By Carolyn Weber. Builders continually seek ways to create eclectic streetscapes without busting the budget. Architect Bill Kreager of Mithun in Seattle has a tip to get the greatest bang for the lowest buck on exteriors of both single-family and multifamily buildings. He advises builders to simply manipulate the gable ends and details.

"Starting with a minor offset in the façade, as little as 1 foot, the roof is inexpensively 'California'ed' [over-framed] on top of the primary roof," says Kreager. According to the architect, variety and easy curb appeal are gained by varying:

* roof pitch--4:12 up to 12:12;

* the roof style--such as Craftsman Revival, Colonial Revival, and French Country;

* eave detail--add knee braces, a "Norman hip," a decorative attic vent, and varied trim boards on the rake;

* siding --vary it with the architectural character: lap siding of varying widths, board and batten, shingles, "half timbered" (battens over stucco board); and

* color--the least-expensive tool to achieve variety. Use colors that are "true" to the architectural style.