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Exquisite Exteriors

You're sure to find some architectural inspiration from these stunning facades

From the Editors of Elegant Homes
  • Werner Straube

    Even though it’s only six years old, this 5,500-foot Shingle-style home on Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva looks as if it’s been there forever. Architect John Myefski and interior designer Tracy Hickman took painstaking measures to re-create the character and charm of a historic home while designing a series of spaces suited for modern living.

    On the exterior, cedar shingles pre-treated with a semi-transparent stain highlight the wood’s grainy texture and offer a weathered-with-age look.

    “Unlike Georgian or Federalist style homes, the Shingle-style home features an eclectic mix of shapes and forms as a whole, yet has a great sense of symmetry in its parts,” Myefksi says. In lieu of crushed-stone gravel, the driveway is composed of locally sourced limestone pavers lending contrast to the gray-blue shingles of the exterior.   

    Learn more about Shingle-style homes.

  • Emily Followill

    Cozy Cabin

    A Blue Ridge Mountain hideaway takes advantage of its pastoral setting and surrounding panoramas with an architectural design that blurs the line between indoors and out. Built into a slope, the home's facade looks like a modest bungalow; in the rear, three stories open to views, decks, and a porch. It's an inside-outside, outside-in kind of house, says Atlanta designer June Price, who worked with Nancy and Kevin Race to create their family-friendly retreat in Mountaintop, a golf-club community in western North Carolina. The site's panoramic views drew the Races in and, later, inspired the home's casually elegant design.

    "The Races chose to live in the mountains and wanted a classic mountain home," says Price. "The rustic bark siding and stonework make the home part of the landscape, and the home connects to nature with graciously furnished decks that let the family live and entertain outside."

    Other exterior features include a forest-and-field scheme, flagstone walkways, rough-hewn beams, and Dutch doors; inside, beams partner with hardwood floors, board-clad walls, and stone surfaces to create updated, upbeat cabin-style quarters.

  • Richard Leo Johnson

    Timeless Elegance

    All the historical details in an architect’s quiver won’t make a new build a classic. Designing what amounts to a “new, old home” is about proportion and human scale. That’s how architect Aaron Daily, a partner at Historical Concepts, in Peachtree, Georgia, approached the design of this South Carolina Low-Country house for a couple who wanted something “formal yet casual,” says Daily. His response is a 5,360-square-foot clapboard home that “looks as if it had been built over time.”

    The architecture is defined by tall windows and large porches, which engage the house with the surrounding landscape that includes a river and a park. The ability for the homeowners to enjoy the views and maximize natural light became design drivers. The whole back of the house is glass, and in the main-level master bedroom, a bay window about 8 feet off the ground “takes advantage of the view of an incredible park with great live oak trees,” Daily says.

    To break down the mass of the exterior profile, Daily created a separate wing for the master bedroom. Board-and-batten siding distinguishes the extension from the clapboard-clad main house.

  • Werner Straube

    Lakeside Retreat

    Great architecture often embraces its surroundings. But in the case of this new-construction Tudor on Lake Minnetonka just minutes from downtown Minneapolis, the formula is flipped: The stately home is quite literally embraced by its surroundings, with lovely lakeshore curving around the site on three sides.

    The prized peninsula setting proved an exciting challenge for architectural designer Jeff Murphy. “The lot size is actually quite compact, but the owners needed a home capable of accommodating large gatherings, and they wanted every room to take advantage of the panoramic lake views,” he says. Faced with strict zoning laws and a commitment to honoring the modest scale of the neighborhood’s existing houses, Murphy designed a home with “many angles and curves” that maximize interior sightlines while keeping the roof pitch low.

    Fortunately, the homeowners’ shared passion for English Tudor was a boon to the design process.  “The Tudor style can vary in its forms and layout and is not as formal as more symmetrical styles,” Murphy says. The home’s façade abounds with Tudor details, including staggered slate shingle roof and half-timber walls with stucco infill. A cantilevered balcony extends off a guest bedroom, while the master suite boasts a projected covered balcony.  Stone corbels, gas lanterns, iron balcony railings, and diamond-shaped offset chimneys are just a few of the rich exterior details that welcome visitors to this lakeshore home.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Mediterranean-Style Retreat

    Alys Beach, Florida, is known for its stark white stucco houses, courtyard-style designs, and expansive green spaces. An architectural review board requires that every home meet certain criteria. For architects Tim Adams and Paul Geary and homeowner and decorator Shirlene Brooks, the architectural codes provided inspiration and a place for ideas to flourish.

