21st-Century Architecture Makes Space for Classical Details

By Steven Randel, Houzz

Ancient Greece and Rome obviously provide the origins of classical architecture. What makes the subject relevant today is the high number of buildings and houses throughout Europe and America that have been designed with the aesthetics that developed in ancient times, and the interpretations that followed. While modern design theory relinquishes precedent for inspiration and formulation, there are still basic principles that great architecture relies upon: Symmetry, hierarchy, repetition and proportion are a few. The fact that classical architecture strictly follows these principles makes it an important architectural discipline to appreciate even today.

In the U.S. classical architecture has experienced three significant historical phases, in addition to its use today.

First, from about 1770 through 1830, the early classical revival era evolved with the cultural association of democratic Roman ideals as the U.S. was formed. Through the influence of the classical renaissance in Europe and architects like Thomas Jefferson, it gained followers.

Next came the closely related Greek revival phase, which lasted from around 1825 to 1860. A congruence of a desire to understand the roots of Roman classical architecture, which are of course Greek, and the Greek War of Independence propelled the affection for the prominently columned structures of this style.

Finally, classical architecture resurfaced with extraordinary popularity after the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where it was celebrated. William Ware's subsequent publication of The American Vignola, which dissected the conclusions about classical architecture by 16th-century Italian architect Giacoma Barozzi da Vignola, further advanced its proliferation and people's understanding of it. Other studies, such as that of Andrea Palladio, also propelled the interest in classical design, which sustained great momentum until about 1950.

SGK Landscapes, original photo on Houzz

This 1847 Jackson, Mississippi, early classical revival house is somewhat simplified compared to others of the same era. However, the prominent centered pediment, or gable, rests atop two story-high columns topped with Ionic capitals. Its identity is certain.

Chadsworth Columns, original photo on Houzz

This contemporary Greek revival house makes the same robust statement as its ancestors. Of the five classical orders, its columns most closely resemble the Tuscan order. The flattened columns against the walls and at the corners of the building are called pilasters; they match the detail of the four round columns.

The band of detail above the columns to the lip of the eave line is called an entablature. This is divided in equal parts, from below to above, into the architrave, the frieze and the cornice. Details of the entablature vary from one order to the other, as well as from one architect to another, one carpenter to another and so on.

Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite (Ionic and Corinthian combined) are the other four orders in classical architecture. Doric was the established system in Greece, while the Romans favored Corinthian.

Chadsworth Columns, original photo on Houzz

Here an Ionic capital tops the column. The entablature is more correctly detailed in this example than in the previous one.

You can identify the architrave by the three flat bands just above the capital, topped by a band of molding. The next, much larger, flat band above that is the frieze. After that begins the cornice, with a more complex assimilation of shapes and details.

Notice the numerous individual scrolled elements in the cornice. These are called modillions; they lie in the same position as dentils would on other orders. Some orders have neither, some have one or the other, and some even have both modillions and dentils.

Witt Construction, original photo on Houzz

How is this all relevant to the abodes of today? Here you can see a simplified interpretation of classical architecture. There are four very simple square columns, and pilasters against the wall, each with a base and a capital. Two flat bands above the capitals imply an architrave and a frieze, while the trimmed fascia gives us the cornice. The gable face provides the basic pediment.

VOH Architects, original photo on Houzz

Typical of classical houses from the mid-1800s, a porch runs the full width of the primary elevation on this historic Texas house. This indelible theme defines more than plantation houses that were built in the U.S. South during that period. Banks, university buildings, hotels and scores of government buildings across the U.S., especially those built during the neoclassical period, have classically detailed colonnades with an imposing presence.

Historical Concepts, original photo on Houzz

Look closely at the details on this South Carolina house. It has the same type of full-width porch. Though the columns are square, they still have an impression of a base and a capital. A minimally detailed entablature defines the eave and fascia.

And especially delightful are the pediment-adorned dormers. Though minimally scaled, their correct proportions make them especially handsome. Notice the detail above the windows under the porch. They are each capped with their own entablature. Finally, pilasters frame the entrance door and sidelights, and the group is also capped with its own entablature.


6 Paints to Boost Your Curb Appeal With a Pop of Color

By Kelly Porter, Houzz 

I have a confession to make. I often spend so much time and energy making sure the inside of my home is colorful and stylish that I end up neglecting the exterior. As often as I help clients with their exterior color selections, I should know better. A home's exterior provides that first impression, which shouldn't include sun-faded shutters. So this year I'm giving my home a fresh paint job, and I've collected colorful ideas that I'd like to share with you, just in case the outside of your home could use some TLC, too.

Related: Find More Exterior Home Design Ideas on Houzz


polymer roofing

Christine Kelly / Crafted Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Purple is the star in this backyard. If you love purple but are shy about using it in the front of your home, a great idea is to use it somewhere in the back, such as for a porch, a sunroom or a bay window.

Suggested paint picks: Ballad, Mixed Berries and Purple Silhouette, Behr


Kenny Craft CNU LEED AP, original photo on Houzz

Yellow-green is a lighthearted color and a fun choice for a home's exterior. This color will add a whimsical touch to the neighborhood.

Suggested paint picks: Corn Husk Green and Grape Leaves, Behr

Related: Discover More Shades of Green to Use Here


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Goforth Gill Architects, original photo on Houzz

A red front door is synonymous with hospitality. When choosing a shade of red, look for a vivid hue with a touch of orange for big impact.

Suggested paint pick: Red Hot, Behr


polymer roofing

Great Neighborhood Homes, original photo on Houzz

If you want your home to keep a low profile, try a tone-on-tone look. Here, two shades of grayish taupe work together to give this house a modest facade that doesn't stand out.

Suggested paint picks: Galveston Gray and Ozark Shadows, Benjamin Moore


polymer roofing

Cummings Architects, original photo on Houzz

As this stately colonial demonstrates, a home with black shutters looks classic and elegant. Black looks especially crisp when paired with a lighter color such as this soft shade of yellow.

Suggested paint picks: Black Satin and Hawthorne Yellow, Benjamin Moore


Echelon Custom Homes, original photo on Houzz

Indigo is an unexpected color, but this deep purplish-blue will give your home unmistakable appeal and provide visitors with an easy way to identify where you live.

Suggested paint pick: Lupine, Sherwin-Williams


Top 10 Tips to Freshen Up Your Curb Appeal For Spring

By Shane Inman, Houzz

Life is all about first impressions, and this is as true of homes as it is of people. Your home's positive physical appearance from the street is called curb appeal. What does your house say to those passing by? Try these professional designer tips to heighten character and charm while you increase resale value.


Cardea Building Co, original photo on Houzz

1. Sugar coat. Apply decorative siding and detailed moldings that accentuate your home's period for immediate eye candy that will keep heads turning. But remember, less is always more.

2. Avant-garage. Glass garage doors can take any home from traditional to contemporary in a flash. Don't fret about unruly organization inside — a variety of window options are available that can control the degree of light and privacy.


Westover Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz

3. Groundbreaking event. Dig up the first layer of your front yard and install continuous flagstone steps from the sidewalk to the house for an eye-pleasing path. Go the extra mile and design an adjacent patio out of the same stone.

4. Picture perfect. The classic brick paver sidewalk, combined with a fence and impeccable flower beds, provides timeless charm.


Charlie & Co Design Ltd, original photo on Houzz

5. Architectural eyeliner. Forgo over-the-top flower beds, pots and plants, and stick with classic and timeless shrubbery. This look will outline your architectural elements rather than camouflage them. Neat and orderly never looked so good.

6. Fashion your driveway. Get the hottest look straight out of a magazine with this fashionable driveway of grass and concrete pavers. Your haute driveway will have people talking.


Traditional Entry, original photo on Houzz

7. Light up your life. Illuminate the entrance to your home with a pendant light and matching sconces for that designer feel. Nothing says, "We're home" like a fully lit porch.

8. Flower power. Flowers are one of the least expensive ways to make the front of your house blossom with curb appeal. For those with a green thumb, sprucing up your home will never be so fun.


Michael Sisti, original photo on Houzz

9. Focal door. Place the emphasis on the entrance of your home by painting your front door a contrasting color from your house — it's the easiest and most inexpensive way to improve the exterior of your home. Bam! Instant character.


