One of the common requests we get these days is for exterior updates.

Curb appeal Curb appeal2

Sometimes the interior space is working but the exterior lacks curb appeal.

Ultimately, we have found clients who want an exterior update are just trying to love the homes they are in a little more.

The economy has locked more people into their homes making it harder to move. Making the outside of your home more beautiful is one way to make your current home more livable.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder; however, when it comes to architectural beauty, there are scientific principles of beauty. Mathematic and geometric principles can create aesthetic beauty that everyone can agree on. Balance, portion, scale and symmetry all contribute to creating architectural beauty.

When we are doing an exterior update, we use these principles to make the existing structure more appealing.

Symmetry is probably one of the easiest to achieve, even for the untrained eye. You can create symmetry yourself by arranging light fixtures and front-entry accessories to create a design that is welcoming and appealing.

Sometimes a curb appeal update can be simple while other times it takes more than a simple coat of paint.

One project we did was a 1940s bungalow in the Harvard/Yale area. It had a small front porch that actually was a safety hazard in the winter.

The original porch dumped snow and rain on the front porch steps. The massing of the roof emphasized the protruding living room rather than the entrance. The roof over the porch was so low that it prevented the screen door from fully opening out to the porch.

As far as charm, the nondescript roof line was lacking. The client loved her house from the inside but felt from the outside it was unattractive and hated the out-of-date vinyl siding.

To solve the problem of the deemphasized entrance, we reconfigured the roof and added to the gable to extend over the front porch. The existing porch shed was removed, allowing for an increased soffit height over the front door.

This also allowed for the water to be redirected away from the front stairs and walk.

The vinyl siding was removed, and the entire house was re-sheathed in cementious fiber board with white trim. The roof was re-shingled using architectural grade shingles. The existing stairs were replaced with a more skid-resistant wood composite material. We added a trellis to highlight the front porch addition and a new red door.

With a few simple changes and updates, the bungalow gained charm, beauty and the wanted curb appeal.

Like this example, your home’s front entry is the focal point of its curb appeal. Make a statement by giving your front door a blast of color with paint or by installing a custom wood door.

Clean off any dirty spots around the knob, and use metal polish on the door fixtures. Your entry should also reflect the home’s interior, so choose a wreath or accessory that reflects your personal style.

If the architectural design hides the front entry, there may be some simple changes an architect can help you see to enhance your home’s curb appeal.

Remember don’t base beauty on a trend or personal taste or preference. Follow the design principles that have been governing beauty and aesthetics for centuries.

Architects Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group,, a local design firm specializing in home remodels.

Renovation Solutions: Adding curb appeal with exterior upgrades