoor living areas in the 2024 Virtual Concept Home as well. When speaking on the project’s entrance, he says, “Creating 'outdoor living rooms' with compatible and functional spaces was imperative to convey expansive entertainment areas to the home buyer who can immediately see a ‘first impression' entry walk with materials that expand through the driveway creating a seamless solution. A front courtyard was also integrated with a passive fountain feature.”