What is it about farmhouse curb appeal that’s so irresistibly charming? Maybe it’s the creamy palette offset by rustic details — or the intentional aesthetic imperfections that welcome you in to say: Come as you are. Or maybe, it’s that despite their relatively formulaic nature, farmhouse homes look more classic than cookie-cutter, like grandma’s tried and true apple pie.
Whatever the magic may be, farmhouse style undeniably swoons potential homebuyers, making it the perfect curb appeal choice. We’ll walk you through the basics of farmhouse curb appeal from choosing paint colors to staging thoughtful country vignettes, so you can capitalize on this ever popular design trend.
Farmhouse design is America’s #1 home style
For the catalyst behind country-chic’s rise in popularity, look no further than interior design guru Joanna Gaines, who paraded farmhouse design across America on her HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” In less than a decade, the country’s obsession with Gaines’ style propelled her into a successful brand in her own right, her testaments to success including 12.7 million followers on Instagram, a printed magazine, a Target collection, and most recently (and impressively), an entire media network.
By our research, farmhouse style won’t be fading into the background anytime soon. Google’s Top Charts, which highlights topics with a high search volume each month, listed farmhouse style as the number-one trending home style of 2019. This August, the popularity of the term climbed to new heights, with more people searching “farmhouse” than ever.
“It’s interesting —it’s like the gray walls in the homes. Once something is popular and going down a trajectory, people just want what everybody wants, and then it just grows more and more,” explains top real estate agent Janice Overbeck, who sells homes 53% quicker than the average agent in Atlanta, GA.
A recent study found that homes peppering “modern farmhouse” into their listing typically sold for 10.3% more than expected. Overbeck confirms the strong and increasing buyer demand for farmhouse style homes, sharing that she even bought a farmhouse herself: “it’s definitely a cute trend, in my opinion.”
Gussy up your exterior with light paint and refurbished fittings
Farmhouse curb appeal starts with a bright, cheerful exterior. Paint your home white and see if it just doesn’t turn your grass a little greener and the sky a little bluer. With shades ranging from eggshell to buttermilk, you’ll need to swatch up a panel before committing (Sherwin-Williams alone offers 48 shades!). Here are a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Pure White by Sherwin-Williams: This bright, neutral white will help you achieve that classic black and white exterior.
- Oyster White by Sherwin-Williams: Oyster white has a warm undertone and is most inviting with wood accents.
- Simply White by Benjamin Moore: With subtle yellow undertones, Simple White was crowned Benjamin Moore’s color of the year in 2016.
If your taste leans more contemporary, go for light grey siding with white trim for gentlemanly contrast. Overbook suggests selecting an additional, darker shade of grey for the gutters, front door, and garage door, remarking, “it stands out and is very popular.”
Create dimension for a lasting first impression
Avoid the lackluster appearance of a flat exterior by incorporating a few of these dimension-building details:
- Shutters: Frame windows with louvered shutters for a classic look, flat panel shutters for an industrial take, or board and barn shutters to lean into the DIY aesthetic.
- Pilasters: Perfect for porchless homes, these flat columns add architectural appeal for a reasonable price (starting at $88 a pop at Lowes).
- Enhanced pillars: Enhance plain porch posts with these decorative vinyl wraps.
- Portico: Another solution for homes lacking porches, a portico amplifies your front door and adds dimension to your exterior.
- Front door molding: Beset your door with white trim for a sweetened arrival.
Pressure wash to perfection
“You go to people’s homes all the time and the front porch and the stair rails are just so faded with green and dirt that’s been on there forever. You have to have that pressure washed,” Overbook shares.
“It makes all the difference in the world because people feel like [they’ll] know the condition of the inside of the home based on the outside. So, you gotta make that great first impression.”
Pressure washing is an easy and affordable DIY project with pressure washer rentals starting around $30 at Home Depot. Just take care to spray with the appropriate pounds per square inch (psi) to protect your home’s finishes.
Replace weathered windows, siding, and gutters
While rustic metals define the farmhouse look, there’s no excuse for decaying structural elements. In HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Q1 2020 Report, our surveyed agents suggest replacing your windows and siding to recoup over 80% the cost at resale. As for gutters, you’ll see a 60% ROI, though this is the most affordable project of the three at just under $3,000.
