When we say we’re all about the details of exterior design here at brick&batten, we’re talking about a whole host of different design elements. One of the categories that falls under this massive umbrella of ‘design elements’ is architectural products. These include gable brackets, wood corbels, column wraps, and the like. Unlike the addition of dormers or a new front porch, these pieces aren’t structural. But they’re often key in taking a home’s curb appeal to the next level.
If you don’t know what any of these terms mean, don’t worry. We’ll explain them all below!
Our go-to vendor for these products — the one that we recommend to our thousands of clients — is Barron Designs. Read on to learn about this company and their custom offerings.
ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTS ENHANCE A PROPERTY’S INHERENT CHARACTER. THE EXTERIOR DESIGNERS AT BRICK&BATTEN will RECOMMEND FEATURES LIKE THIS in order to MAXIMIZE YOUR CURB APPEAL. PLUS, WE’LL SHOW YOU HOW THEY’LL LOOK ON YOUR HOME. LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR VIRTUAL EXTERIOR DESIGN SERVICES.
This is a sponsored post.
About Barron Designs
Barron Designs has been in the business for over 50 years. Their architectural products are handcrafted in the U.S., and most are available in faux or real wood (more on that below). One of the biggest benefits we’ve found in working with Barron Designs is the variety of products they offer. We work with clients from all over the United States and Canada (and beyond), with 100-year-old homes and new builds, first time homeowners and veterans of commercial real estate, and with all sorts of different design styles and goals. Their breadth of products and finishes, as well as their flexibility to customize for projects of different sizes, makes Barron Designs a great fit for us and for our clients.
Faux vs. real wood: Our thoughts
Because Barron Designs creates both faux and real wood products, we wanted to take a moment to touch on the difference between the two.
We spoke to Amy Burgess, Barron Designs’ Director of Product and Channel Marketing, for more details:
Our faux wood is high-density polyurethane, molded in sheets then cut and fabricated into a beam to the customer’s exact specifications. Because of this, we can offer lengths and sizes that are not feasible in real wood products. Another massive advantage with faux wood is weight: You can easily add decorative beams or a truss to a porch or a gable without the need to call out a structural engineer. Our faux wood molds are created from real wood and retain the grain and texture of the authentic counterparts.
With real wood, you’re limited to the size of the tree that is being cut down, making large sizes and long lengths expensive and difficult to source.
One rule of thumb that some designers use is the ‘lean test,’ meaning if you can lean against the product, use real wood. If nobody would ever touch it, use faux.
Ultimately, the decision is up to the property owner and is based on both individual tastes and the application. There is no wrong answer — our team would use either!
The value of architectural products for exterior design
Nonstructural architectural products like those offered by Barron Designs elevate the look and feel of a façade. Typically, they clad an existing structural element (e.g., columns) or are a purely decorative architectural enhancement (e.g., trusses and corbels).
Our designers find that these products are great visual tools. They can help draw the eye to an entryway or highlight a home’s unique geometry. For the most part, Barron Designs’ products aren’t really necessary — but neither is exterior paint. And how boring would our neighborhood walks be without paint?
Gable brackets / custom trusses
This real or faux wood design detail goes by any number of names: gable brackets, gable trim, and trusses are a few. Barron Designs calls them trusses.
As we explained in our exterior design dictionary, roof trusses are the structural framework of timbers designed to provide support for a roof. They create a roof’s frame and determine the shape of the roof and ceiling. These are the shapes that inspire the nonstructural custom trusses that Barron Designs offers.
We used custom trusses as beautiful accents on the home pictured above. This home has two particularly steep gabled peaks that were originally accented with a 90s version of Victorian gingerbreading. However, these details were too small for the scale of the shapes. The Barron Designs custom trusses we used are a more appropriate size and width. Plus, in the case of the gable above the garage, it distracts from the necessary vent.
Next, our designers suggested a simple shape for the gable bracket or truss pictured on the design below. It works well with the home’s modern rustic style. It also helps balance the height of the roofline and depth of the roof overhang. Note how we used a truss with the same shape but at a much smaller scale on the porch awning.
