Creating a home of lasting value is top of mind for those building a new house. For most of us, our home is our largest investment, so of course we want to see our hard-earned dollars protected. Homeowners building a modern house want an innovative design, but not at the cost of it looking dated in a few years.
Aesthetics and initial cost must be balanced with maintenance. When researching the materials and finishes for your new home, understand the level of maintenance that different materials require, and the time and expense entailed. Choose materials that don’t require more upkeep than you want to undertake.
Be climate and region-specific. Find homes in your area with the exterior finishes you are considering, and see if you are comfortable with how they have stood the test of time. One example is stucco. Usually mixed from a combination of sand, cement, lime, and water, stucco — when done right can look great on a modern home. What you want to avoid is having stucco right next to a build up of snow. It has been known to not handle a lot of moisture well, which is why you’re more likely to see stucco homes in a warm, dry climate.
Use clear-finished natural wood sparingly. Many clients start the design process with the idea of having a clear-finished natural wood exterior that will shine like a polished hardwood floor. Keeping an exterior like this looking fresh is challenging to even the most maintenance-savvy homeowner. Think of wood with a clear finish as precious millwork that needs to be maintained regularly.
A smarter approach is to use such wood for focal points, like the front door and related trim and use a prefinished steel siding product that is offered in various colors that replicates the variations in real wood.
Protect natural wood finishes from weather and direct sun. Natural wood finishes can deteriorate quickly with exposure to the sun. Keep natural wood to interior ceilings which may extend to the underside of the overhangs, creating a continuity from indoors to out. Located on the underside of a soffit, the wood maintains its fresh appearance because it’s never exposed to direct sun.
Paint exposed wood. In some modern homes, structural beams may extend from inside to out. Instead of having a clear finish, they are painted. This not only contrasts nicely with the natural wood, but it also protects the beams where they are exposed to weathering beyond the overhang.
3 Tips for Choosing Your House Color
Consider your neighbors. Before you even begin looking at the endless array of paint swatches at your local paint or home improvement store, look around your neighborhood to see if there is a common palette. That's not to say you should paint your house the exact same color as your neighbor. In fact, don't do that! Nothing looks more cookie cutter than row after row of houses painted the same or very similar colors. But if you find that most of the houses on your street are painted very neutral shades of white, gray and brown, you may not want to paint your house, say, lavender.
Consider the style of your home. Some architectural styles have intricate details that look fantastic painted in a stand-out hue. Others like modern styles, tend to look best with a more restrained paint palette. Do some research and see what colors a house like yours traditionally has been painted.
Consider going bold. Having said all that, you should not feel obligated to paint your house in accordance with everyone else’s in your neighborhood or use colors considered trendy for the style of your home. If you are itching to incorporate more unusual, eye-catching colors, I say go for it! But perhaps limit the bold hues to accents — like your front door.
Sue Wastell is the president of the London Home Builders' Association and Owner of Wastell Homes in London.