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May 21, 2024

61 Charming House Exteriors We’d Love To Come Home To

Classic Mountain Cottage

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty 

A small Tennessee home grew in size to suit the growing family who lives there, but the homeowners maintained its pint-size charm, outfitting the renovation with a new door that’s designed to mimic the original while also allowing for more natural light.

Tradition-Forward Facade


While the age old question of whether you should paint a brick house or not remains, a fresh coat of white on this Georgian-style house was just the refreshing look the mid-1960s redbrick needed without diminishing the home’s character.

History Preserved

The Maple family dubbed their home Proud Mary, a nod to the name of the woman who (along with her husband) commissioned its construction in 1906.

James Ransom

When designer Hannah Maple came across her 120-year-old home in Lexington, Kentucky, it needed a large amount of TLC. Despite the need for big renovations, she was determined to keep as much original architectural features as possible. She was able to restore the original windows and woodwork to make for lovely and unique exterior.

Picture-Perfect Cottage

Sun-seeking updates and white paint transformed this Homewood gem.


This is the house that makes you stop when walking by and think “How can I move in.” Soft white paint (siding and brick painted Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, OC-17 and shutters in Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak, OC-20), a warm wood door, copper accents, and pretty plantings create a welcoming facade. However, when Leigh Misso of River Brook Design & Construction took on updating this cheerful cottage it didn’t quite have the same curb appeal.

Native Stones

Cody Ulrich

This Texas farmhouse was inspired by the early German settlers in the area, and designer Leah Ashley Finn wanted to incorporate this into her home’s exterior. Instead of wood, native Texas limestone was used to cover the exterior.

English-Style Charm


When renovating this Birmingham, Alabama, home to accommodate a growing family it got a major curb appeal upgrade thanks to the subtle English cottage nods like the sweeping roofline, rafter tail details, antique chimney pots, and brick cutouts. The creamy white (Benjamin Moore’s White Dove) painted brick pairs with the cedar shake roof.

Make the Door a Focal Point

Branstetter freshened the front door with Valspar’s Greenish Gray (V144-6).

Hector Manuel Sanchez

After missing out on a number of properties, designer Catherine Branstetter came across a 1920s Tudor online that she says “needed some love.” Despite the renovations needed to make it more liveable, Branstetter knew she wanted to keep the historic charm of the architecture. In doing so, she left the front door and its archway as is minus some cans of paint to freshen it up.

Historic Charm

Brie Williams

When designer Molly Willliams was buying a new house, she wanted something historic that she could infuse with her own style. “When we found this one, I immediately fell in love with it,” says Williams. “I grew up in Virginia in a 300-year-old house in the countryside, and my parents are huge antiques collectors. I’m heavily influenced by that.” The architectural details, like original moldings and framed windows and doors, initially sold her on the house, but she also fell for its unassuming, bungalow-like exterior—which makes the 12-foot-high ceilings inside feel like a grand surprise.

Restored Parsonage

ALISON GOOTEE; Styling by Dakota Willimon

This former parsonage has deep roots in the community. “So many people will walk by and say how they’d been in the home as kids or adults, from Bible studies to baby showers,” says homeowner Sarah Tucker. The house was painted a dull pink when she and her husband bought it, so they transformed the exterior with classic white for the siding and Benjamin Moore’s Onyx (2133-10) on the shutters and door. “I didn’t need to change much other than paint,” says Tucker. “That’s one great thing about an old house; you get the mature trees and landscaping.”

The Genteel Cottage

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A couple from Connecticut moved down South with the plans to develop land in Virginia’s horse country. With a plan that would take years to complete, they decided to start with a guest house to provide lodging while building the main house and stables. The cottage’s simple exterior is a prelude to the straightforward floor plan within the home.

Highlight Nature

Every few weeks at 5 p.m., they host a boathouse party. A living-and-dining space on the upper level accommodates the crowd.

