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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Can I remove these columns and give my house a different elevation/frontage?

boothebfJanuary 19, 2013
My husband and I bought this house when we were newlyweds, not realizing we'd end up staying it it long-term (for almost eleven years now). Since we're in a very good location and the value of the homes around us is continually going up, we're considering staying and renovating and/or adding on instead of moving (as was always the original plan). However, one of my single biggest issues with this house are these ridiculous 1970s-style columns on the front. My question for any contractor or builder out there is this: would it be possible to just take these columns completely OFF if we took the roofline back so that it was fluid with the roofline across the other side of the house (ie. the right side in the photo)? I don't think these columns are load-bearing for the house itself but instead simply hold up that particular slope of the roof. Does that make sense? I'd like to modernize the frontage and give myself a cleaner, more traditional palette to work with - not something so stuck in the'70s.

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

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Kaplan Architects, AIA
I think you could remove the columns and the small roof area associated with it as I believe you describe above. I would check with a local contractor and/or engineeer to make sure. You would then need to patch the roof and redo the gutter accordingly. I have to say that I like the columns and think you should keep them.....
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Ironwood Builders
From a builders stand point, I agree that the columns and the low slope shed roof can be removed. Matching the existing roofing should not be a giant issue, same with the exterior trim. Caveat is that as a builder, I want something over the front door to protect it, and the people that use it, from the elements. We did a gable end copper roofed portico (many years ago, sorry, no pictures!) supported by columns set close to the house sidewall. it tied with the Georgian style of the house and really gave visitors a clue where the front door was. Depending on your roof pitch, there may or may not be enough room for a full gable..alternatively you could consider an eyebrow gable....very traditional. If you keep the columns, you could go Tara-esque and complete the facade all the way across the front, add a balcony(!) and really be Gone with the Wind. I'll look up an eyebrow gable and send a pic/
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 2:50PM
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Ironwood Builders
Hmmm, well I found the picture I wanted here on houzz, saved it to my ideabook and now can't get it to you. So do what I did, go to pictures, query eyebrow gable and browse the pictures...about the fifth or sixth picture is an arched front porch roof. Best of luck!
    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 2:59PM
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David, good point. Is this the picture you were referring to?

I am not a fan of the columns either, but I think boothebf should think about the entry without them. Something like this would work:
Front yard · More Info
. This is a tricky build because the window is so low, but looks good:
Georgian Manor - Exterior · More Info
. I think your house has enough room for the gable without causing an issue. Simple:
Authentic Colonial Transformation · More Info
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Interiors International, Inc.
Yes take them down it will not be that big of a project. If you can afford to do an exterior like the ones above you will recoup most if not all your investment.
    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Oh my goodness you all are AWESOME!! Thank you!! And thank you for saying you like the columns, Kaplan. :) It's nice to hear both opinions in case this just isn't a possibility in the long run. Yes, I agree, there needs to be some kind of accent to create a "marked" entry as well as to provide "shelter" and a gable of some sort makes total sense. Thank you all for the constructive wisdom - literally! - and for the photos, houssaon! Makes it so much easier to explain to my husband (I'm not sure "eyebrow gable" would've been in my repertoire!).
1 Like    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Hi, I just wanted to add my thoughts, not that I am an expert :) But I was so taken aback that you would want to remove those columns. They are so beautiful and grand, and give your house a point of difference to others which are similar (but without columns, as shown in the pics). I would have thought you should grow some lovely tall pine trees and add a very grand garden. I just feel like one day you or others will look back and realise how beautiful things in their original state can be, especially these columns. But just my thoughts, you obviously have a lovely home regardless. Good luck.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Mari, thank you for your kind words! I think I might actually like these columns more if they weren't square, which, in my opinion, gives them a more dated look. I have always been a big sucker for those lovely old flat-fronted houses in Europe and columns aren't totally my thing - the aesthetic just doesn't do it for me, I guess - but I think in some ways you're right: they do add a lot. So the good news for me? Either way, I think it's a win. Thanks for the input.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 9:22PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
Food for thought. Your main roof has a shallow pitch. It will look more like the above photo "Authentic Colonial Transformation." rather than the other photos. If I'm correct in interpreting your "lovely old-flat front homes in Europe" correctly, most of the roofs have a steeper pitch. The 2nd roof supported by columns on your house interupts the shallow pitch and gives the appearance of height. I suggest you try to find other homes with the same roof slope so you can get a better feel before you start to remove roof and columns.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 9:48PM
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I completely understand, I actually couldn't tell they were square I thought they were round, so I see what you mean :) all the best!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 3:14AM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
I have a flat front home that has no covering over the front door and it faces S/W. The 1980's Williamsburg style. The sun is murder on the door and no where to stand out of the rain for guests. Faced with your situation, I would continue the porch across the whole front of the house, change the columns all to round. Make the porch and steps a special material to stand out. Add some decorative items and re-landscape the front.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:36AM
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Another option would be to keep the columns and put a floor on the second level so it looks like a second floor porch with a georgian railing. That will give you a more interesting facade and help with the proportion.
    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 7:50AM
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Ironwood Builders
Hey boots, Got any more gigantic projects you want to get started? My list is getting longer every day! We've got the front facade, the two story kitchen and master bath/bedroom addition and the panel painting in dining room(?). As I recall, we were talking about $75 per sq.ft. for the addition? So I'm thinking it is time for you to talk to a realtor and relocate to the house you need and want and let this one go...eleven years of the mortgage you have...can you shave 3 points off and keep the mortgage the same? Not as much fun as dreaming your space...but think of the furniture those bambinos can ruin! Got any dogs?
    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Martin Bros. Contracting, Inc.
Here is a project similar to the one you describe that we did for a homeowner.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 8:46AM
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