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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Appreciate any design tips!

lmjudaNovember 5, 2012
What would a monotone with different hues of 2 earth tone colors look like? looking at using Anderson Series 400 awning windows in either Sandstone or Teraatone exterior color. Two end windows will be 10 ft wide & center will be 7 ft wide. Leaning towards the Terratone, but not sure if the windows should be the darker of the two (or three) exterior colors? Also, do the 2 different size windows in the front of the house turn you off ? Anyone have any advice ? thanks in advance!
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It does bother me that the windows will be of different sizes. You should try drawing them in to get a better picutre of what it wuld look like (measure each section width and size of original windows, and figure out scale on printed out photo).. Hard to tell without the heights and whatnot too. I do like the symmetrical facade as it is--perhaps with a bit bigger and facier window in the middle even. Is there some reason you don't want to keep the existing window pattern?

A lot of people put in windows to fit the interior without thinking through what it will look like on the outside, and the result can be not as nice as what you would expect. Changing sizes also means changing window casings and patching in siding. Are you residing as well?

The problem with using colored frames is that you are pretty much stuck with that brand if you ever want to replace or change anything else, since most manufacturers colors don't match each other. I think you house could really use some color--what did you have in mind? The garage could use some too.

Depending on the windows you have, you may not even get that much energy efficiency from replacing them. Windows only have R1 to about R3 max, and it usually takes decades for them to pay back in energy savings. You may be better off with new storms, caulking and weatherstripping. And you can get replacement hardware if needed from the manufacturer. Will cost a lot less than replacement windows and the savings could be used on attic and wall insulation, where it will do more goo..
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:35AM
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The different sizes bother me as well. The existing windows are in need of replacement. They are old and do not function properly. I had planned on having them all 10 ft wide and five feet off the ground so they would be shoulder height on the inside. The top of the windows will be fairly close to the roof line. The front exterior of the house faces the street with not much to look at.
The interior walls are being moved and reducing the size of the one window to fit the walls is the lesser or two evils.
I am actually placing the windows to fit the exterior of the house. In my perfect world they would be all the same size. Maybe, I should reconsider reducing them all to 7 feet and therefore, they can all be the same size.
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 11:52AM
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HI -- It is important to know what rooms are behind these windows ,- that will be the deciding factor as to what kind of windows to get . I don't like rooms where the window is up so high.
    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:22PM
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Having windows at shoulder height will look a bit odd on the outside and will be difficult to decorate and figure out curtains for in the inside. Were popular for awhile in bathrooms and bedrooms, but fell out I think in part because they are so difficult to decorate around.

I also think it will make the front look uninviting. Perhaps consider at least having the center window lower--or making one side lower and the other two higher and the same to add to the mid-century modern look. Also, a 10 foot wide window is huge. Not sure if you are looking at 3 windows joined into one in a row, but 7' would be a more manageble size and more in scale with the rest of the wall.

