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Craftsman and Celebrity Designer Chip Wade Talks DIY Curb Appeal

Chip Wade answers a few questions about home renovation, curb appeal, and the importance of construction in home improvement.

What are the top products that you can use to enhance the curb appeal of a house?

Paint is easily the single most important product that can change the look and curb appeal of any home. Painting the entire exterior of a home can be overwhelming and expensive but changing out trim color can also make a big impact. Giving a front door a fresh new look is easily done with less than a quart of paint. Besides paint, mulch would be next on my list. The darker colored mulches, especially black mulch (my favorite) arranged next to pinestraw and green grass provide great contrast and can draw the eyes to certain focal areas of the yard.  And of course, landscape lighting. It’s the magic sauce! 

How can construction play a big part in renovating and improving your home? 

Construction can be enormously transformational in improving your home. Spatial and structural change typically provide the largest opportunities to transform or create purposeful and functional zones. I always design in circles and squares instead of ovals and rectangles when it comes to layout. When laying out new potential configurations for your outdoor space, try to work in 12 by 14 inch squares.  It seems simple but can really ensure spaces don’t get too compressed.  

Always start with a master plan.  Whether it’s for TV shows or my design clients, investing in a master plan for the entire space is always the first place to start. You can do this with a designer or DIY it (just make sure you are getting accurate measurements). Once you have the vision and a great plan for the entire space, you can then break your project into smaller phases. Just jumping into a weekend DIY project without knowing how it fits into the master plan is a common mistake which usually results in undoing work to move forward, which is costly and time consuming. 

What is the best way for people to store their outdoor equipment and tools without compromising the look of their yard? 

Storage has been and always will be a design challenge for any space, but especially for the yard because it’s not easily concealed.  The simplest solution would be to include a storage shed somewhere in that master plan. You can add architectural details to make any ordinary shed really stand out or blend in.  Once I designed a sloped landscape, having the grass transition to a green roof of a backyard studio. Or another approach is to create custom storage solutions. For another client, I designed a sofa that actually slid along an embedded rail, which moved from the indoors to outside around the fire pit with the slightest push. Nothing is impossible with a little extra creativity. 

When it comes to building a beautiful outdoor space, what are some things that you have done in your own home and what are the best things for people to know? 

This may seem counter-intuitive but when designing an outdoor space, think compact and convenient. I see a lot of people make the mistake of putting a fire pit over there and a water feature on the opposite side of the yard or a sitting area somewhere in the distance. That might look pretty but it’s rarely functional. When these features are far away from the house, honestly, they rarely get used and they become harder to maintain. Rather, focus your budget and efforts on areas in proximity to the house. This way your money and efforts are appreciated every time and lead to more enjoyment in the long run. 

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