Woodburn & Company Landscape Architecture LLC, original photo on Houzz

10. Shutter in anticipation. Install functional or decorative shutters to your home's windows for an instantaneous change. Paint them a contrasting color to the exterior and watch as your mature home becomes new.


5 Extreme Exterior Makeovers

By Becky Harris, Houzz

So you love the schools, the neighborhood and the yard, but when you pull up to your house, you don’t like the way it looks. But there are aspects of it that you do like, and you can’t bear the thought of tearing it down. Often a better solution is a major makeover. It’s hard to believe that some of these houses are remodels; in one case, even the tax assessor had to be convinced.Related: See More Exterior Makeovers


synthetic slate shake

sensitive design inc., original photo on Houzz

1. Contemporary Redo Solves Design Problems

BEFORE: Not much about this facade made sense. An awkward pediment seems randomly placed. To the right, a garage had been finished into a room that threw off the proportions. And there’s an odd, unbalanced half-hexagon portion off to the left.

Due to setback requirements related to a nearby stream, a complete rebuild here was not an option. Instead, designer Susanne Doise worked with what she had and was able to add a small addition to this dated split-level home.

synthetic slate shake

sensitive design inc., original photo on Houzz

AFTER: At first, the clients thought they wanted a more traditional house, but once they saw the opportunities a more contemporary style offered, they were on board.

Working within tight setback restrictions, height restrictions and square footage maximums, Doise came up with a scheme for much more pleasing architecture. She designed a new roofline that incorporated a shed roof and a pop-up roof that allowed for higher ceilings and let more light inside. She squared off the awkward half-hexagon and brought back the garage, with an attractive frosted-glass-paneled garage-style door that’s a design asset. She replaced the vinyl siding with fiber cement panels The roof is corrugated metal. And new aluminum-clad windows let in loads of natural light.

She also gave the home inviting curb appeal thanks to a new concrete staircase with integrated planters and lights, a new glass-paneled front door with a generous sidelight and transom, and a new lighting scheme.


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Carpenter & MacNeille, original photo on Houzz

2. Suitable Style for a Former Foursquare

BEFORE: Originally an American Foursquare built in the 1800s, this home’s style had become a hodgepodge of confusing historical elements due to additions and renovations over the years. The architects at Carpenter & MacNeille knew that the Colonial touches were not in keeping with the more simple Craftsman homes in the area built during the era.

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Carpenter & MacNeille, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: The remodel included new siding that’s narrower on the second floor than on the first floor, a new patio that leads to the front door and a new front porch with a balustrade atop it. A new garage with a mudroom entry and game room over it was also part of the renovations.

The confusing Colonial details, such as the pediment and shutters that were added over the years, are history. “We jazzed up a simple house with great, period-appropriate architectural details,” interior designer Wendy LeStage Hodgson reported to Houzz contributor Mary Jo Bowling.


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Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

3. Desperately in Need of Proper Proportions

BEFORE: This house with the giant mansard roof was notorious for being an ugly duckling along the beach on Camano Island, Washington. While the floor plan inside worked well, a lack of windows made the interior dark.

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Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Even the tax assessor had a hard time believing it was a remodel and not a tear-down situation, according to the architect, Dan Nelson. But the bulk of the renovations were a major exterior face-lift.

Before, the oversized mansard roof looked like it was pushing the house into the ground. Now, a new scheme that mixes corrugated charcoal-gray metal and Western red cedar shingles provides a pleasing balance. Boxing out the center and adding an arbor gave the house dimension. Large windows open up the facade and let in the light.

The front door is in the exact same spot but is highlighted by a new porch framed by an arbor. A modern garage door plays off the charcoal corrugated metal, and its panels play off the windows.


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Rafe Churchill: Traditional Houses, original photo on Houzz

4. Restoring Historic Farmhouse Charm

BEFORE: This historic farmhouse in Sharon, Connecticut, untouched since the 1940s, was in need of some love. The homeowners wanted to find buyers who would preserve the historic architecture. Interior designer Heide Hendricks and her husband, architect Rafe Churchill, were excited by the home’s potential and bought it for themselves. This is the back of the house; you can make out where an awkward addition had been removed.

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Rafe Churchill: Traditional Houses, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: As a historic restoration, this is not a radical change, but it’s still quite a surprise. The couple kept the footprint almost the same but added a back porch and mudroom where the addition had been, as well as a new shed and a new fence.


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Beckwith Group, original photo on Houzz

5. Going Greek (Revival)

BEFORE: This next makeover is one of the most dramatic ones we’ve seen on Houzz. Architect Dave Beckwith transformed a 1970s mock Tudor to the Greek Revival style popular in Duchess County, New York.

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Beckwith Group, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Believe it or not, only porches and two 2-foot-wide additions along the front and back of the house expand the footprint of the home. The first floor was extended out to be flush with the overhangs you see in the “before” photos.

When you see the lovely setting around the house, you can see why the owners wanted to work with what they had. The home’s proportions, classical columns, windows, pronounced entablature and portico are all elements of Greek Revival style.

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Beckwith Group, original photo on Houzz

BEFORE: The back of the house lacked aesthetic appeal.

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Beckwith Group, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Now, gracious porches on both sides and along the back add inviting style and provide plenty of comfortable covered space to enjoy the views.


How to Connect Earth and Sky With a Roof Design

By Bud Dietrich, Houzz

There are so many important functions for a roof. Though its primary purposes may be to shed water and protect us from the elements, a well thought-out roof does so much more. It can tether us to the landscape or let us soar up and away. And the best roofs can do both at the same time.

Roofs can also act as platforms and foils for chimneys and cupolas and weather vanes and all that other stuff we may have up there. And roofs can become terraces, lifting us above it all.

From the classic inverted "V" of a gable roof to the flat slab, roofs come in a variety of shapes and forms. The gable roof of the farmhouse relays a different story than the ground-hugging hip roof of the prairie style. And the seemingly non-existent roof of a modernist house tells us a different story altogether.


Hoedemaker Pfeiffer, original photo on Houzz

Some roofs both hug the land and reach for the sky. This roof aspires to what's above while, like a tent, it is tethered to the broad prairie. The absence of a shadow at the gable ends emphasizes the simple geometry of the roof shape. And the thin slit-like shed dormer is like an eye half open, not quite awake nor asleep.

Related: Store More in a Shed


Kenny Craft, original photo on Houzz

A simple roof shape can be powerful against all that sky. A minimum of detail in a monochromatic palette keeps us focused on the important stuff, just a simple yet powerful shape that reads all the more clearly against that crisp blue sky.


Helios Design Group, original photo on Houzz

A roof can be a platform for a cupola that illuminates the night sky. Whether cupola or chimneys or something else, these elements on the roof continue all that vertical movement, pushing our eye ever upward. Even the ubiquitous and often undersized weather vane can achieve the same effect.


Tracery Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Sometimes we hide the roof. Here the wall takes over and dominates, like in a Dutch streetscape. Even then, the wall reveals the shape of the roof behind it to continue that upward movement.


ZAK Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Sometimes we let the roof take over. We extend the roof beyond the walls and let the sun create deep shadows. And we emphasize the inverted "V" by making it a motif.

Related: Enhance Indoor-Outdoor Connections With Comfortable and Stylish Patio Furniture


Hanrahan Meyers Architects, original photo on Houzz

The flat, modernist roof keeps us anchored. Our spatial experience is all horizontal or Euclidean. It's as if the sky no longer matters.


Gambrel Roofs Give Dutch Colonials Their Quaint Charm

By Steven Randel, Houzz

What is a gambrel roof? Think of a shallow gable and a steep gable, then place the shallow atop the steep. Add dormers, often one long one, to the steep portion, and you have a configuration commonly referred to as Dutch colonial.

The gambrel structure allowed a wider roof span, which provided extra habitable space in the attic. This form evolved over several decades of adapting authentic 18th-century Dutch colonial architecture to the necessities of the time. Though simple gable roofs also sheltered some Dutch houses, the unique gambrel form became increasingly popular to the point of ethnic definition.

