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Exterior help for late 70's brick ranch...
November 25, 2012 in Design Dilemma
Considering purchasing this home, but need some ideas on the exterior design. The house is around 2,300 sq feet and has tons of potential on the inside, but I can't get past the straight roof line. So, lets hear your suggestions. Thanks!
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Emily Hurley
Great house! I think for me, the body of the home is a bit plain which is leaving you open to concentrating more on the roofline. Maybe some shutters on the front windows might help? A couple strategically placed trees to break it up, maybe between the larger set of windows on the left of the front door and the two smaller windows farther down?
November 26, 2012 at 11:06am   
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Prime Siding and General Carpentry
You can definitely get vinyl shutters for all of the windows which will help break up the space a little. A front porch with a reverse gable over it will help not only break up the face of the house, but also the roof line.

Personally, I would either:
A) A simple reverse gable over the existing entry with a front porch no larger than the existing entryway.
B) A larger front porch extending from the right side of the existing entryway to the left side of the first set of windows. Then I would either have the reverse gable over the door still and a simple roof over the rest, or just run a simple roof over the entire porch (it would depend on a few things that I can determine from just the picture).
C) Center the porch on the front door and extend it left and right of the entryway from the right side of the house to the left side of the first set of windows. Place a reverse gable over the door and simple roof over the rest of the porch. This would center the reverse gable on the porch roof.

Which one I would do would depend on the rest of the house, such as the backyard and some other things. Mainly how much I intended on using the front porch and the scenery.
Regardless of my final decision, I would properly landscape along the front of the house to add depth and breaks. I wouldn't use trees or large bushes, but that large blank area is a good spot for a taller flowering plant. A small retaining wall would also elevate the garden to add height.
November 26, 2012 at 11:18am     
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Thanks for the replies so far! I have attached a couple more pics of the house, one of the back and one of the side. The future plan would be two add a 2-3 garage on the left side of the house.
November 26, 2012 at 11:44am     
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Granite Grannies
Simple things:

- Maybe one of those decorative metal pieces that go above more colonial home...something with curves to break up the intense horizontal.
- Use the landscaping to introduce curves.....a soft tree like a weeping willow/ a curved, winding path through the front yard/ plants and bushes of many different heights...
bones photos 1
bones photos 2 Kipp Residence

Maybe some very vertical shrubs like this: Peninsula Estate 01 (Design by Suzman Cole Design Associates) to help mix up the heavy horizontal.
November 26, 2012 at 11:55am     
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Baltimore Architectural Detail LLC
I would suggest taller windows into the openings on the left to help the structure feel a bit taller. Maybe even making one a doorway which goes to the SIDE-TO-SIDE porch! A porch such as this, simple poured concrete or even a deck on piers (though concrete would be lower), easy posts, a rail section here, another there, makes the structure feel bigger in general. If the straight line roof is really killing you, get a roofer to install some peak vents which will break it a bit...

Additionally, a porch will allow a nice entry area, an exterior "foyer", two benches perpendicular to the front door, a planter or two...
November 26, 2012 at 12:19pm     
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Mechelle Dow
The front of the house could be played up as mid-century modern. Use an appropriate bright color on the front door and research MCM for details that appeal to you. Decorative concrete block to create a focal point along along the walkway. Not sure if you have enough overhang to make it look as though it was a support element. Or perhaps a large geometric metal art piece to the left of the large front window.
November 26, 2012 at 5:28pm     
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Yes, its mid-century modern. Changing the outside depends on how you treat the inside.

However, I suggest no shutters, but instead consider some sort of decorative wood pieces on the outside. Paint the entrance a bright color, turquoise or lime green!, and work on the landscaping. You need a tree or two in the front of the house and wider planting beds. Where are you located? Is there some sort of sidewalk to the front door? Where would guests park? I suggest that you hire a landscape architect to draw up plans for you to use as you have time and energy.
November 26, 2012 at 8:34pm     
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The guests park to the left of the house and yes there is a brick walkway leading from the drive to front door.
November 26, 2012 at 8:48pm   
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In my opinion this house does not need shutters or any peaks, but what it does need is landscaping. It would have a welcoming feeling and look entirely different with the right landscape design.

For example, install plants to break-up the long horizon line. Plant a specimen tree, such as a Stewartia, which has four seson interest, to the left of the main window about where the chimney is. Don't plant is right up to the house but out into the yard. For more information: http://www.greatplantpicks.org/plantlists/view/1513 Attached is the tree with its interesting bark, flowers and fall color.

