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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Exterior improvements on a budget

mnewloveFebruary 26, 2013
We are renovating this whole house and don't have money in the budget for major exterior improvements this year. We are looking for some creative, inexpensive ways to improve the looks of the exterior. Especially interested in ideas for the large area above the garage.
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Looks like paint and elbow grease will be your friend.
Trim all the shrubs so no longer taller than the windows. It looks like the large shrubs lining the driveway need serious pruning or removal.
Perhaps remove the trellis by front door. Although cute, I don't think it fits with the rest of the house.
Paint the green trim--windows, doors, and garage door--a new color. Pull a light color from the stone and paint the garage door (not just the grids) so it blends instead of stands out.
6 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:24AM
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Thank you. We're planning on removing most of the overgrown shrubs. I like the idea of pulling a color from the stone and painting the whole garage door.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:37AM
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The exterior is crying out for another window above the garage. Perhaps change the color of the siding as well.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:08AM
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If there is not enough money for a window this year, I'd keep an eye out for a large sculptural piece to hang on that big blank wall beside the existing window. I agree that painting the garage door all one color would be a big improvement.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:15AM
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The Color People
This house looks like it is going to bite you! Start by immediately painting the garage door one color!
Now it is the only thing you see. I am having a very hard time putting the two photos together. Is that house on the right the same house? If it is it is going to take real work to tie it all together. What is the deal with that house with the gable?
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:08PM
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I agree, the garage door as it stands looks a little menacing. A solid color would do the trick. I'm not certain what is hanging above the garage door. Security light? It could be moved or replaced with a an address plaque/numbers.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:33PM
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David Stallworth
Hmm, things to do; 1-Paint the garage door one colour 2-Paint the trim to match the house 3-Remove the decorative wrought iron around the entry 4-add window boxes in a simple style for the front anf back of the house to make it more inviting 5-Change the garage light to something more in keeping with the original style of the house (looks like a late 50's early 60's style ranch house) 6-Trim the hedges and round them off so they're no higher than the door frames 7-Save up for Outdoor paver bricks for the driveway and steps leading to the drive http://www.mrpaverstone.com 8-Add some senser lights to the front and back of the property
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:56PM
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Urban Oasis
Pull the paint colors from the stone using a darker shade for the trims and a lighter one for the siding. Add a trellis over the garage door to add some interest to the big blank area there
4 Likes    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:42PM
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Stage to Sell
I would paint the garage door, the human door next to it, and ALL the trim the same pale gray-beige of the stone. I would leave the siding white. I would paint the front door up on the right a rusty red and try to draw the eye up to the front door more. Then for the area over the garage, I would add a duplicate window to the one above the garage (like the picture Dytecture did in a comment above) and I would put window boxes under the two windows with plantings in them.

If, on the other hand, you don't have the budget for a new window, I would build a horizontally long trellis that connects the two existing windows visually and looks like windows. It would have the effect of Frank Lloyd Wright ribbon windows across your house. The rectangular holes in the trellis would need a dark backing to look like windows. The trellis would be painted the same pale gray-beige of the other trim.

Your existing window on the upper left looks like it is almost a wrap-around-the-corner window, which is way cool and definitely modern.
    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Do you have a corner split? Such pretty bungalow lines up front, and all that extra sf in the rear - wonderful! Take down the ornamental white iron at the front door path. Lift the tree underneath by 1/3 and trim shrub heights down below window lines.

Personally, I like the green, darling on the doors, but hate that the white siding fights with your stone tones - a cool neutral that deserves a pale putty to help feature the classic split stone / ashlar profile.

I would paint all of it - just changing the white to the right shade - mid-tones look white at house scale - like http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW7542-naturel/ or http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW7035-aesthetic-white/ an example - but in an exterior formula of course. Do paint out the garage door to a deeper color tone that reads matched to your stone - it has nice lines for your style of home with the battens and windows.

Then, you can wait til next year and work out a whole palette for accent front door that is sort of keyed to your interior too. A more modern green trim color would be lighter and more naturally earth toned -http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW6180-oakmoss/ so the entire house seems to be more organic and connected to its stone roots - take the side doors one shade deeper green, or you could go into the warm charcoal grays next time to help the stone look warmer by contrast - http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW7018-dovetail/ and paint out the side doors in the garage door stone match color that will contrast a bit from the siding but keep the focus on the window trim. A wood finish (look) front door would look expensive with the earth tones and greens, and a red front door would be darling with gray trim.

