We all know that first impressions count and the entrance to your house is no different.
Today, we are taking on the design challenge of creating a bit more curb appeal for a house seen in a listing photo that needs a bit of help. It’s a great house – sunny, by all appearances well-maintained, nothing bizarre in the floor plan, and some nice amenities including an excellent location, a sizable yard, 2 fireplaces, and a screened porch. Built in the 80’s, it retains dated finishes, but we’ll tackle the interior a different day!
Ready to see the before?
There are three keys to achieving a well-designed and welcoming entrance and we’ll use this house to illustrate the changes that could take it from ”what were they thinking?” to charming and welcoming!
Classical proportions are a whole course which we haven’t the time (nor you probably the patience) to wade through here. Suffice to say, the goal is for a balance of forms and this façade is unbalanced.
The single biggest problem with the exterior of this builder colonial is the cantilevered “pentagon of doom” looming over the front door. You get the feeling it might descend to crush any visitors daring to approach. While that idea may have merit if you get a lot of solicitations for vinyl siding and replacement windows during your dinner hour, terrorizing your actual guests is another matter!
Except for the ill-advised poetic license the builder took with that protrusion, it is quite nearly a nice Georgian Colonial in its proportions. Center entry symmetrical main portion, pitched roof etc. Below is an inspiring façade with the same basic shape.
What is missing from our beleaguered house is the legs for the bump out to rest on. Adding those would largely correct the proportions (and add some space to the foyer inside!) The addition of something to break up the blank triangle on top would not go amiss either. A round, oval, or half round window would work, or a faux window at least. For further charm the double window could be swapped for a trio of narrower windows for more elegant lines similar to our inspiration house. The millwork above the lower story windows could be beefed up with some decorative trim, and the alcove lined and framed with white millwork to create a grander sense of entrance. The top step surface might extend a foot or two beyond the alcove for a more gracious landing spot.
A Cohesive Color Story
A house exterior color story includes a variety of elements – any natural masonry, the body of the house, the trim, any accent colors, and the roof. Please don’t forget to take the color of the roof into account when you are choosing paint colors! If you have the opportunity to choose roofing, a charcoal gray is the roof color that will be compatible with the most house colors. It is also important to consider any landscaping colors when selecting your exterior palette. Our case study house appears to have a gray roof, thankfully, but it also has a mix of red brick and pale green clapboard distributed in a bit of a patchwork quilt fashion.
I’d suggest painting the brick AND the clapboard all a taupe color to unify it. Add a warm white for the trim and an accent color for the door in maybe a deep teal. Accessories like lights and planters and any window boxes would be nice in black.
Don’t forget the details – these are what will take the new façade from merely better, to really terrific. A pair of lanterns flanking the door alcove, a pair of planters below the lamps , a window box with cascading seasonal greens or flowers, a pretty welcome mat, and ,optionally, a seasonal wreath for the door all add up to a warm and welcoming entrance! Add a personalized address plaque and mailbox for the finishing touches. For tips on getting the exterior lighting right, check out THIS post.
Here are some nicely designed exterior finishing touches I’ve found (click on image for more details):
And here are all these suggestions applied to our makeover house picture:
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