Cafe curtains can allow light in and cover up the bottom of the window so everyone doesn't see in, and you can layber with drapes to close at night. Helps cut drafts too.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:47PM
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I think the windows look right for the period. I'd recommend asking for advice at Retrorenovation.com . It's all about loving the house you're in. Full of Great ideas for mid century homes
1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:57PM
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so i seem to think the windows on either side of the middle are different rooms? try casement windows. they crank out and do not create more horizontal more lines (like the left inside window). I'd try to make the side windows one window each (one large window), or at least butt each window so to elimate wall space in between left and far right window sets. I would also recommend faux cedar shingles on the house for architectural appeal and charm. I suggest plantings as well, perhaps large river rock, dwarf pines, a water feature....
1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 5:42PM
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I love the faux cedar idea, I was considering that. Yes, all the windows will be in different rooms. the windows will butt into each other as to appear as one long window. I prefer to have the option to open the windows. Was cedar used on ranches back in 1950? I'll have to research. Thanks for your time.
    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 5:42AM
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You could do the cedar trim on the windows, that is still popular in newer homes and you can paint any color to accent. Using a sponge trimmer the painting is fast and easy, take it from me! Also adding a circular window over the top of the middle window would help add distinction--don't know if this is possible, if not a louvered circle trim would do also. A uniform hedge going across the entire front would do a lot to add some character preferably in a flowering bush. Also in the future you may want to add brick or stone to the center section or the outer sections. Good luck.
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 6:22AM
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Before you do your windows, I'd suggest working with a landscape designer. Your front yard looks the perfect place to create a gathering spot using lovely shrubs and plantings that would soften and beautify your home. The design should also include elements to provide shade and vertical interest that would accent the architectural lines of your home. I would use white framed windows inside and outside and let the palette of nature provide you with accent colors.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 7:11AM
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I would also suggest that the side windows should be smaller than 10 ft. in width. That seems way too large for the size of the home. Seven ft.sounds like it is more in proportion to your home. I do think drawing it out on graph paper, both inside and outside is a good solution. I would also contact Andersen with your photo and dimensions, and have them make suggestions. After all, they are in the window business, and should be knowledgeable in that respect.
I like the idea of adding a trapezoid window right above the center window. It would follow the lines of your roof up towards the peak, and would look awesome. Andersen does make these. You can find examples of these by searching "trapezoid" window on the Internet. You may want to consider Andersen casement windows. They have clean lines and are so easy to clean from the inside. I have them and am very happy with them.
I would recommend real cedar, or some other appropriate material for the exterior, but don't do faux cedar shingles. They look really fake in my opinion, and too "cottage" like. My friend has them on her house, and they are beginning to fade now. These shingles would not fit with your more modern home. If you can do cedar or other wood, do them in horizontal planks, like you now have on the home. Framing the windows in cedar looks great, too!
I do like the idea of 2 tone for the exterior. Shades of taupe and light tan, warm tan with beige trim, and light and dark grey shades... If you can't do cedar siding, vinyl comes in many styles and textures. Depends on the total look you want to achieve. Look for more ideas here at Houzz and on similar sites. You can drive through neighborhoods you like and take pictures of ideas, color combinations you like.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Robert A. McGraw Architect
We are an architectural firm in Southern California (www.mcgraw-architect.com) that has found a need for a small company to help home owners visualize the upgrades and changes that they can make to their homes' facades to enhance the value and beauty of their properties. We have founded a company called Home Curb Appeal (www.home-curbappeal.com) to do just that. You send us three photos of the front of your home and fill out a questionnaire about your preferences and we re-imagine that facade for you and send you three 3D renderings of your home transformed. Our goal is to help you see the potential in your property. We take what you have and help you make it look better using your preferences and special requirements. Check out our websites. We would be happy to help you.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 3:12PM
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My next suggestion would be to consult with an architect. Great idea!
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Cedar was definately used in the 50's, especially wide-planked lap siding with mitered corners, and large smooth shingles (not the rough cut type) which from a distance looks a lot like the wide lap siding. It is timeless and long lasting.

Vinyl doesn't compare. Concrete Fiberboard is pretty close, but I would check on the proportions to get it right and it must be installed so moisture trapped behind it can evaporate--usually with some sort of heavy ridged rubber membrane. It is more difficult to install than wood, but is fireproof. The finish lasts about 10-15 years and then has to be painted.

Some 4 x 8 sheathing was used then, but most often in small area. That is very 60's though, and could look OK on your house, especially if the joints are nicely arranged. Pressed fiberboard and concrete fiberboard and exterior plywood all come like this. Generally not as durable as other options, except for the concrete fiberboard. Vertical board and batten could be used as well.