    The community’s design philosophy, set forth by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., was one of the main reasons Shirlene and her husband, Mark, chose to build in Alys Beach. “This house reflects my love of European architecture—it was a perfect fit for the Mediterranean style of Alys,” Shirlene says. All of the interior spaces face a courtyard, providing a seamless connection between indoors and out. “The courtyard is the soul of the house,” Adams says. “It provides light, privacy, views, and outdoor living space.” Material choices further integrate the interior and exterior spaces. Heavy wood doors and arched openings lead from one area to another. Shutters open and close for views or privacy. Coquina stone and pebble pavers line the courtyard. The house is narrow to fit within the tight lot line, but a side reveal shows how the linear plan stretches to more than 2,800 square feet. 

    See another Alys Beach home.

  • Richard Leo Johnson

    Vacation Villa

    When a second home Sea Island, Georgia, became too small for Nancy and Steve Simms’ growing family, they decided to tear down and rebuild. They wanted the new house large enough for everyone, but they wanted it to retain the relaxed attitude they had enjoyed for years.

    Drawing on Italian Mediterranean influences, colors of the shore, and the incredible ocean views, architect John Shackelford and interior designer Nancy Stoddard designed a home that would fulfill the owners' wish for an inviting, cheerful home.

    “A large house is always in danger of looking like a hotel," Stoddard says. "John varied the rooflines and broke up the lines of the exterior to make it more approachable.” 

    The architecture seems to reach toward the sea with its three distinct bays: the master bedroom, living room, and pool room. “When we built this house, we had to raise the lot five feet. Before, you couldn’t even see the ocean from inside the house,” Stoddard says.

  • Brie Williams

    Florida Home

    Through the process of building nine homes, Randy Whaley has developed a passion for architecture and interior design—so much so that his wife, Mena, left the design of the couple's Florida vacation home almost entirely to her husband. "She said, 'You run with it,'" Randy says. And so he did. Straight to architect Matthew Savoie. "Randy's an idea person," Savoie says. "This house is an evolution of ideas."

    This home is an amalgam of styles. At first glance, its exterior heralds a relatively traditional interpretation of Florida plantation-style architecture. A closer inspection reveals modern influences. Obsidian black window frames, straight railings, and satin-nickel gas lanterns hint at the surprises beyond the threshold.

    The home respects the traditional feel of its neighborhood yet subtly references the Whaley’s more modern tastes. “The fact we were able to pull off that mix is one of the great successes of this house,” Savoie says.

  • Emily Followill

    Laid-Back Living

    Building a seaside getaway was smooth sailing for Bill and Marianne Berry. With the guidance and expertise of architect Matt Benson and builder Andrew Roby, the North Carolina couple coasted through the design process, which began with a simple wish list that Bill jotted nonchalantly on a yellow legal pad. The 4,600-square-foot Atlantic Beach retreat stands tall above the dunes on a charming oceanfront drive dotted with 1940s cottages, so it was important to the Berrys that their new home retain the architectural integrity of that era.

    Outside, a gravel driveway and mature plantings greet guests as they approach the cedar-shingle home.

    Perched high above the dunes, the covered porch is open on three sides for panoramic ocean views. The solid teak furnishings complement the Brazilian hardwood decking and rails designed with clean, horizontal pickets to resemble those on a ship.  

  • Werner Straube

    Old World Welcome

    When many think of Old World design, the mind journeys to southern Europe’s stately French chateaus and sun-washed Italian villas. In an inspiring directional shift, this suburban Minneapolis home pays homage to the farthest reaches of Northern Europe — specifically, the hunting lodges and mountain homes of Norway.

    Surrounded by towering trees and presiding over a leafy hillside, the family residence is a study in the refined use of rustic elements. “The main house is really a hybrid of Old World styles with a definite lean toward northern European country homes,” residential designer Jeff Murphy says. “Key to this aesthetic is the prolific use of reclaimed timbers, flush mortared stone, and custom iron elements.”

    The masculine façade adorned with reclaimed boards, batten-wood siding, stone, and timbers is softened with a prominent turret and sloping rooflines. 

  • Tria Giovan

    Peaceful Home

    This Houston home incorporates a varied amalgam of brick, stucco, and limestone, united by a Mediterranean tile roof. “Every element is a bit different from the others, which makes it somewhat contemporary in spite of its traditionally symmetrical design,” says architect Brad Hollenbeck.  

    An abundance of windows, which flood every room with natural light, do their part to add character to the home.

  • Emily Followill

    Atlanta Manor Home

    If the thought of an English country manor conjures up visions of chintz drapes, Chippendale chairs, and a seemingly endless collection of china, think again. The Atlanta home of Lisa and Jeff Martin is as English as it gets—but with a modern, minimalist twist. 

