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Looking for Inspiration

Dear Homework,

Our two-story, stucco home needs some help. Beyond the 4-foot roof overhang and a horizontal trim band, there aren’t many architectural flourishes. My wife and I have been working on the interior, adding a bathroom and updating cosmetic elements. What would you suggest to update the exterior? We plan to remove the foreground tree and trim the other one, but beyond that, we are a bit stumped.

—Looking for Inspiration

Dear Looking for Inspiration,

By removing the lower branches of the large pine tree, we can reveal the simple, straightforward lines of the house. But as it sits, it’s a little too simple and a lot too beige to be striking. With a few detail and color changes, we really can bring out its essence. To start, I replaced the existing windows with new, Craftsman-style units in black to give an air of sophistication. They will contrast nicely with the new gray exterior paint. The existing horizontal band is painted white and joined by another one at the eaves and a third under the sunroom windows. These simple elements give the façade the architectural ‘oomph’ it currently lacks.

Minor changes such as a new black and white entry awning, black Craftsman porch lights and fewer, bigger planter urns add some nice finishing details. The planting bed under the sunroom is filled with tall, billowing, ornamental grasses, and the balcony rail above is enhanced with custom flower boxes brimming with color. The house has gone from being nearly invisible to a real standout. Hopefully, this will inspire you.


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