Limited to regions within and near New York's Hudson River Valley, colonial Dutch settlements eventually became outpaced by those of English colonists, who built their domestic architecture in Georgian and Adam styles. Dutch colonial houses we see today are actually revivals concurrent with colonial revival in general. Due to this, the gambrel roof has been shared and mixed across several styles, including shingle and Georgian. Conversely, classically inspired Georgian and Adam details often appear on Dutch colonial revival houses.


slate roof tiles

Siding & Windows Group Ltd, original photo on Houzz


You cannot venture too far before coming upon a house like this one. Dutch colonial revivals inhabit neighborhoods from coast to coast. They show up frequently, being a specific type among the long-lived colonial revival era that stretched from around 1880 until around 1955.

Focus on the quaint entrance here. An elliptical arch punctures the classically referenced pediment supported by decorative brackets. Sidelights extend halfway down, implying a halved Dutch door. Other traditional elements include clapboard siding, double-hung windows with shutters, window boxes and a frieze above each lower-level window. The defining roofline breaks apart the two-story house, giving it an intimate and human scale.


Slat roof shingles

Siding & Windows Group Ltd, original photo on Houzz


Similar in scale and detail to the previous example, this home has a continuous shed dormer that's defined by the extension of the upper roof form and stretches across nearly the entire elevation. Unique here is the eyebrow porch cover, a detail found in many examples. It extends slightly forward of the adjoining eave and inconspicuously signals the entrance. Also notice the double-hung windows with a divided light sash on top and a single-pane sash on the lower half. This detail is also seen in shingle-style homes.


slate shingles

Westover Landscape Design, Inc., original photo on Houzz


Moving up in size, this New York–area Dutch colonial revival maintains the inviting human scale inherent in this style. In true colonial revival fashion, windows are grouped into sets and sunrooms flank the lower levels. Significant here is the flare to the lowest eave line. This detail surfaced in original colonial designs; it was likely brought directly from the Netherlands. Notice how the shape of the front porch follows the fan light above the entrance door with sidelights and contrasts appropriately with the other linear elements.

Related: Easy Home Project: Replace Your Old Mailbox

Intersecting formations and other even more complex configurations show up in other styles, especially shingle. Consider the contrast in symmetry from the previous examples, and you can understand the association to shingle style. Substantial brackets support an attenuated flared eave that creates a front porch cover.


shake tile roof

Bill Ingram Architect, LLC, original photo on Houzz


Focus your attention on the primary gambrel roof section of this Alabama house. The stone body with parapet gambrels illustrates an important configuration in original Dutch colonial houses. Many Dutch colonists built with stone and likely brought the parapet design from the Netherlands. Contrasting hip roof appendages emphasize the prominent gambrel form here. Also note the bookend chimneys, another very nice allusion to Dutch originals. Independent shed dormers contrast previous examples.


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Eskuche Design, original photo on Houzz


This comfortable new Minneapolis house has some contemporary twists on the gambrel roof theme. A large round arch set within a front-facing gambrel highlights the main entrance. The standing-seam metal roof of the wrapped porch and garage skirt contrast and emphasize the primary shingled portions of the roofs. Note the independent shed dormers and how the cross gambrel roof over the garage creates its own dormer impression.

Related: Make Your Home Glow With Updated Outdoor Lights


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Tommy Chambers Interiors, Inc., original photo on Houzz


A gambrel roof establishes a focal point for this sprawling and elegant composition in Southern California. It has a complex balance of forms and elements blended unassumingly behind the gambrel. Notice the marvelously detailed lower-level triple window grouping happily topped by a Palladian window scheme, further emphasizing this focal point.

Whether modest or not so, the Dutch colonial gambrel roof shape has survived through several hundred years of American home-building fashions. The original gambrel provided extra habitable space, while contemporary versions are more flexible, offer greater visual interest and are a lovely homage to those pioneering Dutch colonists.


The Components of a Roof Every Homeowner Should Know

By Bud Dietrich, Houzz

After you've installed your foundation, put down your floor structure and erected your walls, it's time to build your roof — one of the most important architectural elements. In fact, from the colonial home with its gable roof to a Prairie-style home with its hip roof, from a modern home with its low-sloping roof to an elegant mansard on an urban townhouse, we can't imagine a house style that doesn't have its associated roof configuration. Aligning the roof shape and configuration with the overall aesthetic you're after is essential to getting the look you want.

Related: Design Dictionary: The Lingo of Rooftops

A roof also has an impact on the interior. Simply put, if all of the interior rooms have a flat ceiling of the same height, you can save time and money and have the roof built with manufactured trusses. If you're looking for some ceiling height variety and a vaulted ceiling in some rooms, you'll likely go with a stick-built roof that allows for this kind of flexibility. Or you can combine these two approaches to save time and money where possible while getting those special spaces you want.

Here are the different parts of a simple roof structure, how they come together and how they impact the interior spaces.


Bud Dietrich, AIA, original photo on Houzz


A simple, stick-built triangular roof structure has three main components.

First, there's a ridge board, which is a horizontal wood element at the peak of the roof, establishing the apex of the roof's triangle.

Next are the rafters, which are fastened to the ridge board and slope downward to the exterior walls. The rafters do the heavy lifting for a roof structure. While resisting the downward force of gravity, the sloping rafters also provide the means by which the house sheds water, keeping the interiors dry and habitable.

Last are the ceiling joists, which also act as ties. While the rafters resist the downward force of gravity, the ceiling joists will resist any outward thrust. Just think of it like this: The rafters, having stood up to gravity, want to take a rest and lie down. But if they were allowed to, they would push the exterior walls outward — not a good thing. The ceiling joists won't let this happen; they just keep pulling the walls back in.


Bud Dietrich, AIA, original photo on Houzz


An important design consideration is where to locate the ceiling joists, or rafter ties. These don't have to be set at the top of the exterior wall; they can be set higher up, allowing for a taller ceiling.

What's important is that the rafter ties be placed in the lower third of the overall roof structure height. This makes sense, as most of the outward thrusting action these ties are designed to resist is located lower in the roof structure, closer to where the rafters meet the exterior walls.

Setting the ceiling joists higher like this is, with the addition of some framing at the room ends, also the method used to create a tray ceiling.


Bud Dietrich, AIA, original photo on Houzz


Let's say you want a really tall vaulted ceiling for a large great room. If this is the case, you'll want to get rid of the rafter ties altogether and replace the thin and light ridge board with a heavier and stronger ridge beam.

The rafters will get securely fastened to this ridge beam so that the whole assembly will resist the outward thrust of the rafters. And because these ridge beams can be quite massive, they become a distinctive architectural element in their own right.


Bud Dietrich, AIA, original photo on Houzz


Another roof element, though not a common one, is the purlin. This is a board that spans rafters, or trusses, providing a way to fasten the roof sheathing and subsequent roofing materials.

Purlins were traditionally used when the rafters were placed farther apart to save on materials in utilitarian buildings such as barns. But purlins have become popular in residential construction because of their unique architectural look. In fact, using purlins will create the illusion that the actual ceiling floats above the rafters, something that can be architecturally distinctive.


Bud Dietrich, AIA, original photo on Houzz


Last but not least are manufactured trusses made of 2-by-4 (sometimes 2-by-6) lumber and metal connecting plates. Trusses such as these are used quite often on large tract developments due to the efficiency of their repetitive design.

But these trusses are also used in custom construction too, as they can be a great way to save time and money. Even with a complex roof shape, trusses can be engineered and built on a made-to-order basis. And because of the efficient use of material and less waste generated when they're built in a factory, manufactured trusses can be a more sustainable way to build.

Related: 7 Steps in Building a New Home

One caveat about a house built with these types of trusses: A roof built with manufactured trusses is more difficult to modify than a comparable stick-built roof. So if your home has ceilings all the same height and a truss-built roof, you'll find it more difficult to open rooms up and get that tall ceiling you want for that new great room. Be sure to get help from an architect or engineer before you modify the roof structure.


Where Did Your House Get Its Style?

