31 May 2012

Enhance your outside space


Up your kerb appeal with some serious style tips that will add more than a dollop of luxury. Helen Carson reports

You’ve got a kitchen that would make Gordon Ramsey green with envy, and a bathroom full of five-star chic … but what about the front of the house? Don’t worry, it’s easy to raise the style bar with a well tended garden, perfect plants and a warm welcome at your doorstep.

Outside the house is just as important as the inside, and the best way to ensure a fabulous facade is to pay attention to the basics. Simple things like getting rid of weeds and keeping the outside clean are a good idea. Also, adding a couple of bay trees or plants to the entrance of your home is always a good idea. And make sure everything such as gates and door handles look pristine, and are in perfect working order.

First impressions count, so make sure the outside of your home reflects the inside. The grounds should be tidy and the paintwork needs to be fresh. Think ‘smart and elegant’, so make sure the hedges are trimmed, trees are pruned to let as much light as possible into the house. Remember, no-one wants to see bins, children’s toys, too many garden ornaments or planters with dead plants.

It is always good to have a focal point at the front door with large plants at either side for symmetry and order. And gardens need to be both landscaped and manicured. All hedges, grass and shrubs should be cut and pruned with no weeds in sight. The lawn should be green and wellkept. Add interest with oversized planters filled with seasonal shrubs and colour.

Always make sure the planters are overscaled. It is better to have two huge beautiful urns or containers filled with healthy plants, than dozens of different sizes that do not match and have a random selection of plants. Simple tips such as tidying the garden and getting rid of any ugly overgrown trees that may block light from the house will also make a world of difference.

Plant a few little shrubs or hanging baskets to add some colour — yellow is great, as it is calming and welcoming. Clean your windows — it doesn’t cost anything, and repair any chipped window frames. The drive can be hosed down and consider hiring a power hose for this job — it will be worth it.

A colourful and immaculately-painted front door is crucial, as is a stylish door number or trendy letterbox. As well as a neat lawn, flowerbeds should be well kept, add bark for a clean tidy look. If the driveway is a bit tired looking, a layer of pink pebbles can be very effective.

Finally, hanging baskets, window boxes plus lots of planters in varying height make the perfect finishing touches.

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