Brian Woodcock

If your house is surrounded by nature, capitalizing on that is an easy and stunning way to improve the exterior of your home. Couple Chip and Cathy Groome bought a lot of land on Lake Burton that had 380 feet of shoreline and a view of the Appalachian Mountains directly ahead; they didn’t want to waste any of it. By building their home within their surrounding nature, they created a beautiful and inviting exterior.

Mountain Magic

Photo: Helen Norman

Almost everything about the 1940s mountain house Norman Askins discovered 23 years ago delighted him. The unusual site with a secluded meadow in front and vast mountain views behind, the charming cottage details, and the long front hall with attractive vistas all captivated his eye. Shortcomings such as dull gray shingles, dark pine walls and floors, and dated decor encouraged Norman to do what he loves most. “It was a wreck when I first saw it, but the bones were there,” he says. When he brought his wife, decorator Joane Askins, to the house years later, they joined forces, combining their talents to bring out the home’s charm.

Inspiring Garden Entry

Alison Miksch

The brick walk, laid in a traditional running bond pattern, leads the eye (and guests) right to the front steps, where a bright red door welcomes visitors into the home. Too often, a foreboding hedge of large shrubs obscures the porch. Here, low plantings and a short entry gate complement the facade and allow visibility of the home’s entire exterior from the street. Homeowners Christine and Gil Pritchard worked with a landscape architect to ensure that the home’s outdoor area transformed into a functional living space.

Timeless Southern Design

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

This Louisiana home, designed by celebrated architect A. Hays Town, is elegant and welcoming. When a journalist asked what Town wanted his typical home to epitomize, he said, “[My houses] settle down to look as if they’ve been here forever.” The matured tree-lined walkway helps establish a sense of permanence.

Baton Rouge Beauty

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Located in Baton Rouge’s Bocage neighborhood, celebrated Southern architect A. Hays Town designed this house. The classic materials, generous front porch, and elegant setting are all signatures of Town’s designs. The neutral exterior and forest green pops on the shutters allow this home to sink into its surrounding environment.

Proportion and Patina

Laurey W. Glenn

Classic scale and a reclaimed-slate roof give this 1991 home timeless appeal. The ceiling fans added to the large front porch encourage ongoing conversations even in the middle of summer. Creating a “Y-shape,” the joining walkways allow guests to march directly towards the front door or around either side of the house.

Symmetrical Cottage

Photo: Hector Sanchez

This Arkansas home and garden prove you don’t need a mansion to live big. Garden designer Daniel Keeley was searching for a small, affordable house to make his own when he stumbled upon a 1,004-square-foot fixer-upper in a desirable neighborhood in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Keeley was drawn to the cottage, constructed in 1948, because of its simple, symmetrical design and relatively flat corner lot. He saw an opportunity to create unique spaces for gardening and outdoor living. On less than a fifth of an acre, he’s integrated a house, front garden, perennial garden, fountain garden, cabana, courtyard, rear garden, and vegetable garden.

Charming Cottage Makeover

Alison Miksch

With a bit of renovation compromise, the inherent charm of a 1920s cottage comes into full view. Easy shifts in scale and dimension with tidy plantings boost this home’s curb appeal. The exterior makeover of this Alabama cottage included removing metal awnings, hiding the house, and adding a dormer for extra dimension. The awnings were drawing attention away from the rotting cedar wood cladding, now replaced with cement siding. A coat of bluish-gray paint and crisp white trim were the final touches for transforming this cottage into the most dashing home on the block.

Stunning Spanish Style

Erica Dunhill

Spanish style houses became huge in the 1920s, and their unique style has still held up over a hundred years later. This stunning West Palm Beach home has that classic silhouette with a bright shade of sea foam green paint to make for an inviting exterior.

Bungalow Overhaul


To update the plain-Jane facade of her century-old bungalow, artist Dorothy Shain Henderson filled her home with art to tell a story throughout. Inside, this home is painted to the nines. The colorful and playful theme follows through to the outside of the home, too. Like the interiors, the front yard tells a story with roadside-rescue boxwoods and flowers inspired by the homeowner’s childhood garden.