By Steven Randel, Houzz

One of the most common questions people have about their own home is, what style is it? This is not always an easy question to answer. "Style" is an elusive term, because it can be applied to many different things, and style is frequently an amalgamation of different features. Nevertheless, most homes have a link to an established fashion of architecture, defined by the overall form of the structure and/or its details. Also, it needs to be taken into account that many structures are created purely out of necessity with little regard to design aesthetic, and are considered to have a folk or vernacular style.

It can be said that a style is a definition after the fact rather than before or during. To label a unique building as it is being designed makes little sense. Time will tell if it holds up to replication and garners a following, thereby establishing a trend. But by far most houses have a rooted identity that has evolved to adapt to current living standards.


Isler Homes, original photo on Houzz


Styles and fashions of home design once were regional and changed slowly over time. Building techniques were dictated by the skill of local tradesmen, and materials came from nearby sources or were specified far in advance and patiently anticipated. Beginning with the building boom after World War II, modern building practices completely changed how and what we built.

Related: The Birth of Modern Architecture

The Disneyland effect took hold. Design was inspired by faraway places, and materials could be shipped by rail or truck and even flown to almost any place in the developed world. Out of this luxury of choice evolved a few persistent styles, which are pressing into the latest century with great affection. Here you can see five home styles that have roots in the past yet are firmly 21st-century dwellings with a strong sense of place and character.

1. French eclectic. Considered to be rooted in Renaissance classical architecture as opposed to ancient classical architecture, French eclectic style can be symmetrical, as with the home shown here, or asymmetrical. This particular house also has the feeling of a chateau with its use of stone, and of Beaux-Arts architecture with the detailed articulation of the facade. There is even a hint of Greek revival with its centered, gabled pediment. Though classical architecture is practically absent in modern commercial building, it shows no signs of giving up in the domestic arena.


Sicora Design/Build, original photo on Houzz


2. Shingle. With some reference to classical detailing, the shingle style began to appear under the Victorian umbrella of design in the late 19th century. It ironically stems from medieval architecture — that is, the period of building between the end of ancient classical and the beginning of Renaissance classical. Original shingle was a style before its time; shingle designs emphasized a more open floor plan, a feature so popular today. On this house there are also elements of stick style (note the gable over the entrance porch) and Tudor (note the steep roof formations and varying window shapes). Shingle style is currently very popular in the southeastern United States but can be found in all areas of the country.


Studio 1 Architects, original photo on Houzz


3. Prairie. Though authentic examples of this style are rare outside the Midwest, and although it was only briefly popular (1900 to 1920), it had a profound effect on vernacular suburban architecture for the rest of the 20th century. The long, low, horizontal lines and deep eaves along with hipped roofs can be found all across the United States in the more familiar ranch style. It is also uniquely an American creation and is considered a part of modern architecture and, more specifically, stems from the Arts and Crafts movement. As can be seen in this example, the detailing can be quite sophisticated and complex.


Rockefeller Partners Architects, original photo on Houzz


4. California contemporary. This coastal California design alludes to midcentury style along with vernacular modernism, hence its designation as contemporary; it also displays currently popular materials and building techniques. A strong affection for midcentury modern architecture, especially domestic, resurfaced at the turn of the 21st century.

Original examples date back to the 1930s, but the Case Study program in Southern California and developer Joseph Eichler in Northern California set the nation on a course of what most labeled, at the time, contemporary. Many houses were built with this influence until a reversal of taste in the 1980s led fashion back to historic revivals and even postmodernism, though the latter was rare in residential architecture. A strong relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces is evident in this example, along with walls of glass and the use of warm materials.


AR Design Studio Ltd, original photo on Houzz


5. International. This style is somewhat rare in the United States but can be found in many places around the world, such as this example in the United Kingdom. Born from the work of famous architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier prior to World War II, this style fell out of favor after the war in Europe but simultaneously strongly influenced the aforementioned mid-century modernism in the United States.

Structural transparency lies at the heart of this style, which can easily be identified by flat roofs, walls of glass and long planes of solid walls punctuated with openings. With the home shown, the landscape is defined by the extension of primary wall elements, while the upper level seems to float above the setting. Minimalism marks its identity, but closer inspection of these masterpieces often reveals intricate, thoughtful and careful detailing.


Rich Reds Give Home Exteriors a Fall-Friendly Feeling

By Jennifer Ott, Houzz

This week’s featured exterior color is inspired by the rich palette of fall, specifically the crimsons and burgundies found in leaves as they turn. These deep ruby-red hues also call to mind full-bodied red wines that we can dig out and enjoy once again now that the weather is finally turning cooler.

Related: How to Choose the Right Color for Your House

While not as loud as the previously featured bold orange colors, these reds still provide a healthy dose of drama on the exterior of a home, and they’re appropriate for a variety of architectural styles and geographical regions. Read on to see six stunning examples of rich red-hued homes, along with a sampling of paint color palettes to help coordinate siding and accent colors.


Lands End Development - Designers & Builders, original photo on Houzz


I wouldn’t care how frightful the weather outside was if I had this beautiful lake home to take shelter in. From the dark gray roof to the rich red and warm wood siding, the palette is elegant but with a nice rustic vibe. And despite the variety of materials used on the exterior, it doesn’t feel too busy, because the colors are all within the same warm, dark color family.


Houseplans LLC, original photo on Houzz


A gorgeous modern home deserves an equally fetching color scheme. As with the previous example, if you’re using two different siding materials, try using color to further differentiate them. It makes for a more interesting facade. Plus it allows you to use a smaller amount of a deep or dark hue that you might be hesitant to use top-to-bottom on the house.


Craftsman Exterior, original photo on Houzz


Our featured hue works well on just about any style of home. Whereas the previous example featured a modern house, you can see this more traditional home also looks great. The light gold trim is an excellent choice; a pure white trim would have been too jarring with the other colors in this palette.

Related: These Porch Photos Will Motivate You to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal


Atelier 292 Architect Inc., original photo on Houzz


Having grown up in a rural Midwestern town, I fondly tend to associate red exteriors with the ubiquitous barns of my youth. And while the assertions vary widely as to why barns were traditionally painted red — from it being an economical paint color to wanting to mimic more expensive red brick to the dubious claim that red helps guide the cows home — we can likely all agree that red is a great choice for a modern take on a barn- or farmhouse-style home.


Bau-Fritz GmbH & Co. KG, original photo on Houzz


Red is not a wallflower kind of color, especially when used against a backdrop of greens. This is because red and green are opposite each other on the color wheel and therefore provide the most contrast to each other. If your house has an interesting form that you want to play up, paint it the complementary color of the surrounding landscape.


Moger Mehrhof Architects, original photo on Houzz


If you’re loving these rich red hues but are concerned about using them in large amounts on the exterior of your home, think about breaking them up. This is a look best pulled off on contemporary or rustic homes, but even a traditional home could add a red-hued gable or, at the very least, a ruby-red front door.

Related: Try Red in Small Doses With a Crimson Porch Swing


Jennifer Ott Design, original photo on Houzz


Try These Palettes

If you go with a deep, rich color for your siding, I’d recommend keeping the trim and accent colors very neutral, so as not to compete with the red.

Siding color: Borscht
Trim color: Natural Tan
Front door-accent color: Raisin
All from Sherwin-Williams


Jennifer Ott Design, original photo on Houzz

Siding color: Antique Ruby
Trim color: Black Bean
Front door color: Witch Hazel
All from Behr



Jennifer Ott Design, original photo on Houzz


Siding color: Raisin Torte
Trim color: Graystone
Front door color: Midnight Oil
All from Benjamin Moore

6 Ways to Use White on Your Home’s Exterior

By Kelly Porter, Houzz

As summer comes to an end, keep in mind that fall can be a great time to paint the outside of your home. The weather is cooling down and you’ve got a few short months before the holiday season. This is when you’ll want to make sure your cool-weather curb appeal is in tip-top shape for visits from family and friends. While white is a very versatile interior color, it’s also a great choice for the exterior of your home. White is crisp and clean, and it will give your home a classic, timeless look. Here are some ideas for using white to make your house a standout.


Hendel Homes, original photo on Houzz


For a house with great architectural features, consider using a dark hue for the main color and white on the features you’d like to showcase. The contrast will add a whole new dimension to the entire exterior. In addition, unique elements such as unusually shaped shutters and arched doors will really stand out.

