Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 29, 2016

Exterior character

Napkin Sketch Series

The outward appearance of a home can begin to reflect its overall character and should be a preview of the interior style. - Sketch by Ed Garbee

In my last column, I spoke about contextualism and the importance of a home blending with its environment. This week, I’m going to discuss character.

What’s the character of your home? Does it reflect your values, tastes, and financial standing? When you pay attention to the exterior details surrounding the trim, windows, doors, and roof slope, the outward appearance can begin to reflect the character of your home, and should be a preview of the interior style.

Recently, a residential client asked me to help with a renovation and addition. Their desire was to add to the overall square footage and update the exterior finish to create a more harmonious composition for the property. The original building was constructed as a log cabin, but had been sheathed with lap siding. The interior was finished with naturally stained wood trim and flooring. The doors were solid wood tongue and groove with antique skeleton key hardware.

While meeting on site, the owner expressed a desire to keep the exterior of the house finished with siding and replace the windows and doors with a better quality product. They also wanted to update the front of the house with a new gable porch roof, creating a more inviting entrance. I suggested they allow me to give the house some character that reflected the antique hardware and natural interior finishes. 

Since the windows, doors, and exterior siding were being replaced, I decided to focus on the facade with respect to openings and trim details. The exterior siding was broken into board-and-batten style below-the-roof soffits and cedar-shake style siding above the soffits, at the end gables, with a trim band wrapping the entire composition.

This may seem simple enough, but knowing where to place openings and selecting the correct size to create comfortable proportions is as important as knowing where certain materials should be used. For instance, heavy materials go toward the ground and lighter materials above; thus, I also added a brick veneer base to the exterior. The result matches the exterior appearance with the interior theme, and produces a pleasant Craftsman-style home.

Given the highly personal nature of residential design, great care should be taken in the layout of the interior space as well as the exterior facade. The exterior of the home should flow into the interior spaces. Each component is a piece of the ensemble, and requires careful consideration for a successful outcome.


Ed Garbee can be found at Garbee Architecture, located at 633 Chestnut St. Contact him at (423) 364-2830 or ed@garbeearchitecture.com.