    The facade is a study in symmetry with its perfectly proportioned windows and doors. “The house was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts homes of architect Sir Edwin Lutyens,” says architect Peter Block. “Steeply pitched gables, strong rooflines, and well-proportioned windows and doors are all part of that rural English vernacular, but its finishes are cleaner and more current for a contemporary lifestyle.”

    The home boasts intrinsic authenticity throughout its 8,000 square feet thanks to the architectural details and honest materials painstakingly selected by Block and interior designer Beth Webb.


  • Ryann Ford

    Family Home

    What does interior designer Robin Riddle have in common with the Greek philosopher Aristotle? Both believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In 2008, Riddle translated this ancient theory into a modern design principle when she collaborated with architects Mark Ballas and Jeff Ballas on a custom family home near Dallas.

    Although located just minutes from downtown Dallas, this modern family home exudes the intrinsic charm of a French Country manor thanks to its ivy-covered limestone exterior and red clay tile roof. The mature landscape and sprawling grounds lend a sense of bucolic beauty to the 6,200-square-foot estate featuring a rough Leuter limestone façade and steeply pitched red clay tile roof.

  • Brie Williams

    Chic Retreat

    In a stunning renovation, a young family brings West Coast style to their East Coast home, creating a chic retreat where glamour abounds.

    When Hollee and Kyle Bollman packed up their home in Del Mar, California, and headed to Tallahassee, Florida, they took along a cool, contemporary West Coast aesthetic—yet they purchased a 24-year-old house that interior designer Terra Palmer describes as a time warp. To update the home, its bubble-gum-pink stucco exterior was painted a crisp white and accentuated with copper lanterns, flashing, and gutters. “Painting this house white offset the lush green landscaping, creating a more multidimensional look,” Hollee says. The original concrete driveway was replaced with pervious pavers resembling cobblestone.

  • Werner Straube

    French Country Style

    An old home has a certain je ne sais quoi that just can’t be re-created. Or can it? The answer to that question was yes for a young Chicago area family when they turned to architect Michael Hershenson and interior designer Stephanie Wohlner to design a home that would combine the character of a historical property with the luxuries of 21st-century-living. Although less than five years old, the 11,000-square-foot-home bears all of the hallmarks of a 17th-century French country house. The symmetrical and balanced planes of the facade, along with the composition of the windows and chimneys, are in keeping with the French Provincial style, as are the high hipped roofs, Mansard-like windows, and balconies featuring French doors and porch balustrades.

    Coupled with the traditional elements of French Provincial design, materials like stucco, limestone, slate, and copper give the exterior an authentic feel.  

  • Brie Williams

    Low Country Home

    Weary of Illinois winters and with retirement in mind, Lynn and Susan Grider headed south to find a place in the sun. Palmetto Bluffs, a luxury resort community near Hilton Head, South Carolina, proved irresistible.

    "The idea was to retire someplace warm that our kids would want to visit," says Susan, mother of four and grandmother to seven. "This is a beautiful Low Country kind of place with trees draped in Spanish moss and beaches nearby. We came down in 2005, looked around, and left owning a piece of property."

    The couple worked with architect Rick Wissmach, builder John Clark, interior designer Shelley Wilkins, and landscape designer Brian Franklin to construct a homestead that suited the wooded site and their laid-back lifestyle. "The home is very Low Country because of its simplicity of forms and indigenous materials," says Wissmach.

    Low Country details, such as tin roofs, a brick facade, and clapboard siding, meld the home's exterior with its wooded setting. The kitchen sink window, centered on the home's face, takes in views of a brick-walled courtyard furnished with clipped hedges and a birdbath made from oyster shells. 

  • Kimberly Gavin

    Woodsy Retreat

    Reclaimed timbers, copper flashing, and dry-stacked native stone accents distinguish the exterior of this Park City, Utah, home. Reclaimed wood timbers charm the entry passage to the home’s front door. A pergola-style structure marks the path from the rear of the house to the adjacent ski slope.

  • Werner Segarra

    Southwestern Home

    Midcentury modern design takes a Southwestern turn on this lovely one-story home nestled in Paradise Valley within view of Camelback and Mummy Mountains. The exterior was repainted a khaki-toned sand to better meld its silhouette into the desert landscape.

    Interior designer Lynne Beyer and builder Richard Loope streamlined the Arizona home in ways that underscore its modern architecture, optimize interior space, improve inside-out sightlines, and make way for finely tuned furniture choices. Look closely and take note of the beam supporting the patio roof. It extends from the front entry across the great room ceiling to the back patio; inside the exposed beam visually separates the kitchen and living areas.