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Speaking with a French Accent

Dear Homework,
We are hoping for some suggestions for our new home. We’d like a French slant, but that may not be possible with the basic style of the house. We would be happy with any suggestions to punch up its style.

Thank you in advance,
— Speaking with a French Accent

Dear Speaking with a French Accent,
Your house illustrates some common issues that I see in recently built suburban houses, mostly having to do with the garage. First, I would like to address the overall look of the facade and then talk about adding a French flair.

If one looks at the street view of your property, the differences between the garage half and the house half are noticeable. The garage piece has no detail, no windows, a large gable end and a large door opening.  There also is nothing but a concrete drive on the ground plane. In complete contrast, the house side has lots of windows with shutters, a smaller gable end and a lawn with landscaping. My goal would be to find an affordable way to bring the two sides of the composition together aesthetically.

To bring detail and charm to the garage, I have added a large window to the gable end and carriage style doors with windows.  I also have removed a portion of the driveway to allow some planting to soften the concrete pad. On the house side, I have removed the porch so that area of the facade appears bigger than the garage gable. I also adjusted the windows so the upper ones are basically the same, to calm things down a bit.

To bring in some French feel, I show paint washing the brick to have it blend better with the new, more charming siding. All the shutters are wider now and have hinges and tie backs. The front door now has a wood stain and the adjacent windows are now French doors. The plantings are shown as a more formal hedge that brings to mind classic French gardens.

These changes make the property more cohesive and a little less “suburban.” It also seems less Colonial and a touch more French. Hope that gives you some food for thought.

Thanks for asking,

Homework is penned by Paul Doerner, Founding Partner of the Lawrence Group. if you would like your home critiqued, contact us at

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