Exterior Design Tips: 12 Updates for 2021

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With so many elements making up exterior design, there are a lot of ways to make an impact. We’re here to help with these top exterior design tips to enhance your home’s style.

However, before you start a complete exterior redesign, we recommend asking yourself some preliminary questions to identify a design direction:

  • What portions of your home do you love, and how can you emphasize those?
  • Are there specific elements of your home you want to change? Why?
  • What overall style is your home now? Would you like to stay true to that style, completely update it, or somewhere in between?
  • How do you use your home’s outdoor space — and could a design update help you make better use of it?

Once you establish your mission, you can dive into your design process with these 12 tips for an eye-catching exterior design. Some of them are big overhauls, others are small updates that can be made in a weekend. All of them will help you maximize your home’s curb appeal.

Whether you’re ready to execute your own exterior design or don’t even know where to begin, having a professional exterior designer on your side helps. Our expert designers will identify ideas to update details you might have missed and will bring an outside perspective to help you solve problems. No matter what stage in the home exterior update process you’re at, the virtual exterior designers at brick&batten can bring out your home’s fullest potential.

Virtual exterior design of a modern ranch with a classic blue metal roof

Before and after of home with an orange tile roof painted Grant Beige

Tip #1: Consider Your Roof

When looking to replace your roof, function should be your biggest consideration. However, once you’ve narrowed your selection to a few choices, talk with a designer and consider your home’s exterior design to help you pick the right color and material. Roofs have a big visual impact on your home. Choosing a complementary color in the right material can set the tone for your entire exterior design.

Before and after of a home painted in Iron Mountain

Tip #2: Break Out the Paint Brushes

Another high-impact aspect of exterior home design is your home’s paint color. Before you dive headfirst into your favorite hue, consider how the lighting changes around your home throughout the day, and pick colors that are durable.

Identify the main elements that play a role in your color scheme, and use those to determine your palette. For example, if your home is predominately siding or stucco, the color of those elements will make up the base of your color scheme. You can add additional colors by painting trim, doors, and accents. If you’re using two main colors in your design, use the darker color closer to the ground to anchor your home. No matter what color you choose, always paint a few samples on your home to make sure your picks look as good in action as they do in the can.

Virtual exterior design of a ranch cottage painted in Chelsea Gray with a bright orange front door

Before and after of a two-story traditional brick home with an updated double front door featuring glass panes with an X detail

Tip #3: Find the Right Front Door

Swapping out your front door — or giving it a splash of paint — is a low-effort way to make a big impact in your exterior design. Bright colors can be an eye-catching pop of personality. Or, make a grand statement with glass-paned double doors. No matter what style you pick, your front door can establish the mood and energy for every guest who steps up to it. Choose wisely!

Before and after of a transitional modern home painted in Seapearl with the addition of a front porch and walkway

Tip #4: Add a Porch

Adding a front porch or a thoughtful portico can bring new life to your home’s entryway. Porticos not only provide shelter from rain and sun for arriving guests, but they can also set the tone for your curb appeal. A front porch can pull double duty as a beautiful design element and an extended living space. Plus, who doesn’t love the chance to add fun porch accessories to your space?

Before and after of a traditional brick home painted with the addition of shutters and copper gutters and accents

Before and after of a two-story farmhouse style home painted dark with the addition of new gutters

Tip #5: Tackle Your Gutters

Your gutters not only pull rainwater and other moisture away from your home, keeping it safe from flooding and mold, but they also play a big role in the look of your house. Gutters come in a range of materials like copper, vinyl, and steel. Each brings a distinct aesthetic to your exterior design. If replacing your gutters isn’t in the game plan, you can also paint them a contrasting or complementary color.

Virtual exterior design of a monochromatic white ranch with an updated garage door

Virtual exterior design of a modern split level home with a modern garage door

Virtual exterior design of a transitional home with stone and brick + accents painted in Revere Pewter, updated garage door

Tip #6: Upgrade Your Garage Doors

Garage doors are another area where safety and function considerations come first. Nevertheless, design elements can massively upgrade the look of your garage. Garage doors have a broad visual impact on your home’s exterior, especially when they’re front-facing. Consider alternative materials like wood (or wood facing), make them pop with contrasting paint colors, or make them feel intentional by adding decorative hardware.

