I recently received this question and photos from a reader:
I have loved following your blog, especially during our recent new build.
We didn’t have all the money in the world to put into our house, but we were very good at getting what we want and keeping under budget. And yes we did follow the trend I guess by going with a grey exterior which is already outdated, but I still like it.
So my question, what can we do to amp up our exterior? Obviously we need some landscaping, and that will come, but something is missing and I’m not sure what it is.
When we started building we had budgeted to add rock halfway up like you see with lots of homes, but I remember reading you didn’t like the halfway up, that you prefer all the way around? And I don’t like when the homes have 3 or more different sidings/rock/shingles. We want to add some stone to the pillars to beef them up, originally I would have loved the thick wood beam pillars, but the upkeep wouldn’t go well where we are with the weather. (We are built in the middle of a farm field, with lots of wind, and no coverage.)
Is the problem the architecture?
Originally the architect had drawn an extra triangle thing above the front door, but it just felt like extra unnecessary stuff, were we wrong to leave it out?
We also changed the plan by lining up the two garage doors so they were the same size instead of having one stick out further. Keeping it simple, and practical.
Would adding stone to the pillars help? Or adding it to the house? Both?! I thought about shutters but I don’t think they’d fit and look real.
I’m just confused on what’s missing. Can you tell me please?!
The biggest issue is the windows on your house, they are too small and there is no symmetry. I asked my fabulous landscape architect MaryAnne White out of New York and she suggested the window box below the one on the left that’s too short and the shutters.
Also, your columns should be a minimum of 8 inches wide. They will definitely look better without stone. It’s great that you opted not to install stone halfway up as is often done. It’s not necessarily bad to do that, it will just look slapped on in most cases unless it clearly is an integrated part of the design.
There’s nothing wrong with your pretty blue grey siding, it would look way more trendy if you had painted it a dark charcoal or something close.
As you said, landscaping will make the biggest difference and I have photoshopped in some flagstone as well as a boxwood hedge to add interest.
Obviously you’ll need a much better plan than this, Maryanne can help you with that! Contact her here.
For those of you who are new to this blog, MaryAnne helped me completely redesign my front and back yard 6 years ago (All via eDesign, long distance). I think of her every single day, because I love my landscaped yard so much!
I have one more plug for MaryAnne and that is this: landscape design is technically the least expensive part of landscaping. It’s the plant material and labour that adds up really fast. And if you’re doing it yourself, wouldn’t it be so much better to have a great plan rather than just running to the nursery on your own and ending up with a yard that’s just ‘meh’?
While working on this post, I sent MaryAnne a photo of the boxwood hedge I inserted via photoshop. A little while later I sent her the photo with the flagstone, she replied:
MaryAnne’s other suggestion would be to add a pergola over the garage (below). She also suggested adding fake mullions for the windows (shown below) so they look less like inexpensive sliders.
And don’t forget the front door can add a great punch of colour! Repeat the colour in orange flowers or patio furniture if you are someone with a patio outside your front door.
Here’s some more flagstone inspiration:
Here’s the before and after again:
Hope this helps! And if you’re building a house, don’t forget about the front windows! I assume my lovely reader has windows in the back of the house, but I see this all the time where the front has barely any!
If you have a question for my Ask Maria column, email me here. WITH PHOTOS! I can’t help without photos.
And hey, don’t make a mistake with your exterior colour, I can help here
There’s still time to jump into either Houston or New Jersey Specify Colour with Confidence events in May! Register here.
PS. I am speaking at the Westcoast Small Home Expo on the MainStage, June 1 & 2, at the Tradex Center in Abbotsford (my own back yard). I’ll be speaking about the 10 Ways to Love your Small Space; 5 Things to Do and 5 Things NOT to do! The tickets are only $10 each, get them here.