(ARA) - The arrival of summer has many homeowners outside planting, preparing the patio for cookouts, and taking evening strolls through the neighborhood. Often, this extended outdoor time brings on a desire to improve a home's curb appeal. But home improvement projects can be expensive, and many homeowners are still wary about spending money on renovations, despite the improving real estate market. So what's the best way to spruce up the appearance of your house without breaking the bank? There are many budget-friendly exterior changes that will make a big difference in curb appeal. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders, whether it's applied to the entire house or just on the front door. If your house is painted a neutral color like white or cream, be adventurous and try an energizing red or soothing aqua on your front door; the pop of color will add appealing interest. While a landscaping overhaul can be very expensive, window boxes or planters are an easy and cost-effective way to add natural beauty to your home's facade. Learn how to build a container garden that will provide extra dimension and color to a front porch or patio. Take a look at your house from the street. Do your windows look bare? Try adding shutters, but make sure they are appropriately sized. Buying shutters that are smaller than the windows they flank is an all-too-common mistake homeowners make, which leads to the windows looking disproportionately small. And if you have a garage, don't overlook the importance of a good-looking garage door. A garage door can account for up to 30 percent of a home's exterior that is seen from the street, so having an attractive one is vital to good curb appeal. But, like shutters to a window, a garage door should be appropriately matched to its house's architectural style. Not sure which door fits your home the best? Try out the handy Door Designer tool at www.amarr.com, which lets you choose from six different home styles and then matches an appropriate garage door based on that style. Of all these budget-friendly improvement projects, a new garage door will give you the best return on your investment and provide the most value for your home. Over the last few years, surveys conducted by the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report indicate that installing new garage doors has been the project moving up the most in the rankings. Most people, to some degree, factor in resale when making their home improvement decisions. Both structural and decorative curb appeal is important when it comes time to sell a home, bringing in a larger number of prospective buyers and making it more likely that they will make the purchase. According to principals at Smykal Renovations, a contracting firm in suburban Chicago, curb appeal projects "may not have the 'wow' factor of a major kitchen remodel, but [they] pay off more in the end." So don't let budget constraints keep you from improving the appearance of your home's exterior. There are many low-cost changes that can be made that have a big impact on how your home looks. Whether you're making these changes to enjoy for yourself, or to make your home more marketable, the summer is a great time to get outside and focus on curb appeal.
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