The details—both large and small—of your log & timber home’s exterior make it inviting for visitors and hint at what’s inside.
As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The term “curb appeal” is often used when listing a home for sale and refers to the value of the exterior presentation of your home. But your home’s curb appeal is not just about property value; it also gives everyone who visits your home a hint about what they’ll find inside and allows them to form an impression before they even step inside the door.
“First impressions are hard to undo,” says Allen Halcomb, president of MossCreek in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Everything that you see or experience from that point forward is referenced from that first impression.”
It can be helpful to think in terms of three variables that impact curb appeal: the structure of your home, the composition of the exterior materials of your home, and the landscaping. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your home makes a great first impression.
“You want to see a home where the architectural elements are well organized,” says Halcomb. The architectural elements like porches, dormers, and the roofline should make sense but flow together organically. “There’s usually a pattern to an organic design, like there is in a quilt” he says.
“One way to think about curb appeal is there are things you see from 100 yards away, a new set of elements you see from 50 yards, and even more as you approach the house,” continues Halcomb. Step back and think about the big picture, and then consider how the details enhance that picture—or detract from it.
Even in the simplest home designs, introducing a bit of complexity adds visual interest. “It takes your brain a little more time to read,” notes Halcomb, adding that porches are a great way to add complexity. “Porches are where the environment stops and architecture begins—and that creates an interesting discovery point for the home.”
Make sure the entry to your home is easy to see. “Your eye is always looking for the entrance to the house,” says Halcomb. Make it easily discernable and be thoughtful about the size and scale. A larger home might look funny with a small entrance, but no matter the size it is nice to have smaller elements around the entrance to make it feel more approachable. You want people who approach your home to feel like they are invited inside. An entrance is also a great place to add a pop of color that will instantly draw the eye. Don’t be afraid to try a bright color like red or turquoise!
Smaller balconies and dormers on the front of the house can create a bit of mystique, leading people to wonder what lies behind them while also adding that important visual complexity. “If you can spark someone’s imagination that can be very alluring,” remarks Halcomb. Another way to add charm and visual interest is with smaller scale features like twig rails. “Architecture as a rule is kind of hard,” says Halcomb. “So anything you can add that softens it up makes for a nice composition.”
Log and timber frame homes afford plenty of opportunities to enhance curb appeal. Whether your home features logs with dramatic flared bases or reclaimed timbers imbued with character, homes made from natural materials are naturally appealing.
Adding other natural elements like stone can enhance the beauty of wood. “I personally think that stone mixes well with wood, whether it’s on a chimney or porch columns,” says Halcomb. “I also like to see stone along the base of the home, where it anchors the home visually and connects the house to the ground.” Stone looks great on patios and pathways as well.
You can add another tier of surface area on the face of your home by using cedar shingles or board and batten to highlight a certain portion of the house. Even very small elements like light fixtures and house numbers can make a big difference in the impression your house makes on visitors. Choose fixtures that fit with your home’s overall style.
The Great Outdoors
Don’t overlook the driveway and the landscaping. Those are often the first things people notice as they approach your home, so they should complement the surrounding environment and your home’s architectural style. “A well-landscaped house looks well-tailored,” says Halcomb. Your home may be best suited for a formal, pruned row of hedges, or it might look better with natural native plants. Use outdoor lighting to highlight special aspects of your home or to create a mood.
Even if you are on a small lot, well-considered plantings can do a lot to make your home look its best; try adding window boxes with brightly colored seasonal flowers and potted plants on porches or entryways. The key with potted plants is restraint—a few add warmth and beauty, but too many can make your home look cluttered.
Consider the size, shape, and materials you use for the pathway from your parking area to your front door. If you have a beachfront home, a crushed rock pathway that winds between clumps of beach grasses would be beautiful. A country cottage could have stone pavers with low groundcover growing in-between. If you have a modern rustic home you might opt for slate pavers or tumbled bricks.
Putting It All Together
The most important thing to keep in mind is that all of the elements should work together in harmony to paint a cohesive picture of an inviting home. As you make decisions about your home’s design, ask yourself what it will look like as you approach the home and how each element will improve the curb appeal. Ask how you will feel when you see the house for the first time. Will it be love at first sight?