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Curb appeal dilemma (let's call it a challenge..)
rinqreation
February 8, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hi there! We're far from finished restoring and refurnishing our 1954 home in the Netherlands (we do it thoroughly), but I do like to get some suggestions on how to give our front garden/patio some curb appeal.
It's about 10ft deep and 24ft wide, which includes a parking spot. It's faced south, so gets a lot of sun all day, the soil is really sandy and the dutch weather is rainy and windy. Temperatures range from 5F to 100F(in the shade). There are a lot of alders down the street, so when fall comes, all is covered in leaves and props. We have a wonderfull backyard so something low maintanance would be nice.
I love the Ceanothus Dark Star in front of the window and the green japanese maple on the corner.
Do not ask me why the previous owners put orange rooftiles in their frontyard, we've found quite a lot of other mysteries here! We've painted the woodwork a warm grey and I might repaint the front door (color didn't turn out to be what I expected). And yes, we'll have curtains one day, ha! And we'll re-do the doorstep and the terracotta walltiles will be painted charcoal.
All suggestions and ideas are welcome, I'm looking forward to reading them!
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Ironwood Builders
Interesting. My thoughts really are American solutions to the problem...and that feels inappropriate. My search for similar buildings went nowhere. So here are the American solutions... I think the facade is unorganized, it needs something to break up the large expanses of stucco and draw attention away from the varied size windows. A portico, either on brackets or supported by columns with a simple shed roof would be my suggestion. Remove the red roof tiles and create elevations of rock garden with local stone...natural, not cut. Add another ceanothus, preferably a creeper and cover the exposed dirt around your plantings with pea gravel. Succulents won't survive your winters, but could be set in pots and moved inside when temps drop. Don't know if this makes sense in the Netherlands...hope it helps!
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 7:18AM
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Ironwood Builders
Flagstone on the path, set tight!
1 Like   February 8, 2013 at 7:19AM
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rinqreation
Thanks for your ideas, they are about the same solutions we think are best too. Natural rock and bushes are universal, right? ;) Keeping it simple. The facade of the house is somewhat protected, because these houses are an architectural novelty. It's one of the first series of prefab housing in the Netherlands. It was built as housing for employees of a factory called Enka (which later moved to the States). The walls and beams were poored on-site, it's 20x20ft on a 2900sqft patch. It's history is one of the main reasons we bought it.

You can check this type of house here: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=nl&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fnl.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FTuindorp_%2528wijk%2529&act=url
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 8:37AM
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Ironwood Builders
I hadn't noticed that the house was a condominium or duplex..or more? So adding to the exterior with a porch roof is probably not the option I had thought. But the landscape ideas still work. Sort of a Japanese garden without the gravel raking? I like the simplicity.
1 Like   February 8, 2013 at 8:58AM
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rinqreation
There's 4 in one block.
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Susan Mills Design
Ringcreation, I think it would look very fun if you painted the trim of the small window, the trim piece over the door and the awning cover orange. It would add interest rather than the mismatched window size you see right now. A line of ornamental grasses under the large window would look good too.
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 9:07AM
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J L Thompson Design Group
I am not sure of your budget or restrictions regarding courtyard walls, but a courtyard wall and landscaping like the picture below would look great! Of course the stucco would match your homes' stucco. This is a home I designed here in the U.S.A.
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 11:54AM
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benniebonita
Just a thought,frame outer ie one or two gates frame going over door and front bay weather tight if possible frame with climber that suitable for location decking or stone with raised beds for ease some shrubs to give colour and hide fencing nice and safe thought roof would be good from car to front door frame in climbers for colour good luck with your choice
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Ironwood Builders
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Ironwood Builders
Though they don't sit out front of a building, this is sort of the low maintenance, naturalized setting that i thought might work. I'd still like to see something up against the building that breaks up the facade, so maybe the big bell or a torus? Not attached to the house but as a feature that shifts the view to the front garden?
0 Likes   February 8, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Sharon
Hi. I like the idea of a low maint. garden. I might be inclined to have two garden beds. Remove the path that is right next to the edge of the house and plant it out with medium sized shrubs or hedge, have your pathway, then in the garden bed closest to the footpath have slightly lower plantings/ grasses. It looks to me as though then when you open your car door, the path way would be in a more logical position. Carry on the path type (flagstone/pavers, whatever you choose) with the path from your door to the footpath also.
0 Likes   February 9, 2013 at 5:21AM
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Ironwood Builders
Ring, any chance you can convince the neighbors to make the front garden encompass the whole facade?
0 Likes   February 9, 2013 at 5:38AM
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Michael Kilpatrick Design
Rinq,
I too love the look of your house. There is a very 1950's modernism about it that is displayed in the forthright window pattern. They aren't necessarily mismatched, but are rather expressions of the function within. The door - obvious - the larger window for a living room space, the small window for a bath upstairs and two bedrooms. And when you study the alignment there is a very strong and very controlled symmetry.

