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Give Your Downspouts a Makeover

Most downspouts simply aren’t good-looking. Here’s how to transform the system that protects your foundation into an eye-catching asset.

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A Nose for Drainage

Elephants love playing in water, and this pair of pachyderms is no exception. Made of copper and featuring tusks made of bull (cow) horns and glass eyes, these fully functional downspouts (about $2,000 each) will channel rain water in high style. Hook ‘em up to your gutters or leave ‘em as exterior wall ornaments that show your wild (life) side.

Credit: Art of Rain

Image: Art of Rain
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  • Elephants love playing in water, and this pair of pachyderms is no exception. Made of copper and featuring tusks made of bull (cow) horns and glass eyes, these fully functional downspouts (about $2,000 each) will channel rain water in high style. Hook ‘em up to your gutters or leave ‘em as exterior wall ornaments that show your wild (life) side.

    Credit: Art of Rain

  • In the Pacific Northwest, dealing with rain is a key component of house design. The architects of this residence on Puget Sound created pairs of sleek galvanized steel tubes that look more like structural elements than downspouts. This pair of downspouts empties well away from the house foundation to avoid any drainage problems.

    Credit: Jim Van Gundy

  • Here’s one way to put nature’s free water to good use — let downspouts dump directly into a planter. This handsome copper gutter and downspout empties into a sizeable stone patio planter full of hostas and ornamental grasses. Built-in planters should have a drain hole facing away from your house to keep excess water from soaking the soils around your foundation.

    Credit: Judy White/

  • Copper downspouts add a bit of bling to your exterior, but over time they’ll oxidize and turn a dull green. Although some like the aged patina, you’ll have to use some preventative maintenance to keep your copper downspouts beautifully bright. Before oxidation occurs, apply a clear protective coating with ultraviolet blockers and antioxidants ($40/pint) that’s made specifically for copper.

    Credit: Everbrite

  • The open design of this painted metal downspout makes clearing downspout clogs a snap, an especially handy feature for a tall, two-story residence. The natural tendency of water to cling to surfaces means runoff stays inside the downspout and doesn’t leak out the front. The open design and square shape is a clean, contemporary look that blends well with this modern-style house.

    Credit: Jon Stephen/Green Facade Systems

  • What appears to be a column of ivy growing up a wall trellis is actually a rain harvesting system designed to capture gutter runoff. A tank concealed by the greenery stores water and slowly releases it for use by climbing plants that scale the stainless steel framework. A 70-inch-high system with a 60-gallon capacity is $1,107. Additional 30-gallon add-ons are $429.

    Credit: Moss Sund Architects

  • A specially-made gutter and downspout system from a sheet metal fabricator adds architectural flair to your home. The flared opening at the top of the downspout is called a leader box; this one is made of copper and costs about $150. A complementary 2-by-3-inch copper downspout runs about $16 per foot.

    Credit: Liberty Sheet Metal

  • Downspout rainwater sluicing through this giant, 14-foot-high copper treble clef turns a water wheel, which powers a music box that plays Canon in D major. Don’t fret — you can choose other musical backgrounds as well. The base price is $3,000.

    Credit: Art of Rain

  • Give your rainwater a proper sendoff with a cast-resin gargoyle downspout ($50). This mouthy fellow has a 3-by-5-inch opening so it won’t get clogged. Make sure your downspout sends water away from your foundation; this one opens onto a sloped tile patio that carries water away from the house.

    Credit: Rain Water Systems

  • The Darwin Martin house in Buffalo, N.Y., is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best examples of Prairie School architecture. Wright wasn’t about to let practicality get in the way of the strong horizontal lines of his design, so he made the downspouts disappear into the support columns and exit out the base of the foundation walls. Good for visual appeal; tough when it comes to replacing downspouts.

    Credit: Michael Dailey

  • Originating in Japan hundreds of years ago, rain chains are a decorative alternative to the humble (and usually boring!) downspout. Rainwater clings to the chain links and dances its way down to the ground, where a splash block channels water away from your foundation. This imaginative polished copper tea set is $111 for an 80-inch chain, teapot, and four cups.

    Credit: Mike Lodato

  • Part of an urban Seattle project called “Growing Vine Street,” this apartment downspout system channels rainwater through built-in planters. The planters act as bio-filters to remove pollutants before runoff can enter natural waterways. Hardy grasses and succulents that grow in the planters also help evaporate storm water, reducing the amount of runoff.

    Want more ideas for sprucing up the outside of your home? Check out these 8 tips for adding curb appeal.

    Credit: Downspout art by Buster Simpson

  • If you like these, you may want to take a spin through HouseLogic’s library of slideshows.


  • A Nose for Drainage
  • Modern Aesthetic
  • Direct Deposit
  • Bright Ideas
  • Open-Minded
  • Living Rain Storage
  • Custom Metal Work
  • Singin’ In the Rain
  • Grand Opening
  • The Wright Way
  • A Cup of Rain, Anyone?
  • Harvesting Rain
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  • modern-aesthetic
  • direct-deposit
  • bright-ideas
  • open-minded
  • living-rain-storage
  • custom-metal-work
  • singin-in-the-rain
  • grand-opening
  • the-wright-way
  • a-cup-of-rain-anyone
  • harvesting-rain
  • more-slideshows
  • Image: Art of Rain
  • Image: Jim Van Gundy
  • Image: Judy White/
  • Image: Everbrite
  • Image: Jon Stephen/Green Facade Systems
  • Image: Moss Sund Architects
  • Image: Liberty Sheet Metal
  • Image: Art of Rain
  • Image: Rain Water Systems
  • Image: Michael Dailey
  • Image: Mike Lodato
  • Image: Downspout art by Buster Simpson
Copper elephant downspouts Pair of steel tubes downspouts Garden planter downspout Copper fish downspout Open box downspout Rain harvesting system downspout Sheet metal downspout Treble clef downspout Resin gargoyle downspout Frank Lloyd Wright downspout Rain chain teacup downspout Harvest downspouts