If you have a cathedral ceiling, I agree and window in the center that follows the roofline could look great, but I think this looks best with a deeper bottom ranch style window of the same width.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Changing colors will definitely help. Accent the center of you house roof peak like adding an open truss. Putting an arch over the center window would draw the eye up
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Can you post more photos of the side and whatnot? Are the white divisions wood? At first I thought they might be concrete.
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:16PM
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Perhaps a dove grey and black trim. Trim the same height across the top of all windows, then all around. Window Plant boxes will draw attention away from window size differences. A little landscape attention your done.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 10:13PM
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I was thinking about something sort of like that too, maybe even color blocked for a Modrian twist! Anything but plain white would really help.

Water tables and raised beds were really popular when this house was built and nicely done with some ledgerstone, could add a little pizzaz to the front. It could extend a bit toward the carport, along with some ornamental trees and shubbery in the bare front yard.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 10:24PM
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eharder has the right approach to paint. Mid Century is Mid Century. I think yo have options other than black and white, using the natural colors surrounding your house. Green, Brown, etc. The planters on eharder's picture are more inexpensive than a full out landscape architect and buy you time to get ideas for full scale landscape design. When you do go full scale with the landscape, think water savings. My gardens were designed and put in by me over 22 years ago, and while they are beautiful and fit perfectly with the house and surroundings, water has become an issue I wish I didn't have to deal with. Back to color, my house before this one was furnished entirely mid century modern. Think browns of Cherner bentwood chairs, turquoise, black, brassy hardware, etc. For your front door, knowing that period storm doors aren't very efficient, AFTER you paint your house, look at storm doors that "disappear" like full glass and have the frame complement the door. Great mid century bones, be careful of your window choices, it can take the 50"s charm out quickly and make the exterior look rather double-wide very easily. Personally, I don't like round, half round or "shaped windows." If you go with your window choices that make everything look like "one big window" your window framing has to be taken into account or else you may end up with windows too heavy for the original structure leading to HUGE problems. Have fun
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:01AM
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wow, i am thankful for all these responses. I need to grab an hour today & read them all again!
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:21AM
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I have attached more photos in hope of answering many of your smart questions.
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:26AM
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there is a front door as well as a side door that leads in to the kitchen. I was thinking of eliminating the side door. And of course, replacing the front door. Please excuse the mess on the patio, it needs to make its way into the beautiful red dumpster on the side of the house! The pillars are all wood, no concrete except for the block they sit on. The comment on the windows possibly making it look like a double wide, scares me, a lot. Does anyone know of a software that allows you to photograph and work a design from the photo, I realize there are professionals that are available, I'm wondering if anyone has used a consumer site ?
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Well, I was thinking prefab, not doublewide :) It just needs a little love and some detailling. It looks much better up close and I like the touquoise trim.

OK, the photos helps a lot. I think the two doors can be OK, but you need to differentiate between them, like making one a slider and the other much brighter and bigger, or one super plain, perhaps a solid slab with frame painted to match siding, maybe even putting a screen up to block it a little. Is the other one a double door? or a door with a big window? Unfortunately, the first thing you see is the screen doors, not the doors behind them. so it is worthwhile to invest in some new high quality ones for the main entrance--and it can be painted to match or enhance the front door itself.. Getting rid of the other door depends on what the floor plan is and all.

Actually I am surprised by the number of people, esp. workmen who don't even try my front door and come all the way to the back instead. That is buried behind such a maze of corridors and such that I don't always hear them!

I will work up some ideas later, but first I was wondering how do you feel about adding some brighter mid-century type color (I promise, it won't be too extreme) and are you wedded to the idea of the higher windows, which I think will look all wrong, esp. all the way across. Also, do you have a cathedral ceiling for the middle window, and what is behind each section? A photo of the kitchen and those rooms looking at the windows might help.

Here are some actual mid-century images and you can see that they weren't nearly as color-phobic as we are these days. And it can be done in a more subdued way or go retro-fun-funky. You don't have a lot of frontage to work with, so it might be pretty great to go a bit funkier than you would think. What is the interior decor like and do you have favorite colors?

