Last week, we talked about creating wow factor on the inside of your home. This week we’ll delve into what we can do to our home’s exterior to add curb appeal. Now remember, you shouldn’t include features in, on, or around your home just to impress others. Instead, design a home that inspires you and your family, and build one that you’re proud of. Just by doing that, you’ll often increase your home’s value and it's appeal to others. We’ll go over the first part of our list this week and finish the list next week. Before we go any further, we need to define this week’s Pro Terms.
Pro Terms: Portico and Porte Cochere
1. A Portico is a small roof covering a door of a house. It’s supported by columns and creates a covered porch, entrance or walkway. Porticoes are not only stylish, but functional too.
Porticoes provide shelter outside an entrance where you’re protected from the elements while finding your key, or welcoming guests. Porticoes also offer protection to the home itself by keeping rain, snow and wind off of the door and hardware.
2. A Porte-cochère (pôrt′kō-shâr′) is a large roofed structure covering a driveway at the front or side entrance of a house. It provides shelter while entering or leaving a vehicle.
Alright, moving on to this week’s mini lessson. We’ll cover the first part of a list of things that you can do to your house to increase it’s curb appeal.
1. Combining Contrasting, but Coordinating Colors
There are certain times when a monochromatic color scheme can be beautiful, but the exterior of most houses look much more interesting when it has two or three coordinating, but contrasting colors. The thing to keep in mind is that for the greatest curb appeal, there should be contrast between the colors. If you use colors that are too similar, nothing will pop. Think about a house that is white and cream, or one that’s 3 similar shades of tan. I mean, that’s fine, but those homes won’t really be distinctive.
Typically the body of the house should be one color and the trim another. You might also want to add a third accent color, maybe on the door, or shutters. But, a general rule of thumb is to stop at 3 colors. More than that can look too busy. If you’re having trouble deciding what colors you want for your house, take a ride around a few neighborhoods to see what colors you are drawn to, or search pictures of homes on Houzz.com or Pinterest. Plus, paint stores will usually have inspirational color combinations available for you to choose from.
2. Add Dimension
There are a few people who prefer that the front of a house be completely one dimensional and flat, but most of us are drawn to exteriors with dimension and depth. Dimension is one of those things that your eye is drawn to without you even realizing it. A completely flat house can look commercial and boring. When you look at a non-dimensional house, you’ll often think “I can’t put my finger on it, but something’s missing.”
You can make a house more dimensional by designing it with areas that stick out from the main body of the house. Adding a portico to the entry, for example. Or by including architectural elements such as box, or bay windows, awnings, overhangs, dormers, chimneys or cantelivers. POP QUIZ: What is a cantilever? Cantilever was our pro term in episode 17 called “SIZE MATTERS… BUT SO DOES DESIGN. 20 DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION FEATURES THAT CAN SAVE YOU MONEY WHEN BUILDING A NEW HOUSE.”
Well, A cantilever is a structure that extends outward from the wall of a house, usually about 2 feet or so. It’s simply a “bump out” that projects from the side of a house. Cantilevered designs can increase the space in a room without having to expand the home’s footprint. And cantilevers can give dimension to a house.
Texture can also make a house dimensionally more interesting, that’s one of the reasons adding stone accents to a house is so popular.
3. Make a Statement with your Front Door
The front door plays a big part in your home’s first impression. And it’s a great place to express your personality and the style of the house. But keep in mind, the door should compliment the home’s architecture and scale.
The most common exterior door materials today are wood, fiberglass- composite, steel and glass.
No matter what they’re made of, an oversized single entry door, or double entry doors often give a house a grander, more formal look than you’d typically get from a standard 32 to 36 inch front door. Glass or wood doors also tend to have a grander, higher end feel.
Wood is one of the more common choices for front doors today, especially in custom built houses. Modern wood doors are usually made of outer layers of wood veneers. The wood veneers cover a wood or steel core. This type of construction minimizes warping and decreases the cost of the door as compared to a solid wood door.
Look for furniture-grade veneers that are at least 1/16 of an inch thick. If the veneers are any thinner than that, they can be easily damaged.
Homeowners usually choose wood doors because they like the look of stained wood. But If you prefer a painted door, consider a steel or a fiberglass door.
