Whether you’re selling your home or sticking around, every house can benefit from a curb appeal makeover. No one wants to come home to a drab place.
So what does it take to update your home’s curb appeal?
There are a bunch of tricks I like to use to transform a front yard. Many are quick and easy, like adding fresh mulch, flowers, and strategic accent paint. Others take more effort, like installing a modern decorative screen.
Slooooowly over the past six years, I’ve updated the curb appeal of my mid-century modern house. Take a look…
Before: Curb Appeal Needs Work
This is the house in 2014 when Eric and I first moved in, and 2017 when we first painted.
After: Lots of Mid-Century Curb Appeal
This is the house now, in 2020!
You can actually tell it’s a mid-century ranch now! It makes me happy that the outside finally matches the colorful, retro modern inside.
The best part? It doesn’t take a lot of time and money to make an impact with your front yard landscaping. Here are 18 curb appeal updates that can transform your mid-century modern home.
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Modern Curb Appeal Ideas
1. Add Barkdust
For a quick win, spread a layer of barkdust or mulch over your front yard garden beds. You can start with a layer of flattened cardboard first to help block and prevent weeds, then add the barkdust over the top, but the cardboard is optional.
New mulch will give your yard an instant facelift and make the colors of your flowers pop against the contrast.
2. Paint the Lawn
I’m not ashamed to admit it: this time of year my lawn is painted green. Before you judge, you should know that the grass paint I use is nontoxic, it fertilizes the lawn, and it conserves a ton of water since I don’t have to water the lawn.
One coat does the trick for the whole season, and the grass comes back green and healthy.
3. Install a Mid-Century Style Privacy Screen
Building this screen was Eric’s big summer project, and it took all of our one-week vacation to complete it.
This new screen is a replica of the original mid-century modern screen that had been here since the 1960s. So it was a labor of love.
We adored the old screen, but it was completely rotted and falling apart. Eric measured and documented the original layout, tracked down the right lumber, cut the new wood strips, and put it all together.
If painstakingly building a custom privacy screen isn’t your idea of fun, you could try a ready-made option to add privacy to your front yard. Check the local home improvement store, or put a few privacy screen panels together like this.
4. Plant Flowers for Each Season
You may want to stick with mostly evergreen shrubs for your front yard landscaping, to keep a clean and lush look year-round. But a few hardy perennials can add color and seasonal interest.
In front of my privacy screen, I have daffodil bulbs that come up in the spring, followed by coneflowers and blanket flowers in the summer to keep the color going.
5. Update the Mailbox
There are a lot of unloved mailboxes out there — falling over, covered in dust or fading in the sun.
It might be time for a new mailbox, like the adorably retro Modbox.
Or if your mailbox is in good shape, a coat of paint may be all that’s needed to freshen it up. Paint it in your accent color and add mid-century mailbox numbers.
6. Add Accent Paint for Mid-Century Curb Appeal
A mid-century ranch calls for a fun paint job, especially if you’re going for the Palm Springs look. When we painted in 2017, we chose all brown for the siding and trim. I thought it would be clean and minimalist, but instead it felt like the features of the house disappeared.
Later we added white trim along the roof line, which helped. And then this summer I sketched up a plan for highlighting those front windows. We added white trim around the windows, then filled in the panels with turquoise accent paint.
Now the house is unquestionably mid-century. The whimsically retro paint job is not for everyone, but I love it!
We used Sherwin Williams Cooled Blue and Benjamin Moore Timid White.
7. Make Double-Sided Curtains for the Front Windows
Not all curb appeal is on the outside of the house. Your windows need attention, too.
I wish manufacturers would make all curtains double-sided, instead of having plain boring liner showing outside. Curtains should look good from all angles, especially if they are facing the front yard.
Luckily, you can make your own. Sew two pieces of fabric together, or use a single piece of fabric that looks good on both sides. I used plain gray Sunbrella fabric because it won’t fade from the sun, it’s opaque and it has a modern tweed look on both sides.
8. Update the Garage Door
There are lots of ways to give your garage door a mid-century curb appeal update, ranging from paint to garage door kits to installing a whole new door.
One of my neighbors has retro starbursts painted on each garage door panel, which you can accomplish with a stencil. You can also find kits that add retro shapes and dimension to the door, like these ones at Make it Mid-Century.
9. Create a Landscape Berm
Adding a berm or mound adds height and beauty to your front yard landscaping. This was my big contribution to the yard last year, and it was worth all the back-breaking effort. The plants are filling in and loving their home on the berm.
10. Use a Nice Hose Reel
If you have a hose in your front yard, adding a high-quality hose reel can keep it out of the way and looking tidy. I have this hose reel hiding behind my decorative screen, so it’s easy to access the hose and then store it out of sight.
11. Spruce Up Your Front Porch or Breezeway
If your porch is highly visible from the street, make sure to tidy it up to boost your curb appeal. Try adding modern patio furniture, a seasonal wreath and easy-care plants.
12. Get Mid-Century Style Address Numbers
Statement address numbers are practically required for mid-century modern houses. We tracked down retro script numbers from this Etsy store, then painted them in our accent color and mounted them to a wooden board on the decorative screen.
We cut the board in the shape of a mid-century national park sign for extra retro points.
The numbers are written out instead of displayed numerically. And no, our address is not thousand; it’s actually something-thousand-something-something. The mystery continues.
You can see some other mid-century script numbers here and get ideas for styling them.
13. Install Modern Landscape Lighting
The right landscape lighting can call attention to your yard’s best features and make your house sparkle at night. You can light up a berm, a tree, the front of your house, and especially walkways.
My house came with a row of lights along the driveway, but it’s time for an update. Here’s a good option.
14. Clean and Paint Your Awnings
A lot of mid-century ranch houses have awnings, and they are packed with retro charm. A quick cleaning can bring them back to life.
You can even paint your awnings if they are plastic. Mine were white with two dark red stripes, but they really needed to be turquoise. So we sanded, primed and painted over the red three years ago, and they are holding up well.
15. Prune Your Shrubs Like Pom Poms
Pom pom shrubs are the mark of a mid-century yard. If your landscaping feels lackluster, a quick prune job can freshen it up.
Grab a hedge trimmer and think round as you trim the hedges. This is called cloud pruning, because you can transform a mass of shrubs into a cute puffy cloud. You can also get a pom pom style tree pre-shaped from a garden center.
16. Edge the Lawn
Everyone warns you about invasive plants like ivy, and they’re not wrong, but I’ve found grass to be difficult to control as well. It’s always trying to spread out of bounds. So this year we finally added this lawn edging around our front and back lawns.
You can use an edger tool to get your lawn to the shape you want. A kidney shape is an attractive choice for a mid-century house. Then add the lawn edging around the border, stake it down and cover the other side with barkdust, pea gravel or another ground cover.
17. Fill in the Driveway Cracks
Is your driveway growing weeds? If you have a lot of cracks in your driveway, weeds will take up residence. You can fill in the cracks with this cement filler to make the driveway much less hospitable.
Last summer my driveway was a weed factory, and after filling in the cracks it has remained mostly clear for the past year.
18. Don’t Forget the Front Door
You can get a new modern door, but sometimes all it takes is fresh paint and hardware.
Yellow, orange and turquoise are fabulous paint choices for a mid-century modern door. Then try adding a starburst escutcheon around the doorknob.
And of course, hang a Sputnik wreath!
Mid-Century Modern Curb Appeal
A few quick updates can polish up your landscaping and add a lot of retro style to your mid-century modern front yard.
Not sure where to start? Download the seven quick landscaping wins in my resource library.