Retrorenovation.com is a great website to learn about the funkier side of this style, and there is a quieter, more tasteful side as well and both are becoming really popular, Mad Men and the patina of 50 years makes it new again.

Or you could go rustic, dark frames, stained cedar siding or weathered to natural gray, bit of color on the porch, or maybe even keeping those tourqoise window frames.
3 Likes    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 10:25AM
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Christa Somerville_Chase
Have you looked into Sarah Richardson stuff? A Canadian designer on hgtv and if you look up Sarah's house season 2 you'll see a house she did very similar to yours.
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Season 2, (I like this house and the vacation home the best--some of the other stuff seems crowded and fussy to me, but nice of course)

2 Likes    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Your entrance doors are side doors. I have the same side main entrance, but dream to have beautiful front entrance (not like tenant "in-law" entrance). It depends on inside layout, just my thought, in your house I would open in the center double entrance doors and also open on both sides lower and narrower windows. Recently new owners in neighborhood renewed exterior using earth tones (stone, windows, doors, pillars, garage doors, driveway) it turned into most boring house, blended with the earth as hunter in the forest.
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Judith Molyneux Interior Design
Currently your house is too contrasting for the surrounding environment. the windows as in the photo are fine in that they are symmetrical at least.

Paint the house in shades and tones of the colour of the garage door (yellow/green - neutral golds). From what I can see the garage door is a nice neutral environmental green/gold similar to the deciduous trees behind the house. The external walls should be darker than the posts and fascias and the windows frames should be quite dark (almost florentine green). In my design phylosophy I have a saying "paint the windows white, see the windows - paint the windows dark see the view beyond". By selecting a darker colour for the window frames you will loose the visual emphasis of the windows.

Hope this may be a helpful consideration.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Dawn Taillon
I think gray and taupe with a shade of white or cream.
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:13PM
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Finally got around to posting some interior pics of the rooms that involve the windows I am replacing. The windows will no longer be in one big room. In fact, each window will now be in a separate room. Kitchen, office & master bath.
The roof/ceiling line will remain. 12918 is the reverse , kitchen & great room. Everything is in a state of transition.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:24AM
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Finally got around to posting some interior pics of the rooms that involve the windows I am replacing. The windows will no longer be in one big room. In fact, each window will now be in a separate room. Kitchen, office & master bath.
The roof/ceiling line will remain. 12918 is the reverse , kitchen & great room. Everything is in a state of transition.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:25AM
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Are the new rooms going to be evenly spaced across in that order? IE, separated like the old windows are?

Is there any possibility of keeping the office area open or partitioned off to the kitchen, maybe with open bookcases, or partially open bookcases or a knee wall. This will give you greater flexibiltiy in your floor plan and can look pretty neat to have it partially open to the full cathedral ceiling--will make both spaced feel light and airy rather than closed and cramped.

Plus it is nice to be able to check the computer really quick or do some bills while simmering something on the stove and be within sight distance.

Closing it up will also make your kitchen a long and narrow space. Will the area in the front be the eating area? Either way, I would hate to give up much window space, especially since it looks like you are planning to remove windows from the kitchen. It would be the opposite of what most people are doing these days to their houses and could end up really dark and uninviting. Is there a reason you don't want to be able to look out the window, especially when you are sitting down? The view seems pretty nice and green, esp. if you add some landscaping to your yard, and it can be nice to look out the window if you hear a car coming in the drive.

