Make Sure Your Updates Match

by John Garner & Diane Shane 06/18/2019

Have you ever driven through a neighborhood or down a country road, seen a cobbled-together add-on and done a double-take? Historically, home additions tend to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, with each new add-on displaying the most recent design trend without regard for the original style. Thus, you'll see a typical ranch-style home with a mansard or hipped-roof add-on or a modern sunroom from an entirely different era appearing as if by magic from the side of a craftsman bungalow.

Failing to match a home’s original style is not new. Castles dotting the English hillsides or lining European rivers have jumbled wings from even different centuries, and palaces and cathedrals bear the stamp of each successive architect’s desire to make a name for himself. But when it comes to your home, mixing styles and eras could be a losing proposition when the time comes to sell.

Hire a professional

Before you begin an addition, hire a licensed design contractor to discuss your home's current style and how your renovation or addition might enhance its curb appeal and carry the same theme through the complete interior and exterior of the house.

New structures should be in balance with the existing building, and although it might not have symmetry, the combination of new and old should have unity. To achieve this, bear these things in mind:

  • Windows: if the new windows are double-hung with multiple lights (several small panes or a grid), then change out the old windows to match. Don’t mix aluminum sliders with wood casements (those with crank mechanisms). In other words, add some extra money into the renovation to match up the window types.
  • Exterior materials: a lovely mix of brick, stone, and stucco (or plank siding) gives a home that coveted old-world feel, but a random mash-up looks, well, like a random mash-up. If possible, extend the existing outside material to the new addition. Where that isn’t possible because, for example, a brick color or style no longer is available, consider painting everything to match to give continuity.
  • Rooflines and materials: adding a gambrel roof to hipped roof or a mansard to a ranch probably won’t earn you any design awards. If the existing roofline is not what you want, have your contractor update it to match the addition. A mix of roofline styles is disconcerting and screams “add-on” rather than professional addition. And watch the mix-up of roofing materials too. A lovely new metal roof on the new part with a dated three-tab asphalt shingle on your existing roof gives your home a discordant aspect — either roof the latest addition to mimic the old, or re-roof the whole thing. 

If you genuinely want to add a different style, consider modifying the existing home to match the new style for a unified impression. And, if you're considering an addition to increase your home's value for a quick sale, check with your real estate professional first. There's nothing worse for your renovation's bottom line than an addition that nets a loss rather than a gain to your resale value.

About the Author
Author

John Garner & Diane Shane

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