I would love to see you play off that very controlled elevation and reflect that in a gardening plan. See images below

If you can I would add either a timber material or as you are in Europe a terra cotta material (http://www.hunterdouglascontract.com/facades/terracotta_facade.jsp) across the left portion of the elevation. It can be stained wood or grey coloured terra cotta to match the roof. This idea reinforces the left of the house as being different in character than the right. I may be wrong in my guess, but are the stairs, closets and bathrooms all on the left when looking from the street? I also added a 24" sunshade across the width of the facade which would look sharp in a grey glossy metal.

Then create a raised entry platform which aligns exactly to the new wall screen. The new walk should step down at the sidewalk. This helps to define your garden and your space. The stairs act like a gate indicating that beyond the steps is a private zone.

Plant a clipped waist height hedge (boxwood) to define the boundary to the left while a series of plantings done in straight rows defines the garden on the right. Plant tall grass(x7) next to the walkway (Calamagrostis Karl Foerster) then a medium height, but fuller grass, such as Purple fountain grass -Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'- (offset the grass mounds so that they do not line up across the garden) and then end with something that will add late season color and interest such as Sedum - Autumn Joy or Purple Palace or even a low mounding variety of Coneflower "White Swan". Try to choose plants that will maintain their habit without the need for a lot of pruning. You can control the height of the Coneflower by cutting an inch off the top of the plant after it reaches about 6" of new spring height. This also promotes fuller blooms.

Next leave an open area, I indicated a square, that you can plant with a perennial ground cover that stays green all year such as Pachysandra.

Lastly, in the corner diagonally opposite the door, plant your favorite varietal of something that is colorful and exuberant. You could move the Ceanothus or the Japanese maple or just leave the rhododendron that you have there now. The maple would be a nice choice especially if it has a great fall color and a wonderful broad weeping habit.

All of these rows of perennials should be underplanted with spring or early summer flowering bulbs. Choose a tallish variety of white alium for the tall grass and fragrant white narcissus for the medium grass. Do a heavy underplanting (in a structured planting of rows and columns) of the pachysandra with a shorter tulip (15") again in white that will peak through the green of the pachysandra in bloom time and then recede after flowering.

You have a wonderful simple house and I think you should play that up. Do have fun. It could be a great and very rewarding project.
1 Like   February 9, 2013 at 8:21AM
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rinqreation
Ha! Our neighbours are really (really) conservative and he's the most stubborn interior builder I've ever met (and I've met a few, trust me). Our exterior walls are made of one layer of conrete (7.5") and he suggested painting the whole thing charcoal. He must have been cold while making that up.. He also took out his half of the chimney without making brackets/supporting (inside the house, not the stone top, it's still there!). I could go on, but I won't, just wanted to point out that it won't work. He's the type that says no because he can. And he did his frontyard last year, paved the whole thing. So back to making sweet little plans just for ourselves.
0 Likes   February 9, 2013 at 8:39AM
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rinqreation
Michael Kilpatrick Design, thank you for your comment! Our facade it protected view, so we'll only paint the woodwork and maybe get a new sunscreen over the main window. You're right about the features immediately pointing out their funtion, it's what I like about older houses, what you see is what you get. Oh yeah, I have forgot to mention the vents for the crawl space should be kept open, so the little pathway in front of the window will stay (some new tiles maybe).
0 Likes   February 9, 2013 at 8:53AM
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rinqreation
A few inches of snow does help (to get a blanc canvas) to get my imagination going! :)
0 Likes   February 11, 2013 at 2:05AM
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Sigrid
To me, the house is elegant, attractive but a bit plain. I'm not sure there's much you can do to change that, but with a yard full of flowers, it would be spectacular.

Fill the gravel square with plants. Pick a few that have seedheads that will remain interesting in winter. Keep your interest year-round, by starting with crocus and snowdrops (galanthus) and cyclamen, which might actually start blooming in February (if your climate is anything like England's).

Go to Botanical gardens and look at your neighbors to find out what will grow well in your area. Then choose cultivars that have long blooming periods.
0 Likes   November 3, 2014 at 9:02PM
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rinqreation
Still haven't done any work on the front yard. Inside is almost finished. Still lots of painting (woodwork) to do, but pregnant now (due Jan), so fresh paint can wait. I'm building some furniture for the little one. What's finished looks great, hub and I gained lots of new skills, we're rather proud of our accomplishments.
I've gathered some pictures in an ideabook and since we have a 25'x35' backyard, we're going to make the front yard low maintenance, keep the current shrubs and add some ground cover underneath them. The rhodondendron looks a lot better now.
There are some trees along the curb, so in autumn the front yard is covered with leaves. We want it to be easy to clean up. So most likely no hedge or wall, because the leaves will build up against it.
The current flagstones are slippery year 'round, so I think I'm going to pour some concrete stepping stones with split in it and gravel and creepers inbetween. Somewhat between japanese and midcentury style. I'll enjoy the flowers in the back yard and the front has to be more 'functional' and minimalistic. A better version of what we have now.
1 Like   November 4, 2014 at 1:58AM
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silkejesse
I think all you need to do is redo the landscaping... Maybe some taller foundation shrubs in the back, maybe a water feature, if possible? And some mulch to add additional color on the ground...
0 Likes   November 4, 2014 at 9:19AM
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