Like the ceiling but bet there isn't much insulation up there.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:14AM
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The windows will be shoulder height, so you will be able to view thru them.
The kitchen will actually be a L shape. The kitchen will also run into the great room because most of the wall between the great room and the kitchen will be removed ad the rooms will be connected by a counter/bar leading into the great room. The kitchen will also have a patio door (sliding) which will lead to the front deck. The front deck will be have a privacy screen, probably a nice wooden slat type screen that will allow us to use the deck as an extension of the kitchen. So they kitchen will actually end up being very airy.
I like the look of the awning windows higher across the rooms w/o seeing street/neighbor homes.
The windows are to be 35-36 inches tall, that's a lot of light.
You are correct, there is little to no insulation up there. And lighting is a real challenge as well.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:35AM
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That is one big project! I'll work up some ideas tonight if that is OK. I still think at least a couple of bigger windows in the front will be more inviting and allow more light in. 3" wide for such a large space really isn't that big, especially to get light to the middle of the house. Are you puttin in skylights or anything? How about a long skinny one--enough to peek though with simple blinds or drapes, but not really enough for anyone to see through. Could give a nice mid-century modern feel. Also windows to accent the peak.

So where will the walls be in relation to the existing windows?

Hmm, maybe a knee wall or fence could allow bigger windows, but more privacy--Could connect to side patio. to separate area from driveway, front entry.

These kind of ceilings are a real insulation challenge. If you ever redo the roof, you could possibly spray foam the gap (if any) and add foamboard with a radiant barrier--basically building up the thickness of the roof. May require battens, firebreaks and another layer of sheathing if you do. Might be better to finish it off from underneath and insulate and either drywall or use a wood ceiling.

Nice barstools!
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:35AM
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thank you! I am a big fan of mid century furniture. Invest in a few pieces every now & then. Already addressed the roof issue, estimates where out of this world! I agree with the interior/drywall idea, myself. I'm going to take some time & live with the ceiling s for now, maybe a yr or two. My goal is to have the interior done by August and then I'll start on the exterior. It is a huge project , but I love it. The house was owned by one family & had not seen any updates since the early 60's. My dad built my childhood house around the same time, which my mom still lives in. I see many similarities in floor, formicas, colors, sinks. It's really fun. And since I have always wanted to build, this is the next best thing. This is my 4th house, and I think it will be my last! I am in love.
looking forward to your ideas!
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Do you have any construction drawings or floor plans done? Please post.

My house was redone in 1962, platinum finished ranch sasing and picture windows and all, and it does remind me of my grandmother's custom ranch from about that time. My color palette inside is sort of similar too, but hers was more modern than this one--this one has more of a 50'ish feel to the bathrooms and kitchen especially.

Redoing the ceiling is a big mess and you might want it done before doing floors and such. Could save a lot on the energy bills!

I was wondering how you would feel about partition walls for some of the interior walls rather than full walls? High ceilings in small rooms can feel not quite right--out of proportion. I was thinking the kitchen and office as possibilitie, and even high interior sound proof windows for the bedrooms and bathrooms, possibly. Then you get the full advantage of the hight peaked ceilings and it is easier to build (without glass) and less confining. Very mid-century/Frank Lloyd Wright too.

My grandmother's summer home was like this with wooden walls only 8-9' feet up, and I loved watching the light across the vaulted ceiling and being able to talk to people in a different room! Felt so cozy and yet private too. Nice for air circulation too.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:20AM
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OK, here is a couple of roughs. Without knowing your floorplan, I just guessed that the wall/divider for the office would be around where the ridge of the house is, and put a smaller bank of windows where the master bath will be.

At any rate, This plan needs careful measuring to work, and I would consider sliders rather than awning type windows--the hardware is prone to stripping--or perhaps casements, which at least has less weight on them.

Modern style requires a careful balance of elements, so measure and draw it out to scale to make sure it works. I just eyeballed it, but changing details will change the overall effect.

With such a big remodel, I would really consider going to a designer to spec it out, and to a landscape designer for the yard to create privacy with plants and hardscape, yet also create a more welcoming entrance. Complete barriers are not required to do this, nor are they desirable.

So what I did was:

1) Put in ribbon windows something like what you described. It is very important to get the rythmn of the windows right--all the openings should be the same size, asymetrically arranged.

2) Added a long vertical window to balance it off and give you a place where you can glance through and see who is driving up your driveway or walking across the lawn. I expermented with looking out my picture windows blocked until about shoulder height, and the farther the way you are from the window, the less you can see. So if you hear a noise or something, you cannot see your yard unless you are almost right at the window.

