John Gidding has a master's degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.
This weekend, the NOLA Home Show
hosts more home improvement experts, professionals and celebrity guests than you can shake a spade at. Among them is John Gidding, architect turned host of HGTV's Curb Appeal
. On the show, he helps homeowners make their house exteriors more eye-catching.
interviewed Gidding for tips on maximizing the appeal of porch-centric NOLA homes.
Gambit: As I’m sure you’ve noticed, New Orleans has some beautiful architecture. What do you like about the homes here?
John Gidding: I've always been drawn to porches, covered verandas and balconies — all of which are expressed beautifully and in a multitude of ways in New Orleans. They're a much appreciated extension of the interior and a way of bringing in the exterior, but what I love is the sense of community they engender. Neighborhoods with porches and balconies encourage the kind of casual, unplanned interactions among neighbors and passersby that create stronger communities with the additional benefit of better upkeep and maintenance. Just what the Curb Appeal
G: What does "curb appeal" mean, and is it something only people selling their homes should be concerned with?
JG: It was initially a real estate term. When people pull up to a house for sale, it's the first thing to judge by -— but HGTV's long-running show with the same name has taken the term to a broader platform, and for good reason. All too often, home improvements are for the benefit of an upcoming sale — when they'd be much better appreciated by the inhabitants of the home as they lived in it. This is especially true for curb appeal: it affects your neighborhood, it improves safety, and also impacts how you feel when you get home. These are things that people should create for themselves and benefit from, and that's why I think Curb Appeal
has developed broad appeal.
G: You’ve suggested tips like potted plants and nice house numbers as easy ways to ramp up curb appeal. What else do you recommend for NOLA residents looking to maximize their curb appeal?
JG: Identifying your budget is a good first step. Knowing your ability to maintain your yard and keep plants alive is another good step. For budget-minded homeowners, I stress aesthetic tweaks like painting the front door a vibrant jewel tone, installing seating and making it look welcoming at the front of the house with weather-resistant fabrics and rugs, new mailboxes, installing shutters or re-painting them.
For people that need help with their plantings, one thing that's been a huge help for me is to contact a local nursery with every new project I tackle. They will often agree to send someone over to the site for free, look at sun exposure and shade conditions, check pH levels, and finally furnish me with a list of plants for the microclimate. Nursery input (rather than picking based just on color or texture or reputation) has helped me create front yards for families that last and thrive.
G: What will you do at the NOLA Home Show?
JG: I will present a series of projects from concept through completion, and I'll open the floor up to questions and comments immediately. I keep the presentation informal and follow the audience's lead — sometimes we talk construction, other times it tends towards behind-the-scenes revelations and gossip. We'll have a good time.
G: Anything else you would like viewers and readers to know?
JG: I've got a new show on LogoTV called Secret Guide to Fabulous
, and it's just been picked up for another season. We talk about insights for everything from design and fashion to fitness and entertaining. You'll recognize some of my cohorts on the show. Also, I'm about to launch an app called GAVL — but it's still hush-hush until February. Stay tuned.