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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Early 80's Split Level Makeover HELP!

jdickey81January 27, 2013
A year ago I purchased this lovely early 80's split level house. It has a very odd front elevation and zero landscaping. Located in the Texas hill country I am surrounded by rock and stucco. I however would like to stay away from that look. I was thinking about a modern barn look since it looks like a barn to me. I would like to fix the front porch so you can see the front door. I would also prefer to keep the exsisting rock. Does anyone have any other ideas? I am totally open to anything really.
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Sunlight Properties Ltd
The front view of the house is definitely not its best side! I wonder why it was built facing that way? I love the second picture, side elevation and this is how I would want people to first view the house. Is there any way you can re-route the driveway to make that the approach to the house? You could take out the balustrading and have the stairs come down to the side. If this is not an option then I would consider putting 3 windows in the front roofline to match the side window, this would really give the house a facelift. A third option would be to take out the roof up to the garage door to reveal the front door and create a gable similar to the pitch of the side elevation.
I have put together some photos to give you some ideas in the following idea book;
Ideabook: Gable roof · See Ideabook
1 Like    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:32AM
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The Virtual Designer- Kitchens & Bathrooms
Hello- Lucky you to get such a great house, I really love it. I have also put together an ideasbook for you as well. I've called it 'Split Level'....I hope you like it. Obviously, your house needs some additional bits and pieces done to it and my first thought is the timber cladding as I'd definately renew that. The other things that strike me is the absense of any significant landscaping. This place could really use some low walls, shrubs and paths. I don't know what is on the top level directly above your garage but I think it would like to see more of a line of windows along there rather than just those two which tend to look lost.
When you go through the ideasbook you will see lots of pictures but take notice of the design elements that make those houses really interesting.
Hope your reno goes very well
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by jdickey81    January 28, 2013 at 2:50AM
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Thank you both for responding, I really appreciate the ideas. I had never thought of putting a gable over the garage but I love that idea. Since those little windows are actually the master closet I wouldn't mind loosing them, and I would gain a bonus space...awesome! The overhang over the front door is an absolute must go, and if I do nothing else that will be done. The flat wall that takes up half the front is unfortunately the kitchen cabinets on top and a full bath on bottom, so punching windows is not an option. I do however love the different types of siding such as an older wood plank or the red sheet metal that can be added to the rock to distract the eye a bit. The landscaping is a whole other animal and I bought it bare with the idea of making it what I want. The low wall idea in the front is a great suggestion. Thank you again and will post Pics as work gets done. :)
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 10:00AM
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While you are working on the front door area, I would re-work the stairs; using flatter longer steps. Right now It seems rather cumbersome.
    Bookmark   Thanked by jdickey81    January 28, 2013 at 10:32AM
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ENDGRAIN Design-Build, Inc.
I completely agree with everything that Annie @ The Virtual Designer wrote! The massing volumes of the house is what is so great. A simple move to replace the painted, diagonal wood siding with new horizontal wood siding (6" -8" wide planks) like cedar, redwood, or Ipe (a tropical hardwood that is very durable, especially for Texas climate ) in a rich, natural color will bring balance to the stone. The wood needs to be maintained regularly with oil, so that would need to be factored in to overall life-cycle budget (Ipe requires less care). If you remove the roof over the entry stair, then pay careful attention to the windows above because the appear to align and might need to be modified. The windows in the front should be replaced with wider single wider units, rather then pairs of two. All the windows would be better suited if painted dark (if wood) or replaced with dark color. The railing at the stairs and balcony should be replaced with simple blackened steel (not black paint) that is contemporary. The rear patio could benefit by having new wood decking on either side that is the same as the new wood on the exterior.
With regards to landscaping, use native planting (so beautiful in Texas) and work with the geometry of the house, for example at the front: don't conceal the stone wall, rather use that surface as a background for a linear arrangement of plants or for a freer composed arrangement.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by jdickey81    January 28, 2013 at 12:30PM
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David thank you for your suggestions they are spot on. The natural wood is a great idea and much easier than adding to the house. Every window needs to be replaced so i will rework the front ones like you suggested. When i take down the overhang on the front porch would you recommend putting anything at all over the door? Also glass front door or wood? I was thinking deck with pergola in the back.
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 2:11PM
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ENDGRAIN Design-Build, Inc.
Over the door.... that was giving me some trouble! Yes, I think this needs to be handled with some sort of partial covering so that it is more welcoming and provides a little protection from rain for visitors. So... with wood siding around the door and on the left side of the door ( I see it in the side photo), perhaps a good solution would be to build a wood-framed trellis as an entry. Vertical elements supporting the trellis would be on the right side (where the railing is) and the overhead pieces would tie into the wood siding on the left. Wood species should be the same as siding. The trellis should be simple, contemporary with square cut ends, and the wood pieces on the top should be small, delicate proportions (many of them, as opposed to just a few big pieces) to counter the massing of the stone and size of wood siding. Be sure to demolish the stone column at the top of the landing and the stone wall at the bottom of the landing because they only work as the building is now, not as it will be redone.
Front door would be great with glass. Glass could be clear (if you're comfortable with that) or a reeded glass that obscures view, but not the translucent kind (doesn't go with the house). Windows and doors could be dark painted wood (black, even) or dark aluminum (oil rubbed bronze). Alternatively, the front door could be a solid wood which is painted to match the window frames (don't be afraid of the dark color against wood siding). The garage doors should be the same wood as the siding.
It looks like there might be a light fixture on the stone column?? You can find a simple, contemporary one that is dark metal (to go with doors and windows and railings) that is something like a cylindrical shape.

At the rear, if you do a pergola, be conscious of its alignment with the balcony above (and be sure to change to wood there to match). Pergolas & trellises at front and back would be great with something like night-blooming jasmine growing on it, or some other kind of vine.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by jdickey81    January 28, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Interiors International, Inc.
I really do love your home it is quite nice looking. It really needs a landscape architect. The front entry problem could be fixed by cut outs in the roof that allow in light. You could use sky lights to achieve this. Or just cut the roof back to where the stairs start. Personally I would leave it a lone I do like the house.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by jdickey81    January 28, 2013 at 3:12PM
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David I truly appreciate your imput. Amazing ideas!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 4:11PM
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