The Ins and Outs of Selecting Lattice

Lattice before renovation


lattice after renovation














Lattice is a great solution for screening around the base of a cottage or under a deck or porch. The open weave provides a light, casual look and lets air circulate freely. However, all lattice is not created equal. Lattice should be carefully selected because the scale, material and construction can make the difference between a polished look that enhances the exterior of your home versus a look that is more chaotic.

Like so many things in life these days, there are LOTS of choices! Here is what you should consider when selecting  lattice:


porch lattice


Look at your home’s exterior. If a lot is already going on, I suggest you go with a square pattern. I use this style most often (vs. a diamond pattern). Squares give a cleaner look and add a bit more style.

When budgets allow, I go with cedar lattice and then spray it with a stain. Cedar lattice holds up and looks great up close. If the low-maintenance of vinyl is appealing, there are some nice options that come in both squares and diamonds. Vinyl lattice typically comes in white and dark green (the two most frequently used colors), but many companies also make a line that can be painted. If you decide to go with vinyl, just make sure the lattice strips are not too thick or it won’t look good!

Size of Openings:
“Privacy” lattice has a tighter grid pattern; “classic” has larger openings. The right choice depends upon your preference. I use the “privacy” most often because I think it gives a nicer finished look.

Framed panels:
For a more finished look, lattice panels surrounded by a frame will feel neater and more styled.

Foundation color:
You can often see the gray concrete of the foundation through lattice. I like painting the foundation to camouflage the foundation and create a cleaner look. This is particularly important if the lattice is going in a location that you frequently see, such as under a front porch.

There’s a lot to think about! If you need some inspiration, take a look at lattice pictures on or give me a call!

How to Choose Windows for Your Renovation

living room windows

Window selection is one of the most important decisions in a renovation. While all choices matter, windows have a huge impact on both the interior and exterior appearance of the entire house. They are also a big ticket item so you don’t want to make a mistake!

How do you choose the best windows for your renovation? Start by considering four things:

  1. Price: Almost every manufacturer has now developed a line of windows to meet a wide range of price points. Compare prices and warranties to begin to narrow down choices.
  2. Style: When you see a construction job that has windows you like, ask for the name of the manufacturer (You may also be able to get the name from the big stickers that stay on the windows until the job is done. Smart marketing on the window manufacturers part!). There are lots and lots of  style choices that will need to be made. Double hung or casement windows? Grids or not? And what grid configuration? Color of hardware? Color of stylized exterior clad?
  3. Material: What material do you want on the exterior? Metal clad? Vinyl clad? Wood? And what about the inside? If you are going with wood on the interior, do you want it unfinished, primed or pre-painted/stained?
  4. Regulations: What are the egress and building code requirements that will affect your window decisions?


Window selection can be overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

lake house windows1. Go big! Factor in the scale of the house, but every home can benefit from additional light and improved sight lines!

2. Be careful where you locate awning or casement windows. Both of these window styles swing out, so you want to avoid placing them close to walkways or on a deck when they will be in a traffic lane. If you have the space, I love awning windows because you can leave them open without worrying that rain will come in if it starts to sprinkle on a summer day. The water hits the window instead of the frame and is less likely to come into the house.

3. Go for quality if you must have grids instead of true divided lights. I know that grids set between the two pieces of glass make it much easier to wash windows. Just remember that there is an aesthetic trade-off. When light is on these windows, you see a single smooth pane of glass, rather than separate panes as in divided lights. If your windows have applied grids — meaning that they are attached to the outside of the glass — check the look of the filler spaces between the grids. If there are not spacers, it can look strange as you see light and space between the inside and exterior grids.

4. Match the windows to the style of your home. Make sure you are staying true to the house and not just following the trend of the moment. Remember half-round windows added above windows in spaces with cathedral ceilings? They started as a good detail, but then were overdone (and often used in the wrong application on the wrong house!). In the wrong setting, you can now point and say “hhhmmm…. 1980’s…”

Of course, budget is going to have a big impact on your choices. Often something has to give, but I try to encourage my clients to go with the right windows for the house, even if it means that we scrimp on something else. Windows are not a selection to “re-do later” and they can make or break the look of the home.  Try to go with the right windows from the start!

cottage windows

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Wolfeboro NH home addition drawing

“Seeing” Your Home Renovation Before Construction

A client recently asked me a question that I hear often. She asked if I was surprised how her home renovation turned out. The good news is that the answer was “no”. My job is to see what a space can be and get it there. Although it is always a thrill to see the finished product, I love that it is what I “saw” all along!

In the planning stages, I create a base plan using CADD software. This base plan uses the dimensions and detail of the existing house, and is a great way to really get a sense of the current structure and what we are dealing with from a construction standpoint. From there, using the feedback from client meetings and the earlier development of goals and objectives for the project, I begin design.

The CADD drawings are a great tool for me, but clients love them as well! It enables everyone to actually see the changes that are being proposed and helps my clients understand why I am designing something a certain way or why I am recommending alterations in floor plan, exteriors and even building scale.

Here is an example of a computer-generated view of the addition that is wrapping up on a current project. The CADD view was done a year ago; the photo was taken 2 weeks ago. And there were no surprises!

