Exterior/landscaping design uses the same principles as interior and graphics design- they're all about SCALE, RHYTHM, BALANCE, UNITY/HARMONY, COLOR, TEXTURE, and DETAILS. These basic principles are what create beautiful interiors and exteriors. Check out this front porch:
Virtually the same view and you can immediately see the difference- a ceiling fan has been added above the seating area, re-purposed from the breakfast nook, and the entry light fixture is now an appropriate style and SCALE for the house. SCALE.
An indoor/outdoor rug is on order for the seating area, to break up the expanse of brick, not just in color but also the "busy-ness" of all the lines, hard edges of the brick, and to further delineate the seating area from the entry. The addition of the live plants and accessories has made a HUGE difference in the look and feel of the porch- it is now welcoming and cozy; a nice place to sit under the ceiling fan and have a glass of iced tea.
before: overgrown shrubs at the end of the driveway, under the windows, and around the mailbox; pear tree needed pruning. All areas needed COLOR, not just shades of green, and the front door didn't stand out at ALL. Around the sea of concrete that overpowers the entry, there was only green.
After: new paint colors REALLY make the entry stand out, painted (paisley) mailbox, cleared out the overgrown shrubs, pruned the pear tree, added a little seating (the seating area under the tree is another TO DO project). Areas of bright red REALLY breathe life into what was previously ho-hum.
GONE BABY GONE are the overgrown and scraggly shrubs. Hardy pink knock-out roses will grow to about 4x4', so they'll be taller than the iris within a couple of years. Mailbox has been painted (paisley), and velvety-silver lamb's ear is a nice color and texture against the black mulch, which should have been swept more neatly before taking the picture. AHEM. Natural stones edge the area (enough have been added since this picture was taken to finish the edges.)
BEFORE: Outdated and unimaginative, this space lacked any sort of personality and there was nothing to accentuate the fireplace. As you look across this image from right to left, everything is along the same visual plane, as the entertainment center and mantel are the same height, and the windows aren't much taller. Instead of a feature worth accentuating, the angles of the vaulted ceiling look awkward and accidental. There is just nothing of interest here.
Painted a deep chocolaty taupe, the fireplace wall is definitely noticeable now! Because the parts of the vignette extend up the wall, it draws the eye to this area and keeps it there. Window treatments extend beyond the window moldings to add height and continued visual interest.
A mid-century console holds the flat-screen and it is surrounded by a collection of old wood crates containing family photos, crystal, and glassware. Because the crates extend up the wall far past the level of the mantel, which is now home to a sunburst mirror and an antique window. Don't be afraid of mixing eras and styles- some of these crates date to the turn of the 20th Century and the console is from the 1960s. Because the crates themselves are similar in color to each other and most of the pieces displayed in the crates have a similar color (whites and creams), that creates the repetition (or, rhythm) and the crates help balance the visual weight of the flat screen on the tall wall, it all works together for a cohesive vignette. In essence, this area can "stand alone" as a "unit," but it works within the space because it complements the other areas without overpowering anything. Cream and white, along with beiges and natural textures (wood of the crates, stone of the fireplace) is repeated across the visual plane. RHYTHM.
As I've said before, everything is in a constant state of PROGRESSION, and as far as I've experienced, nothing is EVER totally finished. And that's okay. As long as you're building on the fundamentals, you're heading in the right direction and what you're working on will look and feel ever better along the way.