An Expression of Style

Men laying new hardwood flooring

One of the great satisfactions of being a homeowner is living in a space that reflects your lifestyle and your personality. The impression your home exudes starts not with the color scheme of your decorating or the style of furniture youve chosen for each room, but in the very structure of your home. Accenting the architecture of your home with characteristic touches can create a distinctive style for your home from the inside out.

Whether youre starting from the ground up or revamping an existing structure, there is one tenet to keep in mind: Dont overdo it. Where a lot of projects fail is in trying too hard, says Ryan Taylor, AIA. Too many accents, or accents that arent in harmony with one another can create competition and detract from the overall visual effect. Particularly if youre embellishing or improving a home, be sure also that the accents you choose are in harmony with the rest of the house.

You want it to look as though everything was done at the same time, Taylor says. You dont want to look at something and be able to tell its a renovation.

The accents you choose should reflect your personal preference, most experts agree. But with so many options, there are few boundaries beyond keeping in sync with your homes style and tone.

In general, a home based on traditional design, for instance, a Colonial, Georgian, French Provin??al or English manor-style will almost always demand more ornament and detail. Styles fashioned with cleaner, simpler and often more angular lines, such as Arts and Crafts and Cape Cod, will call for accents that are cleaner and more definitive in nature.

If you have a transitionally designed home that combines bits of several styles, which is most often the case with newly built houses, the accents you choose may reflect an eclectic mix of architectural styles They should, however, always complement each other.


One of the first places you should look to accent the inside of your home is up. The ceiling can be a perfect palette for artistry, often indicative of the homes mood as a whole. Flat-paneled tray ceilings with crown molding, or patterned or grid-styled coffered ceilings, for example, give traditional homes a more distinctive air, while recessed lights or pendant or track lights would be a more appropriate, and understated, design for a contemporary room, says Guy LaMarca, CADD designer for Atlanta Design & Build

Taylor prefers designs reveal the structure of the house, in addition to being visually stimulating. He points to a cathedral ceiling, for instance, that reveals a scissor truss roof.

You may find that your traditional home beckons for ornamentation. In fact, traditional homes seem to demand a certain degree of detail-oriented accent workintricate crown moldings and trim are well suited to some traditional homes, as are fluted or smooth columns. Homes that reflect European rootscountry French, Mediterranean, Spanish or even English manorare a great match for exposed, heavy beams and wrought iron fixtures, such as staircases.

One of the most practical types of accents, stairways can be an ideal foundation for detail work because of their tangible nature, says Jon Fischer, RA, of TAC Team Architects and Contractors. An open or closed center stair can become a dynamic space that changes the way people use their home, he says.

Spiraling staircases can add a glamorous accent to the rest of the home and can also save space and, consequently, money. Staircases of rolled steel can be stunning, says Tony Jatcko, principal with Metzger Moore, and can be utilized in various parts of the home, from a central room to a patio-pool area.

Your initial focus may center on your homes interior, but the impression your home gives begins even before a guest crosses the front doorstep. The overall house gives an impression, but the focal point is the front door, Jatcko says.

A portico is one unfailingly classic way to lure the eye to the front door, says LaMarca. In addition, theyre equally at home on a Southern plantation home as they are on a California bungalow, and extremely versatile in terms of scale and formality. Likewise, pedimentsboth across the tops of windows as well as doorsare among the simplest ways to add visual impact to the homes exterior and are equally versatile. They also are among the most economical.

Jatcko also points to small wrought-iron balconies or window boxes to lend more flair to the homes exterior fa??ade. Simple wrought-iron trellises along the side of the house add a considerable amount of attractiveness with relatively little installation hassle. In a more elaborate traditional home, entry gates, which may be accompanied by columns, give a hint of what may lie behind the walls of the house at the end of the drive. They set the tone for the style of the house, Jatcko says.

Dont overlook your homes potential for outdoor interiors. Covered, columned and lit (but not enclosed) porches can give the back portion of your house, which generally draws little attention, a finely crafted appearance in keeping with the rest of your home.

We try to create outdoor rooms that extend the amount of time people spend outdoors, Fischer says. Copper gutters lining the porchs roof, he adds, can add embellishment without much manipulation, and are cost efficient, as well.

Regardless of your choices, remember that the accents you choose should emphasize your homes most winning characteristics, as well as your own personal style.

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