Monteagle Magic

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

This delightful cottage gives Southern Gothic a new meaning, updating the classic Carpenter-Gothic-style space for contemporary living without altering its wonderful charm. Built around 1890, this beautiful Monteagle, Tennessee, mountain cottage is a study in simplicity, mixing natural materials including stone and timber to create a warm, inviting, and welcoming space. The “window” that underscores this house’s Gothic charm is a repurposed mirror found at an antique shop in Nashville. A chipped Victorian front door sets the tone for the decor inside. Rooted in history and tradition but delicately and sympathetically restored for comfortable living today, this Tennessee mountain cottage is elegant, enticing, and fit for Southern life.

Porches Aplenty

Jana Carson

All the homes in the lake community of Carlton Landing in Oklahoma are designed with large porches to foster friendly neighborhood relationships. The home of Jen and Grant Humphreys is extra-inviting, featuring a 10- by 16-foot seating area on one end of the porch and an equally spacious dining area on the other. The simple landscaping allows the front porch to be the focal point.

Lake House in the Trees

Photo: Helen Norman

Set at the edge of a clear, deep lake just north of Birmingham, the modest home of designer Richard Tubb and his partner, Danny Weaver, rises like a tree house from the shore. In the evenings, it glows like a lantern, becoming a beacon for boaters on Smith Lake. Architect and friend Jeff Dungan designed the home’s addition.

Picturesque Farmhouse

Alison Miksch

New outbuildings, exactingly restored woodwork, and a commitment to maintaining the integrity of the original house add up to this picture-perfect makeover in Nashville. The original bay window is topped in copper, complementing the other accents on the house’s exterior. Cedar-shake adds a welcoming warmth to the entire facade.

Mountain Setting

Laurey W. Glenn

The exterior design of our 2016 Idea House used the mountain setting as inspiration. Nestled on a corner lot in Mt. Laurel, the house is in a community between Birmingham (our hometown!) and Double Oak Mountain. Architect Bill Ingram played to the woodsy locale with a dark gray palette. The corner lot allows for 900 square feet of porch area wrapped with a traditional X-railing and newel posts, a more modest way for carpenters to finish posts on-site.

Horse Stable Exterior

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

The soft gray color of the house’s weathered cedar shingles inspired the interior’s neutral palette. Balancing the wild and manicured landscaping updates the exterior without destroying its earthy charm. Plenty of doors and windows allow for maximum natural light.

Breezy River House Porch

Photo: Melanie Acevedo

We’re suckers for an endless front porch! Nestled into the hipped roof’s overhang and accented with louvered shutters on one end, this shady spot features all our porch must-haves. These features complete the lush Southern landscape, including an iconic hanging swing, white wicker furnishing, and a tranquil color scheme.

Tudor Cottage

Photo: Van Chaplin

Who hasn’t dreamed of coming home to a cottage garden? They exude grace and charm with dense plants, from flowers to fruit. When Betsy Fleenor and her husband Michael purchased their Birmingham Tudor-style home, the front yard was very different from what you see today. The carpet of grass and dull shrubs didn’t enhance the house. Betsy envisioned a cottage-style garden, but it took 15 years for the garden of her dreams to become a reality. “Now our Tudor-style house feels like a home, and it has the cottage-style garden it deserves,” says Betsy. Replacing the lawn with roses, herbs, and vines creates this look by effortlessly weaving plants into the tapestry of shrubs.

Little Charmer

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

The white picket fence surrounding the property matches the trim work and complements the blue clapboard exterior. The front entry’s rounded moldings and white spindles jump out like icing on a cake. Two windows on either side of the front door add an aesthetically pleasing symmetry to the space.

New Orleans Cottage Revival

Laurey Glenn

When Hurricane Katrina wiped out Karina Gentinetta’s newly purchased 1930s home in 2005, she and her husband Andrew “A.J.” McAlear were left to build a new home on the lot where their old one had stood. “I wanted to pay homage to the architecture and history New Orleans lost,” says Karina. Emphasizing simplicity, she drew the modest plans herself.