Around the tree, I would plant flowering plants and low-growing shrubs as done with a Lagerstroemia (Crepe Myrtle) in a semi-circle: Halsey Farm Lane Southampton Village New York.

Between the small round window and the far right window, I would do another planting with an Eastern Redbud as the center: Forest Pansy Redbud - new spring foliage. This tree has small pinky purple flowers which grow on the trunk of the tree in sping: Howard Roberts. The 'Forest Pansy' variety is very attractive: 1900 Farm House.

Then I would add some other interesting foundation plants and create a large patio area near the front entry with white birch, which again will provide vertical interest and not overwhelm, or another tree: Windsor Companies.
Riverside Village Residence

Lastley I would put some trees in the front yard that will grow tall and shelter the house.
November 26, 2012 at 9:02pm     
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Aja Mazin

Great home!
November 26, 2012 at 9:53pm     
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Definately go with the mid-century modern styling of the house. It is very classic and practical. When it comes time to redo the roof, pick a contrasting color like a light to medium gray. It will make a world of difference. Landscaping and a bright door will be enough to help get rid of the blahs, and I would forgo the shutters. It is nicely balanced as it is.

Not quite understanding where the new garage will go since there is already one on the left side. Are you planning a detached structure? I would be careful not to spoil access to the yard or overwhelming the front with a huge garage, or spoiling the views from the semicircular room on the back. When the time comes to build it, I would consult an architect to find the best solution..

If I did add a porch, I would do it in an asymmetrical style over the picture window with the gable over the entry and with some period appropiate posts and built-in planters, or do it just over the entry with a hip roof, but I don't think that is neccessary. I like it just the way it is with some paint and landscaping.
November 26, 2012 at 10:05pm     
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if it were mine I would add a bullnose verandah with a corruguated iron roof. (Look it up a very australian concept and if done correctly will very good to keep out summer heat but still let in winter rays. Fantastic place to have a couple of chair and small table to have a cuppa. or a glass of wine!!
November 26, 2012 at 10:13pm     
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David McClure
I think there are 4 simple things to do here:

First, when you add the garage, make it match the existing roof, only elevate the walls 12-18". This will add a subtle change and break up the roof line while keeping with the look of the house. You don't want a big tall addition next to a long flat house, it looks out of place. The subtle change breaks up the roof line and makes the house look bigger.

Second, shutters are a possibility, not needed, but if you like them you do some shutters and paint the front door.

Third, I'd consider rebuilding the chimney and making it bigger. Especially If you're going to struggle to match up the additions exterior surface to the current brick, the chimney could be matched to that, helping to bring the house more together while providing another visual break in the long roof line.

Fourth, and the most effective way in my opinion, is definitely landscaping. That house could be designed to match almost any style, it's kind of a blank canvas. Some columnar specimens would break up the roof line but also break up the large sections of brick wall. Landscaping makes everything else optional. Except maybe the addition roof line, raising that a little really would look good.

Good luck!
November 27, 2012 at 6:58am   
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Add 2 , 3 or even 4 fake dormers to roof with windows, don't forget to attach some lacy curtains behind windows takes it from boring to cool easily!
November 27, 2012 at 7:59am     
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What do you guys think of this?
November 27, 2012 at 8:10am     
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J.T. Design
As a long time residential designer, I see nothing of interest on the front elevation, additionally there is no sense of entry with either building elements or landscaping.

I beileve each home has its own special character and yours is all in the rear elevation.
I would consider bringing the curved roofing element on the rear of the home forward to the front of the home instead of the simple gable idea.

