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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Exterior Design Help for 1950s Ranch-style house

KateAugust 21, 2012
We are in desperate need of an update to our 1950s ranch-style house in California. We recently purchased the home and think the look is quite dated, but don't know where to begin! We don't want to make any significant structural changes, but are open to most other ideas. I don't like the blue color and all of the white trim. We're thinking about getting rid of the brick, adding window trim, changing the columns, changing paint color, resurfacing porch / walkway, landscaping, etc. but we don't know where to begin or what would suit the house!

What does everyone think? Thanks in advance! :o)
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I think it's charming! I believe removing the brick would be a major job and it's a great material for the exterior of a home. More substantial columns, (square) is a great idea and choose a paint color you like.

Let's get this post moved up to the top of the list and see what other comments you get.
    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Sarah K
Hmm, roof line hides the house a bit, but that certainly counts as major structure. I actually like your brick, it is a feature texture on your house. I also have brick, but not as nice a color as yours. In most of my searches on colors with brick, going with darker trim (charcoal, dark grey etc) seems to be very popular, go darker with the garage door too, and then wall color can be a complementing color to brick and trim. Adding larger trim work to the windows will help too. How about adding window boxes for flowers? that would add a softer touch to front of house.

The porch is nice, the posts can be spruced up with a bit of thickening, added trim, and bit enlarging them half way down? maybe bit of moulding pieces at top of posts to add some dimension. Try the posts in the darker trim color? You could add a short unobtrusive porch railing that vine could grow on starting at one corner post and keep controlled just as an accent and to add privacy. I am not a designer or expert obviously....Good luck!
    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Vikrant Sharma Homez
Congrats , seems you haven't liked the house you just Bought or you want a Complete transformation ? what budget have you set aside for all this , or we will trim the jobs on your wishlist !
    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:49AM
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Joseph I. Mycyk Architects, Inc.
You're on the right track with your ideas.

Beef up the columns, add a little detail at the top and bottom.

Consider changing the siding to a cedar shingle. Place a horizontal trim board band above the stone cap on the brick. You may not need to remove the brick.

Place an Arts and Crafts style light on the wall alongside the front door, and you're in business.
    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 5:01AM
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Hi Kate, I find the picket fence a bit distracting. You can consider something softer but still give you some privacy from the road.

Kikuchi & Associates Landscape Architecture · More Info
7 Likes    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 7:42AM
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Kate, I really like your house. It has a classic charm and it's hard to find anything "wrong" with it. I would look at beefing up the front support posts, and trim them nicely, top and bottom. I'd paint the front door a deep burgundy color, (my taste) and I'd play up the fresh white trim by staging the porch with 2 white adirondack style chairs. Maybe a larger light fixture.

