5 Ways to Bring Your Exterior Design to the Next Level

Kevin Gardner

A home's exterior is the definition of a first impression. Exterior design choices go far beyond paint color; with a little care and attention, the outside of your home can communicate endless amounts of character, personality, and talent.

Showcase Your Windows

Windows are a dramatic and reflective architectural element. Window style is often chosen based on function rather than appearance, but even small elements - like whether your windows open vertically or horizontally - can impact your home's character.

Trim highlights a window and changes its appearance. Wide trim can be used to make small windows appear larger or to give vertical windows a fuller silhouette. Bright or contrasting trim color will help your windows stand out, while muted colors will help them blend in with the rest of your design.

Shutters, window boxes, decorative grills, and even well-chosen curtains can all give your windows even more character. Avoid designs that block your view or keep you from opening the glass; the best window is one that lets in plenty of sunlight and fresh air.

Repeat Defining Materials

Repetition creates cohesion and brings attention to the important elements of your design. Once you've chosen a construction material you like, use it repeatedly across your exterior. Stone trim might be paired with stone textured window wells and a natural stone walkway. Eye-catching copper shutters could be complimented with copper rain gutters and a copper handle on your door.

Choose your materials early in the design process, and use them to help build your color palette. Don't be afraid to get creative; you can highlight any material as long as you use it consistently and intelligently.

Highlight Your Lighting

From a single, elegant lamp post to a string of brilliant bulbs, there are countless ways to give your home an evening glow. Lights should be placed near entrances and walkways for safety, but they can also be used to highlight aspects of your architecture. Use uplighting at the base of a tree, wall, or window to create a dramatic and warm appearance.

Light bulbs come in a variety of shapes and different shades of white. Choose lights based on both the glow they give off and the shadows they'll cast; the patterns created by wider or thinner bulbs can change the look of your porch or lawn. The spread of light and shadow will also impacted by the fixture you choose and the distance your bulb is from the ground.

Update Your Landscape

Your yard is as much a part of your home's exterior as the walls themselves. Start by tending to any existing plants you have. Dead tree branches and untrimmed shrubbery will detract from even the most well-designed exterior, while fresh mulch and blooming flowers can make a simple design look completely charming.

Gardens create many opportunities for customization and design. Choose plants that will thrive in the light, temperature, and moisture levels available to you, and place them in a way that compliments your architecture. Raised flower beds, stepping stones, and protective railings all offer you the chance to choose materials and designs that work with your existing themes.

Perfect Your Porch

Porches are an obvious but occasionally neglected element of exterior home design. If you're building a new porch or deck, choose materials that match your home and that you know will last. If you're renovating your current porch, a fresh coat of paint or wood finish can often breathe new life into an existing design.

Choose porch furniture and decorations that fit well with the rest of your exterior. Look to incorporate similar shapes, colors, and materials, even on a smaller level. If you've chosen a stone motif, look for a stone table or stone planters that match your theme.

Your home's exterior will develop over a lifetime of design and renovation. As your vision progresses, remember to return to your original themes and materials for inspiration and coherence. Clean lines, strong colors, and sense of consistency will make your home design stand out from the rest.