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Monochromatic gardens look tidy and modern.ANGHI/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Spring cleaning isn’t an impulse that’s limited to the rooms inside the house; the outside needs TLC, too. Let’s start by checking off a few to-do list tasks that have instant impact (bonus, they’re free): Clean your front windows until they sparkle, wipe down the front door to remove the winter sediment of dirt and salt, and clean out last fall’s leaves from the flower beds. Now you’re ready for phase two of the facelift.

When at the garden centre, consider all one colour for your flowers, from the hanging pots to the annuals and border plants. A monochromatic garden looks neat, tidy and modern. While you’re there, pick up a few window boxes and some solar-powered lights to line your walkway or front flowerbed.

Your house numbers and mailbox might need an update, and you’d be surprised by all the beyond-basic styles out there. You can’t go wrong with matte black, but opt for satin nickel if you’re craving a little shimmer. Next, throw down a new welcome mat for the season. I like a chunky jute or sisal mat that’s either braided or plain. No pithy printed sayings for me – I’d rather deliver a zinger in person when I open the door – but that’s a personal call.

Instead of flanking your new doormat with two urns, mix it up this year with a grouping of three pots on either side. Vary the size and height of the pots for a lush and loose effect, but keep the pots’ material consistent so the vignette doesn’t read as visual clutter.

Upgrade your door’s hardware and consider adding a knocker – it’s like a statement piece of jewellery for the entrance. Simple brass rings are classic and easy to find, but if you want something with more personality, shop vintage for unique shapes from hands and lion heads to serpents and foxes.

A painted front door looks like a million bucks and will only cost you about $40 and two hours of your time. If your house is red brick, try pale sage green or off-black (I know this isn’t a colour per se, but it’s such a perfect combo I’d be remiss not to suggest it). If you have light brown bricks, I think cool colours are best, such as deep green (think: British Racing), saturated teal or cobalt blue. If your home’s exterior is grey, go warm with goldenrod, oxblood or aubergine. If your house is white, well, lucky you! Anything goes.

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to

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