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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Help with Curb Appeal needed!!

sarahpfNovember 9, 2012
We have lived here for 7 years and had the old bushes removed and installed new landscaping about 6 years ago, and it made a huge difference. Now we're at a loss as to what to do because it just looks so plain! It's an unusual design with the 2 "wings" jutting out with the courtyard in the middle, obscuring the front door for the most part. Half-circle driveway? (are those costly?) Add siding somewhere to break up those 2 peaks in the front? We don't know! (on the photo of the courtyard, please overlook the dying tomato plants that my husband hasn't taken down yet!)
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Joseph I. Mycyk Architects, Inc.
It looks like your photos are taken in the fall. So some of the plants have started to drop leaves and look bare due to the season.

But, all plants need tending to. Your trees obsuring the front entry look unattended to since you move in. Did you plant these? You're letting them grow to wide. They also look too dense for this locaton. You at least need to prune them to allow someone to see and walk to the front entrance.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:23PM
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I know you said the shrubs were replaced 6 years ago. However you need professional help them. Looks like some of the shrubs may not be getting enough sunlight or food. The Japanese Bloodgood Maples in the front have gotten so big they are no longer an asset. The wing to the right would look great with some stone work to accent the land scaping and the arbivitas in the courtyard have also gotten to big. The lamp post seems small and dated. Please get some new designs incorporating different plants and walkways to enhace you beautiful home before you think of siding. Maybe a new paint color for the shutters and the front door.
3 Likes    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:54PM
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The Virtual Designer- Kitchens & Bathrooms
Hi- i agree with trc59 above. My pruning arm is itching to cut those maples right back but get some professional help there. It is my humble opion that the garden area against those two gabled walls (or wings as you say) is too narrow. Plant a mass of something that you can keep clipped nice and tight but will grow about the height of your windows there and just another two or three types of plants (contrasting slightly) that are massed together but low spreading. I'm seeing the entire garden in these areas to spread out about 8 or 9 feet (if you can manage it) from the wall.
Have you thought of hooding your front windows there with rounded awnings?Also, paint the metal housing boxes you have on the front wall a similar tone to your brick to help hide them.
Hope this has been helpful.
Good luck-
The Virtual Designer
1 Like    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:49PM
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House of Light: Chevy Chase, Maryland Home inspired by Hugh Newell Jacobsen · More Info

Your house is great; the landscaping is not. Open you house up to the street so the roof lines and the front door can be seen.
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Wow. OK... how about I get the landscaping under control, wait till spring when it's prettier and then take pictures and try again?? Y'all are absolutely correct that we have not taken much care of the landscaping. (young kids + elderly parents = not much time for yard maintenance) Time to come off our wallets and hire someone, apparently. Hopefully my hubby will wait and hire someone and not take matters into his own, inexperienced, hands... This is embarrassing. Is there some way to remove this whole discussion?? :(
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:11AM
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I would replant the Japanses maples out in the yard. I think it is worth the expense. Right now they hide the entrance and that is the main reason that you house has lost its curb appeal. I had a Japanese maple moved, because it was too close to the house and I am so glad I did. You would pay a lot of money to get trees this size and thay are so attractive. When you move them, don't put one on one side of the house and one on the other. Do an asymetrical planting in a bed. Then you can add other low growing shrubs and flowers.

I think the color of the shutters and the trim needs to change. Perhaps black around the windows and a light taupe for the shutters.

Focus on the courtyard for curb appeal. Perhaps the walkway could be wider.
    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:30AM
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The house has an attractive symmetrical design. The windows are a great feature.

I agree the maples need pruning or (even better) replanting elsewhere. Then give the darkened bricks a good blast with a hose to clean them up. The house will look much better with big beds of light colored plants where the maples are now. White flowered azaleas or other low-growing flowering shrubs would be lovely.

Perhaps you'd consider repainting the shutters a color that contrasts more with the brick, perhaps off white or dark chocolate brown. Window boxes filled with annuals would be very pretty. This company has inspirational photos:

With the maples pruned or removed, you also have the opportunity to make the courtyard a small jewel box with annual or perennial flower beds. It's a small area. Do the design first, then install new plants as budget permits. Part of it can be a vegetable garden, of course.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:09AM
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No, no, no do overs. I love the style of your house; it's just that it can't be seen. Deal with the two maples first.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 5:19PM
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Exterior, Entry, Living Room, Kitchen and Bedroom · More Info

Consider beefing up the trim along the roof line and paint the color of the shutters. I would paint the curves above windows the color of shutters or at least a deeper shade of wall color. At some point think about changing shutters to match the shape of the window including the arch and a bit wider.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Agree with the thought of moving the Japanese maples and wondering if you can remove the brick walls that appear to enclose the courtyard.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Don't be embarrassed, it isn't so bad. That courtyard could be so pretty!

I can really see a nice little gate in the courtyard, perhaps shaped like a U in the middle and left open to let people in, wood or iron, painted in a contrasting color so it shows up, and concrete caps to the brick pillars, sloped from the center to drain water, and an ornamental finiale (acorn, round or pineapple) or an urn up there once the trees are out of the way. Add some hydrangeas or roses for a cottagey look and some color.

