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Published February 20 2012

Lots of appeal: HGTV ‘Curb Appeal’ host John Gidding to share tips at home show

If you go

What: 2012 Red River Valley Home & Garden Show, featuring John Gidding of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal: The Block,” and William Moss of HGTV’s “Dig In.”

When: 3-9 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive

Info: Admission is $8; $1 off coupons will be available in show guides and at www.hbafm.com. Show guides were published in The Forum Sunday and are available at all Hornbacher’s stores. Visit the HBA’s website for more information on the show.

FARGO - That first visit to someone’s home is kind of like a first date.

First impressions are formed within 30 seconds of knocking on the front door. If the trim needs repainting, the porch lights don’t work and the lawn is choked with dandelions, visitors might assume you really don’t take care of your abode.

In new love and real estate, at least, appearance seems to be everything.

No one knows this more than John Gidding. He is the host and designer of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal: The Block.”

The show centers around Gidding and crew descending on a house nominated to be the biggest eyesore on the block. They’ll spend up to $20,000 turning the exterior of a haggard hacienda or scruffy Cape Cod into the neighborhood showplace.

They’ll also make their way up and down the street to upgrade neighbor’s houses with easy, inexpensive fixes like window boxes or new door paint.

“No one appreciates that one quirky house that’s painted a really bright color,” Gidding told The Forum. “Instead, (curb appeal) is so tied to the fabric of the neighborhood and the contextuality of the location. It’s more about community than showing personality.”

Now Gidding will speak at the Red River Valley Home & Garden Show, scheduled for this weekend at the Fargodome.

He’ll share detailed dish from fan-favorite projects, dole out money-saving tips and, of course, talk about curb appeal.

“We are extremely proud to feature John Gidding at this year’s home and garden show,” says Terry Becker, president of the Homebuilders Association of Fargo-Moorhead. “He has extensive experience in the architecture and design fields and popularity as a host on HGTV, which we hope attract people to the show.”

An architect and designer, Gidding, 35, was born in Istanbul, Turkey.

He graduated from Yale in 1999 with a bachelor degree in architecture, then received his master’s in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Gidding now calls his academic career the most influential time of his life.

“It was then that I started focusing on fine art and then architecture,” he says. “I would go out of my way to visit museums, attend life-drawing classes and anatomy classes, and by the time I took my first course in architecture, I knew that I’d found a job that would never feel like work. Even homework was enjoyable.”

Speaking of curb appeal, Gidding has a fair amount of that himself. He was voted one of “Yale’s 50 Most Beautiful People” in 1999 and went on to work as a runway model for Armani, Gucci and Hugo Boss.

His good lucks, coupled with real design chops, made TV the logical next step.

After working for a couple of years as a landscape architect and opening his own design firms, Gidding became one of the designers on the ABC Family TV show, “Knock First,” which involved making over teen’s bedrooms.

Gidding also hosted HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” until it was canceled in early 2011.

He says the new season of “Curb Appeal: The Block” will begin airing in March.

A CURB WITH A VIEW

To tide you over until then, here are some of Gidding’s favorite tips for creating curb-aceous results.

<•> Play by the numbers: Buy two matching sets of house numbers, then install one on your new mailbox and the other at your entrance. This affordable, important, seemingly basic detail is often overlooked. “I’ve talked to homeowners who don’t even know where they are on their house,” Gidding says.

He recommends investing in large, readable digits that match the style of your home. If your garage lights have brushed nickel trim, invest in brushed nickel numbers. And don’t be afraid to get creative about where you post them, he says.

<•> Shut the front door! (Then paint it.) This is a signature move for almost every house featured on “Curb Appeal.”

It’s also one area where homeowners can stretch outside of their comfort zones a bit. Gidding recommends choosing a complementary color that pops while drawing people’s eyes to the front stoop.

“It’s another great, cheap thing to do,” Gidding says. “It’s so easy to fix if you don’t like it. All it takes is $40 and a weekend and a little bit of elbow grease.”

<•> Green it up. Container plantings are another reasonable, easy-to-adjust front-door fix. “They’re inexpensive and give that vital splash of color,” Gidding says.

For those who live in colder climates, Gidding suggests planting evergreens or hanging multi-season greenery on the door. “Wreaths don’t have to just be for Christmas,” he says.

<•> Think outside the mailbox. It is one of the first things visitors look for, yet so many homeowners have crooked, dilapidated mailboxes.

Yet it’s one of the cheapest and easiest upgrades out there, Gidding says.

If your mailbox is old, paint it or spring for a new one and plant perennials around it.

If budget allows for it, match the box’s architectural style to your house, using the same siding material, brick or stone. “It’s almost like you’re creating a small version of your house,” Gidding says.

<•> Light up my drive. Solar lights have become more attractive and reliable, but Gidding recommends taking it a step farther if your checkbook allows. Hire an electrician to install sconces around the front door or, if you have a porch, a chic pedant light or chandelier.

At the very least, he tells homeowners to make sure their outdoor lights are clean and don’t have missing bulbs. “It’s not an excuse just because they’re outside,” he says.

<•> Color me beautiful. A little color goes a long way toward lighting up a home’s exterior. Secondary trim elements – such as shutters or flower boxes – can add just the right zip of color.

<•> Sit a spell. Gidding recommends putting some functional seating in your front yard. This could be anything from a little bench along a path, a small box topped with a cushion beside the front door, or even a small bistro table with a couple of chairs.

Front-yard seating jibes with what some architects call “traditional neighborhood development,” the type of planning that encourages homeowners to get to know their neighbors and enjoy a sense of community.

“When people start spending time in their front yards, communities start getting stronger,” writes a Des Moines Register reporter in an article about Gidding. “Also, it implies that you are proud of your neighborhood, that you like spending time there – and that increases the perceived value of your home.”