Wolfeboro NH home addition drawing












Wolfeboro NH home renovation

I also like people to see “special views” inside the house. At the beginning of a project, I will ask a client if they have a special piece of furniture or artwork that they want to have in a certain room, and will factor that into plans. (Right now, on one of my projects, I think I have just solved where a baby grand piano will be going – with a great view of the outdoors as well!)

When I do interiors, I usually place furniture in rooms so people know what will fit or show them the answer to the always asked question:“Where will the TV go?”!

Below is an example of an interior view that was presented to the client more than a year before the “finished product” was complete. We even factored in paint colors early on, giving the clients time to think about the feel of the finished home well before final paint colors needed to be selected.

Wolfeboro NH Lake House Interior Remodel Rendering

Wolfeboro NH Lake House Interior Remodeling

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New England Porches (and Front Stoops)

New England porch

Our winters last so long that we New Englanders want to make the most of every warm day. Maybe that is why we love our porches. Porches are a great way to extend living space into the outdoors. In the case of front porches, they do double duty as a place to relax in the summer while working year-round to keep rain and snow off your guests’ heads when they come to the front door.

A porch adds style and function to a house for relatively short money. Particularly if an exterior is a little plain, a porch can make the house look more appealing. When I can, I always incorporate a porch into renovation plans!

Most porches that I add fall into two categories: entry porches or screened porches. With all of our summer insects, screened porches are essential if you want to relax outside with a good book without constantly swatting black flies or mosquitoes. Here are a few things to think about:

Entry Porches:
Entry porches are a visually appealing way to provide cover over the entry door for protection from bad weather. When done in the correct scale, an entry porch also gives a visitor the clear message of where they’re supposed to go when arriving to a home.

Wolfeboro NH front entrance before renovation


Wolfeboro NH front entry remodeled fron


If you have the space, don’t skimp on the size! The most welcoming entries have space for a few chairs and pots of greens and flowers. If a true covered porch doesn’t work, still keep that front stoop concept in mind. A larger area to stand on at the front door is more inviting than a small landing that makes you feel as if you might fall off with one wrong step.

Screened Porches:
If you’re like me, a screened porch may be your favorite “room” in the house. To make the best use of the space, plan the screened porch as if it were a regular room. Think about how you and your family will use the space. Be sure to map out furniture layouts, lighting, locations for electrical outlets, ceiling finishes, and access to both the indoors and the outdoors.

New England screened porch

If you are building a new screened porch, consider adding an outdoor fireplace. It is a beautiful way to take the chill off. The ambiance and comfort cannot be underestimated!

Whether you are creating an entry porch or screen porch, here are three essentials to consider:
1. Make sure the size of the columns / posts are in scale! A common mistake is posts that are too small for the scale of the structure.
2. Think out the style of the railing. If you have a wonderful view, be sure not to block it with the railing!
3. What is the style of your home and porch? Rustic? Old fashioned? Cottage style?  The style will dictate the posts, ceiling style and finishes that look as if they belong.

Here are a few photos to get your creative juices flowing!


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My New Favorite Exterior Railing

Are you giving your exterior railings the attention they deserve? Exterior railings are often viewed as a building code requirement rather than an important design element, but the right railing can be the perfect finishing touch.

Here are a few general considerations:

• Style and Design: The style of the railings should be in keeping with the style and design of your entire home. Be careful not to go too contemporary (wire or Plexiglas panels) if this does not fit the house. If your railing has balusters, pay attention to the scale (especially the posts — nothing looks worse that posts that are too skinny!)
• Materials: What are your priorities? Low maintenance? The look? Be sure to pick a material that meets your needs.
• Cost: The cost runs the gamut!! Determine the “feel” and style you are looking for and then price out a few different alternatives.

If your railing is going on a deck or porch that offers great views, you have a whole set of additional considerations. Here in New Hampshire, building codes call for an exterior railing height of 42″, which can really interfere with sight lines! To make the most of a gorgeous view, select railing materials to keep the view open.

One of my very favorite railings is this one from a recent project in Wolfeboro.

Wentworth Style favorite exterior railing

We added a wonderful deck that runs the full length of the house and a large screened porch so the owners could enjoy their spectacular lakefront views. Whether sitting outside or looking out the (many!) windows from inside, we wanted to keep the view open.

The home has a “cottagey” look. Typical balusters would match the style of the house, but the long deck might have felt a bit like a playpen with all those balusters! Fortunately, this client has a great sense of funky style and was willing to be a bit creative.

The end result was a railing designed using cedar and galvanized metal architectural mesh. Working with the local building supplier, the builder on the job found me the perfect scale of mesh (and met my challenge of wanting squares- not rectangles – as the grid pattern!). The cedar is low maintenance and will gray to become just the right color. Staying with code, a 4” space was added below the top rail and off of the deck – reducing the visual mass of the panels. Of course, we sized the top rail so it is the perfect landing place for a glass of iced tea!

We ended up loving this design so much, I carried it through to the interior railing detail. Instead of cedar, we will be wrapping the posts in pine and painting them white to match the other trim and woodwork finishes inside of the house.

What do you think? Do you like this railing or have other great railings to share? Feel free to comment!

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