Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

By Tiffany Edison

After suffering a painful divorce, I made the decision to relocate myself and my children to the Ann Arbor area. I combed the city, exploring a multitude of neighborhoods that emanated different vibes. Ann Arbor truly is unique in its cultural diversity, dedication to the arts, and — especially relevant to me — the wealth of opportunity for those in the market to build a new life in an area suited to their particular tastes and desires.

As an avid lover of old historic homes, I zeroed in on a neighborhood within walking distance to a nice park and the school where my children would attend. I couldn’t believe that such a bucolic area existed within city limits. I watched children walking hand in hand with parents to school, dogs everywhere enjoying a jaunt around the block with their owners, and neighbors standing on sidewalks chatting like long-lost pals. Now, if I could just find the right home…

There it was, a dilapidated 1913 fixer-upper on a corner lot. Admittedly these are not adjectives the typical homeowner seeks when deciding where to build their nest, but as a designer my mind flooded with ideas for the potential this home offered. It had good bones, but no curb appeal. I immediately developed a plan that would pay homage to the neighborhood and the inherent age of the home.

“Curb appeal” is a buzzword that realtors and layman alike throw around when describing how inviting a home is from the outside. A home with curb appeal beckons you to enter. Curb appeal also has the added benefit of increasing the value of your home. The good news is that every home has this potential — and spring is the perfect time to consider refreshing it!

A home’s exterior is mainly comprised of the overall structure, and includes the yard, landscape, front entry, driveway, and sidewalks. Since the pathway leading to your home is one of the first things viewed by passers-by, I recommend that hardscape such as pavers, brick, or stone be utilized to add character. These materials can also withstand Michigan winters, and they look best when enhanced with lighting. Installing this lighting doesn’t have to break the bank, as there are solar options on the market with minimal cost out of pocket. An additional benefit of this type of ambient lighting is safety, as it makes navigating steps and other potential hazards easier. Given Ann Arbor’s abundance of trees, it’s also wise to light up any particularly eye-catching trees near the home’s entrance.  

Landscaping is also of vital importance. Although this can be one of the largest investments you can make for your property, it often compliments the home’s curb appeal. Simply adding flower beds, fresh mulch, planters, or window boxes with pops of color will transform the home’s exterior and can offer a personal touch. Seasonal landscaping and home décor on the entry porch or front door is also a wonderful way to up your home’s style game.

A part of this process that is near and dear to my heart is selecting the perfect front door. It’s often one of the first features seen from the street. This is the ultimate way to pay homage to the architecture of the home and give a completely different look to your home’s exterior. The options to make it stand out are limitless! Personally, I’m a huge fan of selecting doors with some glass; this allows some sunlight in the entry. I also love a front door painted in a bold color. It’s an inexpensive way to make a statement about your personality and demand attention. Selecting the proper door hardware and house numbers is equally important. Do some online research and see what sort of selections were popular for the style of your home during the time period it was built. is a wonderful online resource offering period door hardware, lighting, and other wares that can spruce up any home’s exterior.

Windows are also a major consideration that cannot be underestimated. Again, whether you’re replacing windows or selecting the correct style for the period of your home is critical. If our eyes are the windows to the soul, windows are the soul of your home. Potential buyers often rate windows as one of the largest considerations when searching the market for a new home. It’s best to consult with a professional when purchasing new windows, as the options are limitless and window replacement bears a great expense. If you’re simply freshening up your existing windows, a sanding and fresh coat of paint should suffice.

Exterior lighting is my personal favorite way to accentuate porches and garages. The options here, too, are limitless, yet the home’s architecture, aesthetic, and function must be considered. How you want your home to appear during the day and night should be the driving force behind final decisions. Would sconces between the garage bays look best? Or perhaps individual goosenecks installed above each door look best? Again, it depends on the style of your home. 

If you find yourself struggling with these decisions, I highly recommend that you consult with a design professional. As always, have fun in this process and look forward to putting a smile on your neighbors’ faces (and yours!).


Tiffany Edison has been an interior designer since 2002 and specializes in both
residential and commercial projects.  She holds a Master of Social Work degree
(ACSW) and utilizes interpersonal relationship skills on a daily basis with her client
base, largely comprised of Ann Arbor, and Metro Detroit residents.  She has a
wonderfully large blended family residing in the city and enjoys the comforts of home.
When she’s not fully immersed in client projects, you can find her active on the golf
course, a favorite pastime.