My favorite book on exterior decorating is Shortcuts for Accenting Your Garden by Marianne Binetti. I still remember the little bookstore where I bought it because this simple book has helped us beautify the yards of three houses now.
Outdoor Décor: First Impressions of Your Home
by Charlotte Siems
First impressions count, and your front yard and entryway are no exception. What is the first thing that visitors see when they pull into your driveway? What about when they stand on your porch waiting for you to open the door? Maybe it’s time to look at these areas with new eyes.
Check for stray toys, bits of trash, dead leaves and branches strewn on the driveway. Sweep your porch and whisk away the cobwebs. You might be surprised at the difference it makes! Then freshen up the space with a new pot of flowers or completely redesign your entryway.
The book has line drawings with lots of ideas for the yard and garden. What I like is that it leads you through figuring out what your style is and what will fit your type of house. It discusses design principles, flower color schemes and how to put it all together with accessories that coordinate with your chosen style.
There are suggestions for the front porch, side yard, flower gardens, walkways and more, with inexpensive options and do-it-yourself ideas.
When we moved into our house nearly nine years ago, the area between the sidewalk and the front of the house was filled with ground cover and a few plants. Using this book, I sketched a plan on a piece of paper for what I wanted it to look like. We already had some big rocks and bricks to work with. We lined the sidewalk on either side with bricks to widen the appearance and add character.
Then we made brick borders and walkways leading to a bench. We recently refreshed the area with new dark brown mulch. We hadn’t used that color before and I rather like it because it’s the color of freshly-turned earth.
Over a couple of days, with some elbow grease and minimal financial investment, the kids and I transformed this awkward space into a welcoming decorative accent leading up to our front door, all with the help of a little paperback book.
For redecorating projects and a change of seasons, books and magazines are a great source of inspiration, along with garden centers, well-designed antique shops and home accessory stores. Looking is free, and you’ll often be inspired by something that you can duplicate at home.
Take a look at your outdoor space and see if some changes need to be made. Use what you have or spend a little cash on materials, put in some physical labor, and enjoy the beautiful, welcoming results for years to come.