Real and faux wood corbels, rafter tails, and viga tails
A corbel is essentially a type of bracket. Corbels stick out from a wall and, when structural, support extra weight above. We replicate this function when we use nonstructural corbels, so we often place them beneath a soffit or other element that juts out from the surface of a wall.
Rafter tails are similar to corbels in that they stick out from beneath a home’s roofline. If you think of a coastal or California Craftsman-style home, you’re likely picturing rafter tails. In a historic sense, they are the exposed ends of structural trusses that stick out beyond the wall. It’s a look that you can easily replicate with an architectural product, without having to worry about any structural concerns (e.g., with the addition of gutters).
According to a wonderful Barron Designs blog post on the topic, “A viga is a rough looking, usually rounded beam used for roof support in adobe and Southwestern-style buildings. A viga tail is a shorter piece that sticks out of the exterior wall, creating the illusion that it’s part of the roof support rather than being purely decorative.” Like rafter tails, viga tails are a way to add some stylistic flair to a home.
In the brick&batten design examples above and below, you can see how we used wood corbels to accentuate the architecture of two very different styles of homes. In both instances we used them at gable peaks. Above, we also moved the attic venting on the right (in the before photo) up and used corbels as a decorative break between that and the shake siding.
On the Mediterranean-style home below, we used the wood corbels more frequently. The stain on the corbels complements the structural rafter tails and the tile roof. Plus, we used the same finish on a pair of window boxes, to ground the earthy wood hue.
Beams and column wraps
As Amy explains, “Our box beams (faux or real) can be used to clad structural beams, easily giving them bulk and gravitas.” Barron Designs beams and columns are hand crafted to each customer’s exact specifications and available unfinished or finished in one of 14 faux or 7 real wood finishes.
Column wraps are a fantastic way to update the look of a porch without having to change anything structural. Check out the home below as an example. The porch takes up most of the home’s face and is a wonderful way for the owners to enjoy some outdoor living. However, in the before photo, it feels dark, dated, and a bit generic. By wrapping the columns in a Barron Designs product and removing the railings, the home’s entire vibe is more open and welcoming. Plus, the effect is custom as opposed to builder-grade.
Custom trim: Planks and L-headers
One of the most versatile Barron Designs product lines is their wide selection of planks (immediately below) and L-headers (two below). These pieces are useful when butting against an adjacent surface. We love how they can be customized to work for both small and large-scale installations. On the home above, we used a Barron Designs product for the chunky garage trim, which works to outline the new wood garage doors.
Importantly, Barron Designs offers faux wood planks and L-headers with textured and finished edges and ends. This is ideal for when the accent piece will project from the wall (rather than be flush with it) so that the piece looks finished and beautiful.
The home below shows an example of a smaller-scale project: trim headers above the windows. Our designers suggested this look to connect the bright white windows (that the homeowners wanted to keep intact) to the deeper tones of the other wood elements we recommended: the garage door, front door, and new portico columns.
Barron Designs architectural products for curb appeal
From gable brackets or trusses to garage trim to column wraps, Barron Designs products elevate the look and enhance the feel of all sorts of exterior design updates. We’ve used them on Craftsman, Mediterranean, contemporary, and traditional-style homes — and everything in between. Because these products are not structural, our designers can focus on using them for purely attractive visual purposes. AND you can run cords through the beams, which means you can build-in speakers or lighting as part of your design update.
If you’re interested in using Barron Designs for a particular project, Amy recommends that you “start out by purchasing samples so you can evaluate the color and textures firsthand (since monitors are reliably unreliable for color). The cost of up to 5 samples will be deducted from the full product purchase. Alternatively, we offer a free professional sample kit.”
BARRON DESIGNS PARTNERED WITH US ON THIS POST BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE VALUE OF VISUALIZATION. SO MANY OF US SIMPLY DON’T HAVE THE EYE TO PICTURE THE UPDATES THAT WE’D LOVE TO SEE ON OUR HOME. BUT OUR DESIGNERS DO — AND OUR PHOTOREALISTIC RENDERINGS WILL HELP YOU SEE IT, TOO. IF YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR HOME’S POTENTIAL, WE’D LOVE TO SHOW YOU WHAT IT CAN BE. GET STARTED ON YOUR VIRTUAL EXTERIOR DESIGN TODAY.
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