Color to try: Popped Corn from Behr


Vanguard Studio Inc., original photo on Houzz


Farmhouses and barn houses are often steeped in tradition and history. Therefore, it makes sense to use a traditional barn red and white color palette for these types of homes. But stay away from the brightest whites. The best shade of white will be one that’s slightly gray and has cool undertones. This will help soften the look and reduce the harshness of the strong red and white combination.

Color to try: Cool Gray from Valspar


Farmhouse Exterior, original photo on Houzz


If you prefer a more modern look for your farmhouse, use white as the main color. Create a clean look by forgoing shutters, and choose black shingles for the roof. I love the stained wood entryway on the house shown here. It provides a traditional element with a contemporary twist.

Color to try: Moonlit Snow by Olympic


Helios Design Group, original photo on Houzz


Scores of traditional, Colonial-style homes can be found in the Northeast region of the U.S. Many of them are painted with a classic black and white paint combination, which has stood the test the time. I think any house in any region would look gorgeous painted with such a tried-and-true duo. And don’t forget the white picket fence. This is an elegant color scheme that takes away all of the guesswork.

Color to try: Ultra Pure White from Behr


Alan Mascord Design Associates Inc, original photo on Houzz


Hunter green and white is another classic combination you’ll see on traditional and cottage-style homes. Hunter green has a masculine feel to it, so if that’s not your style, pairing it with off-white is one way to lighten up its appearance, especially on a large home.

Color to try: Alabaster from Sherwin-Williams



Highland Homes, Inc., original photo on Houzz


For a house that offers guests a more subtle welcome, pair a warm white with a light, understated accent color. If you have a grassy front yard and trees, a pale, light green accent is a wonderful way to tie in the natural scenery. A soft green and white combination is very organic and serene, and it will look great for years to come.

The main color used here is Pure White from Sherwin-Williams

For more cool weather curb appeal ideas, read:

Ask a Local Painter for Advice
Are Plantation Shutters the Right Choice for Your Windows
Add White Rocking Chairs to Your Front Porch 


How to Get Craftsman-Style Curb Appeal

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

The Craftsman-style home is one of the most charming (and popular) home styles in America, and it’s no wonder — from the rich, earthy colors to the beautiful architectural details and warm, welcoming front porch, there’s a lot to love about Craftsman homes. Make your Craftsman-style home look its best with these tips for choosing paint colors, windows, doors, landscaping and more.

Roots of Style: See What Defines a Craftsman Home


FGY Architects, original photo on Houzz


Nature-inspired color palette. Craftsman style is deeply influenced by nature, so turn to rich, natural hues for the exterior color palette. Soft olive green, earthy browns and cream (rather than stark white) allow the home to settle into its surroundings. Shingles are the most common exterior finish by far among Craftsman homes, and these can always be left natural with a clear finish if you do not wish to paint them. With so many architectural details, it is common to use at least two or three different complementary shades on the exterior to highlight the craftsmanship.

Don’t forget to test! The warm, earthy hues of the Craftsman palette can look wonderful when they work, but some colors (especially greens) can be tricky to get right. Be sure to test any color you are considering using so you can actually see it in situ, not only on a tiny paint chip. If you are feeling unsure about picking colors, consider hiring a color consultant to help with the process.


Moore Architects PC, original photo on Houzz


Go more modern (with caution). If you’re not a huge fan of the earth tone look, you can go with a more modern gray or “greige.” Just keep it a little bit muddy to pay homage to your home’s Craftsman roots, and choose an off-white rather than pure white for trim. A comfortable porch. Play up a deep porch with a few carefully chosen pieces — a Craftsman-style bench or pair of rockers and a cluster of potted plants will do the trick. If your home’s original tapered or double columns have been covered over or removed by a past owner’s renovations, consider working with an architect to renew the porch to its former glory.


Moore Architects PC, original photo on Houzz


Multipane windows and doors. Typically, Craftsman homes have double-hung windows with either a four-over-one or six-over-one pattern, while doors nearly always have panes of glass in the upper portion of the door.

When to replace your door. If your home’s door is original, but in not-so-good shape, you may be able to revive it with a good sanding and a fresh stain, plus new Craftsman-style hardware. If, however, your home’s original door was long ago replaced with a modern version, a new solid-wood Craftsman-style front door can be a worthy investment, since this is really the centerpiece of your home’s facade.

Charm with lighting. Options abound for Craftsman-style exterior light fixtures — one of the most popular is a lantern-style with multiple panes. Lanterns echo the multi-paned windows and doors of the typical Craftsman home, making for a put-together, intentionally designed look.

Quality craftsmanship. If you are adding any details to the exterior or landscape of your Craftsman-style home, it pays to seek out the highest quality craftsmanship you can — after all, it’s not called Craftsman style for nothing! Beautiful details on a fence or garden gate will echo the architecture of your home and enhance the view from the street.


Todd Soli Architects, original photo on Houzz


The Craftsman garage. While some original American Craftsman homes were built before garages were common, if your home has a garage it will look its best if the overall style matches the rest of the house.

Naturalistic landscaping. Think of paths that curve and wind, natural stepping stones and native plantings. The best landscaping around a Craftsman home helps the house feel a part of the landscape and neighborhood around it, and it generally stays within a natural, earthy color palette as well.


ACM Design, original photo on Houzz


Natural elements connect indoors and out. Increase the connection between landscape and home by repeating natural elements from the architecture (such as stone and wood) in the landscape.

Add warmth with copper, bronze and handmade details. Craftsman homes look their best when surrounded by warm-toned metals (like copper and bronze), natural ceramics and wood. Keep this in mind when selecting exterior details, and everything will look as if it’s meant to be together, from the planters to the rain gutters.


Update Your Driveway and Front Walk to Ramp Up Curb Appeal

Guest Blogger: Laura Gaskill, Houzz

They’re the first thing visitors see when approaching your home (even before they get to the front door), which makes the driveway and front walk the keys to maximizing curb appeal. Here we’ll give you all the details on updating your front walk and driveway, from material choices to costs.


Rill Architects, original photo on Houzz


Project: Updating the walkway and driveway.

Why: Having a beautiful, well-maintained front walk and driveway increases curb appeal, adds value to your home and makes coming home each day a more pleasant experience. Cracked and damaged walkways and driveways can be dangerous, causing falls and damaging tires; improving this area of your home will add beauty and increase safety.


Madson Design, original photo on Houzz


Repair, enhance or replace? Repairing an existing driveway or path costs far less, and takes less time, than replacing it. Cracked asphalt can be filled and a new layer of asphalt added over the old. For badly cracked concrete drives and walks, however, repairing is not an option.

How to Reseal Your Asphalt Driveway

If your existing driveway and front walk are in good condition already, consider adding a decorative edging made from brick or pavers to boost curb appeal.


Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens, original photo on Houzz



  • Crushed stone and gravel are inexpensive and easy to install, though the gravel will scatter and need replenishing from time to time. Gravel paths and driveways are also difficult to keep cleared of snow.
  • Concrete is long lasting (15 to 30 years and beyond) and smooth, and has a modern look. It does tend to crack in cold conditions and does not take well to patches and repairs.
  • Asphalt has more give than concrete, making it a good choice for cold climates, and is easily patched and repaired. However, asphalt breaks down more quickly, sometimes requiring repairs or replacement within five years, even in a mild climate.
  • Cobblestone and pavers are the longest-lasting option — a cobblestone driveway or walk can last 100 years or more! They are also by far the most expensive options and require the most work initially to prepare the area and lay a foundation for the stone. Repairs are fairly easy with both; you can replace individual stones as needed, making upkeep costs relatively low.


Courtney Oldham, original photo on Houzz


Costs: They vary by region, but this list can help you compare materials’ relative costs:

  • A path or drive made of gravel> alone costs about $1 per square foot.
  • An asphalt topcoat runs about $2 per square foot; a new asphalt driveway (including a base layer of gravel and several coats of asphalt) costs $3 to $6.50 per square foot.
  • A new poured concrete path or driveway costs around $3 to $4 per square foot.
  • Pavers cost $6 to $10 per square foot installed, and a cobblestone path or drive costs $12 to $30 per square foot installed.


