We spent our Christmas vacation with family in Ottawa and London, Ont., this past year and as per usual, a chunk of our holiday time was used up cruising several neighborhoods and new developments for ideas and inspiration. It was so lovely to see different applications of materials and finishes — not once did we come across the proverbial "four-foot strip of cultured stone and stucco combination" you so commonly see on houses around Brandon. If you’re building in 2014, keep a few of these details in your back pocket for something new, and even ‘old’ and fresh looking.
Brick & Stone
Nearly every home had an abundance of brick or stone covering the front facade, very typical of historic Ontarian-style architecture. For a classic and stately look, consider bricking the entire front of the house and not just the bottom one-third or around feature columns. Some homes even went as far as to combine two different stones together for an even grander looking result.
Many of the homes used decorative details like shutters to help emphasize windows and dormers. Simple and charming, shutters can be a great way to highlight feature windows and bring in some additional colour to your schematic.
I could count on one hand the number of houses we saw out of literally hundreds that had stucco on them. Coming from a city where nearly all of the houses are finished in stucco, it was amazing to see just how much personality was added by using texturized siding that resembled cedar shakes, and the like. Paired with multi-textured stone, the finished look was timeless and impressive.
Tiered Roof Lines
Many of the homes incorporated a main hip or mansard-style roof line combined with several gable ends set off the main structure. The result is a multi-dimensional look, giving you the ability to soften the appearance of your home (instead of having one or two huge sloped roof lines), and create something truly unique looking.
Recessed Front Entries
Some of the cutest homes made use of sheltered front entries — not only does this help create a buffer from the cold during our frigid winter months, it also helps to define one of the main focal points of your home.
Trim & Highlights
To really help make your windows, doors, and gables pop, consider using a tone-on-tone colour combination for trim or stucco build outs. Adding a few key highlights will give your home the dimension it needs if you choose to go the stucco route with minimal stone or brick.
The last, and best, tip of all. Buck the Brandon trend and select materials and finishes in the medium to light colour spectrum, and stay away from dark colours. After seeing the myriad of new homes being built down east, it’s safe to say black and charcoal are on their way out.