Curb Appeal Suggestions – Lake House

25 Replies

I bought an ugly house. I want to make it beautiful. I am looking for suggestions from the BP community.

The house has wood siding with vertical lines (T1-11) that is a bad color. In addition, the house lacks balance. My wife says it “looks confused” due to window placement.

We are moving rooms around and replacing every single window. That gives us a chance to put them wherever we want. We will be using a vinyl siding with vinyl shake in the gable. We will also be replacing the front door to give it more weight. It will have nice glass and side-lites on both sides. I did not show the new door in the mock-ups.

I am including three images.

  1. The house as it is today
  2. A rough mock-up with three windows in the main front wall.
  3. A rough mock up with two windows in the main front wall – but with “headers” above the windows.

Note: The colors are not correct. We do plan to use a medium tone on the main siding and a darker tone for the shake.

Here is where I can use your help.

Which design approach do you prefer?

Do you have other suggestions?




I don't think the existing design looks confused because of the window placement. I think it looks confused because there is no strong front entrance that screams 'come on in!!' If you are going to the effort of changing floor plan and window openings, my suggestion would be to move the front door to where the awning window is in the first pic. My take on the existing design (top pic) is that there is too much uninterrupted roof and wall space and the whole thing just looks 'flat'. A strong front entrance will help this. your suggested change to double hung windows instead of casements doesn't do much for me. I think the front door placed under the gable roof will make a much stronger statement than changing to double hungs. And definitely do a shed or gabled roof over the new entrance. That would really attract some attention. Good luck!

@Jimmy Seaboard above is absolutely correct - the focus of all design and landscaping is to lead people to the front door. In your house, if it's an option, the answer is obvious - put the front door under the gable roof where you've got the three-paned window mock-up and the windows become much less important. You would still want to aim to bring some balance and symmetry by having the same 'weight' on the left as you do on the right. That's where you would focus your landscaping if enlarging windows and such is impractical. You have differing size windows which is very distracting on the right - bigger or smaller doesn't matter - just make them the same size.

If you can NOT move the front door then the only tool you can use is repetition. All three windows need to be the same size and as close to the same distance apart as possible -none more important than the other - you need to sort of 'bore' the eye, so you can do something to draw attention to the main event - the front door.

You might have to fiddle with the details a bit but try to keep the principles in mind - focus, balance, symmetry and/or repetition - and you'll be fine.

Thanks for the comments so far. I wish I could move the front door - but it is not practical. The area with the windows under the gable is the dining room.

@Valerie Hiscoe , based on your comment (use of repetition and drawing attention to the main event), I am thinking that the two window concept under the gable helps in that regard. I will also see what we can do to draw even more attention to the front door - with things like better lights or trim work. 

@Jimmy Seaborg , thank you for your suggestions. I wish I could implement them, but the front door needs to remain in the current location due to floor plan issues inside. So... now I will spend some time doing sketches to see how the front door can be improved.

I'm on a phone so @ doesn't work but a vote makes sure you get my message. 

The two window approach like your mock-up is probably the best.  It also serves the purpose of balancing the window above it nicely. Make sure the bedroom windows are the same size and shape, balancing the distance between them as much as possible. If you could replace the teeny window on the other with a matching one, that would be ideal.

With your sidewalks and landscaping, make everything lead to the front door and let everything else be boring. Your ideas sound right on the money. Looks like an awesome project to me.

I'm on a phone so @ doesn't work but a vote makes sure you get my message. 

The two window approach like your mock-up is probably the best.  It also serves the purpose of balancing the window above it nicely. Make sure the bedroom windows are the same size and shape, balancing the distance between them as much as possible. If you could replace the teeny window on the other with a matching one, that would be ideal.

With your sidewalks and landscaping, make everything lead to the front door and let everything else be boring. You could, as suggested above, get an estimate for a slight roof adjustment over the door. Your ideas sound right on the money. Looks like an awesome project to me.

Love your design program. What are you using?

Hi Mike,

You didn't buy an ugly house, you bought an unfinished one.

The issue isn't as much the windows, as the lack of a proper entry, as has been alluded to here. The placement of the door is fine, it just needs to have the correct attention brought to it.

Here's how: A gabled roof beginning over the door, at least as wide as the lower step, that extends a few feet past the front of the house, the gable matching the pitch of the existing one, with two large supporting columns (stone?) in front.

You also could create a front pergola porch to the left of the new entry.

The style and shape of the window under the gable is fine. I would add two more panes (five total), move the window to the center of the wall, and do a boxed bay, with a small shed roof over it.

The windows on the right are fine in style, size, and location. They both need a gable above (again, matching the pitch of the existing gable, just not nearly as large) slightly wider than the window opening, intersecting/cross-gabling the roof.

