First Impressions

On or off the market, every home deserves a handsome exterior. Spruce up your South Bay real estate in 7 surefire steps.

Whether you’re spring-cleaning or putting your house on the market, enhancing your home’s curb appeal is a worthwhile endeavor. As Redondo Beach RE/MAX Exec’s real estate agent Mickey Turner cautions clients, “A first impression can be a lasting impression, so make it a positive one.” Creating great curb appeal can be as easy and inexpensive as cleaning and decluttering; however, it can also be as detailed as making architectural changes. In the end, any investment pays high dividends. 

The Front Door

Every house has a front door, so this is the easiest, most obvious and most universal place to start when addressing curb appeal. “A freshly painted front door with new hardware and new house numbers makes any house attractive,” says South Bay design-builder Gary Lane.  

Experts recom-mend using oil-based paint in a high-gloss finish for best results, though some house styles may be better suited to a matte finish or doors made from natural wood or glass. Debates continue about whether the front door should be a bold color and stand out from the street or whether it should blend into the façade of the house. It’s a matter of personal preference, but all agree that it should be neat and tidy.

“A freshly painted front door with new hardware and new house numbers makes any house attractive.”


The best landscapes evolve over time as trees and plants mature into their environment. However, interior designer Caroline Burke wisely advises clients: “Have your landscaper plant mature or lush plants when you move in so you instantly create a landscape in proportion with your house.” Landscaping involves not only the selection of appropriate plants for an environment, but it also incorporates creating varying focal points for the exterior. To that end, create a comprehensive landscape design by using tall trees, medium-height bushes and low flowers. 

Landscape designer Rob Jones says, “We start the design process at the front of the house because that establishes the tone for the finished product, and we take into consideration what kind of natural environment the homeowner wants to establish.” 


Architectural Changes

Architectural changes to any house can be expensive and time-consuming; however, the return on investment is guaranteed. Gary Lane says, “A dramatic exterior can be created by changing or adding windows, exterior trim, a new roof and textural elements such as stone.” 

A cornice with supporting columns like those found on most Federal houses creates architectural substance as well as a focal point for the front of the house. Many homes add dormer windows when finishing the attic space. By also adding raised cornices to those dormer windows, architectural significance is gained with the increased roof height. 

Moldings and trim are elements of detail that speak elegance and sophistication, while a new roof is always a great investment because it makes the house appear well-kept and clean. 



Every house is improved by incorporating hardscape design. Walkways winding through foliage create an interactive experience for both visitors and residents. 

Clear paths are inviting to guests while also further defining the space. Amy Olivares of Shorewood Realtors advises clients: “A nicely lit path to the front door adds charm, and an inexpensive and simple solution is to add battery- or solar-powered lights.” 

A decorative fence is another high-impact hardscape element. Whether a traditional white picket fence or a contemporary steel railing, fences define space and create another layer of architectural substance. When those fences contain lush landscaping, a vista is created that encompasses the entire property and makes passersby want to stop and take in the view. 



The climate of the South Bay affords living outdoors year-round, so front porches are far more than a decorative element. Not only do they welcome guests, porches also provide a space for the family to relax. 

“All porches should have comfortable furniture, whether for entertaining or reading alone,” says Caroline Burke. The myth is that porches have to be large and the furniture should be on a grand scale. But the truth is that small porches are charming, and most outdoor furniture is made for multi-purpose use. 

Potted plants add continuity to the space by bringing elements of the garden onto the porch. They’re easy to maintain, and a porch can accommodate many types of container gardens including flowers, succu-lents and herbs.  



Clean and Declutter

While this one might seem obvious, it’s amazing how much clutter we amass around the front door and how we habitually step over the sporting equipment, old magazines and wilting violets. A cluttered front entrance combined with an unkempt yard sends a message that the entire house has not been well-maintained. Amy Olivares recommends that clients “trim back overgrown trees and shrubs and make sure that gutters are clean.”  



A frequently overlooked but critical element in creating great curb appeal is to have attractive windows. “All windows should be gleaming, so it’s essential to have the windows washed,” says Mickey Turner. Freshly painted shutters and flower boxes with trailing ivy or flowering plants further accentuate windows and increase the architectural depth of the house.

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