Virtual exterior design of a ranch with lantern style light fixtures on either side of the front door

Tip #7: Show It Off with Lights

Appropriate lighting can increase your home’s safety while also highlighting your curb appeal and enhancing your design. Consider your home’s overall design style and choose light fixtures that are appropriate to that style. For example, look for sleek and minimalist hardware for contemporary homes, or consider lantern styles on Craftsman homes. When sourcing fixtures, find lights that are ⅓ to ¼ the size of your front door — taller doorways and rooflines need larger lights to feel proportional.

Before and after of a modern home with a new stone walkway

Virtual exterior design of a home with an update driveway and pathway to the front porch and patio

Tip #8: Refresh Your Pathways

Walkways, paths, sidewalks, and driveways look just fine in builder-grade concrete. But to truly elevate your design and create a cohesive look, consider upgrading to more interesting materials. Flagstone walkways and sidewalks have a more natural feel. Opt for a modern look with evenly spaced concrete slabs. For more traditional homes, outlining front steps and pathways with brick can tie your look together. While you’re redoing surfaces, take a look at your driveway and consider extending similar elements into borders or the driveway itself for a visual upgrade.

Before and after of a transitional home with the brick painted Alabaster

Before and after of a classic Cape Cod with painted brick

Before and after of a traditional brick two-story home with the brick painted a dark gray

Tip #9: Paint Your Brick

Brick can be a beautiful and timeless component of a home design, and this durable material has real staying power. However, if the look of your brick is weathered and worn, or if the color isn’t working with your current design, don’t be afraid to paint your brick surfaces to give them new life.

Before and after of a home with cream painted brick and charcoal siding, a new walkway, and landscaping added

Virtual exterior design of a home with a xeriscaped front yard

Tip #10: Use Your Green Thumb

The right landscaping can completely change the look of your home and really enhance its curb appeal. Whether you opt for minimalism and have just a few statement plants or want more of a natural feel, thoughtfully placed shrubbery and accent plants can bring life to your home. If you live in an arid climate (or are not much of a gardener!), consider low-maintenance landscaping like xeriscape. You don’t have to replant everything to get a new look, either. Simply trimming back overgrown shrubs, relocating plants that obscure windows and other elements of your home, or pruning out dead and dying plants can make a big impact.

Before and after of a ranch home painted in Chelsea Gray and Revere Pewter with shutters added

Before and after of a ranch home with a new paint job and new windows

Before and after of a traditional two-story brick home with limewash and new shutters on the windows

Tip #11: Update Your Windows — Or Just Wash Them

If you aren’t ready to take on a window replacement project, you can still breathe new life into your existing windows by giving them a good wash. You can also break out the paintbrush and paint your trim to coordinate with your home’s color scheme. Painting trim can help windows pop and may even make them seem bigger. Finally, adding small design elements like awnings, window boxes, and shutters to your windows can add personality without breaking the bank.

Virtual exterior design of a home with a large front patio featuring furniture, landscaping, container plants, lighting, and more accessories

Before and after of a contemporary home painted gray with front patio furniture, a rug, container plants, a new fence, lighting, and more accessories

Tip #12: Accessorize

As with any good design, it’s the little things that tie a look together. Don’t neglect smaller design elements throughout your exterior space. Updating your house numbers to a style more consistent with your aesthetic can make your design feel cohesive. Accent lights like lanterns and string lights add warmth and glow to your space. Planters, doormats, outdoor furniture, and even your mailbox make your design appear professional and provide visual interest.

Bonus Tip: Turn to the Experts

Whether you’re starting small or going for a full remodel, the design pros at brick&batten can help. We’ll put together the perfect elements to refresh your home and give it long-lasting new life. Our virtual exterior designs consider all elements big and small in your redesign, making sure they come up with personalized solutions for you. Get started on your updated home design today.