Home Front

The first glimpse of a home’s style is public—right there on the street for everyone to see. The right blend of architecture, style and color is what distinguishes average homes from those worthy of a double take. The challenge is harmonizing these elements into a cohesive look. Spring’s arrival is the time to stand back, take in the curbside view and make changes to the home’s face that benefit homeowners and visitors alike.

A home that greets guests with colors and textures from shrubs and flowering plants makes a good first impression. Foundation plantings that are in scale with the home soften the sharp edges of the architecture and mask the first foot or so of the home’s exposed concrete base. Window boxes planted with annuals not only carry the landscaping theme up to eye level but also draw attention to the windows, one of the home’s key architectural features.

The entryway key points—the stoop, portico and entry door—should work in concert to provide layers of detail guests can take in while waiting for the door to open. Overhead roof structures protect guests from the weather but also present the opportunity to hang a light fixture, install beefy support columns or a bench. A portico, a scaled-down version of the wider porch, adds texture and accentuates the main entrance. When codes or budget won’t accommodate a bigger change, Stony Brook-based architect Michael Macrina opts for a simpler version. “A nice shed roof that follows the lines of the existing roof; [one that] extends three feet out and is supported with brackets is a good option.” When there is existing masonry on the home—brick siding, stone foundation or a walkway—a safe route is to match that on the stoop. Macrina keeps stoops at about six feet wide and incorporates potted plants, usually an evergreen that reaches about five feet in height to frame the entryway.

A front door’s design should reflect the home’s style, but the paint color is an opportunity to depart from those used on the rest of the house. Bright colors are welcoming and on trend. In some cases, adding trim will enhance the façade altogether. “The front door color should always be different than the home’s body color,” Macrina said. “I’m using a lot of red, blue, black or a natural wood color on front doors.” But a bold color door isn’t nearly as impactful when masked by a storm door. Macrina said that modern entry doors are energy efficient enough to skip the storm door. Though if it’s necessary, he likes a full glass panel painted the same color as the entry door.

An often overlooked opportunity to fold style into utility is the mailbox. Wall mounted boxes are typically made from metal with a weather-resistant coating. Consider styles that match the home. For example a home’s low-slung roof can be echoed on the lid of the box, or versions made from painted brass can match the patinas of copper gutters. Protected by a portico, mailboxes with cut outs stamped into the body let homeowners know at a glance if anything has been dropped off.

Together these elements work to showcase the home’s architectural features and the homeowner’s personality. The results won’t be lost to those passing by, even at 20 miles per hour.