One of the tougher parts about building your own home is translating all of the ideas and dreams you’ve always had in your head to reality. It’s weird because you can look at homes and you know that you love certain styles, but then when you’re ready to make decisions about your own house it’s like you hardly considered the details in the way that you need to now. That house down the road in your neighborhood where you always walk the dog and every time you admire the exterior… what color are the gutters? Are the window exteriors white or something else? Are there shakes in the gables of the roof? Unless you’re specifically looking for these answers, it’s hard to remember.
We find that so many of our building clients are looking for some help on making decisions about the exterior of their home. They know what they like, but when you’re looking at a bunch of samples on the table in our office, it’s not the same as when you’re driving down the road and you can pinpoint what your dream home’s exterior could be. This blog post will walk us through some of the major home exterior decisions. As a disclaimer, I’ll note that there are countless possibilities out there and so many ways that you can customize exteriors. I certainly won’t be naming them all, but these are some of the common decisions that our clients make.
OVERALL COLOR SCHEME: I think the first decision to make about your home’s exterior is what overall look are you going for? When we built, I was dead-set on having dark siding. I was bored of the houses in our area with the varying shades of tan siding colors and I wanted something different. I also knew that I loved the newer trend of going with stone on the exterior in place of brick. So, those were my two starting points and then I made all of the other decisions based on this. Maybe you know that you can’t wait to build a white farmhouse with a jet-black roof and shutters… or maybe you’ve always wanted a house that is that perfect shade of green that helps it blend in with the surroundings of your wooded lot? Either way, have a vision and then work on the details.
SIDING: Our typical clients decide between traditional vinyl siding or Smart Siding, which is a newer product to the building marketplace. Smart Siding is treated, engineered, wood siding that carries an awesome warranty because of its durability… but it also carries a higher price tag too. Some choose the Smart Siding product because it has a certain “look” to it that is more commonly seen in the craftsman style homes, and the areas between the siding pieces are about 2” wider. In an earlier blog post about things that I would’ve done differently when building – upgrading to Smart Siding is one of them. Either way, once you’ve made the decision on which would be the best fit for you, then you can consider the color options within your product line.
SHAKES: So, I think of shakes as the sister product to siding. If you look at the picture of my home’s exterior, these are the slightly lighter colored gray areas that are in the peaks (or gables) of the roof. I love how the gables give you one more opportunity to give your home some character by choosing a different product for here. Maybe some designers would tell me I’m wrong, but I don’t think there are any hard-fast rules when it comes to choosing shakes. They can be a complementary color to your siding, it can be the same color, it can be wood-toned, it can just be vertical siding instead of horizontal… and the list goes on.
WINDOWS: After you’ve made a decision about the overall “color” of your home, I think the next logical place to go is to the windows. You’ll need to decide what color your window exteriors will be. This is the pre-finished color on your actual windows that shows on the exterior (not the trim around them). This decision totally depends on the style you like best. For me, I wanted the contrast of the white window against my dark siding, so I went with white. But for others, they want the window exteriors to blend and so companies like Andersen (our go-to window supplier) has other options ranging from tans and taupes to even black. Side note: Did you know that your window’s exterior color does NOT have to be the same as your window interiors?
TRIM + CORNERS: Okay, so you have your siding color and you know what your window exteriors will be. Now you need to consider one more thing in this category. On the corners of your home, the siding will be finished with siding corners. What color will these be? Again, for me this decision was easily answered with – white. Only because I really wanted that contrast and for the dark color to pop. Now, think about the trim/border around your windows. Will this be the same color as your window exteriors or will it be something that blends with your siding?
STONE + BRICK: Now things are getting fun and if you have any masonry on your home’s exterior, you can really use it to help create the look you’re going for. Our best advice on this is to drive around neighborhoods with houses that have a similar look as what you’re going for. How do they use the masonry to achieve their style? Maybe an entire gable stands out because it’s all done in stone from top to bottom. Or maybe a deep red brick color brings everything to life? For my very visual brain, seeing a sample board just didn’t cut it when we were making these decisions and I actually drove to addresses that had the type of stone that I ended up choosing for our house so I could see it in real life.
SOFFIT + FASCIA + GUTTERS: This decision always seems like such an after-thought for me. All of the other decisions are so bold and important and have such a great impact on your home’s look – but the soffit, fascia, and gutters… I hardly considered it when building. For anyone who doesn’t know, the soffit and fascia are the aluminum pieces that go on your roof, right at the roof-line below the gutters. So, if your goal is to highlight your house with the white trims and finishes – then you probably would go with white here too. But if your goal isn’t to bring attention to, but rather to blend, then there are countless colors of aluminum that you can choose from to match with your siding.
ROOF COLOR: Who knew, but choosing a roof color can be hard! It’s another one of those where if your brain works like mine – you drive by countless houses every single day and never even consider what color the roofs might be. Unless you’re going for something truly “different” in the look of your house, there are plenty of neutral black/gray/brown options of asphalt shingles to pick from. When you do choose your roof color, consider that the choice you just made for soffit/fascia/gutters will be right up against it.
OVERHEAD DOORS: You’re getting so close to finally having your vision come together! Now it’s time to think about your overhead doors (or garage doors). If your home’s overhead doors face the road, then it’s probably even more important that you give this some thought. Are you hoping to make a statement with these doors or do you want them to fit right into the look you’ve already put together? Garage doors with a wood-grain look have become more and more popular as of late, and a lot of people will go in reverse order and use the garage door color as a starting point for their home’s exterior if they are set on this look. Otherwise, consider the color of your window trim, which will most likely the same color as your garage door trim.
FRONT DOOR: Finally, you’ve considered most everything that needs to come together on your home’s exterior. But what about the front door? This is another area where you can really make a statement – or not. Depending on the type of door you choose, it can be prefinished in a certain color (my front door is textured fiberglass, prefinished in the wood-looking color that it is), or it can be painted. If it’s painted, you can use any color out there.