Adding Curb Appeal to Casa Soria with James Hardie

Photography Courtesy James Hardie®

Dear Renovation Diary,

As you know, I’m currently in the process of renovating my parents’ kitchen and doing a house full of makeover projects for them. Their house is currently a big construction zone and will be so for a few more months. This isn’t the house I grew up in, my parents moved to this area five years ago after retiring and leaving my childhood home in Yosemite. One of the first things I noticed about the area they moved to is that there is a ton of weird siding on houses up there. On houses from the low-end to the high-end, there’s lots of dated plywood house siding. It doesn’t sound like a bid deal, but the inclusion of dated, badly worn siding can completely change the look of an entire community. My parents’ neighborhood is no exception.

The area my parents moved to in Sonoma County sits up on a hill on streets lined with big old trees and well-kept gardens. It’s a nice neighborhood. The houses were built by a developer in the 1970s and the whole neighborhood reminds me of the neighborhood from E.T., big houses with weird 70s details. I mean this in the most loving way possible, the neighborhood feels really nice and I love my parents’ house. The outside (as you can see below) is its worst feature, as the house has absolutely zero curb appeal.

When James Hardie®, the purveyor of durable fiber cement siding in a beautiful variety of colors and finishes, approached me about collaborating I immediately thought of my parents’ house and how it could be transformed with a new exterior surface. Something I’ve noticed from working on their kitchen and expanding onto the back of the house is that all types of exterior surfacing come with their own challenges and benefits. There are many benefits to using James Hardie® siding. One that is at the front of my mind now is that it’s more fire resistant than wood or vinyl siding. As you may know, the area where my parents lived almost burnt down a few months ago. I happened to be up there checking in on the kitchen project when this happened, and it was very scary. We were evacuated five times, there was no electricity for a week, and the fires came within a few blocks. Thankfully their house survived, but 7,500 buildings burnt down. Everyone up there knows dozens of people who lost their homes. So anything that can be done to make a house a bit more fire safe is a great thing.

Here’s the outside of my parents’ house. I know, it’s not amazing. But don’t be too mean. For some reason I’m weirdly defensive about it even though I myself have told them I think it’s ugly a million times. The house really does feel amazing from the inside (check back soon for some great posts on makeover projects I’m doing in their sitting room, family room, guest bedroom, dining room, and kitchen). But the house lacks curb appeal for sure. For some reason all the houses in this neighborhood have three car garages. I think maybe this was a status thing in the late 70s? They’re big houses, maybe around the time developers decided to start making things huge for no reason.  Luckily, this neighborhood has aged really well. Neighbors have updated their houses and everything looks beautiful (except the exterior of my parents’ house). It doesn’t help that there is a giant concrete driveway in front of the house instead of anything green.

This is the current siding situation. It’s the type of siding you see all over Sonoma County and I don’t understand it. I think it could have something to do with the time the area started getting really developed in the 60s and 70s, but it’s outlived its welcome and its time for something new. A cleaner, more sturdy alternative is HardieShingle®, which achieves the handcrafted look of cedar with lower maintenance than cedar or wood-based shingles. It’s also very versatile, with applications on both traditional and contemporary homes.

Another issue with my parents’ house (and many hastily-built tract houses from the time) is that there is inconsistency with siding. The whole house is stucco, except the front which is covered in siding. It ends up making the home look haphazard. Elegance demands cohesion, so combining James Hardie® siding with their great options for trim and soffits gives a home a more considered, polished finish.

In all honesty, before collaborating with James Hardie®, I’d never really given siding much thought. My renovations tend to be interior, so I don’t often deal with the exteriors of homes. But I was impressed with how beautiful their siding looks on so many different types of homes. Here are a few facts I’ve learned about James Hardie’s® offerings:

  1. It stands up to moisture and harsh weather.
  2. It is water resistant to protect against swelling, warping and cracking; also resists damage from mold.
  3. It won’t be eaten by animals or insects.
  4. As I mentioned above, it’s more fire resistant than wood or vinyl siding.
  5. The color finish (ColorPlus®) provides consistent, long-lasting beauty.
  6. It offers less maintenance than wood or wood-based siding.

