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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Bechen

How to Add Budget-Friendly Curb Appeal to Your House, Condo, or Apartment

Kathryn Bechen Arizona home
Our Arizona cottage-style retirement home where we have lived since 2018.

Happy summer!

I hope you are having a wonderful summer! Let's talk about some easy and dollarwise ways to spruce up the outside of your home this summer to add a bit of curb appeal. I'm using my own current and former homes here as examples, but the underlying principles apply to any abode, and don't think for a moment that you can't add "curb appeal" to your home if you live in a condo or apartment, because you can. Read on for my real-life examples!

Kathryn Bechen Arizona home
Our portable trellis planters can be seen from the street.

Here's what we have done to add curb appeal to our current home ...

  • A good power wash always comes first in our book

  • A colorful new wreath on the front door; red stands out well

  • A new white side trellis for more street privacy and the basket of flowers on it I "replanted" the faux flowers in new brighter colors as they had faded to white in the hot AZ sun

  • A new front gate so the Amazon drivers don't bang on the front door that is right in front of where Steve works daily at his desk, plus it looks "curb appeal cute"

  • Two new pots on the deck railing; this year Steve "replanted" the faux flowers in red for more color

  • Steve repainted this architecture element with spray paint and it turned out so fun! You can see it a bit on the right side wall of the porch. (Behr brand paint in Cherry Red)

  • Future project: Spray paint the faded brown package trunk using a spray paint intended for plastic goods/furnishings, or buy a new trunk when they go on sale this summer

Kathryn Bechen Arizona home
Steve painted an architectural piece red.

When you add curb appeal to your home, who knows, you might unknowingly start a neighborhood improvement project! Our neighbor just spray painted an element on the front of her house red. :)

Kathryn Bechen California condo-cottage
Our Southern CA condo-cottage curb appeal.

We bought a Southern California condo in 2001 that we spent six years fixing up and living in before we sold that investment, and here are some ideas for curb appeal from that little former home of ours ...

Kathryn Bechen California condo-cottage
Real flowers except the ones behind the shrubs are faux!

TRUE CONFESSION:  We do most of our home projects ourselves, inside and out, but once in awhile over the years we have hired certain things done when we were very busy with other things in our life but still wanted our home to look nice and be "done" faster. (Although a home is never really done!)

For example ...

  • We hired a landscaper to put in the brick edging along the sidewalk and shrubs above, and she also did two cute little brick flower beds in a circle. She studied under a well-known gardener in England so she understood my penchant for charm and cottages!

Kathryn Bechen flowers
A landscaper created this circle of bricks for us.

Kathryn Bechen flowers
Brick circle flower garden, take two.
Steve Bechen California condo-cottage project
Steve adding Home Depot lattice screens to our fence for more privacy.

Back to the pix above for more examples ...

  • Steve planted the bright impatiens flowers along the sidewalk

  • I planted two plastic urns I found at Home Depot with bright pink hydrangeas

  • I had a custom sign made that said "Our Beach Cottage" and put it in one of the urns

  • I added a "cottage" sign to the wreath on the front door after we spray painted the old screen door a fresh shiny coat of black

  • Steve added a new house numbers plaque that I think I found at Target

  • I put a colorful plant on the seat of a stray white iron chair I found on clearance at a garden store; Steve spray painted the chair white

  • Steve put two faux ivy topiaries next to the front door; I found them on sale at the Target Garden Center

  • Steve trimmed the unruly shrubs into a nice tidy shape

  • Steve added plastic lattice privacy panels from Home Depot that he cut to fit the inside of our fence

  • We added planters to the shelf behind our shrubs; they were faux flowers as it was hard to get back there to water behind the shrub, so that solved the problem

We consider home improvements, inside and out, just a challenge/problem to be creatively solved!

Kathryn Bechen condo-cottage flowers
Steve added a planter box to the outside of the fence.

And dollarwise aesthetics to our garden gate ...

Kathryn Bechen gate makeover
A fireplace grate becomes our garden gate arch!

  • I found a fireplace grate at a thrift store and had Steve mount it on the back of our gate as an arch for vines to grow on

  • The Garden Entrance and Welcome signs on our gate were also thrift store finds and I added my own painting touches to them

  • The urn planter on our gate was another thrift store find

DOLLARWISE NOTE: Garden centers are fun, yes, but can be expensive. Small decorative details for curb appeal are easy to find at thrift stores for a few dollars usually. Just keep your eyes open and your mind curious as to what you can use something for; you will come up with something! Also, plants are usually cheaper, but nice, at Walmart, Costco, and Target.

Thrifty example: When Steve went to haul my HEAVY fireplace grate home the store clerk asked him what in the world is this thing and what are you going to do with it?! Steve laughed and said, "That's my wife's department and she will come up with something, believe me!" (That fireplace grate on our gate above I later scrubbed up and repurposed in a living room apartment of ours, but that's a story for another day. (Well okay, since you insist, here's a photo of that repurpose.) :)

Kathryn Bechen repurposing project
Our garden gate fireplace grate becomes a candelabra in our next living room.

Back to curb appeal ...

Kathryn Bechen CA apartment
Easy dollarwise apartment curb appeal.

Here's what we did for some dollarwise "curb appeal" to another California apartment we rented...

