by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers
If you love the look of bungalow or Craftsman homes, you know how important millwork is to give personality to a house. Even simpler architectural styles use millwork to impart the perfect look and emphasize their underlying design principles. Everybody appreciates the appearance of a home carefully finished with suitable millwork, and we all know that it can have an amazing effect on curb appeal, so it is worth your while to learn about the basic styles and which pieces will make your own home stand out.
Choosing millwork can seem complicated and overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. With the multitude of options, total design freedom, and promise of complete weather resistance and durability available from Fypon’s® moulded millwork, you are sure to sculpt a fantastic exterior design. Here are a few important areas to consider as you plan the finishing touches for your home!
The Entry as a Focal Point
No matter the type of house you’re working with, it’s a good idea to do something around the door. Surrounding the entry with pilasters and a crosshead creates a frame that immediately takes attention—and that’s just what you want! Your exterior design should enhance the key points of the house, and a home with a clear point of entry is much more welcoming than one without. A door surround highlights the entrance, and you can choose just how much of an emphasis you want there to be.
The preferred styles for different architectural types follow their fundamental schemes. For example, a Craftsman home looks best with a thicker door surround with flat pilasters, keeping with its history of hand-crafted embellishments. With all the other millwork that dresses up this style, having a simpler frame draws attention and balances the façade overall. On the other hand, homes that aren’t as elaborately decorated as a defining feature do well with door surrounds that are a little more complicated on their own. Imagine a Georgian-style colonial, with its strong square angles and uncomplicated appearance; this architecture makes a statement with its whole shape, and its entrance is already a focal point because it is right in the middle of the structure. Thinner pilasters work just fine in such a case, but you can make them a little fancier by selecting a fluted design. The vertical grooving won’t be noticeable from afar and won’t interfere with the home’s overall look, but it will add an extra classic touch you’ll notice upon arrival.
Window Trim and Shutters to Define
Whether you like trim or shutters, or even both, to embellish the outside of your windows, the goal is to create a defining transitional space. In all but the most contemporary and some mission-style homes, a straight jump from wall to window leaves much to be desired. It can give a flat and lifeless impression on a house that wasn’t intended to support such a sharp design.
Choosing window trim is very much like selecting a door surround. Thicker trim is best suited for Craftsman-type homes. Thinner trim is favored for more refined styles, like Victorian, as well as for understated ones, like farm houses and traditional Cape Cods. The degree of sophistication employed should match the general characteristics of the house.
Shutters can be used in conjunction with trim or on their own, such as when a window is inset in a brick, stone, or stucco wall. Due to their purely practical beginnings, meant to be closed over windows to protect homes in stormy regions from sustaining damage, there are a number of architectural styles that include shutters as a key feature. For many of them, this might be their one area of decoration, so don’t skip out on choosing the right ones! There are different styles, including tightly joined board and batten shutters and more spaced out plank shutters, each with batten arrangements and finishing accessories to consider. When shopping for your home, look for something that looks architecturally, historically, and geographically correct. And don’t forget that you can paint and stain them to your liking!
Decorating Gables, Eaves, and Porches to Support and Extend Style
Here is where certain exterior styles get their defining characteristics. For more intricate homes, whether they be rustic or refined in nature, decorative millwork really makes their designs. If you’ve ever stopped to look at a particularly striking home of average size, chances are you noticed it because of its finer details. Many houses are drawn up with curb appeal in mind, and homeowners should do them justice by using the opportunities architects have created to make them visually interesting.
A gabled roof automatically gives you the chance to place pediments in the inverted V-shaped spaces where different pitches come together. Craftsman homes are notable for using this area, and pediments that fit the style are typically thick and humble, with straight lines and triangular shapes. Another style that makes good use of its gables is Victorian, but these homes get particularly ornate and make use of elaborate patterns with curves and smaller cutouts. While these two exterior types are well known for their gable pediments, any home with gables can use them. Some farm houses use simple ones, for instance.
The area beneath eaves is also a great place to add millwork. Any design you might like in a gable pediment can be recreated in a bracket or knee brace to help spread the look. For homes that have eaves that don’t provide much space to decorate—think brick-faced colonials or Italianate structures—corbels and dentil blocks provide everything from the simplest to the most ornate touch. And if you’re working with a house that has eaves that overhang so much that you have a porch under them, try to match the style of anything overhead to the porch posts and railing. You’ll be surprised by just how many kinds of balusters are out there, from simple square ones to thin and thickly curved ones with varying levels of complexity.
If you’re ready to optimize your home’s curb appeal, check out Fypon’s® extensive catalog. No matter what you’re looking for, they have it! And if you want custom millwork, they can help you there as well. Fypon® even offers a free takeoff service for those who feel like they don’t have the time or knowhow to choose the best decorative accents; just send your elevations and the experts will create a fantastic design for your home and tell you which products to use to achieve it in real life. Find your local dealer to get started today!