Book Review
Title: "Quick & Easy Curb Appeal"
Author: Better Homes and Gardens
Publisher: Wiley, 2010; 160 pages; $16.99

I recently did some work to my house. I spent a full week — from sunup to sunset — deep cleaning, organizing, and working with my contractor to get some windows and doors replaced. And at the end of the week, you know what? My house looked really clean, but not so different to someone who doesn’t live there or hadn’t seen the full-to-the-gills interior of my crawl space before I took it on.

Strangely enough, if you’re considering selling your home or just want to see a dramatic difference in how it looks from the curb, there are lots of things you can do — on your own, and fairly quickly — to make a big difference.

(This, by the way, is exactly why home sellers should always consult a real estate agent before spending thousands replacing furnaces, windows and other largely noncosmetic items in preparation for selling — you can spend thousands improving the condition of the place without moving the needle on the impression it makes to buyers at all!)

"Quick & Easy Curb Appeal" is the latest title in the Better Homes and Gardens Do-It-Yourself series, and it’s dedicated (as you might have guessed from the title) entirely to opening up to homeowners a new world of weekend projects they can take on to give their own homes an extreme makeover of sorts.

These days, most of us are short on time and money. So this book is as timely as it is inspirational. And boy oh boy, is it inspirational! Half of the battle when you’re trying to revamp the look of your home on a budget (i.e., without a designer) is coming up with creative yet feasible ideas.

The other half is figuring out how on earth to execute them. "Quick & Easy Curb Appeal" offers both: a vast number of relatively inexpensive changes to the exterior of your home that can be done by a regular homeowner on their own, in a weekend; and some basic guidelines, tips and tricks for actually manifesting this makeover.

Things like custom garage hardware, trim work, sophisticated paint palettes, and loads and loads of landscaping touches are par for the course in "Quick & Easy Curb Appeal."

The book kicks the transformational adventure off by stimulating the readers’ aesthetic juices with several looks at home exteriors that exemplify curb appeal — holistically, pointing out that the overall inviting look is virtually always the result of a large number of well-planned, well-executed details working in harmony with one another, many of which are small and inexpensive, from plants, to pathways, to colors, doors, trims and more.

From there, the book explores all these elements one after the other, offering hundreds of stunning visual exemplars and photos of ideas for small-scale changes to: lawns and plantings, walkways and entryways, porches and porticoes, front doors, garages and driveways, color and paint, siding and windows, fences and gates, and lighting and accessories.

Throughout, the book also offers strategies and tactics for how to make these weekend changes actually happen, with minimal drama and maximum effect — from the pros, cons and price of various types of entry doors, to a step-by-step guide for installing walkway lighting.

If you have more time than money, but an overabundance of neither, and a hankering for a whole new look and feel for your home’s exterior, "Quick & Easy Curb Appeal" will feed your craving. Your house will thank you.

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