I’m obsessed with wooden shingles so I was excited to see that James Hardie® offers HardieShingle®. Sidenote: I love that James Hardie® inserts its name into all of its products like I do with orMOMdo and orlandDAD, etc. Not only do they have HardieShingle®, they also have products like HardiePlank®, HardieTrim®, HardieSoffit®, HardieWrap®, HardiePanel®, HardieBacker®…AND MORE.

Northern California provides a lot of challenges for siding. It’s hot there in the summer and cold/wet during the winter. Also, small earthquakes happen with mild frequency and can contribute to cracking in exterior finishes. Luckily, James Hardie’s® unique formulations resist the effects of humidity and moisture, damage from mold and provide superior dimensional stability to resist shrinking, swelling and cracking.

I don’t know if it’s appropriate for Casa Soria, but I love a blue house. I also love how the above home combined James Hardie® surfaces to help give the home some structural definition.

An added benefit to using James Hardie® siding is the warranty. James Hardie® stands behind its siding 100% for 30 years and behind its trim 100% for 15 years. 30 years is a long time. I’m literally going to be a 65 year old man in 30 years. That’s a long time to not have to worry about your siding failing.

Okay, so now to the task at hand. My parents’ house. Before we get too far into this, I have to say I don’t know if this is ever going to happen. My parents might be swayed if I can get the whole thing sponsored, but they’ve just sunk so much money into their kitchen I think it will be a while before they want to spend any more money on their house. However, I thought it would be fun to do some renderings as an exercise to show dramatically siding can change the look and character of a home. It’s a surface that can make a house into something completely different. I created the following renderings using Photoshop and layering beautiful James Hardie® products over the house’s exterior. I also reconfigured the windows and added some green in the driveway to make the transformations even more dramatic. Check them out, choose a favorite, and tell me how you’d use James Hardie® in the comments!

Modern Minimal Shingle

I love the work of architect/builders Ike Kligerman Barkley, who often use shingles (normally relegated to more traditional homes) on homes with modern lines. I love the warmth and hand-touched element that HardieShingle® brings. For this rendering, I chose HardieShingle® in Arctic White. Shingles aren’t only for Cape Cod style homes anymore. You can use them on modern homes and they look GORGEOUS.

Cape Cod Contemporary

One of the main issues my parents have with the design of their home is that orMOMdo loves contemporary while orlanDAD loves traditional. The home I was raised in was a historic 1920s Craftsman bungalow, filled with character and dripping with authenticity. Unfortunately (well maybe fortunately for my mom) the home they bought was a 1970s modern house. The lines of it want to be contemporary. For this render, I used HardiePlank® Lap Siding (in INSANELY BEAUTIFUL Evening Blue). The color is absolutely gorgeous and it completely changes the home, making it a lot more Cap Cod traditional than I thought possible.

The final option I chose was HardiePlank® Lap Siding in Light Mist (which is a really beautiful faint grey). For this option, I went as modern and minimal as possible. Also, I didn’t add another window on this render because I wanted to do an option that didn’t involve adding one (it’s a huge expense and it’s nice to have some interior space to hang art, though I believe structurally we can add a window there if we want).

So, there we have it. That’s what you can do with siding! People often underestimate how fully changing a surface can change the look of a home. But it completely transforms the identity of a house. If you’re looking to get inspired about how you can transform your own home’s exterior with James Hardie® siding, check this link to download an inspiration guide. Also, if you’d like to order samples (I ordered Lap Siding in Light Mist, Arctic White, and Evening Blue), you can order free samples on the James Hardie® website.



PS: Vote for your favorite style and tell me how you’d transform your house with James Hardie® siding!

This post was created in collaborated with James Hardie®, who compensated me for writing it. Ideas and opinions expressed are genuine and my own. Sponsored content helps keep this site running.












62 thoughts on “Adding Curb Appeal to Casa Soria with James Hardie

  1. number 1 modern minimal. I just installed vinyl siding, boo, but wish I had done Hardie siding instead.

  2. Love option1, it’s a completely different house. Looks as if it was meant to look like that
    I love Hardie, I’ve used it in many applications and have yet to repaint after 15 years (oldest project). It’s perfect for my historic property

  3. Modern minimal goes best with the 70s architectural lines, I think. You could also soften up the hardness of those garage doors with a pergola spanning the width with beautiful climbing flowers.

