Exterior Remodel Elements
Architect Mike Malinowski, of Sacramento, CA wanted to recover the Spanish nature of his own 1930s home. To bring out the original style, he added a pair of hip-roofed dormers to the steep roof, which succeeded in breaking up the empty expanse of wood shingles. A combination of foundation plantings were added to soften the look of the house.
The entry. The natural focal point of the façade, the entry is often the site of the most dramatic changes. Entries can be enhanced or redefined in many ways. Give a boost to an underscaled or awkwardly proportioned entry by building an awning or extending the roof over the front door. Add some interest to it with a distinctive profile, such as a peaked or arching overhang. Two-story homes (and, if handled correctly, some single-story ones) can accommodate a covered porch. Consider including built-in seating; it's a real convenience and looks welcoming. If your home has a set of concrete steps at the door, face them with brick or stone. Don't forget the door itself. Replace it with a more fashionable style, perhaps complemented with a set of sidelights.

The roof. Redesigning the profile and pitch of the roof is a dramatic but expensive strategy. You can make less extensive alterations that will still make a real difference in the appearance of your home. Properly scaled and styled, dormer additions are a major but manageable cosmetic improvement. They not only change the look of the roofline, but they also provide better lighting and increased floor area inside. Look to the edges of the roof for other opportunities. Changing the depth of the eaves, widening or applying trim to the overhang and boxing in the underside of the eaves to create a soffit are some ideas that will bring a new look to the house.

Materials. Simplicity is the key to using building materials effectively. While in many cases new siding can be installed over the existing material without much trouble, don't overindulge. For the most seamless and graceful appearance, keep the number of siding materials—be it shingles, brick, clapboard, stucco or vinyl—to a minimum. In fact, using just one material is perfectly fine, and will allow you more freedom to work with trim and color. Avoid butting different siding materials together. Designers do it only if a wall jogs and the offset is at least 12 in., such as where an addition meets the original part of the house.

Consider the role the roof plays in the picture, too, especially if you're thinking about having it replaced. This would be the ideal opportunity to make any changes in its material, color or texture that would improve the appearance of the house. Evaluate roofing choices for compatibility with the siding material and the style of the home.

Trim. There's a lot to choose from when it comes to trim. You can use traditional wood millwork and trim pieces or polyurethane molding that looks like the real thing. The designs you select can give your house either a formal or casual appearance. For instance, mitered joints have a more finished appearance than butt joints, which have a more rustic feeling. Staying true to the style of your home keeps the selection process on target. A classic Cape would look ridiculous dressed up with the elaborate gingerbread that marks homes of the Victorian era; simple shutters, perhaps some dentil molding and a few window boxes are more in keeping with its character.

For blank-box homes, focus on the front entrance as a starting point. "Especially if you have a limited budget, the right package of trim elements can pay off with a lot of curb appeal. It's an easy way to escape the cookie-cutter look," says Steve Roth, marketing director of Style-Mark, a millwork company based in Archbold, Ohio.

Finally, remember the garage. Particularly if it's detached, it should receive a similar treatment as the main house. For a coordinated look, investigate the options for garage door and window designs before you sign off on a scheme for the whole house. Inspired by these ideas and examples, you can make your home a real head-turner with a face-lift.

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