An additional porch column helps to anchor the porch and add substance for the porch beam.

Raised-panel garage door adds texture and offers a more substantial feel.

Clipped hip changed to a Dutch gable gives a more horizontal eave line, and a location to repeat the gable bracket detail.

You can call an elevation just a pretty face, but a good one does far more than make a house look nice. Houses with friendly, handsome faces make a neighborhood a place you’d like to be. Good-looking elevations sell homes.

Separating yourself from the crowd is key in a competitive market, of course. But there are some common traps that are easy to fall into when it comes to thinking creatively and making homes that look distinctive.

One such pitfall is building homes with front elevations that look papered-on and fake. This easily can be avoided, and I don’t mean by specing costly, high-ticket touches. Even if you’re using synthetic materials to stay on budget, a couple of design moves will ensure that the whole package looks real.

The first drawing is of a home that my husband (a builder) and I saw for sale online. The exterior looks like it’s made of wallpaper instead of strong, substantial building materials—it feels pasted-together, fake, and flimsy. The problem is the location of the material transitions. The place clearly was designed in two dimensions, with no attention paid to what you see when you turn a corner.

An easy remedy and good rule of thumb is that all material transitions should occur at inside corners—never change a material at an outside corner.

We went in a Craftsman direction with this facelift. The brick wraps the corner and returns to an inside corner on the porch, giving the appearance of a real masonry wainscot. Vertical siding is gone; lap siding with shingle accent siding gives a truer Craftsman look. There’s consistency in detailing—we went with just one style instead of mixing styles in an attempt to be inventive. A home’s elevation can be detailed to look like the real thing—and that strategy helps sell homes.

All materials transition at outside corners for a more authentic, historically accurate look.

Window sizes and adjacent shutter sizes are compatible. Each shutter is half the size of the window it would cover.