Fiberglass composite doors are affordable and, if you get a good quality one, they’re durable too. They rarely need touch-ups and their foam core makes them pretty energy efficient, so they perform well in harsh climates.
Steel doors are fairly inexpensive, they’re strong and won’t crack or warp, but they can dent. Minor dents can be be repaired, but you may need to replace a door if you have large dents. Depending on the core, a steel door can be energy efficiency. But steel conducts heat, so its not ideal for extreme climates.
Whatever material you choose, select a coordinating door and stylish hardware that add to the curb appeal of your house. If you’re going with a painted door, choose an statement color that’s unique, but not garish. Again, take a look at sites like Pinterest or Houzz.com for ideas.
4. Select Unique Address Numbers
Your house numbers are a way to set your home apart from others. You add some personality to the front of your house with your address numbers. Make your numbers large and bold, so they make a statement and can be easily seen (see above picture). You might even decide to get illuminated numbers. Depending on the type of lot you have, you could mount your address numbers in the ground, in your front yard. Or have your address carved or painted on a large stone that is set in your yard. Consider having custom numbers made by a local artist or someone on Etsy. You could have individual numbers made or have your address put on a plaque.
Here’s a quick tip: Before you order your address numbers, do a mock up. Cut out a template of paper or cardboard and tape the paper numbers up where you plan on permanently placing them. Then, take a look at the house numbers while standing on the street. Make sure they are large enough to be read, but that they don’t overwhelm the entrance.
5. Add Lighting
Your house should be attractive during the day and at night. The main way to make your house beautiful at night is to add lighting. People wonder whether they should up light or down light their property.
In uplighting, landscape lights are mounted at or near ground level and shine upward. Up lighting can be used to highlight columns, beautiful stonework on the house, or trees and large plants in your yard. Uplighting adds drama.
With downlighting, you place lights high up on the house, trees or other tall structures so the light shines downward. The higher the light, the wider space it tends to illuminate.
Low growing flowers and plants need downlighting to show off their tops. You can also place downlights along seating walls and pathways and over patios for ambience and to make sure you and your guests have adequate light.
Moonlighting is a specific type of downlighting that looks like moonlight. Light fixtures are placed high up in trees and angled downward. With the light shining down through the branches, it looks like natural moonlight and creates shadows of the tree branches and leaves.
The lighting plan that add the most curb appeal will include both downlighting and uplighting. If you use only downlighting, or only uplighting, you can see lines of demarkation where the light stops. If you use uplighting and downlight together, you won’t really be able to see where one light source ends and the other begins. You only see beautiful, natural looking light.
Carriage lights, which look like lanterns, and sconces can add curb appeal to your garage and front entry. Consider having a landscape lighting consultation during the planning stages of building your home so you can ask your electrician to hardwire for your outdoor lights. You’ll also want to inform the gas company if you want to add gas lanterns.
Well, that’s the first half of the list of things you can do to increase your home’s curb appeal. Come back next week for the second part of the list.
Ok, let’s do a few quiz questions to test and review the information we just covered.
1. What is the large roofed structure covering a driveway at the front or side entrance of a house? Is it a portico or a porte cohere?
The answer is porte cochere. A porte cohere is a large structure that covers the driveway providing shelter while entering or leaving a vehicle. A portico is a small roofed structure that covers a door.
2. Which of the following is not a way that you can add dimension or depth to a house?
The answer is C, uplighting. Uplighting adds curb appeal, but not because it adds dimension to a house. Making a house dimensional means making some areas and features protrude away from the main structure of the house, so the house is not completely flat.
3. True or False? For the greatest curb appeal, you should stick strictly with uplighting because adding downlighting is overkill.
That’s false. True enough you don’t want your house to be so lit up that it looks like baseball stadium at night, but you do want sufficient light for safety, beauty and a little drama. For the greatest curb appeal, combine uplighting with downlighting so you can’t really see where one light source ends and the other begins. When you combine down and uplighting, you get a more natural look. Remember also to add carriage lights or scones to highlight to your entry.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, Building codes and requirements vary from regbvvion to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
Thank you for joining me this week. Let’s do it again next week. Hope you’ll come back for another episode of Build Your House Yourself University-- BYHYU.