Also agree that a different shutter color and painting the arch and maybe the window frames would help, as well as toning down the white garages. I can see a mossy or forest green on the shutter and doors to match or a brighter color on the doors, like a yellow, or if black shutters, the moss green or even a blue.

I think the lampost is fine. I would not do awnings in the front--will distract from the Neo-Colonial styling, but might be nice in the courtyard.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:07PM
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Honestly it looks very beautiful, the area where the trees are I would not change- except maybe in Spring layering some smaller plants around the base, maybe foliage with green and white stripes that keeps color thru the yaer and white flowers in Spring/ Summer. But that part is lovely and the trees are perfect. What I WOULD do is line the sides of the walkway with evergreen mid-low bushes there are so many to choose from depending on what you like boxwoods or something along those lines, all the same, all very simple. Takes you down the path-so my advice is plant something that LEADS towards the house , and then once past the brick entrance the same bushes up to the door. I like boxwoods because ease of trimming and square or rounded they are a nice bush. You have a lovely home-I would not change much, kind of like an evening dress don't add too much jewelry just a simple lovely necklace to set it off.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:27PM
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Yay! These are the types of comments I was hoping for! Here's the deal: We are going to replace all of the windows in the house next spring, so I was trying to get some other ideas to spruce things up.
Believe it or not, we painted the shutters when we moved in, and they were very dark... but I haven't noticed that they have apparently faded in the sun! (the house faces southeast). I'm laughing at myself because I guess I still think of the house as it was several years ago!

I like the idea of new shutters and I LOVE the idea of beefing up the molding under the roofline! In fact, we were considering taking the house in a whole other direction and getting faux tile roofing and a "smear" over the bricks to make it a more mediterranean look. What do y'all think about that?

Regarding the landscaping, actually, there is liriope (green with white stripes) planted underneath the maples, you just can't really see them due to the leaves (our leaf guy is not the most reliable, but inexpensive, so, you know...). And the reason the bushes on the right look so much larger is because they are supposed to be... they're both camellias, which bloom the same-ish color, but the ones on the left are low growing and the ones on the lright are larger, because the lot slopes and the "wing" on the right is actually 2 stories and the one on the left is just 1 story. In the courtyard, we do have knockout roses, but they've been pruned way back recently... I was keeping up with these things pretty well until my parents both became ill 2 years ago, and long story short, they both died this spring. So i've been busy. But sadly now I have more time.

I love the idea of the boxwoods on either side of the walk and up to the door! When we first bought the house, there were all of these totally overgrown holly bushes and azaleas in the front of the house and in the courtyard and there was an iron gate on the courtyard entrance that matched the security doors over the front door (those things were the first to go... this is not an unsafe neighborhood!) So I'm a little leary about gates, but the ones your showed are so much prettier!

So, I'm calling a landscaper today to get someone over to do some maintenance on the plants! Those poor things have been all but neglected!

Thank you all for your ideas!! You're all so creative and I really appreciate it! If anyone else wants to chime in, please do!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 10:13AM
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really sounds as though you are on the right path for your sprucing up! Sorry to hear about your parents, that has to be tough. I bet your camelias are beautiful when they bloom I had to leave my 25 ft plus tall one back at the place we just moved from and will miss it greatly-in some ways, though they are shorter living blooms-they can be prettier than a rose. I do hope you re-post next year after changes too-it will be fun to see!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Ok! So we had the landscaping spruced up! Here's a photo. We are replacing the roof and painting the house next (we replaced all windows so the storm windows are gone!) so I'd love suggestions on colors. We are painting the brick (oh, the horror! Lol) and are thinking about an off white with dark brown trim. Sort of a Spanish look. We looked into tile roofing but authentic clay is too heavy and faux is too expensive, so we're going with an architectural shingle. What color?

We're removing the shutters and not replacing them, and those random boxes on the left (which belonged to the long-extinct security system) are coming off.

We're still contemplating relocating the maples.

Appreciate your suggestions!
    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:04AM
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Rare Bird
I think replale maples on both sides of the front path and extend on roadside edge with more shrubs for privacy Moving the maples has open up the front beautifully
    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:12PM
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just one thought about planting...I don't know for sure where you are, but here we have Digger's Hotline where you call if you are going to do any tree planting to make sure there are no electrical or sewer lines.
1 Like    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
I know I'm late to the party -love your brick and hope you didn't paint it ?! A blue gray would look good with the red brick and I think that re-locating the maples and adding curved beds of flowers and shrubs would compliment the house. If you want an attractive entrance then add a pergola to create interest. Here's a doodle of my ideas below. BTW, is that a 'bama flag flying ? If so, Rolltide, Roll !
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:21AM
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
Here's a pergola example :
Interior · More Info
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:25AM
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
A great color combo for red brick :
Front Entrances · More Info
    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:26AM
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