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Need help with the outside of my house
shelleyuk
February 24, 2013 in Design Dilemma
This is my first post so I hope I'm doing it properly! We are in the UK and have a large house by UK standards (although not by US standards judging from the photos on the site!). It's a bit of a mish mash of styles. I feel it looks boxy and plain. I'm wondering about maybe a US style front porch? We don't really do them in the UK but we have space and views over private woodland. The house is north facing though so will adding a verandah/porch make our hallway dark?

Any thoughts at all would be appreciated. The shutters and doors are now greyish green rather than navy.
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misecretary
Will you post some more pictures; taken closer to the house? Thanks
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:02AM
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judianna20
Front garden
Front Elevation

This last picture is interesting. The porch roof connects the two wings and the "entrance" is between two columns. The peak is the same as your roof.
St. David's Home
3 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:02AM
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shelleyuk
These are the only other photos I have at the moment and its snowing and getting dark outside!
1 Like   February 24, 2013 at 9:05AM
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shelleyuk
Brrr cold out there. Taken a couple more. You can see it looks a right mess at the moment.

I hate the fact that the front isn't symmetrical and so disguising that would be good,
1 Like   February 24, 2013 at 9:09AM
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shelleyuk
Yes that last one shows the sort of thing I had in my head judyg. Joining up the two sides of the house.
1 Like   February 24, 2013 at 9:18AM
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B. Witt Design
Check out the jdowney house on the same houzz page as yours and note the gabled entry portico. It could be sized for your entry and in keeping with the roof lines left and right. I believe I see some fieldstone peeking out on the right rear of your house. Fieldstone could be used as the base of the portico pillars as their irregular round surfaces would add some visual softness to the exterior. I would take one step further - before I would call in one of your fabulous landscape designers - and that would be to add a semi circular planter under each left and right extension window. Even with a northern exposure you should be able to find some colorful plantings which is what your stunning property really needs. I'm sure a landscape expert would have other ideas to punctuate the abundance of green velvet around your house.
It's a lovely home. Enjoy!
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:24AM
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misecretary
Thanks for going out there taking pictures. I was going to say the same thing that you and judyg have--use the porch to join the two sides. I was trying to see if the two end wings are built out the same distance from the center section. in other words, are both 6 feet out?
I have a couple more questions for you...
Is that a sunroom on the right side of the house and does it have brick and/or stone on the front of it?
Will you painting the house when porch is built?
Thanks!
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:31AM
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B. Witt Design
I didn't see the pictures added above before I wrote you. Now I can see that I'm not fond of the straight line roof above your front entrance which somehow seems to accentuate the peculiar disparity between the two sides of the main house. I say, if you can't have shutters all around those windows - don't have any in there at all and think about painting the trim around the front door the same color as the wing window shutters and trim. I don't think the sterile white, while certainly not wrong, does much for the exterior of the house.

Anyway - lots of luck. It would be great to see what you end up doing. I'm sure you will get all manner of great solutions.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:36AM
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shelleyuk
The two end wings do come out the same distance from the house and so could be joined up. The asymmetry comes from the fact that the wing bit on the left hand side is a later addition (you can see this from inside the house). The previous owners obviously tried to match up the two side of the house and failed!

On the right hand side of the house underneath the balcony is a bay window for the living room rather than a sun porch. It's brick construction with render like the rest of the house.

The "shutters" are unfortunately mock shutters. Again, shutters are not very common over here and they are something we inherited. I suspect it was the attempt of the previous owners to make the house look less plain. They could certainly come off but the house would look even more plain then.

We will repaint the house since I suspect it hasn't been done in abut eight years or so. Thoughts on colour?
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:45AM
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q.d.g.
demo the paving that is running along the foundation only keeping it as a front walk. Soften the foundation on each side with pillowed english boxwoods and anchor the walk with a cluster of pots on each side. There is not enough change in elevation in my opinion to warrant a porch but a small defined entry courtyard could be great. Small specimen trees could then allow plantngs to pick up some architectural details that you seem to be yearing for.
3 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 9:50AM
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judianna20
I like the fact that your house is light in color. What I am not crazy about is the shutters. I think you house doesn't need them at all.This combo is pretty: a light putty and darker gray trim.

1 Like   February 24, 2013 at 10:02AM
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Ironwood Builders
Hi, Look into the designs of the early 20th century architect, CFA Voysey. He was a contemporary of Baille-Scott. His detailing is expensive but the massing of the buildings is awesome. A front portico with an up curving roof between the two gable end wings with an arching front will bring that flavor to your home.
2 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 10:16AM
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shelleyuk
These are pictures of the back of the house which demonstrate the mix of styles more and show the bay window. I'm aware that the windows are dreadful but we don't have the £25k needed to replace those at the moment.

