Dear Homework,
We recently purchased this house in foreclosure and plan to flip it after making renovations. I think it has so much potential behind the long-neglected, messy landscaping. I would love your suggestions for beautifying the exterior. What do you think of a path from the front door to the street? There isn’t room for a circular drive. Thanks for any help! I thoroughly enjoy your column—who doesn’t love a good before and after?

—Fit to Be Flipped

Dear Fit to Be Flipped,
To bring out the essence of this home, I would concentrate on amplifying the formal and symmetrical aspects of its character. Of course, that will be easier if we remove all existing ‘landscaping.’

I would start with a wide, stone walkway from the street to the front door, bordered with clipped hedges and ornamental grasses. Finish it off with large urns overflowing with flowers. A new, low evergreen hedge at the colonnade also connects to new rows of Hornbeam trees that frame the central composition.

Next, replace the roof with new shingles that have more color and character. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, paint the existing orange-toned brick a more urbane shade of gray. I think this works well with the black shutters and white columns. It also makes the entire composition feel even more formal, giving the property a new confidence.

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