  4. One or two would look stunning! Would the circle window be challenging to design around inside? Otherwise, I love that option because of the color.

  5. I love #1 and #2! But also love the blue color in general. I also really like the original roof and would love to see it rendered with different siding. We have a small cottage from the 40’s made of asbestos siding that will withstand anything! We are adding an addition soon (still keeping it small), and would never do vinyl (one of the most toxic materials on earth and I think it looks too plasticy), so thank you for showcasing this siding.

    Just curious why you would get rid of the tile roof? Is it the color?

  6. I am shocked at how different you can make the house look with a few changes. I never thought you could make the exterior drool worthy but your changes and the Hardie siding do it. They should absolutely sponsor this redo. It would be compelling evidence of what the right siding can do for your home. I have to believe that the cost of the siding would be far less than the appreciation increase that would be realized. Love the modern minimal SO much.

  7. We are currently having hardie plank siding installed in evening blue. It’s super pretty and looks so much better than the wonky vinyl siding we had. Here’s hoping it lasts a long time and keeps all those Alameda termites away!

  8. I LOVE #1! Looks like a new house! I desperately want to replace the siding on our little cape cod house, but don’t know if the expense will be worth it, since it’s not our forever home. The current aluminum siding is blah but in OK condition. Do I leave it? Paint it? Throw it in a flaming dumpster? I just don’t know!

    1. If you do end up replacing your aluminum siding, don’t forget that it’s recyclable! I removed the aluminum trim from just my soffits and fascia and got $80 at the recycling center.

  9. Love number 1, but maybe add a pergola over the garage doors ( pinterest has zillions of pix) with pretty vines would soften up the front facade a little more?

  10. #1 is soooo darn good! (even without the addition of that awesome middle window) and oh my -the warmth and contrast of the wood garage doors..? love them! (I need to replace my never-even-opened-it garage door for something more weatherized and wood is absolutely at the top of my list now -thank you : ) ps, I live in a blue house…

  11. I have a James Hardy house, a blue one, in coastal Virginia and love it almost more than life itself. Worth every extra penny. No painting until forever.

  12. Modern minimal shingle! I’m not even a fan of the whole modern style-but those shingles are so pretty & just make the house look more expensive! #1 is my pick. ❤

  13. Love that modern minimal. We have a falling down awful metal soffit around our brick ‘60s ranch in Dallas. I want a new cedar soffit but NOW I’ll be looking into HardySoffit!

  14. #1 is my favorite by far. The driveway looks so much better with greenery added. I’m a committed apartment dweller, but I will pass on this information to my mom

  15. #1 for me too. For my own house, maybe something like the HardieShingle Siding, Cobblestone. Can’t wait to see Ormomdo’s

  16. I love #1 also! We’re about to turn a one story ranch into a two story and will be using the Hardie siding. Now to pick which blue…

  17. I like the Light Mist siding from number 3 but the wooden garage doors and the driveway in number 1. Stay with 2 windows (unless your parents are exhibitionists) and how about a mounted pergola over the garage doors?

  18. #1! Gorgeous! We are on our second home clad with HardiePlank – it’s the bomb! No issues as all!

  19. Since Ormomdo loves contemporary, I vote for the first option but I need to say that I think the greatest transformation is in the cape cod-ish rendering. Orlando, you have SKILLZ.

    In Georgia, most homes built in the last 20 years have Hardie plank boards. We have had two and wouldn’t want anything else. It looks great and weathers very well.

    I hope you get to transform the exterior of your parents home!

