20 PRO TIPS From Our Home Exterior Designers

Our brick&batten designers are sent emails every day asking for PRO TIPS and suggestions on home exterior design.  That’s exactly what we do! After hours of traveling, workshops, color classes, seminars, speaking with professionals in the field, research, and AIA certifications, phew… we have compiled a list of our own 20 Pro Tips from our home exterior designers to help you be in the know!


Pro Tip #1: Chip Color

Paint color can be tricky.  Usually, when painting outside, the paint chip appears darker than the actual shade on your house; therefore, test your paint in location you’re going to be painting.  

Accessible Beige on house

Pro Tip #2:  Stucco

On stippled, popcorn style stucco, paint will look darker than paint on brick or siding.  The texture of the surface influences color perception. While a smooth surface reflects light and makes colors appear lighter, a porous surface, like stucco, absorbs light, so the color will look darker and closer to the actual paint chip.  

 

Pro Tip #3:  Lighting

Most houses the builder grade lighting is WAAAYYY too small.  Lights should be one third to one fourth the size of your door.  Don’t be afraid to go bigger!

metal roof

 

Pro Tip #4:  Shutters

Shutters should be real or appear to be real.  This means that should look like they can close over the window they protect.  Shutters screwed into brick or siding makes this impossible.  That said, use hinges and shutter hardware to help accomplish this goal.

before and after design

 

Pro Tip #5:  Front Door

Your front door is the heart of your home.  It’s where you welcome guests inside and should speak to your style and character.  The correct door has over 100% return on investment.  If you’re choosing to spend money, spend it on your door.  It is worth the cost and definitely enhances your curb appeal.

Contemporary garage door

 

Pro Tip #6: Garage Doors

Garage doors take up huge real estate on the front of your home.  Our theory you need to make them beautiful or make them go away. Do not neglect your garage door!  That said, if your garage door is a front loader, there are many affordable designs that can enhance the look of your home!  We love Clopay because of the ability to custom make with different series, colors, window designs, and styles.

Clopay Garage
black garage door

 

Pro Tip #7:  Windows

If you’re replacing your windows or building a custom home, please know that not all windows need to be the same and shouldn’t be selected with a one size fits all approach. Windows serve a purpose.  Be sure your windows serve the purpose for that area.  

Awning Window

 

Pro Tip #8:  Gutters & Downspouts

Need a cheap gutter fix?  Big trend right now are copper gutters.  Unfortunately they are expensive and need maintenance.  You can get the same look by getting round downspouts and painting your gutters brown or dark bronze.  Easy to do! For more gutter advice click here.

 

Pro Tip #9:  Interesting Walkway

When in doubt, use flagstone pavers for your front entryway.  They are sustainable and beautiful and definitely will take your curb appeal to the next level! Flagstone pavers can be individually selected at a local stone quarry to create a unique look.  

walkway

 

Pro Tip #10:  Red

A red roof, red mulch, and red door are currently out! Therefore, use complementary colors for your roof in a darker brown or charcoal.  Use darker brown or black mulch and stick with a wooden, black, blue, or green door. 

Nashville charmer before and after

Pro Tip #11:  Romabio

Are you looking to paint your brick?  Use Romabio paint and a professional painter.  It will save you your sanity, time, and money.

brick painted house
Romabio paint deck

 

Pro Tip #12:  House Numbers

They are often overlooked and can add character to any design.  Modern House Numbers in SoCal style is my current fav.  I love this website because you can actually put your numbers in and see how different fonts look.  Keep in mind, they need to be visible from the street for police, ambulance, fire department, etc. in case of an emergency.  Check with your home’s jurisdiction, believe it or not, sometimes there are regulations and laws for house numbers size and reflection! 

Mid-Century WIndows

 

Pro Tip #13:  Where’s the TRIM?

Many houses are missing trim… I’m not sure how it got overlooked when building.  There should be trim pieces along your gable, where different cladding meets, where siding direction changes, and where your house siding meets the ground.  

before and after

 

Pro Tip #14:  Exterior House Columns

What’s with these piddly little columns that are supposedly holding up a huge porch?  Architecturally your eye knows something doesn’t look right but you can’t put your finger on it.  Chances are, if there are incorrectly sized shutters or columns, that’s your problem.  Same with shutters… columns should appear to hold up the structure above it.  

updated columns

 

Pro Tip #15:  Inside Counts

What’s inside your windows counts too.  Plantation shutters are dated and being replaced with a smaller streamlined look or drapes.  Whatever you decide on, be consistent and know we see it from the street!

windows

 

Pro Tip #16:  Clean and Dirty Paint Colors

Paint colors are referred to as warm and cool but also clean and dirty! Clean colors are clear and pure, with little black or gray added, both pale and deep colors can be called clean.  Dirty or muddy paint colors appear muted or toned down.  Same with clean colors, these can be light or darker shades.  To make things more confusing, and the real pro tip… in general, you should pair clean colors with other clean colors and dirty colors with other dirty colors.  

paint cans

 

Pro Tip #17:  Tools

Many of the house exterior designs we deliver are filled with things a homeowner can do him/ herself with the right tools.  Keep your small tool kit handy and put the silica packets, like you find in shoe boxes, inside your toolbox. It will help you DIYers with rusting tools…and no you can’t eat that stuff.

 

Pro Tip #18:  Light Color Temperature

Kelvin basically measures light color temperature.  A kelvin of between 2,000 to 3,000 gives off a soft white glow that is not too harsh for your outdoor space.  If your light temperature is too high, the trees, bushes,  and landscape being illuminated tends to look fake. For more about exterior lighting click here.

Kelvin scale for lighting

 

Pro Tip #19:  Solar Lights

Speaking of lights, there is a huge push to go solar.  What I’ve found is solar lights, if placed correctly, really do work!  Put them along your sidewalk to welcome guests to your door.  They are easy to install and maintain.  

solar lights

 

Pro Tip #20: brick&batten Design

The great news is you don’t have to be an expert because we are the experts!  Our brick&batten designers can improve your home’s strengths and camouflage your home’s weaknesses.  We always say, “It’s just as easy to paint your house the wrong color as it is the right color!” Let’s get it right! 

In conclusion, there are really simple things you can do to improve your home’s curb appeal and easy ways to look like a pro.  Refer to our PRO TIPS when taking on your home exterior DIY project or ask our designers for some help!  We’d love to partner with you on a virtual exterior design, teaching you what we’ve learned and making you the expert. Most importantly, we want you to love your house!