8 must-have dream home exterior features

Published Date: March 3, 2023

a house with a pool in the middle of a green field
When you’re designing your dream home, every detail matters — and the exterior features are just as important as the interior touches. Whether you’re designing a primary residence or a second home, here are eight dream home exterior features you won’t want to overlook, plus a few helpful tips for turning them into reality.

1. Wraparound porch 

Luxury home in South Carolina with large wraparound porch.
Your home’s front exterior makes a powerful first impression, and nothing is quite as welcoming as a large front porch. Statement front porches work on homes with a wide range of architectural styles, and they are the perfect blank canvas for adding your own style to the home. Maybe that’s statement-making light fixtures, a classic porch swing or pots of colorful flowers — or all three. Your porch becomes the perfect place to entertain, curl up with a good book or sip a cocktail at the end of the day.

2. Outdoor kitchen 

Enjoy true indoor-outdoor living with a gourmet outdoor kitchen. Especially well suited for warm weather destinations like the beach and the desert, outdoor kitchens give you everything you need to whip up a gorgeous meal, then enjoy it al fresco. The best outdoor kitchens are located near your home’s recreation amenities (like a swimming pool, putting green or fire pit) and feature gas grills, drink refrigerators, pizza ovens and plenty of prep space. 

3. Swimming pool 

Luxury home with pool amenity in California.
Speaking of outdoor recreation, a pool in the backyard makes every day feels like vacation. If a pool is on your wish list, you have a lot of options. You might want a pool with space for the whole family to splash around, a lap pool for exercise, a sleek infinity-edge pool for aesthetic appeal or a plunge pool for quick dips on hot days. No room for a full-sized swimming pool? A hot tub is a nice alternative.

4. Lush landscaping

Mature landscaping does so much for a home. It adds visual interest, gives a polished and upscale look, provides shade and gives a sense of place. The type of landscaping you’ll want depends on where your home is located. A desert home might call for drought-friendly landscaping with succulents and cacti, while a Wine Country retreat is well-suited for grape vines and fruit trees. 

5. Sport court 

Aerial view of luxury home in Palm Springs with private tennis courts.
Calling all active homeowners! Sport courts can be purpose-built for a single sport, like a basketball court or a tennis court, or they can be designed to accommodate a variety of sports. Use your court for pickleball one day and volleyball the next.

6. Acreage

Room to roam is a popular feature of many luxury primary and second homes. Having a home on a large parcel of land offers privacy, space to enjoy your favorite activities, and the flexibility to add on to your home over time. And while extra acreage can often mean more maintenance, it doesn’t have to. Consider keeping some of your land natural so the maintenance is minimized. For example, retain the natural forested landscape surrounding your mountain home instead of installing and maintaining a pristine grass lawn.

7. Water views

Luxury home in Lake Tahoe with view of the water.
Epic water views are a sure sign of a dream home. Whether that means being able to see (and hear!) the waves crashing from a beachfront abode, taking in the beauty of a peaceful mountain lake or living canal-side in a home with a private dock, waterfront living is ideal for many people.

8. Separate guest space  

Having separate guest quarters can be ideal for those who entertain out-of-town guests regularly. A mother-in-law suite, separate guest cottage or pool house on property is a win-win for both parties. You maintain your everyday routine in your home and your guests have the privacy and comfort that come with having dedicated space. Best of all, when nobody is visiting, this separate structure can double as a home office or studio space.

Tips for designing your dream home exterior

Designing your dream home is no small undertaking, and the exterior features play an important role in both the look and feel of the property. Here are a few tips that will help you during your design process. 

Gather inspiration

The first step to designing a beautiful home exterior is deciding what you like. This starts at a high level: What is your preferred architectural style? A lot of the decisions you make later depend on your answer. For example, if you love traditional design, everything from fencing material to tilework will work to complement your overall style. A Mid-Century Modern home will call for different materials from a traditional home, and the layout and of the home itself will need to take into consideration the architectural style.If you’re not sure where to start, both in-person and online research are great options. Hop in the car and drive around your desired area and jot down notes about exterior features and styles you like. Or set aside some time to browse and bookmark things you like online. Instagram and Pinterest are great places to collect your digital inspiration. Another great strategy for the initial research and inspiration phase is to ask yourself a few key questions: 
  • What features make me feel at home? 
  • What kind of feelings do I want my home design to evoke? 
  • How can my home reflect my hobbies, passions and priorities? 
  • How do I see myself enjoying this home? 
  • Where will I spend the most time?
  • How does the weather and location affect my exterior wish list? 

Build your criteria … and budget 

Once you’ve got a handle on your overall architectural style and your pie-in-the-sky wish list, prioritize your must-haves. Everyone has a budget, even on a dream home build. Would you rather have the privacy of ample acreage and have a smaller budget left for the home itself? Or is a large home with all the bells and whistles more important than the location? 

Ask for help 

Crafting your dream home is complex, so don’t go it alone. Assemble a team of experts —  a real estate agent, real estate attorney, architect, general contractor, interior designer or decorator — to guide the process. It can also be helpful to have a couple of friends who are willing to offer their opinion on your design choices and help you narrow your options. 

Or buy a move-in ready home 

If you know what you want and don’t want to wait, consider buying a move-in ready luxury home. And if you're dreaming of a second home, check out Pacaso. Our co-ownership model makes it easy to enjoy all the perks of owning a professionally designed and managed property in crave-worthy destinations

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Jen Lyons

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