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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Deck and exterior ideas needed

brightorangeDecember 25, 2012
I just moved into this house. The back of the car is facing the street and this is the side of the house that I’m struggling with the most. I’m specifically looking for help in the following areas:

-A big issue I have is how visually tall this house looks. Are there tricks to make the house appear a little more proportionate?

-I need a new deck at some point soon. The deck doesn’t need to be used for sitting so it doesn’t have to be big. I do use those stairs to get to the main entrance (see close up photo) so I’d for sure like to see some stairs a little wider and with one or two landings.

-The walk-out basement is actually a stone foundation. Most of it is painted white and some is painted gray as you might see in a photo. Is there a better colour I should use to paint the wall?

-Now about that blue. The exterior is board and batten and the roof is charcoal grey. Do you have any ideas for a colour less .... electric? I live in Ontario, Canada and no where near water.

-Does anyone want to venture a guess at the styles included in this house? It seems unusual to have a walk-out basement for a house this style but maybe it isn’t. Is it possible that the front of the house used to be the side with the gothic window? There used to be a train station beside the house facing that gothic window that was removed 40 or so years ago.
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Oh yea, I forgot to mention my budget. It's tight but the labour is free.
    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 7:52PM
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I think the house has a gothic farmhouse vibe. Here is another Gothic house:
Oak Bluffs · More Info

The stairs are pretty wicket looking. Do you want a garage? Or at least the carport you have now?

If the railing of the deck was not solid board and batten, but open with railings, that would help with the vertical feeling. This railing would look good:
Street view with restored porch · More Info
. This would work:
Sea Cliff Hideaway · More Info
. Or a railing with detail like this:
Porch and Exterior Mouldings Design and Colors · More Info

I would paint it a soft green or tan with dark trim. A medium brown with a deep charcoal grey like this house would look good:
Presidio Heights Remodel · More Info
1 Like    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 8:40PM
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Hi Houssaon,

Thanks for your ideas. I like your ideas for railings.

As for a car port or garage, I think that's secondary. I would rather have a deck and exterior that looks appropriate rather than working around our demands for a carport/garage.

I'm still struggling with forming a mental picture of a stairs coming down from something that high and not have it look narrow and steep.

Our fascia and soffit are white and don't need to be replaced anytime soon. I think the colour of the board and batten will need to co-ordinate with white.
    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 7:48AM
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Interiors International, Inc.
I agree with Houson about the railings and house color. The foundation if dark will anchor the house and make it appear lower. I have the same problem with the new cabin I'm building. I did the walkout foundation in stone and broke up the 2 1/2 stories above with different colors. With your siding style this isn't possible.Using a darker color in the trim will help.
    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 8:00AM
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Samantha Broxton
1) I'd finish painting the stone the dark gray color, including the little mud room extension on what does look like the original front. I think that'd help ground the place.
2) I'd demolish that porch and carport, you can't even see the front door from the street, replace with something white and airy. You could leave the right side shape giving you a carport then start the stairs there go left about 10 steps landing then right 10 steps leaving the porch as the roof of the carport. Having the stairs parallel to the house will help them not appear as steep as will being able to see where you're going before you get there.
3) With the roof charcoal the trim white and the stone dark gray I'd go with a sage green or even blue gray color on the rest of the exterior to keep it in theme but soften the brightness you've got going.
    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Samantha, thanks for your ideas. I think I understand your idea about having the stairs parallel to the house.
    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 2:42PM
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I would take off the steps and carport. Add a front porch with posts and railing. I would add really wide steps going up the middle to the middle of the porch. I think it would be pretty if the whole house were painted white. Is this home divided into different units or is intone dwelling? How are your heating costs in Canada? I can't even venture to guess what they would be where I live. Landscaping around the foundation would be pretty. Do hydrangeas grow there? I would like them with more old fashioned plants such as rose of Sharon, and lilacs.
    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 10:16PM
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People pay good money to have a house look tall. Tall is good, I think. That colour was very fashionable in the 1980s, I think. Too, the cross-hatched lattice was big in the 1980s. I think that if you paint using the dark colour, as others have recommended, then the house might look less electric. But, think that if you paint the base a darkish grey, you should be prepared to paint the trim, too, and that would be a lot of work.

My guess is that the front door used to be below the gothic window.