Rocco Flore & Sons, Inc., original photo on Houzz


Who to hire: A paving contractor, landscape contractor or landscape architect will best be able to help you complete this project. Ask the pros you are considering hiring about their experience with the type of driveway or path you would like to have installed — brick and stone especially require a pro with experience to lay it properly.

Good to know: Your driveway and front walk designs should take both beauty and safety into account. Keep the driveway slope modest and have it properly graded to allow water to run off instead of pool. A gently curving drive or path will take up a bit more real estate, but it can be worth it if you love the look.


Knight Construction Design Inc., original photo on Houzz


Best time to do this project: Warm, dry weather is ideal. In most regions late spring or summer is the perfect time to lay a new driveway or path.

How long it will take:

  • Crushed stone and gravel can be installed in a single day.
  • Both asphalt and concrete can generally be installed in one weekend. You can use your new asphalt driveway within 24 hours, but concrete takes about seven days to cure before you can drive on it.
  • Cobblestone and pavers take longer to install than the other options — up to a week for a large cobblestone drive. Mortar between stones is usually set and ready to be walked on in about 24 hours.


First steps: Look at your existing driveway and front walk with an impartial eye— taking a photograph or asking a friend’s opinion can help. Decide whether you want to repair, enhance or completely replace what you have. Begin gathering inspiration in an ideabook or folder, and make a short list of pros to contact. By the time warm weather rolls around, you will be ready to get started on your home’s new look.


Learn the Lingo of Rooftops

Guest Blogger: Bud Dietrich, Houzz

When it comes to a roof, knowing a few terms will help you talk to your roofer next time there’s a leak or you decide to reshingle. They’ll also help you discuss a remodel project that includes an addition, skylight or dormer. For the most part, these terms cover the principal parts of a roof and the openings we commonly find going through a roof — creating the possibility of leaks.


Tile Roofs
Bud Dietrich, original photo on Houzz


Two of the most basic and common roof types are the gable and hip. These are easy to build and economical. Because they shed water and snow easily, they’re well-suited to wet and cold climates around the world.


Tile Roofs
Abby Design and Construction, original photo on Houzz


Aesthetically, gable roofs and hip roofs are quite different. A gable roof wants to stress the vertical; it points upward to the sky. It’s identified by triangular gable ends and a single ridge between two sloping roof panels.


Tile Roofs
Transitional exterior, original photo on Houzz


All four sides of a hip roof slope inward. Its lines stress the horizontal and float in parallel over the earth. These are important distinctions, because the way a house meets the earth and sky tells us a lot about its designer’s intent.


Tile Roofs
Bud Dietrich, original photo on Houzz


A few more basic roof parts are the ridge, rake and eave. The ridge is the highest point where two roof planes meet and is generally going to be the highest part of the house. Because of its linear nature, a ridge is commonly referred to as a ridge line. The location of the ridge is important in many localities where there are height restrictions on building, as the height of a house is often measured from the ground to the ridge. For this reason, it’s important to know what the local restrictions are and how these will affect the design. The rake is the angled element at the gable end of a roof and is composed of the trim and structure (rafters) that extend out from the house. The rake can be finished in a plain, simple manner or in a highly stylized and elaborate way. The eave is that element of a roof that projects out from the wall of the house and consists of a soffit and fascia. The eave can either be close, or tight, to the wall of the house or quite a distance away. Since the primary function of the eave is to take rainwater away from the walls of the house, the farther out it is the better it can serve that function.



TIle Roofs
Bud Dietrich, original photo on Houzz


The roof planes are the large, flat and tilted portions that make up any roof. Whether of a low slope, steeply pitched, made of multiple pitches, curved, etc., these sections are what give a roof its distinctive character. Where two roof planes meet will either be a hip or a valley. A hip is where the roof planes form an outside corner. A valley is where an inside valley is created. Note that in complex roofs with many roof planes, there will be many hips and valleys. And while a hip is relatively easy to keep waterproof, a valley is one of those places on a roof that needs extra attention to keep water out.



Tile Roofs
Bud Dietrich, original photo on Houzz


Just about every roof will have openings, or penetrations. These can be plumbing vents, dormers, skylights, chimneys and other vents. And wherever there’s a roof penetration there’s the potential for a leak. So while keeping the number of penetrations to a minimum is a good thing, there are also good reasons for having them, such as the natural light brought into a house by a skylight. The trick, then, is to make sure that all penetrations are installed properly with sealant and flashing, thin pieces of metal or plastic that create a waterproof barrier. Find a Ladder to Help You Get the Job Done You should also think about how all these penetrations will look on the exterior. For example, plumbing vents can show up in the visually worst places, such as just above or near the entry. Another one to look out for is the large mushroom vent. Be sure to study the plan for your total exterior design, including all the little bits and pieces that go into any house.


Tile Roofs
Scandic Builders, Inc., original photo on Houzz


When thinking about flashing, consider how it will look and function. For example, stepped copper flashing where a chimney penetrates a roof, such as in this house, can be visually striking as well as an excellent, long-lasting material. Roof vents, coupled with soffit vents or gable end vents and other types of vents, allow air to travel through the attic and out. Cooler, well-ventilated attics have less chance of getting moldy than do attics where moist air is trapped.


Tile Roofs:
Murphy & Co. Design, original photo on Houzz


A ridge vent is visually the best option when attic venting is required. These vents sit at the ridge of the roof and are most often covered with the same shingle material as the roof, so they visually blend in. Of course, a ridge vent can become quite a nice detail in itself if designed to be special, such as the one seen here. The most conspicuous vent is the mushroom vent. These are usually large and quite visible; appearing like a mushroom sprouting from the roof. These are rarely installed on houses anymore, as they aren’t the most attractive venting option. Know Your House: What Kind of Roof Do You have?


Tile Roofs:
Bud Dietrich, original photo on Houzz


Seamless additions to houses with gable or hip roofs can be easily done by matching the roof slopes and designing the addition roof as a reverse gable (or a reverse hip) perpendicular to the original house. The trick is to ensure that the ridge of the addition is below or even with the ridge of the original house, as nothing says “addition” quite like a new roof ridge higher than the old one. For wide additions where a single gable may need to be taller than the original house to span its full width, you might consider a double reverse gable, as seen here, to keep the new roofline in scale with the existing house.


How to Match the Landscape to Your Roofing

Guest Blogger: Jay Sifford, Houzz

The best landscapes connect with the homes that sit atop them in both large and small ways. Attention to detail is what will move your space from ordinary to extraordinary. Pulling hues from brick, stone or painted siding into the landscape with thoughtful plant choices is one thing, but what about that roof? Whether you’ve purchased a home with unusually colored shingles, built a home with a colored metal roof or inherited a home crowned with a tile roof, the principles are the same. Let’s see how to tackle your dilemma and ground your home in your landscape.

Nancekivell Home Planning & Design

Nancekivell Home Planning & Design, original photo on Houzz

Homeowners frequently forget to look up when designing their landscapes. Sometimes, I think, they are secretly hoping their challenging roofs will just go away. But for a seamless home-garden connection, there should be a continuous flow, with all parts supporting the others.

Consider three things: color, texture and shape. After addressing these three things, consider accessories to bring all parts of your composition together.

Connect With a Roofing Professional



Roofing is available in myriad colors, some safer and easier to work with than others. Hardscape, such as sidewalks and decking, can be chosen to create continuity through color. If you have purchased a home that presents a challenge to you in this respect, consider painting or staining your ground-level hardscape to create a connection.

GFDS Engineers

Southfen, original photo on Houzz

The cut stone pavers in this photo do double duty, picking up both the hue of the home’s metal roof and the gray in the stone cladding. Notice how the shape of the pavers speaks to the vertical seams of the roof, then visually pushes the eye outward toward the greater landscape.

Your planting scheme is of paramount importance when it comes to creating this color connection. Ornamental grasses are valuable tools in creating this connection. Species and cultivars can be found in a wide range of hues, such as blue, orange, red, pink and green.

