A successful exterior house make-over starts with an honest assessment of what needs to be fixed.
According to Remodeling Ideas magazine, most houses in need of help suffer from one of these problems:
--Not enough detail: A home without interesting architectural details is rarely memorable. Details can be added with shutters, window boxes, trim, moldings or other new features. Use paint to accent present detailing.
--Too much detail: Some houses mix too many materials and styles. Take such houses back to basics. Strip away odd-ball elements. Paint mismatched material the same color or invest in unified cladding.
--Poor proportions: Use landscaping tricks or a new color scheme to shape up a house with awkward lines. Consider dormers, porches or a new entry to balance the exterior.
As architectural details are added and subtracted, go for a look that’s consistent with the basic lines, age and setting of the home. To help visualize the changes, try this: Enlarge a photo of the home’s exterior, then put tracing paper over the top. Trace the house, then sketch in features that are being considered.
Many exterior make-overs start with paint. To bring out the best in a home, use three colors: a basic field color for siding or brick; a trim color for borders around windows and doors and the soffit and fascia; and an accent color, for shutters, the front door, and any other small details. Keep in mind the roof color as the scheme is planned.
Ideas for color schemes can be picked up from homes that are admired or from groupings suggested by paint manufacturers. Some paint stores offer a video color selection service. Homeowners can look at a video image of a house styled like theirs and see how it looks painted in different combinations.
Cladding a house with new materials may be the best choice if the old exterior is unattractive, mismatched or if an all-new look is wanted. Choices include:
--Wood siding: Beveled wood siding, especially narrow clapboard, is still the look of tradition. For a contemporary look, use a top grade of cedar or redwood and stain it.
--Synthetic sidings: Vinyl or aluminum sidings mimic the look of wood, sometimes very well. Consider leaving special window or door trims exposed so character isn’t sacrificed. Or, have trim custom-clad with aluminum that’s molded to fit on-site. To add detail, ask about special trims for windows, doors and eaves.
--Wood shakes and shingles: Shakes are rough-hewn for a more rustic look. Shingles are cut smoother; trim siding with fancy-cut shingles for a Victorian flavor.
--Brick and stone veneers: These are premium products, and they denote long-lasting quality. They can be applied only on the front, or around the entire house.
--Stucco: This mixture of cement, sand and water makes the look of many Southwestern, Tudor and contemporary homes. New stucco systems not only refinish a home but insulate it, too.