As for the big space - don't worry over this - no one else sees it like you do.

The trellis across the garage look is great shown above. New post fixture bulb in the throwback exposed filament style they are selling, and next year, change out the fixture over the garage to two larger lanterns integrated into the trellis at each end - it can't be run through the stone easily but conduit will never be seen if it is laid in the right place on the trellis and painted in.

You can go retro, and find an architectural salvage place where you can buy a giant sign initial (representing your last name) and hang it there like the fancy folks would do in the 50's. But with a modern twist.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Such a cute house! I like your idea to paint the garage door one color. Also, I think a lighter shade of green trim would help, as the dark green seems to be fighting a bit with the stone. As someone else mentioned, the light over the garage door seems misplaced, though it may be very functional in that spot. Perhaps a light at each upper corner of the garage door could provide some balance and give you the needed illumination. Once you take care of these issues, I don't think the lack of the second window over the garage door will be as obvious. Am I the only one who likes the iron around the front door?
    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:09PM
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do all sidings & garage door a light shade from the stones.. while do the bottom flat portion of the overhanging bit of the roof, a darker brown to add interest.
light above garage door definitely needs replacement as mentioned by others.
maybe do the window & door frames also dark brown..
why not do the iron around front door too a dark brown. or take it down & place at the opening of the pathway as an independent archway? or maybe use it soemwhere else? its beautiful.
give the front steps a faux-wood tile treatment? and also lay some stone/tile on the pathway leading up to add interest..
that lamp post at the front is a big hindrance.. it should be replaced with maybe bollards on both side?
the shrubs combined with the trees are giving too many heights to the landscape. shrubs need to go. maybe use smaller plants around the tree stem in circles growing outwards.. with outermost ring made from same tiles as pathway chosen, but smaller sized.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:18AM
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I have recently gone [are] through a similar constraint ridden exterior updating to a tri-level of a similar vintage. I have found that making my house as neutral as possible helps create a background for regional plantings, the plantings not the house are the "stars". The very apt comments regarding painting the garage door (I did) and trim around the windows a color as close to the sidings tone will help make your house look unified. The scale of the light over the garage door in tiny, if your budget allows for wiring two lights on either side of the garage door it will clean up the front and lights will create interesting shows. I used two black can lights (same light used at front door) against white exterior horizontal siding. It looks as though you have a flagstone knee wall, if so I would clean that area up, even taking the wall apart and reinstalling it, power wash the stone, clean plant life away, less the grass lawn and it will make for a strong transition to that huge garage door. I hope this helps.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:55AM
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You have the makings of a very cool, modern home. I would recommend that you research modern houses and mid century modern houses. Check out magazines Dwell, Atomic Ranch and Modernism for more inspiration and don't forget to use the photo resources here on houzz.com. I'd enter the search terms "tuck under garage" "mid century modern" "modern". If you're open to it, I'd actually paint the house a very dark slate gray and then the garage door/trim a bright color such as yellow, orange or teal. These are very popular color combinations today for modern homes (modern is the term given to a style of house and doesn't apply to the actual AGE of the house) and will instantly make an impact. Many times we try to minimize the garage door because it's so large compared to other openings on the house, but I would try to look at it in the opposite way and make it stand out as an interesting feature - which is why I suggested those color combinations.
I do agree with everyone else regarding the plantings/landscape...on this house your yard will make HUGE impact. Instead of adding a window to that area above the garage, I would recommend that you consider enlarging the two that are there, first look at simply making them much taller. On the inside of the house they would be almost floor to ceiling height. If that still doesn't look quite right, then look at widening them a bit. That would balance out the two sides with the garage a bit more.

The best advice I give to anyone...TAKE YOUR TIME! Don't think that this will be done in 30 minutes like a show on HGTV. Do a few sketches, get some paint samples, talk to people. You said you were on a budget, but maybe check into a consulation with a local architect. They may charge a small fee just to help you with the color consultation. OR see about checking with a landscape architect. Designs that are well thought out and considered lead to happier homeowners in the long run. You also save money that way because you do it once and are done instead of redoing it a few years later because it wasn't quite right.
Best of luck.
    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:03AM
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DuLando screen and awning, Inc.
Agree with marvinone, take your time with the project. We share that 'tip' with all our clients because it leads to better decisions and that leads to best results!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:29AM
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Power wash, paint, landscape, some architectual detail in the front, over the garage would be awesome, pavers as inserts. But take your time, iterate the changes.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:11AM
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