Modern Cottage Exterior Elements

Our home’s exterior has not changed very much since we moved in 7 years ago. This spring, we finally came to the realization that we would not be able to ignore the outside much longer. This house is 20 years old, which is much newer than most of the homes in the neighborhood, but old enough to start showing wear and tear. The threshold of everything needing to be replaced is knocking on our door. In fact, it’s knocking on our roof, front door, windows, air conditioning, etc, etc.

Replacing everything at the same time is not going to be an option, so we decided we are going to try to make one major exterior maintenance or improvement every Spring. This year, as part of our monthly home project effort, we started with a fresh paint job to the exterior. Today I thought I would show you that, and then give you an idea of what we might be changing in the future.

The exterior is stucco, and the color was a pinky-beige that was looking extra dingy. Plus, there were some cracks in the stucco that needed to be patched up. So we went ahead and had it painted it Gracious Greige, which is a much cooler color. We also had the shutters painted Urbane Bronze to soften up the black shutters and all the trim repainted white.

Below is the before and after. It’s not an earth-shattering transformation, but it felt like we just took the house to a spa to get a mani-pedi. The paint job just really made it look cleaner and crisper. I also love the new front door light fixture. I wish you could see the old one we replaced. It’s the little things 😉

Adding Modern Cottage Elements to a Traditional Exterior

Adding Modern Cottage Elements to a Traditional Exterior

Adding Modern Cottage Elements to a Traditional Exterior

As you can see, the house style is traditional. Nineties traditional to be a little more specific. While there is nothing wrong with that, it really isn’t our style. We would like to add more charm & personality as well. Living near the historic district surrounded by charming homes of all different styles and eras, it would be great to infuse our exterior with some of the architectural details that give a house character.

You might be wondering why we don’t just move, or even build a new house with everything to our liking. Even though the exterior is not our cup of tea, the location of the house could not be any more perfect for our family. Everything is so close and convenient. It takes Brian a whole 2 minutes to get to work. There is a park about 30 feet away. And to top that off, our neighbors are the best. Living here adds so much joy to our lives and we are very grateful for this house. The fact is, there is not a place in this town we would rather be than here.

In our discussions about needing to do some updates to the exterior in the coming years, our thought is to push the current exterior a little more towards our taste. Our ideal home exterior is a modern cottage style. Something like this:

Adding Modern Cottage Elements to a Traditional Exterior

Image Source: Unknown

As you can see, the lines are very clean and simple. Modern cottage style is very similar to modern farmhouse which is very popular right now. There is a lot of overlap between the two, but I would say modern cottage is a little more compact and less spread out. Less country a tad more city. Modern cottage is more minimalist in nature than its cousin, modern farmhouse.

If we were to build a home from scratch, it might look very similar to the ones above. But since we aren’t building a home, I’d love to “marry”our traditional style exterior with a bit of modern cottage elements. Here are a few of the exterior elements we would like to update over the next several years. These are all elements that we feel could work with the existing exterior.

Front door

Our current front door is on its last leg. We have repainted it several times. Plus, there is a big gap at the bottom that I am pretty sure a small creature could get through. I would absolutely would love to replace the entryway with a new door that lets more light into the house. Either a solid door with square sidelights, or maybe something like one of these. I think a warm wood door with clean lines will work well and add some warmth to balance out the cool neutral tones.



Next up on priority is probably the windows. If you walk by our house having a conversation, odds are I can hear you. Our windows seem like they are as thick as paper. In the winter, sitting in my office I can feel draft coming off them. We would love to replace them with a higher quality two over two window in a black or dark bronze finish. If we do this, we will probably remove the shutters and just add a simple white trim around them.


One cottage element that will definitely add to the charm factor is replacing the cement walkway with a brick one. I think the added warmth of a rustic red brick will be a nice complement to the cool tones of the house. Something like this…

House Numbers

One of the easiest changes we can make and that I am excited about is updating our house numbers. Just making this small change will go a long way in changing the aesthetic of the exterior. I love that these numbers could modernize all kinds of home styles like Craftsman to Tudor.

Garage Door

I think a good quality garage door can make the world of difference. Ours is the ubiquitous metal door with the faux wood imprint that fools no one. Our dream door would have panels and look more like one of these:

Adding Modern Cottage Elements to a Traditional Exterior

Taken with my phone in Carmel, CA


Along with the brick walkway, the garden gate is cottage all the way. Maybe because ours is so hard to open and on it’s last leg, I dream of having an inviting gate that beckons you to the backyard.

Two elements that also fall under both modern cottage and modern farmhouse that I didn’t include are 1) metal roof accents and 2) board and batten. I think both of these elements are great, and perhaps I would include them in a new build, but in our case, I think it would become a complete overhaul versus a marriage of the current style with the new one.

I put together a little mood board of our vision for the exterior updates we would like to implement in the coming years. Depending on the budget for that year, we will tackle one of these elements. One year, it may be a front door. Another year it might be windows. But it really helps to have an ultimate vision of what we are going for.

Modern Cottage Exterior Elements

Have you made major improvements to your home’s exterior? What has the biggest impact?

PS: Feel free to follow along on my “Exteriors” and “Front Door” Pinterest boards as the ideas keep flowing.

2 thoughts on “Adding Modern Cottage Elements to a Traditional Exterior

  1. Luanne Ashlock

    I love this! I love how you describe your home/style…Modern Farmhouse or Cottage. My personal style I describe as “Southern”. It’s cottage-y, mixed with antiques, mixed with simple updates and live-able. I’m a believer that your home should tell your story. I can tell you a memory on nearly everything in my home.

    Keep sharing!

    1. Ale Post author

      Thank you, Luanne! Totally agree that your home should tell your story. That’s how we can keep it from looking like a catalog.

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