Create a story with a welcoming porch
Nodding to America’s agrarian past, farmhouse curb appeal is all about the porch. As early as the late 1700’s, European settlers deemed this breezy architectural feature essential for seeking refuge from the stifling summer heat of the Southern states. Today, the porch remains a highly sought after feature, providing outdoor living space and a douse of country glamour.
Arrange seating to settle into
If you’re blessed with a sizable porch, arrange a conversation area by grouping rocking chairs, benches, and, ideally, a porch swing. Mix and match new and vintage pieces, softening their surfaces with neutral throws and gingham accent pillows. For modern farmhouse style, Overbeck recommends choosing darker, glossier furnishings such as these black rocking chairs from Cracker Barrel. Further establish where your design falls on the scale of vintage to contemporary with a neutral or light blue rug in the style of your preference.
Balance the design with hearty iron fixtures
Farmhouse design balances its light, feminine color palette with dark, masculine fixtures. Add weight to your vignette with front door hardware, address numbers, and prominent lighting fixtures such as symmetrical sconces or a welcoming pendant. Typically, iron is the finish of choice, though bronze provides a softer alternative.
Accessorize, but don’t over-theme
With retailers from Target to HomeGoods cashing in on the farmhouse trend, there’s an endless array of country-adjacent decor to jazz up your porch — just don’t go overboard.
“Just a little touch of the country mixed in as far as knick knacks go, to some people, would be enough. I think that you have to be really mindful of that,” Overbeck comments, mentioning that her porch’s piglet statue adds more than enough kitsch.
Transform your landscaping into a wildflower bouquet
What’s a country home without a blooming garden? Farmhouse curb appeal welcomes an eclectic assortment of foliage, even continuing the greenery onto the home itself with window boxes and hanging ferns on the porch.
Layer whimsical shrubbery for added depth
Layer your landscaping to create the illusion of an ample garden. Mix in breezy ornamental grasses with taller sculpted shrubs, like these recommendations from country home tastemaker Southern Living:
- ‘Miss Lemon’ Abelia – a mounding evergreen shrub featuring variegated leaves with ivory edges and light pink flowers
- ‘Baby Gem’ Japanese Boxwood – a tight and tidy shrub with small glossy-leaves
- ‘Mojo’ Japanese Pittosporum – a full evergreen of pale green leaves with yellow hems producing sweet spring flowers
- ‘Emerald Snow’ Loropetalum – an evergreen shrub that grows 4 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide, blossoming with snowflake white flowers in the spring
For bonus farm-to-table imagery, group together a few galvanized planters and fill them with herbs like rosemary and lavender. Snuggle them into a pocket of the landscaping and top off the beds with fresh pine straw or mulch for a “finished” look.
Say yes to flowers, no matter the season
Flowers are essential to selling the farmhouse lifestyle. Overbeck advocates sellers to include at least a couple of planter boxes with flowers even if they’re doomed to wither in the weather:
“In the summer here in Atlanta, Georgia, the flowers burn up. But I recommend planting anything that’s a bright color flower in the planter boxes along with the hardy greens for the first month on the market. Just go all out and make it beautiful, even if it’s just for those two planter boxes.”
Bring the country road home
Guide buyers to your home with natural, organic walkways such as flagstones set in gravel or weathered brick pavers. For added definition, edge the walkway and driveway with larger rocks of a similar shade.
Illuminate the scene with rustic lanterns and fairy lights
Last, but not least, make your home glow for those enchanting evening listing photos. Stagger a selection of iron lanterns on the porch steps, line the walkway with solar path lights, and strewn a favorite tree with vintage string lights for a firefly twinkle.
Farmhouse curb instantly puts buyers at ease
Striking the perfect balance between elegant and homely, it’s easy to understand the allure of farmhouse style. Play up the country charm in your curb appeal and you’ll have buyers’ hearts melting like butter on hot toast.
Header Image Source: (Ursula Page / Shutterstock)