Like the putty colour, agree that the current porch is rubbish, hadn't thought about painting the bits at the side of the front door and will do that. I also hadn't considered lifting the crazy paving at the front of the house and replacing with planting. Definitely something to think about.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 10:17AM
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shelleyuk
Now I'm gong to spend all evening lusting after Charles voysey houses on the Internet. Getting closer to that look would be great.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Ironwood Builders
Look for a local pro that is familiar with the style (there is actually a number here in the States represented on Houzz, I found 22 images). I imagine in his home country there might be a few more! Browse the Houzz photos and key word exterior, CFA Voysey and you'll get some ideas. I like the "brow or "eyelid"" effect over windows for an inexpensive upgrade to the facade. Changing the windows would be a good investment, no matter the rest of the job. Save up and plan that out too! Voysey was a genius and did the entire house...furnishings and fabrics, wall papers and lighting, just like Baille-Scott and MacIntosh.
1 Like   February 24, 2013 at 11:01AM
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bluenan
As someone who has built two custom houses in the last 20 years, both with large front porches, I can say that the time spent there watching the seasons, nature and our wonderful views has been some of our most enjoyable. If you do decide to add a porch, I think removing the shutters on the right side of the door will help to draw attention away from the dissimilar spacing of windows. Yes, a porch on the north side will cut down on natural light, but should be worth it.




4 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 11:03AM
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bluenan
Here is a greyed green color scheme softened with plantings.




2 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 11:32AM
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shelleyuk
I agree about the shutters on the window next t the door, I'd never thought before about how they emphasise the wonkiness, but now I can see it!
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 1:24PM
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bernie_a
There are too many focal points, causing your eye to wander but not rest. The entry should draw you in, in this case you cannot do it with scale, so you need to add detail.

And definitely add foreground planting, lots and lots of formal foundation plantings leading to a formal entry. The abruptness from paving to vertical wall is harsh and needs much softening. Search direction in landscaping forums.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 1:33PM
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semihugger1
Landscaping fixes a whole host of evils- I would consider taking your entry face all the way up with a stone facade maybe in cobblestone? If your view that you enjoy is that direction definately create some sort of seating area- I like the boxwood and flagstone idea. I would relocate your circular drive way further out or get rid of it. There is no welcoming area to your home with the driveway right there- it simply is stark. You could continue the stone around the other two areas for continuity add some window boxes. You have some great bones, with some specific challenges:) definately a new front door and portical to add substance as well.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 1:48PM
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Arlene Warda, Architecture+Interior Design
Thanks for the post! You have lovely house. I would not worry about the porch, making the foyer too dark, in fact there are several solutions to that:

-The mid point can be 'trellised', sides can be covered roofs. The mid point can have UV clear, glass, covered roof, over trellis. Bringing light in, and sun out. I don't think foyer will be dark. even with covered roof you
can stil turn light on, when you come in!...

Thanks for your post on your wonderful house!..
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 1:53PM
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Denice Shuty
Gorgeous house! Love that it's not a pretentious, new-style McMansion. A new porch roof and a courtyard garden will make the entry your favorite part of the house.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 1:56PM
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apple_pie_order
Gorgeous house. A porch on the north side will not be warm much of the year unless you add a portable propane gas heater such as restaurants use outside. They work very well. Yes, adding a deep porch roof will make the entry darker, so just add more lights inside. Paint the underside of the porch roof white to keep the porch light and bright. A Lutyens bench and small table would be lovely.
0 Likes   February 24, 2013 at 2:11PM
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shelleyuk
Thanks all, lots to think about but it's certainly got my mind working. Any thoughts on style of windows since these have to go.
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 12:22AM
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PRO
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 12:31AM
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bernie_a
Definitely add mullions as suggested above, but use a mullion configuration from local historical precedent.

You sound like you need confidence and reassurance. Your house has great bones. The form is generally fine, and in any case you need to work with what you have. In the UK you have tons of wonderful historical precedents. Us Americans are the newbies and learn from your wonderful buildings. I would suggest driving around looking at good local historical vernacular and seeing what the best homes have for details and windows and copying that - not asking Americans for their opinions. You have the masterful examples all around you. We don't.

