I’m back with another highly requested blog topic… should the interior of your home match the exterior? That’s the age old question. I think this is another “When is a Room Finished?” type of scenario that really depends on your personal preference, situation, and aesthetic. Of course, I’ll happily share my opinion and philosophy, and I’d love to hear yours as well. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong answer because home should be a place you love. If you’re interested to read about my thoughts… click through!
First I’ll share my standpoint on the matter. If a home has an evident architectural style, I like to see some of those elements repeated on the interior of the home- keeping true to the house and its architectural integrity. I prefer a home to feel cohesive on the interior and exterior, probably because of my background in design. As a designer, it does irk me when I enter a home that feels very disconnected from the exterior… now- that’s probably not the norm, so take that with a grain of salt. Again, this is just my personal preference and opinion.
I think the exterior of a home really sets up the expectations for the interior. It’s the first impression and hints at what you’ll find inside. If your home doesn’t have a strong architectural aesthetic, I think there is more room to play and define as you wish. Whereas, if you’re renovating a historic home- I’m a believer that you should try to do it justice with some architectural accuracy. My philosophy is to keep the “bones” of the home pretty consistent, while taking more creative liberties with things like furniture, decor, paint color, finishes, etc. Let me share a couple examples…
Our previous home, pictured below, was a single story rambler. It wasn’t mid century, it wasn’t super modern, it wasn’t traditional, it didn’t have any striking architectural features, and it didn’t have a dominant style. That allowed me more room to get creative and add minimal millwork, but I still kept it within the parameters, in terms of scale. I selected moulding that was neither modern nor traditional, and it was a modest size to match the scale of the house and ceiling height. It was pretty nondescript, and then I had more fun with our furnishings that reflected more of our personal style.
Our current home, pictured below, has a very specific architectural style… even though it’s not old or historic, it clearly looks like a Georgian colonial and mimics many of those characteristics. Therefore, I have better parameters and “guidelines” this time around (which I actually enjoy), when making millwork and architectural decisions. I was able to go with larger dramatic moulding, I recognized that this house requires hard edges and 90 degree corners (as opposed to arches), and I’m even able to make some design corrections that were inaccurate when it was built (based on the prevalent architectural style). I like having a home that feels cohesive inside and out. If you’ve been following along for some time, you’re probably not surprised based on my personality. I crave order, balance, symmetry, and I’m a rule follower. Can anyone guess my enneagram? Haha!
So- that’s where I’m at with this particular topic. You all sent in some amazing questions that I wanted to answer, as well! I figured a little Q&A opinion section could be helpful and fun…
What if your home doesn’t have a defined exterior style?
I think you’re able to have more fun with it, set your own parameters, and define what you’d like it to look like- inside and out.
Is it possible to insert your personal aesthetic, even if it doesn’t match the exterior architecture?
Absolutely- I feel like your home should always be a reflection of your personal aesthetic, interests, and taste. Do what feels right to you! As the saying goes, “design rules were meant to be broken.” I’m a rule follower myself, but that’s just my personality. If you want to do something totally different inside that doesn’t match your exterior, you should go for it. If you would like the inside and out to look a bit more cohesive, insert your personality with decor and furnishings! One of my good friends has the most incredible home traditional home, but her style is ultra modern. I love her home because it is the very best mashup of mod meets traditional in the perfect juxtaposed way. It feels so designerly and intentional, all while keeping true to her personal aesthetic and the architecture of the home itself.
How do you figure out what style of architecture your home is?
At the end of this post, I’m going to drop some helpful links, books I’d recommend, and additional resources. I’m also borrowing a handy graphic I’ll drop below, from Pop Chart Lab that is titled, The Architecture of American Design- which is based on one of the books I’ve linked. It depicts a ton of home styles that may be helpful if you’re trying to dial it in or do more research.
If your home has a really defined architectural style, should you stick with that inside?
This is 100% YOUR decision. If it were me, I would stick with the existing style. I actually think knowing what style your home is and researching home details that fall within those parameters, makes the renovation process a bit easier.
How do you feel about sticking with colors that are appropriate for the style of your home, inside?
Great question! Believe it or not- certain colors are also associated with certain time periods, architectural styles, and aesthetics. I’m more about getting the “bones” of a home right, and am comfortable being more expressive with color on the interior of my home. Paint color can easily be changed to match your preferences, while millwork isn’t an easy swap. With that said, I do pay attention to paint color on the exterior.
How do you decide what architectural style to go with if your home is nondescript?
All homes have design. It was rendered or sketched by someone- whether it was a builder, architect, developer, or designer. Even if your home doesn’t have an obvious architectural style, try to point out some interesting features it does have- a pitched roof, multiple stories or levels, balanced window positioning, an arched front door, etc. Are you able to research those interesting elements and expand upon them? Is there a certain style that you really like? How could you translate that to your own home?
I have a historic home and I want to stay true to the house when making updates. I hired a designer and they are recommending I make changes that don’t feel cohesive. What should I do?
First, I would voice my concern and goals to my designer or architect, letting them know that you’d like to restore your home with historical accuracy. If they’re not on board, I’d hire a professional who is. Find someone who has experience with historic homes similar to your own, or is known for staying true to a home’s history, in terms of architecture and design. Just like any industry, some client / designer relationships are a match made in heaven, while others aren’t a great fit… and that’s ok! It’s a big investment and you want to make sure you’re happy with your home once the project has been completed and the dust has settled. Over communicate, find someone with a similar mindset, and keep your eye on the end goal.
What if my home has two different architectural styles because of an add-on? Which one do I follow?
This question actually came up a handful of times. I would ask yourself a few questions… #1) Are you planning to renovate either the interior or exterior? #2) Does it bother you that your home is two different styles? #3) Which style do you prefer? If you’re planning to renovate, you could address the issue altogether, by creating a cohesive home inside and out. If the aesthetic doesn’t bother you, follow whichever style is your personal preference! If it does bother you, determine which style you’d like to move forward with and find ways to make the add-on feel more cohesive (even small updates can help). It’s all about finding a balance or correcting what you can change to create a home you love.
If you missed my book suggestions for our design & architecture conversations, I’m going to link them below. I included a bunch of helpful resources that can help you determine what style your home is, and hopefully help you discover what aesthetic you enjoy.
If you’re looking for some quick and interesting online resources with visuals, check out the following:
- Guide to Residential Styles
- 10 Most Popular House Styles
- Visual Guides to Domestic Architectural Designs
Ok- your turn! Where do you stand on this subject matter? Do you feel like the interior of your home currently matches the exterior? Would you like your interior and exterior to feel cohesive? If not, what is most important to you in terms of home design? I’m so excited to chat about this and am already intrigued to learn more about your design preferences.