5 Historic Homes and How to Get Their Curb Appeal

My absolute favorite way to spend a day is on house tours, garden tours, or simply taking a drive to appreciate the beautiful historic homes that have instant curb appeal. For those of us on a budget, the challenge though, is how to take all those drool-worthy design ideas and incorporate them into our own home design and decor choices. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need a sizable estate and lots of money to create a home that makes us all instantly fall in love with it. So where to start? With the outside.

farmhouse in lake forest with great curb appeal

In An Affair with a House, Bunny Williams said that “Without even going inside, I somehow knew that I was home.” I couldn’t agree more. Here are five simple tricks to adding curb appeal to your home and five beautiful examples of them in action.

Proportion Matters More Than Size

It can be so tempting to want to have the largest house you can wedge on your lot, but fight the urge. Stuffing an oversized house from lot line to lot line is the equivalent of trying to fit into a size 2 when you are a size 10. As goal worthy as the concept is, it just isn’t flattering. Instead, embrace what you have and work with it. I have seen so many beautiful small homes that leave people wanting to see more.

A house should look nestled into its surroundings, never dominating it. If possible, allow for grass, gardens, and light to surround the house on all sides and for your home to be proportionate to other homes surrounding it. Visually, this creates a feeling of community that is at the heart of what makes people label a small town beautiful.

Embrace the History of Your Locale

Illinois historic farmhouse
The whitewashed brick, clapboard siding, and paned oval windows are a beautiful nod to Illinois’ farmland roots

A home is historic when it tells the story of a different time and way of life. It makes us realize that our time in this home is part of something larger. It reflects what came before, and what will continue after. In my opinion, you don’t need an old house for this but you do need a sense of the land and town’s history. Even if its beginnings were humble, there are beautiful examples of architecture that lend a nod to its roots.

Small details can add this richness to homes and I’ve seen very affordable cosmetic features increase curb appeal. Are their local bricks, stones, or wood to incorporate into walkways or siding? Perhaps the simple addition of paned windows versus sheets of glass could yield the more traditional look you want. Coach lights or weather vanes can always add a touch of history. And nothing brings a fresh look to a home like a coat of paint in a traditional color. If you are looking for slightly more intensive solutions, add a decorative cupola, front porch, or entryway to change the look of your home. Just make sure that it works well with your current home’s style.

Landscaping Brings the House to Life

historic home with curb appeal
Even though this home is sizable, it still appears nestled into its natural surroundings. Love the entry hedges, and round center garden.

No matter how beautiful the house, you will likely be disappointed with its curb appeal if you didn’t save room in your budget for landscaping. Unfortunately, this is common in new developments where grand homes are built and a few stick like trees are added as an afterthought. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have gardens that look like they’ve been there forever. But you do have to spend the time.

country home
The hedges, tree, and fence lend warmth to this home

Research flowers and trees that grow locally to decrease cost and increase chances they will thrive. Introduce curved flower beds to soften the harsh lines of the house. Also remember to warm your walkways with plants, whether lining the path or in planters. Layer your gardens so that they have a mix of heights, colors, and blooming periods. The areas around your house and edging your property lines will be most important. If you don’t have the budget for this to start, add a little each year to create your dream.

Gardens Can Have Architectural Features Too

This home had me at the fence

I love when there is a focal point to gardens. Maybe it is a fountain proportionately sized for its location, or a trellis crawling with flowering vines. Maybe it is simply an antique bench tucked under a massive shady tree with a brick patio below. Any of these touches make the exterior of your home just as inviting as the interior.

If You Love Your Home and Gardens, They Will Love You Back

historic home with curb appeal
The wreath on the door, trimmed hedges and well watered hydrangea make this a must see

Out of all the tips, this is perhaps the most important. Instinctually, we can all tell when a home has been nurtured and loved. Nothing is more pleasing to the eye than a freshly painted home, a perfectly pruned tree, a lush green yard, and plants that have been carefully nurtured. The best thing about this, is it costs very little. If you build time into your week to invest into the upkeep of your exterior, I have no doubt that your home will be as show-stopping as any mansion.

Want to learn more about how to lead a country lifestyle whether you are sitting in the middle of the city or relaxing in the country? Check out our tips on our Beginner’s Guide to Country Living.

For more home decor, garden, craft and entertaining inspiration to make your home a sophisticated country house, visit A French Tulip Country House and subscribe.