Outside Your Small House
Charm the world with your little house
If your home is small, it conveys its character with charm, not overwhelming size. Little houses surprise rather than impress passersby. Delight them and yourself with small, subtle touches.
The following are a few thoughts about how to make the most of the home you have from the outside.
- Enhance character with color—Most homes benefit from a fresh coat of paint. And it needn't be white to look fresh. Look around the neighborhood. Consider your home in the context of your neighborhood, then consider its architectural style. Don't be scared to paint the front door something really neat: red, turquoise, or hunter green. Avoid wimpy colors on the front door. Be brave.
- Keep it clean—Clean and tidy makes any house look good. Overgrown grass and weeds, broken toys, peeling paint, and moss on the roof all contribute to an air of neglect. Often there just isn't enough time and money to stay caught up with it all, but it is possible to do a little bit every day. Keep the roof in good condition, clean the gutters, and wash the exterior of your home every year or so. Make small repairs as soon as you notice a problem.
- Hide the junk—That's what backyards are for. And you thought they were just for family barbecues. Better yet, recycle.
- Stay true to your home's character—If you live in a small home and like flamingos, knock yourself out. If they're clean and in good condition, strategically placed, and look good to you (and your neighbors don't complain), you have only yourself to please. Design gurus are indoctrinated throughout their educational lives in what is "good" design. Who says your flamingo-decorated yard can't be cool? There are dozens of interesting and colorful ways to decorate outdoor rooms so they are beautiful or whimsical.
- Add window boxes and plants—Window boxes or planters, with a splash of color and some greenery, add charm to almost any house. To maintain them, just add a little water and occasionally give them some fertilizer.
- Get rid of the lawn—No time to mow? Rip the lawn out and add an herb garden, a few vegetables, and some specimen plants. If you put in regional natives, you can cut down on watering too. Save your compost and put that on your plants instead of chemical fertilizers. Cottage gardens are much more interesting and useful than lawns, which suck up time, money, and chemicals to look good. As you work to improve soil health, your plants will be healthier and more productive. Over time, as you build a healthy, organic environment, your garden will become low maintenance AND provide food for body and soul.
- Get nice curtains—Serve yourself first with nice window coverings that present a coherent view to passersby. That means sheets have to go within 2 weeks of moving into a new house. If you're on a budget, keep it simple with inexpensive cotton café curtains. Simple, neat, tidy.
- Park it in the garage—Avoid yielding to the temptation of leaving cars, trailers, and other mechanical conveyances in the front yard. This is especially important in regions where it rains a lot and algae grows on things.
- Make practical improvements—Replace single-pane windows with double-pane insulated windows and add a high quality roof, when necessary. On a small house, replace with a metal roof, add rain barrels, and use the water in the garden.
- Consider landscaping and plantings—Make sure plants and trees are a pleasing scale. If they are out of proportion, your house could look dwarfed or wimpy. Color and texture are also important. Plan for seasonal color and texture, so you have flowers and foliage providing interest all year long.
The Ann Lovejoy Handbook of Northwest Gardening: Natural Care and Sustainable Design
Need help? Consider hiring a qualified service through NextStep Remodeling
to help with landscape maintenance.