  • Added a basket of flowers I found at Walmart

  • Added an iron plant stand and faux flowers I found at TJMaxx

  • Added a plastic urn I found at Home Depot and put an indoor silk plant in it

  • Added another plastic urn and put a faux silk plant in it

  • Added a doormat I found at Walmart

And we also added this bench and pillows I found at Home Goods ...

Kathryn Bechen CA apartment
I loved this bench I found at Home Goods!

Steve patiently hauled this bench home in the backseat of the car and I have no idea how he can wedge things like that in there, but he always manages to patiently put up with my decor shenanigans and figures it out!

Kathryn Bechen CA apartment
Apartment curb appeal courtesy of kitties. :)

This was another apartment of ours in California. (Yes, we have moved a lot. 15 times in 44 years of marriage, to be exact. Let's just say we both like home projects!)

Here's what we did ...

  • The Welcome sign on the wall was a gift from an artist friend

  • We put the welcome mat out

  • The faux plant and kitties were from Target

  • The large wreath was from Walmart

Once I had the goods, the whole project probably took me under an hour to style it up and we had a lot of nice compliments from neighbors and some who also then did the same to their apartment for "curb appeal." It became fun to walk through the decorative hallways!

Kathryn Bechen Nebraska home
Our second home purchase in Nebraska in 1986.

This home we owned goes back to the pre-internet and pre-digital cameras era! We bought this house in 1986 in Nebraska. How we added curb appeal ...

  • We hired the house repainted to this more modern taupe color (at the time) than the 1970s "Harvest Gold" it was when we bought it

  • We hired all the trees trimmed up

  • Steve trimmed the shrub and planted flowers in the stone retaining wall

  • We added a wreath to the front wall and added a shiny gold mailbox (The mailman thanked Steve as he no longer needed to use icy steps!)

  • We hired a window installed near the mailbox

  • Steve added new gold house numbers above the garage

  • Steve installed a pole lamp near the stairs for evening safety on the steps

  • We hung a wreath on the front door and later we painted the door a pretty teal color and I hung a dried flowers wreath on it that I had someone make from a wedding bouquet when I was a bridesmaid

  • Steve mounted a metal flag mount for me and we hung a colorful flag

  • You can't see it in this photo, but we added an outdoor planter box under the picture window (behind the big shrub)

Steve & Kathryn Bechen in their 20s
Young and in love with each other and houses!

We had such fun doing all those curb appeal things to our then new-to-us home. Curb appeal just adds so much fun! And it increases your property value too when you sell, don't forget.

Steve and Kathryn Bechen Nebraska home
The first home we ever bought and our DIY got a spruce-up!

(Definitely pre-digital camera time!) This was the first fixer-upper house we bought in Nebraska in a small town in the 1980s. We were just about to paint the dormer brown, replace the awnings, and repaint the white trim and garage door when Steve was offered a new job and I was offered a job soon after, so we moved to the city. We did manage to do the following yard spruce-ups and curb appeal before we decided to move.

  • Steve and I went to gather old bricks from an abandoned home site. They were free and taken with permission and we hauled them home in our little Chevy Citation car!

  • Steve removed dying shrubs in front of the house and placed the new-to-us brick

  • He also planted a tree that you can't see in this photo

  • He re-seeded the yard and fixed the falling-down retaining wall on the alley side

A lot of times adding curb appeal to your home is starting with cleanup. And then adding a few colorful touches from there. You don't have to do it all at once either. Our motto is keep it simple and affordable for your budget. Make a list of what you want to do and put a dollar estimate beside each thing. In other words, make at least a "loose plan." We always did it little by little and paid cash for any improvements as we went.

Kathryn Bechen CA apartment
A little apartment and a little curb appeal!

This was another California apartment we moved into in 2013. A simple doormat, basket of flowers, and colorful wreath said, "Welcome Home" to me every time I entered our front door.

Kathryn Bechen CA apartment
Our former San Diego apartment terrace.

In this same apartment we had a small terrace that overlooked a pretty green pocket park. We added "curb appeal" so that others could enjoy it too from the park. Here's what we did ...

  • Steve attached planters on the outside of the fence

  • He attached the umbrellas to the fence and added rosette-motif string lights which were really fun at night

  • We repurposed a metal screen we had in another apartment and he attached it to the fence. We love repurposing! That screen was once brown and he spray painted it white behind our apartment building and then drug it up the stairs

  • We repurposed the same white metal chair we had in our former beach condo

  • We brought the metal bench with us and used it again ...

Kathryn Bechen CA apartment
Terrace anniversary dinner I made for us.

In addition to the street-side/from the pocket park curb appeal, we were able to enjoy our terrace too. The table and chairs I found on Amazon back then, and the tablecloth was from Goodwill as were the glasses and vase. The rug was a deal from Big Lots.

There are so many easy "curb appeal" things to do with just a little space and a few dollars that really say "Welcome Home" when you walk up to your front door!

Remember: It doesn't have to be a house! And you can thrift the projects! This will grow your creativity and your bank account.

I hope by sharing our own various homes here that I have inspired you to create some dollarwise "curb appeal" for your home no matter where you live.

"You can have more than one home. You can carry your roots with you, and decide where they grow." -- Henning Mankell

Home blessings,

Kathryn :)

P.S. If you need help with budget-friendly ideas and tips for the inside of your home, my eBooks will help you with that.


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