3) Added picture windows shaped to fit the slope of your roof to bring in more light to help compensate for the loss of window area. Plus it looks neat. Fit them so that you can finish the ceiling without difficulty. Added a long horizontal trim board underneath.

(The windows are shown in turqoise--like the shot of color--could have some color in sill or casing)

4) Put board and batten siding for most of the front,, to contrast with the lap siding. I kept it white to minimized residing, or you could mix the vinyl (sides and back?) with cedar stained light gray.

5)Added very bright front door--color must be bright because it is so deeply shaded. I recommend Crestview doors and their door visualizer to figure out what to do that fits the Mid-century vibe, even if you are keeping your own. Perhaps instead of a double door (?) one side could be like a big sidelight or picture window, which will actually emphasize the other door and create a nook near your table.

6) Added landscaping to soften the edges and break up that big lawn. I think a large bed of textured ground cover with some shrubs and flowering trees to the right side of your yard would look nice, perhaps with some boulders. BTW the little tree to the right of the house looks pretty close and you might want to transplant.

7) Added paving (big concrete slabs or slate or bluestone) in the driveway area even with the edge of the house and wrapped around the porch to the front of the house, and added a low privacy wall--would need to work out sightlines, and could make nice BBQ area close to the kitchen. Shown with some landscaping to soften both sides of wall or fence to create a transition area from public to private space.

The wall could be masonry, or lattice-type concrete block left to weather naturally, or rocks poured into sturdy metal fencing frames (called gabions--much easier and cheaper than stone walls.) Some raised flower beds are also a possibility.


Maybe cedar waffle-weave fencing or or some variation of horizontal wood screening or lattice could be used too to enclose a patio space. Would leave some room for access to rest of yard. Would be careful to not block off house too much and keeping things proportional.
    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:56AM
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Hi! I was hoping for some feedback on the design I suggested for you. I figured you might be away for the holidays, but I put quite a bit of thought and time into it and was happy with the result to balance your concerns for privacy and yet not close off the house too much and make it feel uninviting, and give it some more mid-century curb appeal, and give it some asymmetric balance. What do you think?

If you put the windows in already, you can take pics and post them. I have some other ideas for color and whatnot.

Houzz has a lot of landscaping advice. Thought this article about winter color was interesting. The fall color one is good too, and the plantings suggested aren't a lot of work. The comments are useful as well.

Ideabook: Color Sparks a Winter Landscape · See Ideabook

Saw this and it might be a nice design for any privacy screening.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 7:53AM
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It's certainly great when we get feedback from our suggestions, isn't it?
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:05AM
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I'm so sorry I haven't even been on the site for a few weeks.. Been super busy,working, traveling, blah... I really appreciate your time & effort. I have actually considered a few of your thoughts myself. The waffle type fence, the half walls, a few other things as well. Right now the front of the house is torn down to it's studs. I hope to get back into this after the weekend. I am traveling & it's difficult to multi task on the road.
I will be back early next week & back to this as weel
    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Dawn Taillon
I like the caged river rock wall. I have that in a magazine myself somewhere, so I can remember where you can pick up the steel cages.
It seems like it would go well with the home's style and setting.
    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 7:34AM
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I used to live in Germany, and those wire fence sections could be bought at any hardware store for garden fencing or to fashion into gabions. Very popular everywhere for screening unpleasant views, noise reduction, erosion control and retaining walls, base of seating, sculptural accent--you name it.

So where do you get the metal cages or fencing in the US? I imagine a good nursery or landscape architect should know....
    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 5:00PM
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Thank you for all your comments & insight. With the demo done & the first stages of the rebuild taking place, I am really excited to see the progress. As little as it is, it is moving forward. I'll post as it moves forward. Windows should be in by mid December.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 7:07AM
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OK, Post new pics when they are in.
    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 8:14AM
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