Last week, we introduced you to Marybeth Lavery in Hershey, PA, and her home before she worked with brick&batten. She shared why she chose to work with us on updating her home’s curb appeal and the goals she had for the project. Today, we’re going to explain the exterior home design process that we used when coming up with the rendering of Marybeth’s home above. Our co-founder Allison Vaccaro created the design and gave us some insight into what went into it.
This is one case study; we’ve designed thousands of homes, and while each one is a bit different, our clients’ experiences are consistent. The step-by-step of our virtual exterior design service is explained here.
The overall exterior home design process
Allison shared how she begins home designs in general, and her process for working on Marybeth’s home in particular.
Here’s a lightly edited version of what it looks like when Allison sits down and starts working on a home:
The big picture
First I read the submission so I know what I’m not supposed to touch… e.g. the windows or the roof. I also try to get a vibe on who the person is — edgy, traditional, that kind of thing.
From there, I take a step back, look at the house, and think to myself what would come first. I don’t get involved in any of the actual design, I just stare at the picture of the home and think, ‘If I could do what I wanted, what would I do? Would I make this a dark house, a light house, something modern? Is there a place to do wood accents?’
Then, I take all of that and go back to what I’m not allowed to do and what the client wants, and I start making decisions… For example, if the windows have to stay white, I’ll pick some other area where I’m going to use white… columns, gables, eaves, soffits, etc.
Once I have a color idea nailed down, then I start to focus on the door. That’s one of the most important things we do, that’s where the guests come in and out, that should be the focus. It’s where you’re leading the eye when you do a design. In my mind, I have a repertoire of doors to pick from. I’ll choose based on how much sunlight I think it’s going to get… wood or fiberglass, not stained wood if it’s going to get beat up. I think stylistically and functionally.
From there, I start mocking up the home design: colors, door, pulling in landscape based on the home’s environment.
Next, I think about what I want the walkway to look like.
Then, if the homeowner has given us the freedom to recommend updates to their windows, I start making decisions about the best style to suit their home’s design.
Allison’s last touches include roof updates, shutters or awnings for windows, and gables or porticos.
Stylistically, we have a modern aesthetic, but I love function, things that are tried-and-true. When there’s lots of functionality built into the product, to me that’s pretty — when something is super functional, like an old Volvo, and you know it’s going to run.
A couple of things stuck out to Allison about Marybeth’s submission. First, she knew based on the use of phrases like ‘cottage’ and ‘window boxes’ the style of home Marybeth was looking for. “She’s telling me without telling me,” Allison says.
Also, Allison loved that Marybeth wanted coverage over her front door. It would have been something she’d wanted to add even without Marybeth mentioning it.
It’s a great place that we can add a lot of value, not only functionally but also considering return on investment. Return is super important to us when designing homes for our clients. And front porches return massively. Even though she had a stoop, adding coverage over her door adds both function and return. It will add value to this house that they’ll get back when they sell it, even if that’s years from now.
The nitty gritty exterior home design process
Now, here’s the real insider scoop — how Allison made decisions about specific elements of Marybeth’s home design. Allison started with fixed elements and the fact that Marybeth wanted to paint her brick.
Because Marybeth wanted to keep her white windows, I wanted to add contrast between the color of the brick and windows, which is why I went with an off-white paint color on the brick, rather than stark white.
Next, the drop light. I love these, gas drop lights like this [above the front door, from Bevolo] are gorgeous. I thought of that as another layer to this more-flat house… So now we have the added porch, the layer with the drop light, the gorgeous door behind it, and the flagstone walkway leading up, creating these really cool layers.
Also, if we’re using a stained wood door in a design, I usually don’t choose to use a lot of stain in other places. The goal is to make the door the focal point. If we add too much, it becomes kind of diluted. This is a nice door and needs to be at the center of the show.
Moving on… we love copper gutters, and they look gorgeous against the color of this brick.
Finally, the arched awning over the front door. I like this as an option because Marybeth’s home has so many squares, I was trying to find something to contrast the hard angles.
Marybeth received the above image as a clickable PDF, allowing her to source all of the materials she and her builder needed with ease. As she told us:
We were hoping for some ideas, but when the deliverables were emailed to us exactly on time, we were blown away by the photo. I am not kidding, I had tears in my eyes.
Because our main priority is for our clients to be happy with the exterior home design process, our virtual exterior designs come with one free element revision. (Learn more in our FAQ.) Marybeth took us up on this. “We asked for a second suggestion for the front sidewalk because our township has very strict, but necessary, pervious/impervious requirements due to storm water drainage,” she explains. “The revision came to us the same day as our request.”
Up Next: The Actual After
Next week, we’ll share some of Marybeth’s experiences implementing the design suggestions in her rendering, as well as the stunning ‘actual after’ photos of what her home looks like today.
Want to see what Allison or another of our expert exterior designers would do with a photo of your home + your wish list? Like Marybeth, your home exterior dreams could become a reality! Get started on your home makeover process today.
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