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With the record rainfall Los Angeles has seen so far this year, interior designer Bobby Berk is in the market for a sturdy umbrella—and a few house checkups. “In our offices, the goal right now is water management,” Berk says. “We literally had more rain in one day than we had in the entire year of 2019, so we’ve run into some issues.” Luckily, through Thumbtack’s new app, users can better understand their home’s needs and manage all its repairs in a single space. “My favorite thing is your ability to set goals,” explains Berk, who is not only a recent customer (he booked a contractor to check out his offices stat) but a pro, and he’ll be giving out two free virtual consultations later this month.

Apps and tools are handy, but even with them, the world of renovating is overwhelming—even the smallest tip on where to start can make all the difference. We asked Berk for his thoughts on one topic in particular: curb appeal. “I think, sometimes, people tend to go a little crazy in the front of their house,” Berk says. “A good rule of thumb is to mix no more than three materials. It adds detail and dimension, but you don’t end up looking like a Vegas casino.” Stone, board-and-batten, stucco, brick, tile, shingles—what’s your magic trio? 

Add even more depth by working in plants—and they don’t need to look super-manicured. In fact, Berk prefers a more natural look. “I like wild lavender, rosemary, and things like that. [Things that] create flowers that bees really, really love,” he says.

If you’re stuck with the exterior materials of homeowners past, don’t fret; a simple coat of paint will help. For something that will catch eyes, go dark. “I love black on the exterior of a home,” Berk says. “Years ago, people would be like, ‘A black house? What is this, The Addams Family?’ And now they’re like, ‘Oh, black houses are supersexy.’” No matter the style of home you have—Victorian, farmhouse, mid-century—the shade will make your landscaping pop. The designer suggests taking it a step further and coating the door and window frames in the same hue.