Country Dreaming

Dear Homework,
We have owned this river cottage in the country for many years. It has provided great memories and is in an ideal spot. In an effort to either sell it or gift it to our kids, we are looking for a reasonable way to spruce up the outside. It is a ’60s cinder block base home, and any landscaping needs to be fairly low maintenance. Is there help to be had? If there is a way to do a more dramatic and pricier enhancement, I am curious to see that as well.

Thank you,
—Country Dreaming

Dear Country Dreaming,
I’ll start with a general comment about the landscaping. In a location such as this, a natural, woodsy feel makes sense, and keeping the maintenance to a minimum is a must. That said, I would try for a bolder, layered look. I show a line of low-growing grasses along the drive and additional banks of ornamental bushes and grasses for a layered look at the base of the façade.

I think the easiest way to give some oomph to the exterior would be to give it a more modern feel. You could achieve this with an etched glass garage door framed with a new wood trellis, stained horizontal wooden slats to replace the lattice panels, new metal cable railings and a new, flat roof entry porch. The walls have been painted a medium gray, and the window frames a crisp black.

These changes transform the image of the structure for minimum expense and should give this beloved family retreat a new lease on life.

Hope that helps,

Homework is penned by Paul Doerner, founding partner of The Lawrence Group. If you would like your home critiqued, contact us at homework@townandstyle.com