Transforming the exterior of your home doesn't have to involve a costly renovation job, with these expert tips you can master how to make your house look expensive from the outside on a budget and without the need for any major work.
When it comes to making a home look expensive on a budget it's often the finer details that can make a big difference. From the right lighting, a new color scheme, or a few new touches of greenery, these small improvements can be all it takes to give a house exterior a valuable new lease of life.
Whether you're looking to sell or simply wanting your house to look its best, we've asked property and interior design experts for advice on the easiest ways to make a house look more expensive from the outside on a budget, here's what they said...
11 ways to make your house look expensive from the outside
“It’s estimated that increasing your curb appeal can add as much as $18,000/£15,000 to the value of your home and so it’s worth the effort when it comes to improving the exterior of your home," explains Colby Short, co-founder ofproperty agents, GetAgent (opens in new tab).
“When it comes to improving the curb appeal of your home, there are a variety of options to consider," says Tim Wells, home improvement expert, and founder of Garage Transformed (opens in new tab)."From lawn ideas to paint or window treatments, the key is to create a cohesive look that makes your home look more expensive."
Here are 11 expert tips to help you achieve that goal of improving the exterior of your house on a budget.
1. Carry out a deep clean
Cleaning, in any room, is the easiest way to improve the appearance in an instant. But unlike how often you clean your house inside how often do you give the exterior a thorough scrub down?
Aside from cleaning the windows, the remainder of a house's exterior is often neglected. Blasting away the dirt, grime, and stains from the siding, windows, and other surfaces will enliven the exterior in no time making everything look shiny and new again.
"If you're operating on a tighter budget, this is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to boost your home's curb appeal," agrees Rudolph Diesel (opens in new tab), a top London interior designer who specializes in creating luxury interiors.
"You can use a power washer – which can be rented quite affordably if you don't own one. Blast away years of dirt from your driveway. Show your gutters a little TLC too and clear any debris on the insides and scrub the outsides. You'll be surprised how much you can upgrade the look of your exterior just by sprucing it up a little."
2. Refresh the front door
It's an obvious one but a change of front door can do wonders for improving the appearance of a house's exterior. From a statement new color to a whole new front door there's a solution for all budgets.
“Whether you update your front door with a fresh lick of paint or choose a new door entirely, this is a quick and easy way to transform the look of your house exterior," agrees Camilla Lesser, development manager at property development experts, Essential Living (opens in new tab).
"The color of your front door can have a big impact on the curb appeal of your property," says DIY expert, Michael Rolland at The Paint Shed (opens in new tab). "If the paint on the door is looking tired and faded then it is time for a repaint because a sharp-looking door can really transform the look of a property, therefore choosing a color that works well is crucial."
When choosing the best color for a front door be mindful of the paint colors than can devalue homes, because not all colors will 'add value".
“Blue, lilac, and purple are known for being the most appealing paint colors for visitors," explains Camilla, "but black and grey are safer options to go for in comparison, especially if you are looking to impress potential buyers when selling."
3. Add ambient lighting to the entrance
Lighting goes a long way to create a more considered exterior scheme, one that instantly exudes a touch of luxe – more so than a house with no lighting.
“You can improve your home’s curb appeal simply by choosing the correct lighting for your porch," says Julian Page, head of design at BHS (opens in new tab). "Up-and-down lights on either side of your entryway offer a statement aesthetic, creating gorgeous pools of light both up and down your wall and attracting the eye."
"You can also add post lanterns to the porch gate to emphasize the feeling of grandeur. Finish the whole look off with a porch ceiling light or lantern to create a central focal point that really ties the symmetrical look altogether."
"For the best way to light it up on a budget, I'd recommend hanging up some string lights," says Karl Mok, a design expert, and consultant at TA! Design Lab (opens in new tab). "They're affordable, easy to install."
"Lanterns are always cute, too," Karl adds, "invest in a couple of solar-powered lanterns that you can place on either side of your walkway to boost curb appeal by making your exterior look cozy."
4. Introduce more greenery
From elegant topiary trees flanking the front door to picturesque window boxes a touch of greenery goes a long way when it comes to making a house exterior look more considered and sophisticated.
"By adding greenery you have to break the bank and go all out fitting a garden - just adding a few planters and colorful foliage to your landscaping will make it look more modern and expensive," says Rudolph.
"I'd advise anyone to make sure they're not just haphazardly dotting plants around their exterior, though. Use them the accentuate key visual points, like windows and entryways."
5. Revive tired-looking window frames
Windows are such a prominent design feature on any house and therefore play a huge role in any transformation. An easy way to make your window look more asthetically pleasing (after cleaning them of course) is to tidy up the frames with a fresh coat of paint.
