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The First Things Guests Notice When They Pull Up to Your House, Experts Say

These are the home features that will stick out the most to anyone visiting.

A lot of effort can go into making your home the kind of place that makes people feel warm and comfortable whenever they're inside it. But besides picking the perfect furniture and putting the right touches on important rooms, the first impression most friends and family get will be determined by how it looks from the outside when they first arrive. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can start things off on the right foot before your visitors even walk through your front door. Read on for the first things experts say guests notice when they pull up to your house.

READ THIS NEXT: The First Things Guests Notice About Your Bathroom, Experts Say.

The front door

front door on the home, fall home upgrades

Before anyone can make their way into your home, they're going to come face to face with your front door. Because of this, experts say you should think of this seemingly simple rectangle as a design focal point of the house that shouldn't be overlooked.

"One of the most immediate ways to liven up your front porch and add curb appeal is through your front door," says Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer at real estate website Opendoor. "Its color should reflect the owners' personality and design style while complementing the exterior color and landscaping, as well as the overall look and feel of their neighborhood."

But it's not just about how you paint your primary door. "Why not dress up your entryway with a beautiful door knocker?" suggests Joanne Archer, senior content editor at Expert Home Tips. "They come in many attractive designs and can make a lasting impression on guests."

The landscaping and gardening

house with dense shrubbery in front
Shutterstock / ppa

Keeping your grass or garden looking great can be a time-consuming chore for a homeowner. But experts say that all that mowing and pruning will set the perfect tone for welcoming any arriving guests.

"A well-manicured lawn, trimmed shrubs, and a few colorful flowers can go a long way in making your home look inviting," Aviva Sonenreich, a Colorado-based real estate broker, tells Best Life. "Landscaping can also serve as an indicator of the level of care and attention you give to your home."

This can still be important even if you don't have a lot of grass or garden space between your home and the street. "When styling a front patio to impress guests, don't be afraid to bring in nature with flowers, big plants, and statement planters," El Sanyoura advises.

She suggests making use of a symmetrical front porch by playing up the even layout with two of the same plants set on either side of your home. "Another option is to place a few different pots together off to one side of the front door—groups of three are always great," she adds. "And for a cozier vibe, add in some seating to enjoy your al fresco social space with your guests."

READ THIS NEXT: The First Things Guests Notice About Your Kitchen, According to Experts.

The exterior paint colors

painter roll painting home exterior

Most likely, the very first word used to describe your house from the street is the color you've decided to paint it. That's why unlike working through swatches for your bedroom or kitchen, a home's exterior hue takes on a different level of importance.

"Color plays a big role in shaping a guest's perception of your home," says El Sanyoura. "Is it bright and bold, or is it neutral and subdued? Generally, a good rule of thumb is to put your home in context and compare it to other homes in your area."

To keep things harmonious on your block, she suggests working with a color scheme that will help complement other houses near you without necessarily being exactly the same. "This will allow you to express your personality while still maintaining the cohesiveness of your neighborhood," she says.

Outdoor decor

Blue jays in a bird bath
Shutterstock / Bonnie Taylor Barry

Bushes, shrubs, and greenery aren't the only ways to add personality to your home's outdoor space. Experts say that picking thoughtful pieces of decor can also be effective in making a house look more inviting or appealing from the street.

"You might not have considered adding sculptures to the front of your home, but they can be an eye-catching focal point," suggests Archer. "They don't have to be huge: a simple birdhouse or a set of wind chimes can add some personality and style."

The exterior fixtures

letterbox, vintage home upgrades

Finding the right fixtures is a crucial part of the design process for any kitchen or bathroom. But experts point out that they're also an easy opportunity to add some more eye-catching or unique elements to your home's exterior.

"Design is all about the details, and that of course rings true for front porch design," El Sanyoura says. "Elements like lighting, house numbers, door hardware, and even doorbells can have an immediate impact on guests' first impressions of your home's front porch. Update these exterior fixtures to both add character and elevate your curb appeal."

It's also essential to remember that these design choices can start near the street. "You might not think it's important, but your mailbox is actually one of the first things guests see when they pull up to your house," says Nicolas Wayne, a lawn and garden expert and the founder of "And trust me, a shoddy, tasteless mailbox can put a damper on an otherwise beautiful home."

This means you could end up with a vintage piece, a modern selection, or something in between. "Feel free to let your imagination run wild and choose a style that fits your taste and complements your home's overall aesthetic," Wayne says.

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The driveway and walkways

man pressure washing his driveway

The front area of your home is more than just your lawn, front porch, and your house's facade. That's why experts say prioritizing the upkeep of any paved areas can be an easy way to avoid an eye sore.

"For those with driveways, this is quite literally one of the first things guests will notice when they arrive. The state of the driveway—and whether or not there are clear parking options available—will be one of their first touchpoints," says El Sanyoura.

Even though it can be a time-intensive and pricey project, a driveway redesign or upgrade can help with curb appeal in the long term. "Double concrete pavers or flagstone can help frame the home's exterior and make an entrance feel welcoming," she suggests.

And it's not just about where you park your car. "If your walkways are untidy, cracked, or stained, they won't go unnoticed," warns Archer. "Ensure that leaves are cleared, cracks repaired, and the pathways are scrubbed clean."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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