Design Spotlight: Exterior Details

Front porch and Craftsman-style detail on a custom house built by Hartman Homes, Hudson, Wis.

March 16, 2015

Kathy Denise Dixon, AIA, NOMAC, LEED AP+, CDT, CS

K. Dixon Architecture, National Harbor, Md.

Kathy Dixon

The most basic element of welcome to any home is the front porch. This moment of semi-private/semi-public transition often is rather undefined on an average home, or the porch is sometimes an afterthought without much character. If a concerted effort is focused on porch design, the result is an immediate face-lift that adds value and aesthetic to an otherwise marginalized, yet important path into one’s castle. Shown here are two porches. (Below)  One small porch was given its identity by providing a modest roof canopy.

The other is a small bungalow with a porch extended across the entire front elevation. The canopy and its double column detail give the home greater presence and additional outdoor living space. The Dutch Colonial roofline with detailed siding transformed what would be a modest bungalow into a sophisticated home. 



Nate Eicholtz

Zurich Homes, Crossville, Tenn.

Nate Eicholtz

Character and charm are often an overall perception of a home’s exterior façade, but in actuality the sense of style that draws an onlooker’s eye is made up of hundreds of small details, resulting in a lasting impression. The beauty of a home is comprised of subtle details: flower boxes overflowing with vibrant colors; large columns supporting sprawling porches; a quaint little window tucked into a dormer. A few examples of such details are shown here:

Shutters designed in the style of the home that are wide enough to cover the window when closed. 

Stone or wood headers extending past the opening to give the visual effect of support. 

 A sweep to a roofline or dormer gives a house an Old World feel.

Well-executed details contribute to the overall beauty of a home and enhance its curb appeal tremendously. 


Julie Speer

Hartman Homes, Hudson, Wis.

Julie Speer

A thoughtful front door selection sets a tone and adds character to the front elevation of a home. With a wide variety of wood species and styles available in the marketplace, homeowners may have a difficult choice ahead of them. 
Guiding your client toward a selection that complements the architectural style of their exterior but also reveals a glimpse of their unique personality can make all of the difference in creating a successful exterior.

Hartman Homes' St. Mary's Point


A modern or Prairie-style home would likely emphasize horizontal, clean lines. A cottage-style home may have a beaded center panel, and a bungalow may have a dentil detail or leaded glass. 
Not only are the door’s details important, but the front door is also an opportunity to add a punch of color or texture.

A sweet yellow farmhouse may be screaming for a punch of red on the front door. A beautiful wood tone can accent other natural elements on the exterior like cedar brackets, window boxes, or columns. The front door should draw you in and make you want to see what’s behind it.




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