Outfit Your Home's Exterior

Make the outside of your home shine by choosing smart details that define the look and style.

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Photo courtesy of GAF Roofing

The exterior of your home not only provides a safe and secure environment for the rooms inside, it also establishes the style of your house. First impressions are always important, and you can set the tone for the rest of your property by carefully selecting exterior components that give your house a personality. Your finished roof, your home's siding and well-chosen architectural details add curb appeal, make guests feel welcome and create a defined look.

"At a certain level, the outer skin of your house is who you are," says architect Lewis Butler, AIA, president of Butler Armsden Architects of San Francisco. "There's great opportunity with the exterior of your house to say something profound, if you choose to do that. The outside is the face of your house."

Attractive trim, a well-placed arbor, a beautiful stone walkway or a period porch light are other tools you can use to give your home a sense of style. But choosing wisely will help you avoid the too-many-ornaments-on-the-Christmas-tree syndrome. Smart decisions and some restraint allow your home to shine.

Top 10 Exterior Styles

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Midcentury Modern

Cape Cod

Contemporary

Cottage

Craftsman

Farmhouse

Victorian

Ranch

Colonial

Tudor

"Less is more on the outside of a house," says Armsden. "People sometimes try to do too much. We like to use materials with depth and warmth. Good architecture has to be reinforced by good detailing."

You can even perform an "architectural facelift" by using key design details and some imagination to transform a 1950s ranch home into an inviting Cape Cod-style house. But be aware that what makes a Cape Cod special are not the same details that give a Colonial or Tudor their distinct personality. Explore your home's architectural roots for inspiration and think about the look you want to achieve.

"A big mistake people make is that they don't let their house be what it wants to be," says architect Eddie Maestri, AIA, of Maestri Architecture & Design. "Pay attention to architectural details and go with a theme."

Take a good look at what your home already offers and consider how you can take your house to the next level. The following articles offer ideas and tips to help you reach your goals and create a cohesive look.

You may even discover a new love for your house that you never had before.

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