You know that feeling when you’re driving down a road you’ve never been on before and you pass a house so beautiful it makes you hit the brakes and back up for a closer look? Maybe you even roll the window down, whip out your phone, and take a quick photo to put in a “one day, if we’re lucky” album. At Morgante Wilson, those are the kinds of houses we live to create. Because as residential architects, we know there’s nothing more satisfying than designing a house that makes people want to stop to appreciate it. Here are ten of our best ideas to improve the curb appeal of your own house – the one you live in right now, or the one you fantasize about living in one day down the road!
1. Enhance symmetry
Kids often gravitate instinctively to drawing houses with symmetrical features. You know, with a door in the middle and a window on either side. And there’s a reason why: to most of us, symmetry just feels good. It’s comfortable. If your house boasts symmetrical features like this one does, you can accentuate them with landscaping and accessories. Note the trellis on both sides of the front door, the matching planters, and the trees flanking the front entry steps.
2. Mix shapes
On the flip side of a symmetrical approach, you can create visual interest and excitement by utilizing windows in different shapes and sizes. Though uniform in construction and finish, the mix is dramatic. We also love the slope of the catslide entry, and the arch beneath that leads to the front door.
3. Mix materials
Here, a standing seam metal roof caps a variety of building materials that give this house an evolved-over-time look. Featuring both horizontal stone and horizontally laid, washed gray siding, it’s got a lot of texture going on. And you know what we like to say: You can never have too much texture!
4. Details matter
There’s so much to admire about this 1920s Colonial, but one of our favorite details – besides its monochromatic color palette crisped by warm white trim – is the beadboard that lines the underside of the porch roof. A small move like this is hugely impactful in terms of communicating attention to detail. Not only does it warm the entry, like all stained wood, but it also creates a sense of curiosity about what lies over the threshold.
5. Shingle it
Few building materials are as classic, and evocative, as cedar shingles. Of course, most of the time, you see them on the roof. But we love them just as much on the façade of a house, especially a house that instantly transports you to Nantucket (even though this one is in suburban Chicago!). Again, note the mix of window shapes and sizes – outlined in white – and the judicious use of texture-rich stone.
6. Stain it
Continuing with the idea of shingling a house, I wanted to give you a whole other way to consider the style. In this case, we stained the shingles a creamy shade of white. The look is completely different than the last photo, and yet the feel is familiar. There can hardly be a more nostalgic way to treat a house, especially when those shingles are combined with porches, columns, and railings. The blue door really kicks things up a notch, too – its color is a fresh surprise, and lets anyone passing by know this is not a house that takes itself too seriously.
7. Be inspired by site
Longtime readers of this blog may remember this Michigan vacation home for its sculptural, tree-like staircase that speaks to its place in the woods. But the entry – the entry! – speaks to its place near the water. Fashioned like a lighthouse, it lets you know right away this house is all about lake living. It’s unique, it’s whimsical, and it truly makes a statement upon approach.
8. Take the curve
This house demonstrates one of the easiest ways we know to increase curb appeal. Sure, the flagstone walkway (that’s lesson #1 – use flagstone instead of cement!) could have stretched in a perfectly straight line from the sidewalk to the front door. But the charm of its meandering curve takes things in a whole other direction, veering from utilitarian to fairy-tale, which really complements the home’s Tudor-style architecture.
9. Go green
We love, love, love this vertical green wall installation. Adjacent to the home’s front entry, it’s a sustainable showstopper. It’s quiet and inventive. You just know what’s inside is going to be equally interesting.
10. Have fun
Perhaps most important of all, the exterior of your house can have fun. It can update traditional architectural styles, as this suburban Chicago home does. It can look warm and welcoming yet still provide privacy, thanks to discreetly placed windows that are plentiful enough to admit tons of natural light. One of our favorite details in this house is the way blue ceramic tiles were inserted between bricks. Again, they’re a surprise that hints at what waits inside.
Morgante Wilson Architects provides architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Ravinia, Wilmette and Winnetka – along with Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.