Not all locations are created equal – the design of a streetscape creates the location and directly effects the property value of a home. Great places can be created with a handful of houses clustered together or in developments that cover acres. Regardless of the scale of a development, the way a street looks and feels – its proportions, views of house fronts, play of light and shade – all effect the value of a street.
1. Design for the person and the car, not just the car
Keep the cars – just don’t make them the focus. Design streets that people and cars can share. This can be done with narrow streets and sidewalks by minimizing the visual impact of the garage. Narrow streets are safer to walk down than wide streets, because they naturally calm traffic, and they add value to the houses built on the street.
2. Design an outdoor room (and remember, less is more)
The real secret to good street design is thinking about the streetscape as an outdoor room, with the houses acting as its walls. This is about containment, about feeling like you are in a place, not just passing through on your way from one interior to another. Designing houses for a streetscape allows each building to be part of a greater whole. Not every house needs every element, because houses in a streetscape work together to form a larger composition.
3. Use landscape, color and tasteful accessories to soften and frame the streetscape
In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, “Doctors can bury their mistakes; architects can only advise their clients to plant trees.” Street trees are great for hiding average or boring buildings, but they are even more important for several reasons beyond aesthetics. Street trees slow traffic and create a barrier between people on the sidewalk and cars on the road so pedestrians can safely coexist with automobiles. Behind the backdrop of landscaping, the color and texture of a home creates the walls of the outdoor room. Complicated architectural elements are not necessary to differentiate your house; use colorful siding, trim, shutters and front doors. Further frame the street with accessories such as light posts, mailboxes and street signs.