How to make your house look expensive from the outside - design tricks to ramp up your kerb appeal

Industry experts share how to elevate the exterior of your home, with solutions to suit all budgets

how to make your front door look more attractive, dark blue front door with stained glass, pendant star light, dark grey painted masonry
(Image credit: Future PLC/Phil Dunk)

Nothing beats a great first impression. The appearance of your house from the outside sets the tone for the interior. A beautiful exterior leaves people curious about the rest of your home, and it’s high up on the wishlist of prospective buyers. That's why we all want know how to make a house look expensive from the outside

There’s a reason why beautiful frontages and painted front door ideas are so frequently pinned on Pinterest or shared on Instagram - a striking exterior is something that we can all admire and appreciate, but how do you get that look on a budget? 

Regardless of whether your house is full of character or an everyday new build, we asked design experts to share their top tips to create a high-end exterior, with options to suit every budget.

How to make your house look expensive from the outside

‘The impression of the frontage of a house can be elevated by consideration of the landscape’ says Gregory Phillips, founder and director of Gregory Phillips Architects. ‘The front garden planting, layout and materials can transform the ordinary into the sophisticated.’

‘Beyond that, composition and materials are key. Adding detail even if it is local to the entrance will enhance the experience of arriving. I like to make houses with beautiful brickwork and stone. These materials imbue quality when well considered,’ Gregory goes on to say. ‘We also review if the front door is in the best location. Often a small change has a large impact.’

Whether you’re getting your home ready to put on the market, or you simply want to mirror the luxury finish of your interiors on the outside, there are various ways in which you can increase your kerb appeal. 

1. Spruce up your front door

Front door

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Updating your front door colour ideas is one of the most effective ways to elevate the exterior of your home. Both wood and uPVC doors can easily be painted and the colour options are endless. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser that always looks expensive, try sage green with brass details, or make your door number and knocker stand out with contrasting matte black,

‘A front door sets the expectation for what’s inside. If the paint’s flaking, the glass is grubby and the brassware dull, you expect little from pushing it open’ says Rhiannon Southwell, founder of Blossom and Brush. ‘A change of colour can completely transform the front of a house. You don’t need to spend a lot either, if you’re clever about colours and finishes, your tired front door can look stylish and high-end’.  

2. Elevate your exterior lighting

Porch lighting

(Image credit: Pooky)

Exterior lighting is just as important as interior lighting and can really change the look and feel of your home, particularly once the sun has set. From lighting your front garden paths to safely guide guests to your door, to highlighting the unique architectural features of your property, exterior lighting can make your house look expensive from the outside. 

‘We like to light specific plants in the front garden. If the building has beautiful detail then lighting it from planters is very successful. However, this is really a big statement in an urban area so go carefully,’ advises Architect Gregory Phillips.  

3. Upgrade window treatments

French grey French doors with grey-blue border

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Don’t overlook what can be seen inside your home from the outside. Opt for high quality fabrics for your curtain ideas, choosing linen over cotton or even velvet. If your budget can stretch to it choose wooden shutters - these work particularly well in period properties. 

‘Windows are the eyes of the home and the right choice of window dressings can be transformative. For a timeless and elegant look, shutters offer both privacy and security,' says Lisa Cooper, head of product at Thomas Sanderson. 

‘If you prefer a softer touch, consider layering Roman shades in neutral tones with sheer roller blinds. This combination provides both light control and privacy, ensuring your space remains bright and airy while maintaining your seclusion.’ 

4. Introduce some greenery

how to make your front door look more attractive, house with blue front door and gate, tiled pathway

(Image credit: Future)

From a fully planted front garden to elegant topiary trees or pretty window boxes, there are various ways that you can add a touch of greenery to the front of your house, even if you don’t have any outdoor space. This is typically an inexpensive update too, just a touch of foliage or flowers will help create an image of a home that’s loved and invested in. 

Avoid dotting plants around everywhere though, instead choose a feature or two to accentuate, such as the front door or bay window. Opt for a symmetrical layout to make the biggest impact with as few plants as possible if you're struggling with a budget.

5. Tile the path to your front door

victorian style front door with glazing in period home

(Image credit: London Door Co)

Even a small front garden path or small porch idea is another great opportunity to do something a little bit different. Instead of using simple paving slabs, consider tiling your path instead. Make sure you use tiles that are designed to be used outside as these won’t become slippery when wet. 

‘Creating a welcoming path to the front door not only adds kerb appeal, but is also incredibly practical too,’ adds James Sirett, Head of Product at Fired Earth. ‘ It’s important to use the right tiles to ensure a cohesive look. If you’re going for a rustic feel, natural stone is great. Sleek porcelain will give you a modern, pulled-together look and patterned tiles will add character. Whichever you choose, it’s well worth the investment.’  

