It has been a super long time since my past post and a lot has happened! You can catch up HERE. Friends, I’m excited to share with you as we work on our design plans, updates and finish our new home! Without further ado, let’s walk through how to choose brick for your home!
Today seems like the perfect time to discuss exterior finishes and to share our exterior plans for the house. They delivered our stone and brick at the end of this last week and will install it this week. We’re literally wading through all kinds of brick and sorting out how to use brick on our exterior.
I do have to say, out of everything I’ve selected this was by far my hardest decision. Honestly, coming from California, I’m more of a stucco girl than a brick person when it comes to exterior finishes. Looking at 3×3 samples and attempting to envision a whole house covered in brick is SO stinkin’ hard, even for someone who does a lot of design work like me. So, I’m crossing my fingers and praying I love it when the brick and stone is installed. But through this process, I’ve learned good rules to follow for anyone selecting exterior finishes.
SELECTING EXTERIOR FINISHES FOR YOUR HOME:
So before we begin, I wanted to share a rendering of the front of our home. There are 3 windows above the garage where the media room is and then the windows on the left bottom are into the dining room. It is a lot of house in the front so we needed it to not look to heavy.
When selecting brick (or any exterior finish) for your home, it’s important you assess your house from all angles. Use a rendering as a reference and carefully assess how each finish will weigh down or lighten up the look of your house.
1. How to Seek Brick Exterior Inspiration:
When I began this process I wasn’t really familiar with all the different exterior finish and brick options available. If you’re struggling with how to choose brick for your home, the best place to start is to gain inspiration from other beautiful homes! So, my first step was to drive around our neighborhood and get inspiration for the look I wanted to achieve. Most neighborhoods have a cohesive look when it comes to finishes and some even have set guidelines on brick, exterior color and materials.
In a semi-custom home, like ours, the options are somewhat limited. I had no idea 3-4 houses in a row can’t have any of the same brick selections. Since we were one of the first to build on our block, I was lucky and had a lot more options. Always check this with your builder and keep it in mind when selecting your property in a housing development like this.
Here are examples of homes from around our neighborhood with brick layouts, exterior finishes and/or colors I loved.
The overall look I wanted was a washed-out brick look without much red in it. I also didn’t want the brick to look to dark and heavy. Little did I know how hard it is (unless you majorly upgrade!) to figure out how to achieve this look with your exterior finish. At first, my husband and I chose a plan that was all brick. I thought I liked the look and I would get a German smear looking brick finish with lots of mortar. Well, I guess it isn’t a very popular look where we are building and after looking through the neighborhood finishes, I ultimately decided I didn’t like the all-brick look.
In my neighborhood, I found this house (below) that had more of a mortar-wash and German smear look. While it’s a nice all-brick finish, I decided the all-brick looked too dark for our home. It seemed like an overwhelming exterior finish.
Alternatively, I checked out another house in my neighborhood with a lighter all-brick finish. The brick on this house (below) looked too washed out to me. There was low-contrast with the trim and roof and the finish wouldn’t flatter the design of our house.
Of course, I loved the limewash/whitewash look of the brick on this gorgeous house (below), but the brick finish is a more expensive option. When we priced it out we realized it would cost us an arm and a leg. The decorative herringbone brick pattern is more expensive to lay and it’s a big project. I really loved the contrast, though
Ultimately, we decided on the look and direction of the exterior finish in the home below. It’s actually a few houses down the street from us. I loved how the brick was slightly darker than the washed-out ones, had lots of brown tones in it and had lots of variations in the way the brick was laid. We changed the layout of the brick above the garage to a herringbone pattern, inspired from the other brick home I loved, to break up the brick along the super tall wall.
I also thought the mix of stone on this house lightened it up and didn’t feel as heavy! It created the contrast we were looking for in our finish. BUT of course this brick was out of stock and from another builder… so began the search for the perfect brick/stone mix.
2. How to Pick Your Brick – Learn The Do’s & Don’ts:
Once you’ve amassed design inspiration and have a handle on what finish matches the look and feel of your neighborhood and house, you’ll need to pick your brick. The first step in picking out the perfect brick for your exterior is deciding on a color. I wanted to find brick with primarily brown tones and little-to-no red.
Next, after choosing a color for your brick, decide if you would like it to have a distressed look. I love a more Old World style exterior, so that was the direction I went in. There are ways to achieve the look with whitewashing, limewashing or German smear-style finishes when you lay your brick. You can also look for brick featuring this type of finish already.
Lastly, decide how you would like the mortar to look; messy, thin, thick, smeared, and so on. When it comes to mortar, there are many different colors which will also drastically impact your finish. A lighter mortar may result in a lower-contrast finish, but can also cause a “washed out” effect. At the same time, a darker mortar will darken the overall look of the exterior of your home. So, choose mortar color and style carefully.
Ultimately, the brick I decided on is called Commercial Antique. It’s a really beautiful brick with a brown undertone with a lightly distressed look. Combined with the light smear mortar, I will get exactly the look I was hoping for our house.
3. How to Select Stone (If It’s in Your Finish Design):
Selecting stone to finish your exterior design, is definitely where your home’s finish gets pricey. Fortunately, we actually eliminated a lot of stone from the design because honestly it just felt heavy, so that cut back on our cost.
As you see in our house rendering we featured stone on the base apron of the house and then added stone accenting up the entry column. Adding stone to those two areas of our home felt like more than enough for us and helped with the price, since the stone I chose turned was an expensive selection. I wanted a stone with NO yellow in it. I was actually pretty emphatic about my stone selection. I wanted rocks that were only white and grey.
Above is the stone finish we ended up with. I loved how the stones have a rough, uneven texture, making them appear natural and rustic. The stone I selected also has the same cream color as in my brick selection. When you pick your stone, ensure it contrasts, accents and highlights the part of your brick you want to pop.
4. How To Pull Your Exterior Design All Together:
Our last step was selecting the paint color for the exterior trim and the wood color for the garage. I first selected the garage door style I wanted (see the photo below). I chose option “T” with large iron hardware on it. I initially considered a unique color for the garage door like the one on the right. After consideration, I decided to go with the darkest color for the garage, to create a more modern look. I chose a super dark espresso color that almost looks black and will really stand out with our brick finish.
After I selected the garage door, I was ready to select the trim color. I wanted a color that would easily blend and not look yellow. (Can you tell I just couldn’t have any yellow in my house?!) I went with this soft creamy taupe trim color. Again, I chose a color also featured in both my brick and stone so they were highlighted.
5. How to LOVE Your Final Exterior Finish Result:
Once I’d selected all of the components for my exterior finish, I laid everything out for a final look to ensure all of the design elements complimented each other–the brick, stone, garage and trim. I am crossing my fingers I did a good job as they begin to install our finishes all this week!
As you see below, the backyard and front yard are stockpiled with all the materials. It’s strange to see the brick and stone in a natural light all stacked up on pallets, but from what I can tell, they really look great together. I have a feeling I’m going to love the final exterior finish results when it’s all complete. I really love my choice of brick and the stone compliments it so well.
So, tell me, what questions do you have on how to choose brick for your home and exterior finishes? Selecting brick and stone you love isn’t as daunting as you may think! I know it’s a big choice, but if you follow the steps you’ll select an exterior design you’ll feel proud of!
You can follow along on our journey right HERE and you can search it with the hashtag #ourwaterviewhome on social media.
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Rebekah Dempsey is the Creative Director, Stylist and Editor of A Blissful Nest. A site about everything for the home from stylish entertaining to fresh interiors. She has been in the interior design field for 15 years and loves to share tips, tricks and how to live a stylish and blissful life.