If you have funds for it, the one piece of your house that looks out of place to me is the garage. The garage door should either come off the side or tear it down and build a separate carriage house. The garage degrades and makes the House look cheap. Otherwise you have the makings of a great manor house. Good luck with your wonderful home!
1 Like   February 25, 2013 at 4:54AM
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shelleyuk
I've been looking at some lovely images of porches. Since the front door and the windows in the centre section are not centralised would it be better to keep the porch section across the middle straight?
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 3:25PM
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bluenan
Yes, I think so.
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 4:00PM
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The Color People
The advantage of a porch would be being able to sit outside when it is raining. Running a porch between the two step outs would look quite handsome. I don't think it would be worth your while to do a porch only slightly larger. A bigger porch would also keep the ice and snow away from being right at the front door in the winter since it faces north. If it is cool in summer and you like sitting out you might consider landscaping the front area as an area that welcomes that sort of thing.

If you do do a porch keep it fairly simple as the house is not elaborate and the comment from harcoums above about the windows is right on. Make sure that the the cornice of the porch matches the cornice of the at the top of the house or it will look sort of perfunctory like the current one. I would also suggest a low pitched shed roof for the porch. For depth either making the porch end just before the corner of the step out or letting it protrude past it would look good. Making the porch deeper will make the house feel more gracious and give the porch a more commanding presence.

As to light in the hall obviously the narrower porch will let in more light but in either case making sure that the ceiling of the porch is very light will reflect light back into the interior. If you go with a pitched shed roof you will have room to make the clerestory window larger. Putting full glass in the sidelights would also help out.

The more I look at the house more I think it would truly benefit from a full porch. The house is really handsome and a full porch will just make it feel more so and feel convivial besides. It will also balance the garage door and take your eye away from that whole addition over there.
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 4:16PM
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krenrut
I think the only problem with your house is the windows. They are like empty holes staring out. If you notice, every picture posted above shows houses with mullioned windows. Beautiful windows will transform the plainest house.
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 5:20PM
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krenrut
And I would remove the shutters as well. It is obvious they would not be able to close over the windows and so they look odd and "fake". The house is beautiful otherwise. And it is very generous in size! Even for American standards.
0 Likes   February 25, 2013 at 5:25PM
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shelleyuk
Right. I am removing the shutters this weekend and will then really be able to see what I'm working with
0 Likes   February 26, 2013 at 9:10AM
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The Color People
If you remove the shutters the windows will way too small for the area they are surrounded by especially on the two sides. They are almost the only things of any interest on the facade.
0 Likes   February 26, 2013 at 3:11PM
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shelleyuk
Hmm, I will remove the shutters from the middle section then and see whether that helps to disguise the fact that the middle section isn't symmetrical. I will leave the other shutters on for now. The reason they've lasted this long is that I was concerned the house would look too bare without them.
0 Likes   February 26, 2013 at 3:23PM
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Ironwood Builders
When you change out the windows you will have an opportunity to enhance the exterior trim of the windows and doors. Wendy Hitchmough's book on CFA Voysey from Phaidon has lots of exterior details and close ups that will allow you to specify a look for the window installer. Painting the trim out a contrasting color to the stucco will give them more pop. Horizontal banding as an 'eyelid" above the high gable end windows will also add architectural detail. The shutters may or may not work...
0 Likes   February 27, 2013 at 12:34PM
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krenrut
I really do beg to differ with the color people. Once you have quality windows (aluminum clad with mullions on the exterior of the glass) they will be the architectural interest on the facade. I subscribed for several years to English Home magazine and do not recall many homes with shutters on them. Many of them are stone with small windows (windows were expensive and drafty) and those country houses are lovely. I don't think the extra foot of shutters on either side of your windows (particularly the long rectangular ones) is doing anything for the proportionality of the facade of the house. If anything, they make those windows more awkward by elongating them. If you wanted to be very English country house, you could grow a vine up the right side of the middle section to fool the eye into believing there is more symmetry.
0 Likes   February 28, 2013 at 11:35AM
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oneofeleven
Hello,
As a Canadian who has lived in Britain, I would suggest a porch on the south side of your house where you will get the most use. A porch across the front will make the interior darker and the north side of the house does not get enough light to make good use of a porch. I agree with one of the other writers that removing some of the paved area along the entire front of the house . Put in an "English" garden , they are some of the best. Cheers,
0 Likes   February 28, 2013 at 11:45AM
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shelleyuk
Thanks oneofeleven. The issue is less about wanting a porch and more about wanting to improve the look of the front of the house. I will discuss the planting with my husband since I do think that will improve things. The problem will be persuading him that more garden is a good idea. We already struggle with maintaining the five acres we have!
0 Likes   March 1, 2013 at 9:36AM
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alabamalibrarian83
It's so huge! It looks like Downton Abbey of America.
0 Likes   March 1, 2013 at 9:42AM
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Arlene Warda, Architecture+Interior Design
read carefully, and above, they are in UK!...
0 Likes   March 1, 2013 at 9:59AM
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oneofeleven
I don't have as much yard space but we have enough that I can appreciate what you're saying. That is a lot of lawn to maintain. If you do put in some garden, do a bit of research and put in plantings that require minimal care. ie slow growing shrubbery, oramental trees, spring bulbs
0 Likes   March 1, 2013 at 10:02AM
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shelleyuk
We are in England and yes it is a big house, particularly for this country. We also have a separate guest cottage. The problem is all our spare cash goes on maintaining and heating the house and we have to save up to do any improvements!

