Design Lesson

Design lesson: First impressions

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Design Lesson

Design lesson: First impressions

A home's fundamental purpose is to provide shelter, security and privacy for its inhabitants. But there's nothing "private" about the message its exterior gives to passersby. From façade to landscaping, your home's outward appearance informs friends and neighbours of your taste, style and orderliness. So give your house something to brag about by increasing its curb appeal with these simple suggestions.

Do's and Don'ts
DO repaint the front door every four to six years, depending on the wear and quality of the paint job. Flaking or tired paint destroys a façade's neat appearance.

DO enhance small windows with shutters or window boxes. To ensure pleasing proportions, select shutters that are wide enough to cover the windows when pulled shut. A window box looks best when it's slightly wider than the windowsill it rests beneath.

DO enhance a symmetrical façade by flanking the door with wrought- or cast-iron garden urns filled with flowers or greenery.

DO replace an uninteresting door with a more stylish version, as Vancouver's Napanee Design ( did for the cottage entrance in the image above. Adding sidelights (windows at the side of a door) or a transom (a window above) permits light to filter into the entranceway.

DON'T make it difficult to find your home. Install a large address plaque in a prominent, well-lit location near the front door.

DON'T ignore safety; create a flexible lighting plan to illuminate pathways to the door. Consider decorative lighting, including an uplight to draw attention to an ornamental bush or tree.

DON'T add architecturally inappropriate hardware. Staff at specialty hardware stores can suggest suitable options for a knocker, latch set or mailbox.

Kimberley's guide to front door colour
Complement the ruddy appearance of a brick façade with deep, rich green. Dark green is ideal for more formal exterior styles like Georgian, Federal or neoclassical. Midtone greens suit more casual homes, like ranch-style bungalows and clapboard cottages.

Royal blue is a vibrant choice for pink-hued brick or stone. Eastern Canada enjoys the freshest approach to blue, as it complements the simple clapboard construction seen in these provinces. Wedgwood blue, with its grey undertones, works beautifully with a charcoal roof.

As with interiors, red makes a striking impression. Bold red pairs well with the clapboard siding and simple woodwork of Colonial architecture. It's also an excellent choice for main entrances situated at the side of the house, since its weight helps restore balance to the façade. Dark plum (red with blue influences) is elegant beside fine-looking stonework.

Strike a formal pose with deep black for classically influenced exteriors (those featuring Greek or Roman elements like columns and entablature). Black is the single most formal choice for front doors.

Enrich a handsome Tudor façade with sombre tones of brown or dark tan. While dark brown has the architectural weight of black, it works better with less formal façades -- think cottage and country styles.


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Design Lesson

Design lesson: First impressions