This gives you a covered entryway, a clearly defined entry, and some sense of harmony from the front to the back of the house. It would be tricky, but it could be done to look very beautiful and much less plain.
November 27, 2012 at 9:01am     
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One of the most inspiring renos I've seen on a 70's rancher was featured on Gardenweb by firsthouse mp. I've attached the link. The exterior photos are about 3/4 of the way through the thread. Sorry I'm not sure how to attach a photo. The before and after is remarkable. http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0614293210436.html
November 27, 2012 at 11:37am   
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Let me try and attach the photos. They've gotten around the horizontality of the house by use of vertical board and batten siding.
November 27, 2012 at 11:53am   
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Cynthia Gutzmer Pedersen - Licensed Architect
This house has great potential! Because of its simple facade, you have many, many options for design direction. I would recommend sitting down with an Architect. Let me stress Architect as opposed to a designer - I say this not to bash designers, but to explain that Architects are specifically trained to understand the history, construction and proportions of various architectural styles and details. Even if you are on a budget or plan on doing the work yourself, a few hours of Architects fees would be money well spent. You want to be sure you are adding appropriate architectural features opposed to random or gimmicky "add-ons" that ultimately will ruin the look of your home. Good luck!
November 27, 2012 at 11:59am     
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arlys baker
If you have the money I would cement render the house in a fashionable grey, spray the roof black and add a porch in white. I would also add white shutters to each window, and have a entrance with a white wood vine supporter using vines of either white or yellow flowers or both. If you cannot afford to cement render, then I would have it spray painted. Then I would landscape the entrance, and surrounding areas. A big job, but the house is worth it, it appears to have good "bones".
November 27, 2012 at 1:04pm   
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Landscaping Number one as others have suggested!
This may sound odd, but it would break things up a bit. If you put another material (wood, stone, metal ?) in a block in the area around the 5 windows it would give it the illusion of some depth to the house. From the right corner edge by the entry to the left of the block of windows from ground to roof.
Replace door and have big fixed glass piece all the way over to the right of the door extending where the white is now.
Someone also mentioned the chimney, which is bugging me. I would build some sort of facade to go around the chimney to make it look wider across.
November 27, 2012 at 1:43pm   
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dat architecture
Nice large house!

You can put some skylight in a sun room style that really cuts the roof and bring light inside. Landscaping around the front yard it's a good inexpensive way to improve it. You can also put a porch in the front and change the entrance door or at least the color of the door.
November 27, 2012 at 2:29pm   
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Aesthetic Tile Imaging
Yes, Landscaping and perhaps a water feature. Also compliment the space with outdoor art. Kiln fired art works well in conjunction with hardscape. It's completely weatherproof, pool proof, and will never fade.
November 27, 2012 at 3:26pm   
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Wow, these suggestions have me thinking of all kinds of ways to change the look of the house. Does anyone have any more info on the house that I posted a pic of earlier today?
November 27, 2012 at 6:07pm   
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Michael Tauber Architecture
My take is on the left of the picture you want something vertical to balance the horizontality of the roof line. This can be done with plantings - not sure where you are but something that is right for your climate. Essentially you are not blocking light since there are two small high windows. antoehr options is building a wood slatted screen wall in front of the wall beyond the eave and letting it either have growing vines on it or leave it as a wood wall with the texture of the slats.
Good Luck.
November 27, 2012 at 7:01pm     
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Heres the existing floor plan, so whats everyone's suggestion on it? Would like to make it an open layout.
November 27, 2012 at 7:20pm   
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Nattapon Landscape Design
Regarding to the first picture it is rectangle shape on flat land but still good sun light. Add some trees and shrub to make good balance of composition and dimension. Well plan landscape design Definitely add beauty to this property
November 27, 2012 at 8:17pm   
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Cynthia Gutzmer Pedersen - Licensed Architect
Travis, I am looking at your floor plan. My quick assessment is that you probably have load-bearing walls involved. I am currently overhauling my own home (a 60's Colonial) and taking it from traditional divided rooms to an open concept plan. So I am intimately familiar with your same issue. Again, I would recommend a few hours of an Architects time - or at the very least, get a competant carpenter to help you determine load bearing walls. I personally would recommend the Architect because in addition to determining load bearing wall locations they can work out an overall plan. I can tell you that in my own home I reworked my plan to have larger informal spaces (rather than multiple smaller formal rooms). For example - my original formal Living Room had a beautiful fireplace and was a nicer room than the Family Room, so I enlarged the Living Room to become the one Great Room space and turned the old Family Room into a Home Office. Also, my new Kitchen takes up the space of the old Kitchen and Breakfast area so my once formal Dining Room (adjacent to new Kitchen) is now repurposed as the only informal eating area. I could see you doing something like that in your plan. Again, this house has great bones. There are so many possibilities both inside and out. Good Luck!
November 28, 2012 at 6:37am   
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Yes, I do have a few load bearing walls, but nothing that can't be fixed with a couple beams. My biggest concerns are making the master bed and bath bigger, while keeping three bedrooms.
November 28, 2012 at 7:11am   
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