IF you are going to get a new deck, then you might be able to have the entry at right angles to where it is now, so your car enters from where the cross-hatched arch is now. You could have (another) a front door there beside the door to the garage, and the steps to the main entrance could be internal. I've never been to Canada in winter, but they tell me it gets cold, so you might want to stay under cover when you move from your car to your house. That would mean having not more deck, but a roof over your garage. If you had the steps lead up, right to left, to the door, then they could go up the back of the garage and would not cut off the windows. Might look a bit funny, but. If I could not do that much, then I would not do anything. On second thoughts, maybe the garage could be at the back and the (internal ) steps could go around the corner of the house. Doing that would make the base of the house look more substantial, too. I would not remover the car port unless I was going to replace it with something enclosed. At least, at the moment, the car port covers the front of your car.
    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 11:21PM
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This deck and stair looks more substantial, because there steps have a backing. I think when you do yours, they should too. I like the way this goes down about a third of the way and then there is a landing.
Deck Projects · More Info
If you can imagine it, the same could be done with your steps. Along the side of the house to the left of the front door, a flight one third of the way down, then a landing an the final flight to the street. The deck could be half of the current width to provide a carport.

I flipped the image and shortened it to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about. Of course, your house is not an L, so the deck would not be attached on two sides to the house, only one side.
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:25AM
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Here is a deck where the stair has one flight of steps:
Craftsman Naperville Exterior Makeover · More Info
. This deck is not as high off the ground, but the steps are on the inside wall:
Cook Bros. of Arlington, VA. - Rear Additions · More Info
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:33AM
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On a tight budget I would see if I could toon down the color by trying a grey wash over this blue, for the time being anyway. Blue is not wrong only this blue is awful. If you would extend the deck around the corner to the left, you will visually cut the height in two and could also incorperate the funky entrance hall under the deck. Do I see a slope in the lefthand corner? If so you could put the stairs there and it wouldn't look steep. I would open up the railings so that you can see the house.This house has beautiful bones, I wonder how it used to look, anyway of finding out?
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Free labour... lucky you! You got some great comments here!

I like the idea of painting the whole house a dark-ish grey. I think that would transform it. Also, I would love to see a deck built around both sides of the house (the sides we see in the pictures). This would break up the height a bit, and add some interest to the structure. I think an open railing would do wonders - even on the current deck.

Someone commented that they thought the front door used to be beneath the gothic window. I think that must be right! Is it in any way possible to recreate that if you do decide to do a wrap-around deck?

Also, I like the idea of having a wider stairway with a landing and a turn, so it's not just one big vertical staircase.

A bright red door against a grey house would look lovely! Especially with all the snow you must get up there in Ontariario! :)
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 4:51AM
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Great ideas, thanks! I have some answers to some of your questions and responses to some of your ideas.

Apennameandthata: We've thought of entering our house through the basement by the carport. There actually used to be a door there under the deck. It's been replaced with that little window with panes that you can see in photo 1. But the stairs in the house going up to the main floor are narrow and steep. (That bottom floor is the basement after all.) So if I'm dragging groceries in from the car, I think I'd rather take the outside stairs as long as they're wider than they are now. I'm not used to having a garage or carport so it's not a priority for me to have my car (and entrance) enclosed.

Houssaon: Stair risers definitely make them look more substantial. Thanks for that pointer. I think I can't have the stairs on the inside wall because the main entrance needs to be really obvious to guests coming. They need to know undoubtedly where to go to get to the front door.

Cohoek and Brendagrace: Having the deck come around is a good idea! Yes, Cohoek, the ground does come up to meet the main level there in the back. I have a couple back and side doors that come out there. I've even thought of having my driveway come around to the side (under the gothic window) and walk up a few steps to the back and make our main entrance way back there. But, I think the layout of the interior of the house lends itself to having our entrance at the front. Unless I do a major overall of the main floor, I don't think I can swing that. (Budget: tight) Brendagrace, I'd love to paint the door a bright colour!

I'm interested in looking up archival photos of this area and there's a good chance we'll see our house in them. There used to be a train station beside the house and a beautiful brick factory is across the street. There's a good chance our house will be in some photos of those two landmarks.

I'm still trying to imagine what things should look like below the deck. So far I've only been seeing photos of decks that look like they belong on the back of a house. You know the kind, spindly 4x4 posts, no landscaping and it looking dark and forboding under the deck. Those kinds of decks end up being a catchall for lawn chairs and bikes and kids toys. I'd love to have the front look welcoming.

No one has mentioned the windows on the front of the house. They will be replaced in a couple years. I think they need trim to make them look less skinny. And what about shutters? Yes or no?
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 7:35AM
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You might benefit from putting shutters on the windows and maybe having wider window trim. That would help to break up the great expanse of blue that is the house.
    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 5:52AM
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