Southern Craftsman Restoration

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Montgomery, Alabama-based designer Ashley Gilbreath worked through years of neglect to restore her 1910 Craftsman-style home just doors down from where Zelda Fitzgerald once lived. Intent on preserving her home’s architectural details and character, Ashley wanted to salvage and restore it. “I reused what I could and replicated anything new to be as close to the original as possible,” she says.

Charming Cottage Curb Appeal

Laurey W. Glenn

Architects Bates Corkern Studio turns a 1930s home into a neighborhood favorite by pairing timeless details with classic proportions. The crisp Colonial-style home is created by adding neighborly Southern accents, including a new color palette, an enlarged front entry, and an upgraded roof. The updated landscaping adds plenty of curb appeal to this charming cottage.

Farmhouse Restoration

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

A Georgia farmhouse without a front porch? We couldn’t believe it. This wraparound one greets visitors with style. For a striking accent, the black shutters pop against the white exterior.

Modern Georgian Home

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

When a young couple bought this stately brick house, they knew it had great bones and wouldn’t require too much work. Their only concern was that it felt dark and dowdy—a problem Birmingham-based architects Paul Bates and Jeremy Corkern quickly remedied. Paul and Jeremy created an oversize but not imposing 9-foot-tall limestone entryway. Light spills into the foyer through the 7-foot French doors and leaded-glass transom. A pair of Palladian-style shutters add a single punch of color (Pratt & Lambert’s Artichoke). A bell-shaped front lawn furthers the illusion of more height.

Traditional Southern Farmhouse

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

This Southern farmhouse has a classic style, complete with simple farmhouse details like a gable roof, clerestory windows, and a wraparound porch. A focal point of the front porch, the door has a chevron design, adding a historical component to the new house. Flanked by two sconces and potted plants, this entryway invites guests into its rural home.

Colonial Williamsburg-Style Cottage

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Birmingham architect Bill Ingram gives his 1940s cottage some character-building TLC with materials chosen for their authentic looks and upkeep. “The house was static before, but now it’s more animated,” he says. “The shadows and textures all enliven it.” The pruned lawn perfectly coordinates with the cottage size and exterior.

Smart Cottage Style

Helen Norman

Designer P. Allen Smith loves a challenge. So when he built a guesthouse at his Moss Mountain Farm just outside Little Rock, Arkansas, he gave himself some limits. He designed 1,650 square feet completed in 150 days for just $150,000, but that’s not all. It would also feature the most up-to-date green construction principles. The 19th-century Southern farmhouse’s preceding style helped inspire the renovation.

Soulful Historic Home

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Designer Mathew Bees’ early-1900s home, developed in a toned-down Lowcountry and Palladian style, has paneled shutters with original operable hardware to offer a classic touch. The canopy trees provide a shady area in the front yard to place a dining table and chairs. Using white for the front doors makes it a feature by contrasting it with dark brick.

Farmhouse Remodel

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Rooted in simplicity, this North Carolina farmhouse built in the 1790s exudes charm. Architect Ken Pursley maintained the house’s integrity despite adding a porch. Using its original scale preserves and respects the original scale.

Timeless Southern Lake House

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Early American Colonial-era architecture inspired this house’s balanced symmetry. The one-story steeply pitched shake roof and bookending chimneys add to this distinct style. From there, architect Bill Ingram tweaked the home to reflect his style with asymmetrical windows, swooping roof overhangs, and serpentine-shaped brackets.

Magnificent Miami Grand Approach

Photo: Roger Foley

Driveways nearly always consist of utilitarian carpets of blinding-white concrete, but doing that would have been a crime in this yard. The driveway has two tracks of cut stone, forming a diagonal pattern, between straight courses of stone running from the street to the porte-cochere and the parking area in the back. Soft, green grass grows between the rocks, reducing heat and glare. Fully functional and also beautiful, it creates a grand approach.