Metal roofs with orange or brown metallic hues can easily be complemented or contrasted with foliage. Consider Coppertina or Center Glow ninebark (Physocarpus opulifoliouscvs, zones 3 to 8; find your zone), Orangeola Japanese maple (Acer palmatum vardissectum ‘Orangeola’, zones 5 to 8) or Buttered Rum coral bells (Heucherella ‘Buttered Rum’, zones 4 to 9). Don’t neglect seasonal foliage color provided by shrubs such as oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia,zones 5 to 9).



By playing up texture, you can help your home and garden shine among the mundane spaces of your neighbors. As a designer, my goal is to emphasize texture as much as possible.

Some roofing materials have more texture than others. If you have wood shakes, slate or tile on your roof, seize the opportunity to pull that texture into your garden.

Ron Herman Landscape Architect

Ron Herman Landscape Architect, original photo on Houzz

Up to this point we’ve looked at using hardscaping to pull texture from the home into the garden, but plants can also create this connection. Notice in this photo how the roofing texture is pulled down by informed plantings, starting with New Zealand flax (Phormium sp). The designer of this space starts the mental connection for us by repeating the roof color in the plants closest to the house. Moving farther away from the foundation, the texture then takes over with lavender and heathers. The lesson learned from this well-designed vignette is that you can make the plants closest to the home the ones that most resemble it in color and texture, to set the precedent for the rest of the garden.


Shape and Line

Shape and line make up our third parameter. If your roofing material has a prominent shape or pattern, accentuate that to create your connection.

Martin Patrick 3

Martin Patrick 3, original photo on Houzz

In this example the primary line, or run, of the roofing material is picked up by the stone siding, then brought down to the garden floor with the staggered edges of the stone patio. Also notice how the lines of the patio furniture further reinforce the connection to the home. This kind of attention to detail is what will create a professionally designed look in your space.



The proper selection and placement of accessories will make or break your space. Ceramic or terra-cotta pottery, sculpture, light fixtures, mailboxes and house numbers are all fair game to use in achieving your home-garden connection.

GFDS Engineers

GFDS Engineers, original photo on Houzz

Notice how the boulders in this almost-monochromatic garden add texture while pulling out the gray from the shingles. Meanwhile, the crushed stone on the garden floor seems to flow effortlessly from the house, making a second meaningful connection between home and garden.

Choose your boulders carefully to create your connection, remembering color, texture, size and shape. An ill-chosen boulder can be an eyesore rather than an asset in your design.

Well-chosen and well-sited sculpture is a primary tool in the creation of a connection.


Roofing Installation: DIY or Not?

By Matt Weber
Extreme "How-To" Magazine

The actual technique of attaching shingles to a roof is not especially difficult. Assuming you’re working on a sound roof foundation, then careful shingle alignment and proper fastener location are the keys to success.

Polymer Shake Roof TIlesHowever, installing an entire roof can be grueling work. Stacks of shingles are very heavy. The blazing sun can be merciless. If you plan to remove old shingles, you’ll also be faced with the big job of cleanup and disposal. And, stabilizing yourself for hours at a time on a sloped surface can tax muscles that you forgot you had.

If you’re not a fan of heights, then avoid terrifying yourself by working on a roof. And even if you’re fearless, always tether yourself to a securely anchored fall-restraint harness when working above a ladder.

Roofing contractors show up to the jobsite with multi-man crews for several good reasons. Think twice—no, three times—before attempting your own DIY roof project. With no one to help load and unload the roofing material, you’ll have a long slog ahead of you, to say the least. Take a week off work. Estimate the number of trips you’ll make up and down a ladder then multiply that by ten to arrive at a realistic figure.

Here’s a Pro Tip: Begin the job by carrying all the shingles onto the roof and storing them at the ridge line, rather than toting them up one at a time as needed. Doing so will complete that phase of hard labor early in the day, leaving the lighter work of nailing shingles for later (when you’re tired).

After tackling my own project, I would recommend DIY roof installation only to the most die-hard of handy homeowners, and even then for only small roofs with simple designs. I’m glad to say I did the work and learned from the experience, but I don’t want to do it again. It’s a large-scale job that requires more hands and strong backs than I was born with.

Need more polymer roofing installation insights? Click HERE for a story I created for Extreme How-To magazine last year! 


DaVinci Synthetic Roofing Material Can Stand the Test of Time

Summer has always been my favorite time of the year. It invokes childhood memories of the days I used to spend at my grandmother’s house in north Louisiana. There was a grocery store down the road called the Dixie Dandy and their chocolate covered ice cream bars were the best ever!

The heat was sweltering, but we never stayed inside. I mean, come on! It’s summer vacation! I played outside from dawn to dusk.

One of the craziest things I remember was how, on a hot day, a storm blew in rather suddenly, and even though the thermometer was showing 90-degrees, big nuggets of ice started raining down from the sky! Hail storm!! Yes, that was summer down south.

Eco-Blend Fake SlateI had the opportunity to re-visit that small Louisiana town recently, and between the scorching sun, many more hail storms and the strong winds that accompanied them, I noticed many of the houses were looking a little worse for the wear, especially the roofs.

It’s unreal what Mother Nature can do to a traditional shingle, slate or cedar shake roof. Curled edges, missing tabs, faded colors, cracked and split edges…..if this describes your roof, then it’s past time for a change.

Before spending your hard-earned money on another rooftop that starts to degrade the minute it’s sitting out in the elements, do a little homework and look into low-maintenance polymer roofing from DaVinci Roofscapes.

All those natural elements I talked about don’t stand a chance against a synthetic shake or composite slate roof. These lightweight roofing tiles are fade-resistant and the color runs completely through them.

Hail stones the size of golf balls? Not a dent! Hurricane force winds? They won’t budge! Aside from the fact that a polymer roof is going to last longer, it’s also going to look better and stay that way for years beyond that of a traditional roof. This is an added bonus, because it adds value and curb appeal to your home. (See Superman Roofs)

By the way, there’s a big difference between “standing out” and “sticking out” (like a sore thumb) and a composite slate roof  or simulated shake roofing from DaVinci stands out.

I would defy anyone to drive down the road and be able to tell the difference between a DaVinci fake slate roof and genuine slate, or DaVinci composite shake and a true cedar shake roofing. It looks that good!

One final thought to consider when choosing which product is right for you. DaVinci’s EcoBlend tiles have an Energy Star rated version called Cool Roof that actually helps reflect sun and heat away from the roof which, in turn, will reduce the load on your AC. That means your roof can positively impact your home's energy efficiency, the lifespan of your cooling unit AND help reduce power consumption to keep the house cool.

The moral of my story? Time will march on. I’m not a kid anymore…the recipe for the perfect Dixie Dandy ice cream bar is gone forever…but the right synthetic roofing material will stand the test of time well into the future.

Allen Lyle
Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
Radio Show Co-Host - See more at: http://blog.davinciroofscapes.com/blog/friends-and-partners#sthash.Wt3sffvV.dpuf

Allen Lyle
Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
Radio Show Co-Host


DaVinci Roofscapes Helps Me to "Do it Right, Not Over!"

Yesterday I covered "why I love DaVinci Roofscapes" and today I'm launching right into the step-by-step aspects of installing my new imitation slate roof.

Alignment Aids

Look at one of the DaVinci composite slate shingles and you’ll quickly see they provide all the needed alignment guides for your required exposure on each shingle.

They provide the target holes where you nail the shingles. I love those and it’s not a problem to hit the target.

The shingles provide reminders about the required spacing between the shingles so the roof looks fantastic for decades.

If you chalk lines every other course, you get to use the lines to align each course. That’s a great feature to keeping the roof looking just like real slate.


You can cut the shingles with a sharp razor knife or a tin snips, but I find a sliding compound miter saw does it faster, safer and provides a cleaner cut. You want to use this same saw to make your miter cuts that create the stunning closed valleys.

A table saw is the tool of choice for me when cutting off the tops of the shingles that are found at roof ridge lines.


The fasteners are as important as the simulated slate roofing shingles in my opinion. They need to last as long, or longer, than the roofing product.