Obviously, you want to completely change everything, but maybe some of these small changes will carry you through while you plan a major remodel.
Good Luck.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:22AM
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Rustic Brick and Stone
Hi Kate, I think your home has a classic look to it and agree with most of the comments before. Especially the ideas of keeping the brick, going with darker trim, and changing the blue paint. I would say the biggest distraction would be the white picket fence. Though it's cute and suits the home, I feel it also dates it a bit. As others have said, maybe adding a railing to the porch would help. The landscaping is where I can see some major help though. Because your roof is uniform, adding a medium-large tree in your front yard will add depth to the view of the home and hide a portion of the roof. Also, you could find some similar brick to what you have existing and create raised planter beds. You could also use the brick to line your walkway. Using softer/round design concepts will help with creating a less formal look.
4 Likes    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Our house in California is pretty similar to yours. Keep the brick! It's very insulating. We have shutters on either side of both windows, that helps break up monotony. Doubt if I spelled that right, sorry.
    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:53AM
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Sarah K
The white picket fence is distracting, you can still have a fence but more subtle, go with wrought iron, dark color, thinner posts and rails? A tree or two would help, columnar aspen or something tall and skinny for the small yard (I am not familiar with your native vegetation). get rid of the complete row of bushes in front of the porch, break it up a little with height and variety. create corner shrub/flower gardens in the corner of the yard for you to enjoy from your porch, taller skinnier shrubs that can be controlled with pruning will also add privacy and soften the yard. I love downcast lighting, you can light up the front of your house without staring at a lightbulb, try installing smaller lights in the roofline of porch casting down onto porch.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 9:14AM
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Great ideas!! When you repaint, I'd suggest painting the garage door the same color as the body of the house. I've never understood why garage doors are "trim details".
    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Nancy Hehmann
I agree with beefing up the porch columns; that is where you would get the most help with the look. You can just construct larger ones around the existing ones. I have seen people use stone too. Stone is popular for added touches in my area of the country even when the rest of the house is brick. I would change the paint color of the blue- too bright.
If your budget allows, look at garage doors with more architectural interest since it is at least 1/3 of your front facade. When you need to replace your roof, architectural shingles add more interest and detail too.
I would drive through other neighborhoods for ideas and what houses stand out in your mind. That will help you get an idea of what colors YOU like in combination with brick. Just remember that if you are planning to sell at any time you do want a house that will appeal to other people as well. Something too out of the norm will usually not sell.
1 Like    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 8:37AM
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Sarah K
I agree with above, ensure your choices are architecturally and 'curb appeal' advisable, could mean the difference between a great sale price or hard to sell and loss down the road. I am sure we have all driven by houses and your only thought is "why did they do that...would be great house if..."
    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Hi Everyone - thank you so much for the posts - there are a lot of fantastic ideas here! The general consensus seems to be to keep the brick and changing the paint colors to a darker grey-ish. We will definitely explore beefing up the columns and we plan to replace the fence. I've been looking at a lot of photos and see some houses with a mix of brick, paint and natural wood features which is really nice. I would love to be able to remove the white paint on the overhang above the porch to be natural wood, but am not sure how to do that. I think it would be difficult to add a veneer because of the wood slats (I don't know the architectural term). We may just need to re-paint - any ideas on color here - should it be the same as the trim?

As for the trim around the windows, we like the idea of adding some trim here but would have to cut into the stucco to do it properly and add appropriate flashing, etc. to avoid water damage down the road. I like someones idea of dark trim around the windows, but it may be difficult since the windows themselves are white which might not look right.

What do people think we should do with the wood horizontal siding on the side of the house - currently painted white (this wraps around the back of the house too). Would we paint it the same color as the upper portion of the walls?

Someone had the idea of adding cedar shake shingles to a portion of the house. Would that be where the current horizontal wood siding is on bottom sides and back of house or perhaps on the sides of the house at the top of the wall (following the line from the front of the house and up?)

I agree with the comment above about being careful about the choices to ensure they architecturally match the style of the house. I don't want it to end up a mish-mash of different styles.

Thanks again!
    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 9:31AM
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Also, here are some pictures I'm drawn to for inspiration taking into account some comments received:

Example of mixed materials: grey/blue color with white trim, brick/siding/shakes with natural wood detail:
Greenlake Craftsman · More Info

Love this color palette with the brick:
Nantucket in So Cal · More Info

Natural wood finish over porch:
Phinney ridge residence porch · More Info

Would love to incorporate a screen door like this:
Central Avenue House I · More Info
    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 9:44AM
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I think your house is adorable; reminds me of the 50's ranch I grew up in in New England!

I would paint the body of the house light to medium gray, add shutters in charcoal gray or black. Keep the white trim to contrast with your roof, but purchase column wraps to add depth to the posts - less expensive than replacing. Paint the front door a pretty teal to contrast with the brick. I would either replace the garage door with a carriage style to add character or add window inserts and hardware to the existing door if cost is an issue. Paint the door the same white as the trim. I, also, would remove the picket fence and the front hedges and replace them with flowering shrubs. Add interesting, black or dark bronze lighting fixtures on either side of the front door, some nice porch furniture, possibly all-weather wicker and a large ceramic planter with a mix of plants at the top of the stair(s).

Finally, good luck in your new home!
    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 11:04AM
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I agree about the fence being distracting, but how about this look? http://hgrm.sndimg.com/HGRM/2011/12/01/DesignLens17_gray-ranch-style-house_s4x3_lg.jpg
    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 1:50PM
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    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:38PM
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