The window on the far left is extremely small, and disproportionate with the others. If it's at all possible (not a bathroom), consider enlarging that one, or installing multiples.

Shingles in the gable are good idea, but use a cleat at the bottom to separate them from the siding. Maybe consider the lower edge of the shingles higher in the gable.

A new entry door sounds good, make sure it's architecturally correct (NOT Victorian with a big oval glass!!). Do it in a deep, rich, saturated color, or natural wood finish.

I probably would lean toward a warm-greyish-taupe palette for the body of the house (just don't do beige with dark brown trim, makes any house look very cheap), I'd have to see it with the improvements in place. You might also consider a stone wainscot slightly higher than the window sill line... it would give it some visual weight.

Some landscaping is definitely in order, but again, I'd have to see the completed version to make good recommendations.

(I'm having some problems loading pics for examples of what I've described. If you like, I'll try to put them up on a separate post.)

If I was you, I would add a porch and extend the roof over the porch because me personly it doesn't feel welcoming looking at it. I would also add a concrete or brick pathway to the door and also some landscaping some small trees, maybe some rock-scaping, and some low maintenance flowers or bushes. 

like the one with the 3 windows side by side also. Maybe some grids in the glass would help. Also try black windows they look great!

I agree with @Jeff Berg that the front door area is screaming for a gable roof/porch that comes out past the front of the existing gable/dining space. However the right side of the house is also lacking anything of interest on the roof. Is this a buy/hold, or a flip? Is there enough in the budget to add a small gable on the right side, to add some interest? Is the roof being replaced, or no?

I don't think moving the windows around on the front is worth it in what you are showing in your mock ups.  I agree with some of the other points of making the entrance look more like an entrance, but save the money on re arranging the windows on the front of the house and use that money on the back of the house if it has a good view.  People are buying a lake house, the 1st pic in the listing photos should be the view of the front of the house from the lake, or the view of the lake.  I just don't see a dramatic enough improvement on the moving of the windows on the front.  I think one time adding/enlarging windows pays of the most is when its a lake home or a home with a view

Are you changing all windows to double hung? If you only change the "front" you create a lack of unity inside the house. This kind of house really was designed for casements. I would agree with creating a real entrance in the front is good. Bringing out the door and adding landscaping to the far side of the door will achieve that. Consider most people will enter the back -lake side and go out to the deck. i would target bringing that into the picture with a walk

As an architect, I don't see anything that wrong with what you've already go that warrants changing the window sizes, unless we're not seeing something odd going on from the inside with the current placement. I don't think it's worth it to change them. I would focus on exterior appearance through siding choice, landscaping, and as everyone else has already mentioned, putting more focus on the entry. $1500 in landscaping would be much more well spent than paying someone to come and frame new openings and drywall/paint work.

I will however say that I'm not a huge fan of your choice of colors for the new siding. I'm not familiar with what's hot in Kentucky; but nothing about that color screams unique or attractive. I would think about what you can do there as well.

Hi Mike,

Here's a whole gallery of examples that could easily be adapted to your house. The architectural transformation would be mind-blowing, give you off-the-charts curb appeal, and raise the value of the property considerably. None of these are difficult or expensive to build, either.

Entry gable similar to this, but with roof pitch same as existing on house:

Another example, with small box bay:

A nice example, with a roof pitch very similar to yours. Imagine it a bit shorter for your single story facade:

A nice box bay under a gable, with a standing seam shed roof:

Example of a small, very shallow box bay with a shed roof (yours would be wider and taller), easy and inexpensive to build:

Another box bay:

A different way to build a box bay:

An alternative to a bay, just a shed roof over the DR window. Also, a suggestion for siding treatment and color:

Cross-gabled windows (visualize minus all the Tudor half-timbering):

This could look outstanding, and bring it all together... look at the curved gable on the upper far right of this house. Imagine this on the window group immediately to the right of your existing gable, with a matching gable pitch on the far right:

Pergola porch to the left of your new entry:

A planter would work well as a base for the pergola, if you can't enlarge the existing window. It'll block the exapanse of blank wall, and add a bit of enclosure (although I don't care for the pergola itself, a bit too plain).

Okay... you're loaded up with several hundred dollars worth of ideas. Put the pics up next to pics of your house for the best visualization.


@Jeff Berg , I will look at the examples in more detail later, but am struggling a bit on envisioning how to implement the concept. This is because the front door is set back from the gable wall by about 12 feet. I have attached a simplified floor plan sketch to illustrate. The front of house is labeled on the sketch. 

Again, thank you for taking the time to upload ideas. I will look at them carefully tomorrow.

That's even better. It'll make for a perfectly sized pergola porch to the left of the entry roof, especially if you use the planter-in-front idea. Together they will celebrate the entry, making it the focus of the entire front facade.

Actually, the door/window arrangement as it is looks good, too. I can't see the door itself... is it original?