‘Curb Appeal’ host John Gidding on lush lawns, pretty porches and other outdoor room improvements

February 20
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As the host (and design brain) behind HGTV’s “Curb Appeal,” architect-landscape designer John Gidding transforms homeowners’ yards and porches from blah to blazingly cool. The Turkish-born, New York City-based greenspace guru, who also starred on “Designed to Sell,” will chat about outdoor design at the Capital Home + Garden Show from Friday through Sunday at the Dulles Expo Center.

You did some modeling before you were a designer. How did that impact your design career?

I think that people talk down to you in modeling, and they also talk down to you in architecture school. So it gave me a thicker skin!

 How have design shows changed how Americans visualize their outdoor spaces?

In the beginning of “Curb Appeal,” some people pushed back and said, “Why would I want to sit in my front yard?” But now I think people think of yards as an extension of their living spaces.

What are some of the things you do to make yards and porches more appealing?

I feel strongly about creating a path to the front door. And I always try to delete the hegemony of the car by de-emphasizing the garage door.

Well, what should I emphasize if the garage is out?

Your front door. If you paint it a saturated color, you’ll focus on that.

What are some quick fixes for yards or porches?

Check out what entering your home is like. Make sure your mailbox is nice and erect, and that it’s hopefully shiny and black. Make sure metal fixtures on the door hardware and light fixture match.

What would you like to banish from every yard in America?

One-hundred percent, fountains. They’re so popular, but almost all the ones I see are broken. I’m also not a fan of the traditional lawn. They’re not great for the environment. I try to steer people toward ornamental grasses.

 Are there any hot trends in gardening or flowers?

Xeriscaping [landscaping with low-water, often native plants] is getting more popular.

 What do you recommend for people with tiny outdoor spaces?

Container gardening is getting popular in cities. The containers themselves have gotten so beautiful, and you can switch things in pots out whenever you like.

What’s your position on garden gnomes?

Flamingos and gnomes, they don’t up your curb appeal. I think those and other lawn ornaments are an effort at being playful. But I’d rather see something that means something to the homeowner, like wind chimes.

Dulles Expo Center, 4320 Chantilly Shopping Center; Chantilly, Va.; Fri.-Sun., $10; capitalhomeandgarden show.com.

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