I am a fan of ivy covered walls and homes. I think they can cover sins and provide some green in really tight spaces. However growing ivy comes with some responsibility in maintaining and ensuring you have selected the right species for your need.
WHAT TYPE OF IVY:
First, if growing on a structure NEVER plant English Ivy, choose Boston Ivy. This will insure that the suckers or rootlets attached to the surface will not do any harm. Boston Ivy suckers can be removed with a good power washing, while English Ivy will bore into your brick/stucco/wood siding. In certain zones can also use Creeping Fig (see photo below) or other climbers in place of ivy.
Here is some ivy growing at a client’s house. You can see from the bottom left corner were the plant starts and how far it spreads across the building.
This is and example of Creeping Fig. You can see it provides the same feeling of framing the doorway.
This is a building I saw on Melrose in LA a few years ago.
Here is the ivy on the back of my house taken a years ago in early summer. Since our house is covered in stucco in the back, I used the ivy to provide some more green to the space. We have since moved our dinning room table to that section so it feels like you are dinning surrounded by a green curtain.
You can see how this ivy has started growing up the wall and then will begin to spread out.
Ivy can grow very quickly. I took a few weeks off from trimming at our house and the ivy started covering the windows and growing into the screens. On our one story ranch the trimming is easy to access with bi weekly clean ups (it is kind of my decompression therapy), but on a two story home would be more difficult.
You are a slave to the ivy, two weeks off of trimming and you can have ivy growing into your windows.
Image from prettythings.tumbler
This building includes a wire gird to support the ivy.
Image from Design Sponge.
I love how this one building in a row of townhouses is covered in Ivy. Imagine trimming the ivy on the fourth story!
Image from Apartment Therapy.