  20. I love how your love of your parents comes through in your writing.

    Anyway, my fav is the first rendering. Looks like a whole different house. Also hard to design for couple with different tastes, an exercise in compromise, constantly! You’re doing a great job and your parents will love their house. Xx

  21. Number 1 for sure!!!!! The siding looks awesome. I hope they sponsor the project so we can see how you would use it.

  22. I like Hardie products and the inspiration pictures. Have you considered a Spanish style for the house? I know the idea doesn’t really fit with the Hardie idea…but there are hints that was originally intended and a major improvement might be made for less of an investment. Perhaps you could replace of the current balconies and shutters with two black metal balconies with swirls and perhaps half oval shape. Paint with window edges black. Maybe add an eyebrow with material matching the roof which looks sort of spanish-tile-ish above the garage doors. Perhaps put some topiaries on the balconies. Stucco the front to match the rest of the house. Maybe put a bougainvillea (next to the fair side garage) maybe in a big clay pot. The bougainvillea could be trained to cross the eyebrow and balconies. Since the huge driveway offends perhaps it can be stained to be more interesting and less offensive? I think removing the driveway (no matter how unattractive) would not be good for resale. Paint the stucco white? Food for thought! Looking forward to seeing your projects!

  23. I installed Hardie siding on my house about ten years ago and love it, for all the reasons you mentioned. I painted mine a pastel, greenish-blue with buttery-white trim. Their colors are nice, but you can paint it just like wood siding.

  24. Love #1! Those windows! And maybe convert the garage door on the right to a window (for a garage workshop area?) and cut out 1/3 or maybe just 1/4 of the driveway, closest to the front door. Merge it into the yard with landscape tiers of grass and accent plants to deal with the slope. Also, I’d for sure move (or get rid of) the bush/tree in front of the window on the right so you can see more of the house and to help draw your eye to more than just the driveway. I’m not a fan of the mixed grass and concrete driveway–it’s too busy for my taste and would require a lot of edging. Perhaps staining the concrete a warmer and/or darker color would help it feel less like a parking lot. Just a thought. Anyway, I love the mock-ups! It’s so fun to see the different possibilities.

  25. I want a combination of #1 and #2. Looks wonderful, I totally want to re-side my house with Hardie products!

  26. I really like #3. Beautiful, subtle color – looks expensive and goes well with the rest of the house.

  27. I like #1 the best, and I think it could def work without the middle window (though it’s gorgeous with it). I’m excited to see all the hardi siding options, we’re fixing up a 1930s craftsman cottage on the TX coast and this kind of siding would be so good for our harsh conditions! Will def keep in mind, thanks!

  28. I like the first one the best, but out of consideration for budget and renovation fatigue (been there, it’s the worst) I vote for number 3.

  29. #1! Although those beautiful windows and garage doors look expensive…the siding would most certainly be the least expensive part! And the driveway in all three makes such a huge difference!

  30. #1 and #2 are both really beautiful and interesting, but I think #3 is best suite for the style of the home. Can this siding be painted down the road if desired? I have some ugly vinyl siding (pinkish-beige), and from what I’ve researched, it would be very expensive to paint with special vinyl-friendly paint, and the color may not hold well anyway. I’m having to hold out for a big enough budget for new siding. If a new owner wanted to paint it someday, I’d love for them to not be in my boat.

  31. Love, love, love option No. 1! I have a condo, so I have no control over what’s used on my house, but this is gorgeous siding.

  32. Option #1 is my fave, though they are all gorgeous and improve the curb appeal tremendously.

  33. All so creative and beautiful! However, I believe the clear front runner is Option #1. We have a 60s ranch house that we are updating with the modern minimal look. I am totally going to check out the Hardie website and order a few samples. Thanks for the inspo!

  34. #1. I love it! So inspiring! Seems like it would mesh best with the home’s interior style, too! It looks slightly Asian, which I love. Love the driveway, too!

    Second choice: #3. The front door & garage doors look like shoji, which is a beautiful aesthetic & one that jives with your mom’s style. It also looks a little more traditional than the first one, if that appeals to your dad. It also looks like it would mesh well with the interior. I also love the driveway in #3, & it also looks like the one that would be easiest to maintain of the three.

    # 2 seems like it would look out of place in Sonoma.

    I love this project! I love your work!

    1. I just read the post on the new deck–so lovely! Looks like #1 goes best the back of the house, with the wood, white, & pendant porch light, which I already loved before I saw that it’s as the one that you propose for the back. With the shades down, the #1 windows would look like shoji, too. I also prefer the thinner black trim to the thicker black trim on #3

      Can’t wait to see what you do! Love what you’ve done here–& on all your projects. You’re my favorite designer by far!

  35. #1 is stunning! I can’t wait to see all the improvements you do to your parent’s house.

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