Love that you guys like Downton Abbey too!!
0 Likes   March 1, 2013 at 10:02AM
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DeWitt Architects
Wow…now this is what I would call a design opportunity! At first glance the house and land is great and then you notice the asymmetry.

I would remove the shutters. I am not a fan of fake shutters and these only accentuate the asymmetry.

At the two story gable on the left, the windows do not line up with the ridge line above. I would consider adding a half meter of wall centered on the windows to create a second gable. This would deep set the windows. If budget allows add set of glass doors in lieu of top set of windows. Use a decorative iron rail in the new thick wall.

At the front door one option would be to increase the porch columns and add an open gable end roof with hanging light. The new roof would be below but the sill of the window above but yet encompass the window above with trim work.

Another option of the front porch is to create a roof flare out with wall below at mid height second floor to make the windows and front door symmetric. This will allow a longer front porch from side to side.

I like the paving to the front door and wall. It fits with your climate and location. I would use large planting pots to provide greenery at the front porch.

Consider painting the garage door white to lighten and deemphasize it.

Lastly would be to add traditional trim surround detailing to all windows on the exterior.
1 Like   March 1, 2013 at 10:39AM
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shelleyuk
DeWitt you are right. Once you start looking closely NOTHING is symmetrical or lines up the way it should!
0 Likes   March 2, 2013 at 11:10AM
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bluenan
Hi harcoums,
I saw this picture and thought of you. An idea for your wonderful English home.
exterior details 1
exterior details 2
1 Like   March 2, 2013 at 11:30AM
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DeWitt Architects
I love asymmetry. It is great in modern work and great in the picturesque. The problem is your house is close to a more formal symmetry. I think you need to push it one way or the other. I think pushing it to be asymmetric is possible but it may take more changes and money.
0 Likes   March 2, 2013 at 11:40AM
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shelleyuk
I've been looking at retrofitting some sort of fake lintel around the windows, would you call it trim in the US? There seem to be foam (??) products in the states. Can't find anything similar over here yet but anyone have any thoughts on what the retrofitted products are like? Would it be worth having something shipped over? Will post the window style I'm considering in a moment.
0 Likes   May 18, 2013 at 10:39AM
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shelleyuk
This window style?
0 Likes   May 18, 2013 at 10:45AM
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shelleyuk
With a lintel above and a ledge below to deepen the window, similar to this.

Then maybe the whole lot painted a putty colour, window frame and all?

Have also managed to persuade my husband that planting in front of the house would be a good idea to soften the whole thing.
0 Likes   May 18, 2013 at 10:50AM
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shelleyuk
Oops
0 Likes   May 18, 2013 at 10:54AM
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shelleyuk
Right I'm back to considering the outside of the house again. Any thoughts anyone on weatherboarding the top half of the house. We don't use weatherboarding much in the UK other than on boxy 1960s houses but I'm wondering whether it will give the house the interest it needs (combined with the porch joining the two gables and new windows).
1 Like   December 29, 2013 at 8:45AM
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OnePlan
weatherboarding is coming back in over here in UK !! jewsons do it ! and you can source it yourself online too ! have you thought about doing the two protruding wings totally and linking a glazed porch area between the two ?
2 Likes   Thanked by shelleyuk    December 29, 2013 at 9:16AM
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chookchook2
Just found this but v. Tired, will look again tomorrow, Shelley.
1 Like   Thanked by shelleyuk    December 29, 2013 at 9:21AM
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shelleyuk
Ooo thanks karen might have a look on the jewsons website!
2 Likes   December 29, 2013 at 9:21AM
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chookchook2
Agree with Oneplan about the glazed porch so you don't lose light, think you should let her draw up elevation plan for builders. Agree with people telling you to play up the asymmetry. Also think you should have a tame( not rampant) flowering climber up the posts around the porch. Something that tolerates shade. If has thorns may discourage kids climbing up on porch roof.
1 Like   December 29, 2013 at 11:41PM
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