Within one tenth of a second of meeting, people judge you. Yes, that’s what Alexander Todorov, one of the world’s leading experts on first impressions says in a Princeton University study.

So, how long do you think it takes to get a first impression of your newly constructed custom home? Not long at all. According to the National Association of Realtors, 63% of buyers will drive by a home if they like the exterior photos. If buyers don’t like the look and feel of the outside at this point, they will never bother to physically step inside your home – no matter how much money you’ve put into interior selections.

That’s why curb appeal is critical to the lasting value and appreciation of your home. Outdoor living spaces continue to top the charts as most requested home design elements that also improve your property for resale.

You’ve invested time and money to build your dream home. Now, invest the same attention to detail to your outdoor living spaces to complete the masterpiece.

Here are our top five tips to guarantee a great first impression:


A lush flowerbed, a beautiful mature tree, or a stone pathway that gives guests a clear walkway from your driveway to your front door creates a warm welcome and focal point to your custom home. Remember, a front walkway should never be less than 4 feet wide at any point.

With its expansive square footage, your driveway should be given the same attention and focus as your interior.

A paver driveway can be a big boost to curb appeal; an enormous array of design choices are readily available. Although it’s more expensive than some other materials to install, a paver driveway carries relatively low long-term maintenance costs and can last 30 to 40 years. It’s also becoming increasingly common to stamp a texture into concrete driveways, sidewalks and patios.


A  great front entrance design happens when you consider scale, proportion. Your front door to your home can set the tone and expectation for the rest of your custom home. Enhance the entrance with new hardware and a lantern-style porch light to give a sense of security and safety. Potted plants add personality and a welcome burst of color.

Install the largest, steel or fiberglass door (or set of doors) that compliments your home’s style.


With lighting, you can pick out and highlight your home’s best features – while leaving those you’d prefer not to show off in the dark.

Some of the changes you make to the exterior of your home won’t even be visible after dark unless you highlight them with great lighting. 

During the winter months, creative landscape lighting is one of the least expensive and best ways to boost your curb appeal instantly.

From functional lighting in an outdoor kitchen to ambient lighting around the pool or along a driveway, lighting is a design element that showcases your overall plan.


An expert landscaper can create elements that enhance your property.

Keep clean lines around your driveway with a well-trimmed lawn or area with ornamental plants.

Gardens create a zone of refined outdoor living space and should feel like an extension of your interior, tied together with design inspiration from elements of your home.

Build your garden around a central feature like a fountain or formal planter. Fountains and statuary help clearly identify the period or culture of your garden design.

Topiaries are excellent shrubs that can be used to create organic barriers.

Multi-level retaining walls are both practical and pleasing to the eye.

A good hardscape plan includes informal seating areas strategically located to showcase your property.


According to Absolute Outdoor Kitchens, homes with outdoor kitchens can potentially see an ROI ranging between 100% and 200%.

In the same way your family and friends enjoy hanging out in your indoor kitchen, an outdoor kitchen, centered around a grill, can include cooking and dining areas, as well as living room space with fireplace and climate controls.

Having the outdoor dining space adjacent to your kitchen will make for easy, convenient trips between the two areas.

From gathering around an outdoor fireplace to descending a stone path to a down-lit swimming pool, you want to make the best use of your property. 

You want your outdoor living spaces to reflect your personal style in the same way as your home’s interior design. The right landscape professional can turn your vision into reality.