6. Transform tired windows

Pink front door on street

(Image credit: Blossom & Brush)

Windows are costly to replace, but that’s rarely necessary. Instead why not elevate tired windows with freshly painted frames and beautiful detailed window films. Even windows with cracks and holes can be repaired, and uPCV windows can be painted too. 

‘A quick clean and a coat of paint will instantly lift tired windows, but don’t put all of your focus on the frames. The majority of a window is the glass and this is a great opportunity to add interest to the exterior of your home’ advises Rhiannon of Blossom and Brush. 

‘I decided to do something different with my front bay window, painting a pattern onto the glass inspired by my own print designs. Today I make bespoke window films for people all around the world. They’re different, which shows someone cares and has invested in their property.’

You don't have to go bespoke to make an impact, you can pick up window film from £6 at Dunelm. Purlfrost also has a great collection of window films that will help the exterior of your home look expensive. 

7. Consider exterior cladding

Exterior of a modern detached house with grey cladding and a paved driveway

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

There are few changes that will transform your home as much as adding cladding or rendering. When clever in your approach, you can make the exterior look completely different. Timber cladding will look contemporary and can be painted any colour, while stone cladding will create a more traditional feel. If you’re not keen on your current pebbledash, swap it for smooth rendering. Try a coloured render to avoid having to paint it afterwards. 

‘Changing the materials or cladding of a building can have a massive impact on the appearance,’ says Gregory of Gregory Phillips Architects. ‘ It is also possible to add insulation when carrying out that transformation. However, it is somewhat complex as all window and door junctions will need to be considered. I always recommend using an architect for advice when adding cladding or rendering.’

8. Conceal unsightly bins and utility boxes

Clad bin storage with living roof

(Image credit: Fenton Roberts Garden Design)

One of the things that lets many properties down is the fact that bins and utility boxes are often found at the front of the house. While it might be impractical or impossible to move them to the back of the house, it is possible to conceal them. 

Large plants are a good addition to wheelie bin storage ideas to disguise them, or a lick of paint can make them blend in with the exterior of your house. 

Timber-clad bin storage covers can work well, and usually cost around £200, we've spotted this basic BinGarden storage for £185 on Amazon. These can be left natural or painted. Don’t forget to add a gate with a latch to make getting your bins in and out easy.  

9. Elevate fences, gates and garage doors

sloping roof house with white windows and grey door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Fences, gates or railings are often the first thing a guest comes into contact with when approaching your home. For some, elevating gates and garage doors might just mean a lick of paint - try matching the colour to your front door, or go for a neutral shade allowing your door to be the focal point. 

Lisa Cooper at Thomas Sanderson, says: ‘Don’t underestimate the power of your garage door! A modern design with clean lines and high-quality materials, like a sleek steel finish, can add a touch of sophistication. But forget the idea that garage doors have to be black or grey - colour can add personality and impact and can even compliment your front garden’s planting scheme. Imagine a crisp white door to complement your hydrangeas, or a rich emerald green to echo the climbing vines.’

10. Don’t overlook the ‘extras’

how to make your front door look more attractive, dark blue front door with stained glass, pendant star light, dark grey painted masonry

(Image credit: Paint & Paper Library)

Small details can go a long way and will add that luxury element to the front of your house that many others overlook. This makes all the difference and ensures your home stands out for the right reasons. Beautifully crafted door numbers, doorbells, handles and knockers all present opportunities to create an expensive look. 

‘If your budget stretches to a new door or windows, great. If not, the details that you choose can make a huge difference. Match your exterior and interior metal work throughout for a cohesive look - I love brass’ says Rhiannon Southwell of Blossom and Brush. ‘If you have a window over your door (known as a fanlight,) don’t miss the trick of adding a name, number or pattern.’


 How can I make the outside of my house look better? 

Attention to detail is key when it comes to making the outside of your house look better. If you’re going to introduce colour, choose just one or two complementary shades and match any metal finishes to keep the look simple and high-end. 

Don’t forget to generally spruce up the exterior of your property  - remove any weeds, clean the windows, dust cobwebs off of lighting and sweep the paths - you might be surprised at just how much these small jobs can help.  

Eilidh Williams

Eilidh Williams has been a freelance lifestyle copywriter for over ten years. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative and Media Writing in 2011, over the years she has written for a variety of unique and inspiring lifestyle brands and publications. Her passion for writing about interiors grew when she renovated her first flat - a Victorian terrace conversion in Bristol. Today she is transforming her third property in the countryside, using a mix of modern and vintage pieces to create a bohemian feel.