Home design may seem a wizardly craft to some, but it really isn’t so complicated with a few basic concepts. Keep in mind, there’s always an exception to the rule and you can generally trust your instinct to confirm what you think looks nice. The rules generally apply to define what is commonly determined as nice looking and can change with trends over time. The first and least arbitrary rule is if you plan to flip or rent the house, you want to appeal to what most people can appreciate. If you plan to live there forever, the final decision is based on what you and your family wants to call home.


Neutral colors are always a basic starting point, but don’t always have to happen if you want to add pizzazz with bright or distinctive colors. The siding is usually the lightest of the colors and either matched by the corner trim or framed with a darker trim. Doors and shutters usually match, unless one is painted and one features stained wood grain. An exception is if distinct architectural detail adds emphasis to the front door, in which case you may want to highlight the effect with a distinct color that stands out from the rest of the home.

Shapes, Textures, and Shadows

Although there’s not much you can do to change the shape of the house, it’s a consideration when choosing the finishing touches. The direction it faces and how shadows lay can help inspire your design. Especially if you have a small section of brick or stone façade, you may want to consider designing to it. Elaborately designed shutters can add extra emphasis to a section of house, as can a stylistically designed siding while a plain texture of a simpler vinyl siding can push the eye away from portions of the home you don’t want to draw attention.

Preview Options

The most important aspect of home design is the preview. There are plenty of home images available online to look through and see what you like and don’t like. There is user friendly free software available which allows you to have an idea of what your home can look like with different colors and textures applied, with or without shutters, or with different patterns of sidings on different areas.

Perhaps the most important preview is to drive around and take note of features you like on other buildings. It’s worth the time to make a day out of it, whether you want to visit an historic museum, tour a modern architectural contribution, or drive through a neighborhood you’ve always liked. Look for features you find appealing and those you don’t like so much. Of course, you can make a family event with a day trip to view houses. You may not think your children are interested in building design, but you’ll be delightfully surprised to see their enthusiasm when included in the decisions toward your home design.

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