Cape Cod-Style Cottage

Laurey W. Glenn

After designer Wendy Meredith and her husband, Cleve, bought this 1930s Atlanta cottage, she contacted Atlanta architect Brad Heppner. The two immediately started working on curb appeal as their first project. “We made subtle but important changes to the front exterior,” says Brad, “such as painting the brick a warm light brown to help the house nestle into the surrounding trees.” Additionally, Heppner added a cedar-shingled roof, a flared awning over the front door, and charming black shutters to the upstairs dormer windows, giving the house more architectural definition.

Jewel Box Cottage

Courtesty of Atlantic Archives, Inc.

A previous renovation had confused the architecture of this 1920s Shingle-style cottage. Georgia-based architecture firm Historical Concepts took it back to its stylistic roots, emphasizing the distinctive gambrel roofline. The blue shutters and palm trees express a distinct island vibe.

Quaint Coastal Cottage

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

Bayou Bend, the quaint coastal cottage in Covington, Louisiana, is rooted in the architectural traditions of the Deep South. The open floor plan and vibrant interiors are fit for the modern family. Stacked columns deliver a more stately appearance to this exterior.

Farmhouse Addition

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

After carefully restoring her 200-year-old Federal-style farmhouse in Stanly County, North Carolina, the homeowner quickly realized she lacked a crucial country-living element. A spacious, covered outdoor space where she could entertain, relax, and enjoy the views in a Southern staple. Charlotte-based architect Ken Pursley jumped in to design a screened porch addition that would afford the outdoor living she wanted and still uphold the integrity of the beloved historic farmhouse.

Rural Cottage

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Architect Ken Pursley looked to early American churches, barns, and the surrounding rural landscape when designing this timeless retreat on Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore. The main focal point of the exterior is the A-frame roofline that draws the viewer’s eyes up. Matching the side exteriors to the shutter paint color on the main structure adds cohesion to the house.

Gothic Farmhouse

Photo: Joann Seiburg Baker

This home, located on a sleepy mountain, has a vibrant color palette making it stand out from any street. A colorful front garden and all-American good looks make you wish you were pulling into the circular front drive. The front porch extends the immersive natural space with climbing vines growing around the hanging cover.

Lowcountry Style

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Surrounded by pine trees and nestled beside a lake, the east-facing back porch offers unrivaled views of the sunrise. An ample covered space presents an opportunity for outdoor entertaining. Short, well-maintained landscaping provides an unobstructed view when sitting on the porch.

Fresh Silhouette

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Previously, the home lacked curb appeal and felt a bit forgettable. Architect Stan Dixon gave the cottage a focal point with the front-facing gambrel roofline that houses an arched window, latticework railing, and black door. “Stan’s proportions add a classic elegance,” says Jessica Thuston. “The white-columned portico gives this simple cottage a stately feel.”

Updating a Classic

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Architect Tim Cuppett designed a new farmhouse accented with imperfectly layered Texas limestone. The layout provides a purposely disheveled appearance as if added over time. A windowed entry connects two structures in the spirit of a Southern dogtrot, yet the floor-to-ceiling glass gives it an updated feel. “So many of the elements on this house are familiar—white clapboard, metal roof, stacked-stone chimney,” says Executive Editor Jessica Thuston. “Yet the windows are the first clue that it has a modern spin.”

Texas Farmhouse

Photo: Ryann Ford

This casual Hill Country cottage pours on the Southern charm with its familiar farmhouse form, picture-perfect proportions, and inviting front porch nestled beneath a curtain of large oak trees. The stone facade and metal roofing reflect Fredericksburg’s original German-style architecture. The delicate shutter paint color adds a personal touch.

Classic Colonial-Style Cottage

Laurey W. Glenn

“It was the sort of house you might drive by without noticing,” says homeowner Caroline Little. “It had great bones but felt very outdated.” Little knew the secret to the exterior makeover’s success would be staying true to her home’s existing 1941 structure. She carefully selected a team, architect Corbett Scott and landscape architect Paul Lell, who focused on enhancing the Birmingham home’s original charm. The collaboration between Scott and Lell was vital. “You want the landscaping and the architecture to harmonize,” explains Lell. With upgrades that included new windows and bluestone pavers, this home received a face-lift that has all the neighbors green with envy.

