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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Attention to details is important outside, too

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

If you checked in with us last week, you'll have read about some of the many details to consider inside your home as you remodel. As you may have guessed, the details don't stop there. There are plenty of things to consider outside your home as well. And as always, careful attention to detail will pay off in a more beautiful and satisfactory project.

There are hundreds of exterior details we could point out, but we'll start with some of the big things we regularly see. The first one is a covered porch. A well-designed covered porch can make your home beautiful and your life easier. It's helpful to protect you from the elements while you retrieve your keys and open the door, and proper lighting is a must for function and security.

Shutters can add beauty and interest to the outside of a home \— if they are done right. Shutters that are too small in proportion to the window, above, look "tacked on" and get lost on the house.

You can get high-tech with your porch using intercoms, cameras and computer systems to provide both visual and audio connections. You can make your porch more functional by designing some place to temporarily set grocery sacks and packages while you access the entry. You can also add a place to hold muddy shoes and boots. The key is to take time to examine your life, determine what situations occur repeatedly and find ways to efficiently address these needs.

Another practical detail to think about is the placement of electrical outlets and hose bibs. Think ahead to future activities — anything from outdoor entertaining to mowing the lawn to watering the garden — and make sure you will have access to what you need to accomplish these tasks. A slick trick is to place electrical outlets in the soffits and around the front door. You'll be glad you did when it comes time to hang the holiday lights.

The right proportion, above, is to size the shutter so they can cover the windows \— whether or not they actually will ever be used.

Lighting is an exterior detail often overlooked. Because it comes at the end of a project, the budget is often depleted. So plan ahead to include lighting fixtures that match the style of your home, well-placed indirect lighting and security lighting. A well-executed lighting scheme can add real bang for your buck.

Trim is a detail often left to the discretion of the builder. But it doesn't have to be. Depending on the exterior finish material, trim may be desirable at all windows and doors or just at some of them. A trim board at the top of the wall where it intersects the roof is also a nice touch. It is critical to get the proportions right. Trim pieces that are too small look cheap and can do more visual damage than good. The style of the trim should also coordinate with the style of the home. Simple square shapes work well with a craftsman home, while Victorian homes require more elaborate profiles.

Shutters can add interest to the front elevation. Although shutters are rarely functional, the rule of thumb is that the shutters should be large enough that if they were functional they could truly cover the window. Again, trim that isn't proportional to the opening it accents does you no visual favors.

And in the end, it's about visual appeal as much as it is about function when it comes to the final details. Curb appeal doesn't just make your house look good; it actually adds to its value. So take the time and allow the budget to address the details inside and out of your home. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2006 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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