"Painting your window frames is a great way to freshen up your interior and exterior," says Michael. "Exposed to the elements, windows start to look a little worn and worse for wear after a while, so a fresh lick of paint is the perfect way to give them a new lease of life without having to spend a lot of money to replace them."
“You can use acrylic paint, which is water-based, or alkyd paint, which requires solvents like turpentine," advises Ash Read, an interior expert at Living Cozy (opens in new tab). "However, it's best to use acrylic outdoor paint if the wood hasn't been painted before, as this helps the surface to breathe, resulting in better acrylic paint adherence all year.”
6. Give glass panes a makeover
In addition to refreshing frames, you can also add a decorative touch to the windows themselves, by way of window film on the glass.
"Along with a splash of paint, updating your windows with window films gives the exterior of your home an instant update and could even add value to the property – great for those looking to sell," says Joanna Baumard, co-founder of window specialists Purlfrost (opens in new tab).
"To steer you in the right direction, when selecting your film design consider the age of your property, whether you are after a Victorian stained glass or contemporary patterns, there are an array of designs available to suit all."
"Opt for the design to be printed on a frosted film, if privacy is required," Joanna advises. "Or if privacy is not a concern choose a non-frosted film for added color vibrancy."
"The end product is a cost-effective alternative to having your glass professionally etched and is very easy to install. Each number sticker or film can also be used on any smooth non-porous surface like steel, plastic, as well as varnished or painted wood.”
Incidentally, this is also a great way to make a kitchen look more expensive on a budget also, as reeded glass is one of the biggest kitchen trends of 2023 – you can fake that effect with film too.
7. Update your house sign
An elegant house sign is an easy yet brilliant way to instantly make the exterior look more expensive because it shows a personal touch. It also signals that you are proud to shout about the name or number of your house and make it more of a statement.
Alternatively, you could use window film again. "Give your door its own identity with self-adhesive door numbers," suggests Joanna. "They’re the perfect budget-friendly option and come in a wide range of designs or customize your own using our bespoke templates."
8. Tend to the lawn
In truth, often front lawns don't get as much care and attention as backyards. But in order to keep your house looking its best how often you mow the lawn and weed borders at the front is just as important.
“First and foremost, it's important to keep the lawn well-manicured and maintained," advises Mike, a gardening expert, lawn-care enthusiast, and the founder of Nerd Lawn (opens in new tab).
"This means mowing the grass regularly, removing weeds, and trimming hedges and trees. A well-maintained lawn can instantly make a home look more polished and put together."
“It’s important to have a green space that you are proud of outside of your home," adds Camilla. "If it’s currently looking tired and overgrown with weeds, then invest some time in tidying it up."
“Gardening is the perfect way to make your home look more attractive, stylish, and welcoming. Adding additional plants, planting a tree, and building a stepping stone pathway are also a few simple ways you can elevate this space.”
9. Hide unsightly utilities boxes
While necessary, AC units and utility boxes are often a bit of an eyesore attached to the exterior of our homes. Using simple decorating and styling tricks you can significantly reduce the impact they have – like when making a room look bigger with paint.
"It doesn't matter how much you invest into upgrading the exterior of your home, a big electrical box stuck to your wall will undermine all your time and effort," says Karl. "It's annoying, but this can actually present you with the opportunity to get creative."
"If you want to keep it simple, I'd suggest a quick paint job to camouflage the fixture - just choose a color to match the rest of your exterior. But you could also invest in a decorative cover to place over the garish fixture," Karl adds, "or even plant some climbing plants around it to stylishly conceal it without impeding access."
10. Improve the driveway
Don't forget the driveway when incorporating a lighting scheme because highlighting the additional outside space automatically creates a sense of grandeur.
"Driveway lights and spike lights are the perfect fit for garden pathways to create an illuminated pathway that is guaranteed to wow any visitors to your home," says Julian.
"For the best coverage, you can opt for powerful, PIR flood lights, which use sensors to detect motion as your car pulls up the driveway, automatically triggering the light to assist you with parking," Julian explains.
"You can also consider dusk ‘til dawn lights, which conveniently provide light without pressing a button, using photocell sensors that detect natural light levels and adjust the brightness levels of your outdoor wall lights accordingly to save energy.”
Lighting is the cheaper solution but you could also consider revamping the driveway itself if you have more budget. "Taking your driveway to the next level will also help whether it be freshly laid gravel or concrete will bring an additional layer of prestige," says Colby.
11. Update the garage door
"Consider the condition of your garage," suggests Tim. "A garage door can take up a significant portion of the front of your home, and if it's looking tired or worn, it can make the whole house look less expensive."
"One option to improve the look of your garage door is to paint it. By choosing a color that complements the overall color scheme of your home, you can give your garage door a fresh, new look. Another option is to consider a new garage door altogether. Modern garage doors with windows or other embellishments can add a level of elegance to your home."