A New Farmhouse

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Architect Bethany Puopolo pulled from the influences of American barn construction and her Swedish heritage for a new take on the classic farmhouse. Bethany based her clapboard farmhouse on the style’s basics—two stories with a gable roof and lots of porches—but she gave it her signature. “Farmhouses always have porches, but I added even more. Half the home’s 2,400 total square footage is devoted to breezeways and porches where we can see the animals, take breaks from gardening, or have a meal and watch the sunset.”

Lowcountry Living

Photo by: Helen Norman, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

Patricia and Geordie Cole chose to reintroduce the dogtrot floor plan, originally developed centuries ago to accommodate the heat and humidity of the South, in their newly constructed South Carolina home. Modest in scale and rooted in the history of the Lowcountry, this home has an architectural style that reflects the quiet lifestyle the homeowners envisioned for themselves in South Carolina. It’s a classic design, updated with all the provisions for modern-day living. Large folding doors replace the traditional front entry to open the central hallway.

Charleston Single House

Photo: Francesco Lagnese

Olivia and Walker Brock looked at dozens of Charleston’s iconic one-room-wide single houses before finally finding one with their coveted “Three Ps”—porch, privacy, and parking. After restoring the multi-storied porches, the couple replaced the existing fence and gate with welcoming wooden ones. Fixtures illustrate the house’s age using reproductions, as the clapboard siding is painted light green with cream trim to modernize the exterior. A classic navy paint covers the front door, adding depth and a focal point to the entire house.

Classic Georgia Bungalow

Photo: Hector Sanchez

Evergreen subshrubs surround the strategically placed American boxwoods. A Stewartia tree adds height and four seasons of interest, while period-appropriate nandina leafy shrubs grace the garden with berries in fall and winter. A manicured ‘Zeon’ zoysia lawn provides a place for the eye to rest while taking it all in. Vintage camellias and paper bush brighten up the borders in winter. ‘Thalia’ daffodils and moss pinks welcome spring, and ox-eye daisies on the front embankment flower into autumn. These ever-changing elements keep the landscape vibrant in all seasons.

Virginia Farmhouse

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

“This is an updated take on typical rural Southern farmhouses,” explains Rosney Co. “Rather than white clapboard, we used taupe- and orange-toned stone quarried in West Virginia. This helps connect the house to its location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” Earthy details like the charcoal standing-seam metal roof, green shutters, and putty-colored trim muffle the house’s newness. Most main areas connect to outdoor areas, and dormer windows create space without much height. “Lower houses fit better with the land,” says Rosney Co.

Lake Views

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

“I wanted to design a house that feels fresh right now but will still be relevant in 100 years,” says architect Ken Pursley. Using time-tested, durable materials with crisp lines, such as James Hardie board-and-batten siding, plank-style shutters, and a standing-seam metal roof creates a simple silhouette that won’t tire over time. This home’s location in Palmetto Bluff is suburban and waterfront, allowing Ken to create almost two homes in one. He designed a more humble facade on the street side with a covered storage area and parking pad running perpendicular to the central mass.

Charming White Farmhouse

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Homeowners Jon and Beverly Winter wanted their new home on her parents’ farm in Matthews, Alabama, to look like it had been on the family property for years, even though it was a new construction home. Architect Bill Ingram and the contractor worked with salvaged materials, made windows the old-fashioned way (by securing the glass panes with putty), and selected a tin roof, another nod to age-old building practices. Lastly, building the screened porch was a way to make it appear like an addition or created at a later time.

Atlanta Manor Makeover

Emily J Followill

When designing houses, architect Peter Block tries to avoid strict stylistic definitions. A case in point is the new home of Marcia and Mark Miller, located on a rare expansive lot in Atlanta’s Buckhead area. For its design, Peter looked to the English country houses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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