I feel this is why DaVinci suggests to use hot-dipped galvanized nails. These, in my opinion, are the best nails for all roofing projects. The molten zinc atoms interlock with the steel on the entire nail. Hot-dipped nails simply won’t rust for many, many decades.

Use the hot-dipped galvanized nails and rest assured the fasteners will not fail. Be sure the nail is long enough to penetrate the roof sheathing. (see Stainless Steel Nails)

The Bottom Line

After working now with the DaVinci composite roofing product for a little over two weeks, I have to give it five hammers out of five.


My wife Kathy loves it, my kids love it, my neighbors love it and I’m swooning over it.

As a builder who demands quality not only in a product but the workmanship that goes with it, I’m glad to go on the record saying that given the choice, I’d go with DaVinci Roofscapes whenever the situation allowed it.


That’s easy. DaVinci is a perfect example of my AsktheBuilder.com motto:

Do It Right, Not Over!

Tim Carter




Roofing Dreams Do Come True

I’ve been in the residential construction business for decades. I started while in college as a laborer for a man that rehabbed - we call it "flipping" now - houses. I loved working with my hands and still do.

You can’t describe the satisfaction of looking over something you just built knowing it’s done right and won’t have to be done over.

I’m experiencing that same feeling with my new DaVinci Roofscapes Single-Width Slate composite roofing tiles on my own home.

As crazy as it seems, I decided to do the installation myself. I’m qualified to do it as I’ve done roofing of all sorts for more than forty years. I’ll say it now before you read much more:

I love working with my DaVinci Roofscapes synthetic slate. It’s a dream product that’s easy to install. It’s not easy to impress me with products because I tend to be the Doubting Thomas. I tend to compare new products with older time-tested products that I know work well.

My son, a young man of few words, is helping me with this job. A few days into the project after installing enough of the polymer roofing shingles to where you can really see what it will look like when complete, he exclaimed, “Wow Dad, it really looks like real slate roof tiles! The shadow lines are so deep!”

Believe me, that’s a compliment of the highest from a young adult who rarely is impressed with all the great products I get to see on a routine basis.

Faux SlateThe Decision

You may wonder what drove me to DaVinci Roofscapes?

Two things.

First and foremost I’ve known about their fine products for years because they have the best public relations machine working for them. It seems not a week goes by that I don’t hear about a success story about DaVinci. That’s a good thing.

Second, my 40-year-guarantee asphalt shingle roof failed in just 12 years. That’s not a typo. Couple that with other asphalt shingle failures in the news and I have to tell you I was leery about getting bitten a second time.

The Roofing Process

I’ve installed tens of thousands of shingles. I’ve repaired roofs. Roofs are designed to take advantage of gravity. One layer of shingles overlaps the row below it and this continues up the roof creating a weather-resistant barrier to rain, wind-driven rain, snow and ice.

What I discovered after reading the official installation instructions provided by DaVinci is this job was going to be a breeze. It was hard to believe that a synthetic slate roof tile could be so easy to install.

As the head of AsktheBuilder.com, I stand witness to tell you this product is easier to install than traditional asphalt shingles. Yes, easier and they look far better. Tune in tomorrow to find out exactly how easy it is to install DaVinci lightweight roofing materials!

Tim Carter



Hi! I'm Allen Lyle...

One of the, I guess you would call it, “quirky” things about being in the profession I’m in is that total strangers often walk up to me and ask home improvement questions. I kid you not, I was standing in Wal-Mart the other day and a lady walks up with three different types of fasteners and says, “I want to hang a new flat-screen TV on a brick wall. Which of these would work best?” Not a “Hi” or “I sure love the television show.” Just walks up and BAM….Truthfully, I never mind helping with advice, but next time, at least introduce yourself!

Speaking of advice, just last week we got a call on the radio program asking about the best type of roofing materials. This particular caller asked our opinion about metal roofing vs. traditional asphalt shingles. They wanted to make sure I understood that they were looking for something that would last.

So I asked the caller about other roofs in the neighborhood and no one else had metal. My response: “I really don’t think a metal roof would complement either your house or the surrounding homes. Have you thought about a polymer roofing product?” You’d have thought I was speaking in tongues!

I explained how this is a man-made product designed to look like a natural material and her immediate response was, "Oh no, no, no. I don’t want a plastic-looking roof.”

Now, I love it when this happens, because all I have to say is, “Let me tell you about DaVinci Roofscapes" ….and I get to talk about the realistic looking composite slate and synthetic shake products.

I’m particularly fond of the new 12" Single-Width Slate profile I just saw this year at the International Builders' Show. I was inches away and still couldn’t tell the difference between it and a true piece of slate ... it’s that good. But given a choice, I’d pick these imitation slate tiles over real slate any day of the week.

I’m a true skeptic, so I put it to the test. Not that I needed to, because DaVinci has done a good job of making sure their products meet some pretty high standards, but I have to see for myself.

I took one of the fake slate pieces and placed it in the freezer for a few hours. Once I removed it, I took a baseball bat to it with swings that would make Hank Aaron, and even The Babe himself, envious. Not a crack, split or splinter.

Next, a propane torch……you want to call this fire resistant? Watch me set it on fire……and…. nothing. I’m not kidding you, this is impressive material. Plus, this manufactured slate tile is much lighter in weight than a true slate roof, so installation is faster and easier. With all these features, I can practically guarantee that you’re going to have the best-looking and most durable roof in the neighborhood.

... at least you will until the neighbors catch on and put DaVinci on their roofs; but, with 50 available colors at DaVinci, everyone can get the same durability and beauty without it looking the same!

Allen Lyle
Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
Radio Show Co-Host


Ice Dam-age: 6 DIY Ways to Winter-Ready the House

An ice dam is an open invitation for water to invade your house and cost lots of fear and money.

An ice dam is also a great way to give lots of your money to a roofer when it tears the gutters off.


Prevent an ice dam with some smart DIY.

First, a few don’ts:

If you do get an ice dam, don’t try to break it off. That’s just pouring gasoline on the fire. And, don’t trust a roofer who says he can break it off.

What is an ice dam? Think of an ice dam like a three-legged stool: Above-freezing temperatures + below-freezing temperatures + snow are the three legs.

Remove one leg of the stool and the problem should disappear.

Here’s the chain reaction: It snows. Temperatures remain below freezing. Snow sits on the roof. Air inside the attic is above freezing. The snow in contact with the roof melts. That water drains to the edge of the roof and re-freezes forming an ice barrier or dam. New water can’t get past so it causes more ice (and icicles). Once the dam builds up enough ice to where it is above freezing, the water remains liquid. It can’t go down any more, so it goes up. Under the shingles and into the house.

“Hey honey, it’s snowing outside, right?! But get this—IT’S RAINING IN JACK’S BEDROOM! OK kids, off to bed…

Ahhh…good times…

1. Insulate. Check with your local building department about what’s best for your area. The goal is to keep heat in the rooms below the attic in those rooms.

2. Insulate properly. DO—add enough insulation. If you have no insulation now and you’re adding it, DO—use a vapor barrier. DON’T let the insulation block soffit vents or touch the bottom of the roof deck. DO get a permit or hire a reputable pro to at least consult on the project.

3. Light. If you’re adding new lighting—say for a remodel in an upstairs room—make sure they don’t add any heat to the attic space.

4. Seal. Make sure hatches or attic doors are properly sealed with weather stripping. Also, just make sure they’re closed or close properly.

5. Vent. Besides keeping heat out of the attic space, a great way to prevent an ice dam is to let the air in. More precisely, a well vented attic lets the air in and then lets it back out. If you have—or you’re getting—a new roof, make sure however it is vented there is intake (soffit or gable vents) and venting (attic fans or ridge vents). One doesn’t work without the other. It’s like a straw with one hole.

6. New Windows. If you’ve added new windows or doors you’ve made the house more efficient. That means more heat remains inside. Obviously this is a good thing. But it also means there’s more heat to escape and if this is going into your attic it could cause ice dams. All of the above should prevent the problem but if an ice dam is new in your home, this could be the cause.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If you’re feeling lazy, maybe this is a motivator: Adding insulation and weather-stripping is about 900% cheaper than dealing with water running down your walls, tears running down your face, and ice ripping off your gutters.

-Mark Clement