The desire for a home that reflects a buyer’s individuality spans generations. Requests for some urban edge may have started with Gen Y, but we’re now hearing requests for it from buyers of all ages. Coming up with something that bears the imprint of the homeowner—without compromising the good bones of traditional forms—can give buyers what they want.

By taking a two-story Victorian and wrapping it up in a new package, we delivered the hard-working and appealing interiors buyers need along with the newness they crave, at a lower bottom line. Here, we gave a familiar architectural style (the Stick Victorian) an urban twist by using off-the-shelf materials. Instead of clapboard siding, we used corrugated metal on exterior walls and wire mesh on porch and balcony railings. We incorporated columns of concrete block, bold color, and pared-down details. The new homes mesh the best of traditional neighborhoods (sidewalks, front porches with setbacks) with an edgy take on tradition, and a touch of whimsy to boot.

This idea doesn’t have to stop at the front door: Taking the materials used on the outside and bringing them in creates a strong relationship between inside and out. Wire mesh railing can be used on a loft or open stairway. Corrugated metal siding could be used on kitchen island facing, and the same style of lighting fixture can be used both inside and out. The result will be homes that are urban, that express the individuality that many buyers want, and that create a buzz. It takes moxie to step outside of tradition, but it’s how to separate yourself from the competition.