Create Curb Appeal

Here are a few homes that honor time-tested principles of design and create beautiful, harmonious exteriors.

January 01, 2007

Design Principles

Whether you work with an architect or create your own floor plans, adhering to good old-fashioned design principles never goes out of style. The key to winning exteriors is maintaining balance, proportion, scale and unity in the exteriors of the homes you build.

Here are a few homes that honor these time-tested principles of design and create beautiful, harmonious exteriors.

Rustic Continuity

  • The repetition of the curved timber along with the exposed truss gables and eyebrow arches provides continuity.
  • The stone and timber keep within the log cabin style of the southwest. They also blend in with the environment.
  • In this custom home, big stones in the landscaping lead up to the front door and draw attention to the entrance. An extra-large wood-trussed gabled porch roof creates a grand entrance. The lanterns further accentuate the entry and also appear on the patio.
  • The arched wooden truss design is repeated throughout the exterior elevation on the windows, dormers and patio and deck.
  • The side dormers and the shed dormers help break up the home's primary roof mass.


A Focus on Similarity
  • Similarity is carried out in the gray slab terrace and gray roof tile. Similarity can also be seen in the driveway stone wall, which matches the stone used on the foundation of the home.
  • A rounded roof line and stone that appears across the front of the home and porch steps highlight the home's entrance.
  • Two chimneys, windows, and multiple gable and shed dormers break up the primary roof mass.
  • Landscaping blends in with the light green siding, a primary material on the home's exterior.


Precise Placement
  • Windows on the second floor tightly align with the windows on the first floor, creating a vertical line that leads the eyes to the roof gables
  • Window size and design create continuity.
  • A wrap-around porch is roomy enough for practical use and extends the living space.
  • The red brick pattern on the walkway and porch trim continue around the base of the home, providing a continuous site line. The porch roof and brick serve as a secondary mass and balance to the roof.
  • The white wide-plank siding with black roofing keeps within the home's farmhouse style.
  • The small window in the top of the roof provides a visual break in the white vertical siding on the top of this home.
  • Side gables and horizontal and vertical plank siding break up the primary roof mass.
  • The entablature over the porch is in correct proportion to the size of the columns.


Custom Craftsman
  • The side gables of this Craftsman home evenly distribute the visual weight of the primary mass. Wood plank in the top center point also breaks up the roof mass.
  • The two-door garage mirrors the look of the home, using maroon vertical siding, wood timber and beige doors. Maroon trim sets apart the doors, which are topped off with lanterns. The window size and style is continuous throughout the garage and the home.
  • An odd number of columns create even numbered spaces.



Design Principles

Before you build your next project, consider the following design principles from the book "What Not to Build: Do's and Don'ts of Exterior Home Design."

The principle of continuation describes how the eye will move along a path in a given direction to a final point. Through continuation, rhythm in architecture establishes a sense of order. It is a useful tool in creating movement that leads the eye across an elevation to a focal point.

The principle of proximity states that objects that are close together or in the same visual field should complement one another. Our eyes tend to group items together.

The principle of balance is the visual relationship among the parts of a house on either side of an imaginary centerline.

Other Design Checks:

  • Primary mass is the largest shape in the building block.
  • Secondary mass refers to the additional shapes that are added to create the overall look of the homes.
  • Porches should have an even number of columns, creating an odd number of spaces.
  • Second story windows should be smaller or equal in size to ground level windows and line-up horizontally to first floor counterparts.
  • At least 75 percent of the dormer face should be glazing.
  • Visual weight is a combination of shape, mass, proportion and sometimes color.

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