Renovation inspiration: Upgrade your home's exterior for timeless appeal

(ARA) - As spring approaches and the winter snow begins to melt from your roof and lawn, now is a great time to step back and survey what you can do to improve the look of your home for the warm summer months, and for years to come.

Could your house use an exterior upgrade? Would you like a boost of color, but are afraid to stray from neutrals? Do you wish your home looked like the ones you see in magazines and television shows?

Renovating a home's exterior is one way to dramatically improve the overall curb appeal.

"Many homes that were built post-war during the mid to late 20th century lost the historical, architectural appeal of older homes due to the need for mass produced, affordable housing," says Deryl Patterson, partner at BSB Design, a leading national residential architectural firm. "Updating those tired exterior elevations with historical details and mixed materials can help give homes a timeless appeal and boost resale value."

Some homeowners might feel they do not have the tools they need to begin a renovation, and can become overwhelmed when thinking about the process. The good news is today's leading architects and product manufacturers are working to give homeowners the inspiration and confidence to move forward with an exterior renovation.
"Today's homeowners and home buyers want a low-maintenance, energy-efficient house that is unique in style and stands out in the neighborhood," says John Stephenson of Ply Gem, a building products manufacturer that has introduced a collection of inspirational home style visuals and guidelines to help homeowners begin conversations with their contractor.

To help arm homeowners with the tools they need to upgrade their exterior, Ply Gem and BSB Design offer these tips.

Realize the possibilities
Years ago, it was virtually impossible to maintain historically accurate character when building or renovating using low-maintenance materials. Thanks to technological advancements in product manufacturing processes, builders and homeowners can now achieve beautiful, colorful home designs without the maintenance and cost of natural materials. Many products such as insulated siding and triple pane windows also offer the added benefit of energy efficiency.

Which architectural style suits your personal style?

Knowing which home style you're partial to will help narrow down the features you add to your home in a renovation. For an old-world, European style, consider the architectural details of the French Country, Spanish Eclectic or Tuscan. For a more contemporary or transitional aesthetic, look to the Prairie and Craftsman. And for traditional styles, Shingle and Georgian features work well.

Don't be color shy
Exterior home color selection can be an overwhelming process, especially because it's one of the longest-term decisions that homeowners have to make. However, going beyond white or beige and using the right color combinations can take a home from drab to stunning. "A good rule of thumb is to select three or four coordinating colors and use them on different elevations and architectural details of the home, including shutters, trim and gables," says Patterson. Look to collections, like The Designed Exterior Collection by Ply Gem, that simplify color selection by identifying palettes that work for each architectural style. Another easy way to incorporate color is by mixing in other materials, such as stone veneer and bold window exteriors, with vinyl siding.

Be particular when it comes to architecture
Each architectural style has key defining features that reflect the era in which it was introduced. To stay true to the elements that characterize the particular style, work with your contractor or architect and determine which materials should be used to achieve the look you desire. Consider features such as low pitched roofs for modern styles like the Craftsman and Prairie, use of stone veneer or stucco in European-inspired styles or incorporation of hand-split shakes in the Shingle style. Window design is also an important aspect of architectural styling that is often overlooked. Colonial grilles offer a traditional style, while fixed or casement windows with minimal grilles provide a streamlined, modern look.

To help take the guesswork out of architectural styling and color selection, websites like www.DesignedExterior.com offer tried and true combinations and design specifications. For more ideas on upgrading your home's exterior, also visit www.BSBDesign.com.