How to make this front entry better?
Jodi Coburn
April 11, 2012 in Design Dilemma
We are getting new siding and a new roof but this street level door is driving me nuts. We don't really have alot of funds to work with so how do I make this look better? We have all new replacement windows and a new doors. I will be painting the front door to match the new house colors which are not even picked out yet. I do have some landscaping done in the front but I really dislike the door on the street level....help.
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teb1
Maybe add flowering shrubs along the front, a bright colored door and nice storm door, with unique door numbers handleset and kick plate and mail box that adds to the overall look. Uniform window coverings and plant boxes would also work. Come back with after photo
April 11, 2012 at 8:07am   
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PRO
Dytecture
Hi Jodi, the existing greenish color is quite unique, I would tint it a shade to the blue side, and you can enhance the windows by painting a different color trim such as brown to compliment the siding. I would also paint the foundation blocks to a solid dark grey color. A new storm door is a definite must, and like the previous comment, some landscaping will help as well.

Good Luck.
April 11, 2012 at 8:30am     
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Jodi Coburn
The green is asphalt shingle siding and will be covered up with new siding but having the same color on porch makes a huge difference already!! I have replaced the front door with a steel entry door but we will be adding a screen door. Most of the work is being done through a grant so our choices will be limited.
I am hoping to get a contrasting color on the new window trim but since we had the trim redone when we bought the place in white that might not be an option with the grant.

Thanks!!
April 11, 2012 at 9:19am   
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embellishandadorn
Is the side entrace white vinyl siding? Can it be primed and painted to match house.There are some beautiful house numbers available on internet. House is looking nice.
April 11, 2012 at 10:18am     
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Bond Girl
In Houzz, search the pics for "front door overhangs." Putting something over the door will make it look taller, not so low. I realize you don't have a lot of space between the door and window, and you have the detail in the roofline. The overhang could mirror the angle of that detail. There is a picture in Houzz from Kevin Quilan that might work well. You have room on the second-story windows for shutters, and that will make them feel grander. I would paint the front door something bright, and paint the side door something muted (same or slightly darker shade as new siding color), so it is obvious which is the front door. I'd also move your mailbox to the other side of the door to help balance the spacing of the door.
April 11, 2012 at 10:40am   
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Christine
Think about putting a long window box all along those front windows and keep them planted. Paint the cinderblocks on the bottom of the house. You show 2 doors at street level so I am not sure if it is the one opened (with stairs) or the screen door one you are referring to. But if you need only one entrance I would cancel out the screen door one and dig up the grass along the front and maybe put pavers or a nice bluestone pathway that wraps the entire front and that leads around to the other opening with the stairs. Put a nicer mailbox and if that is your yard on the side then get some adirondack chairs in a bold color like robins egg blue or bright yellow and create little areas in the yard so that you have a more expansive indoor/outdoor feel to the entire space. And girl... pray for sun. The church behind you should be able to help with that one. Have fun and make it your and please post b4 & after shots.
April 11, 2012 at 11:09am   
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Bond Girl
Another way to make that door seem taller, and less at street level, a transom above.
April 11, 2012 at 11:48am   
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Jodi Coburn
This photo is before the new siding and roof...we are planning on replacing the side porch siding to match whatever color we end up choosing. We are leaning toward a shade of green, nothing pastel. We have replaced the mailbox but it is still in the same place since it dumps the mail into an inside bin so we do not have to go outside and get the mail. It is white but will be painted to blend in with the siding.

I actually dislike both doors since they sit at street level and the stairs are enclosed inside the porches. I was speaking about the front door on the left side of the picture next to the mailbox though. I think it is a weird design and leaves too much space above the doors. Without any overhang it looks funny. We talked about extending the roof with the eagle to extend over the door a bit but not sure we have the time to do that before the roof and siding work begins on the house. We could also remove that 4th window and that would center the door in the space better. The sidewalk already extends from one door to the other but it is boring concrete. The upgrade to nicer pavers or something would have to be put off a bit but I was thinking of extending the pavers out (getting rid of that little grassy rectangle) and surrounding it with some wrought iron or small picket fencing to give the idea of a porch if we couldn't extend the triangular portion of the roof...maybe do both?


I should give you a more recent picture of the house now with the little landscaping it has and the changes since we bought it. This is the photo we took before we actually moved in.
April 11, 2012 at 12:53pm   
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Jodi Coburn
We talked about adding a transom! Thanks for reminding me of that option!
April 11, 2012 at 12:59pm   
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shead
Can you extend the siding down a little bit? I think because the cinderblock/siding transitional line hits the doorway pretty high up, it makes the door appear even more ackward. It appears that you could come down at least two more runs of siding. Then paint the cinder blocks and siding the same color.

Also, adding a transom, or even better, a door overhang (think portico without columns), that would break up the "dead space" above the door.

Lastly, landscaping along the front will help "hide" the transition line and make it appear less obvious as well.
April 11, 2012 at 1:29pm   
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Jodi Coburn
Extending the siding down is brilliant! Will have to talk to the contractors as they come through. We have to have six bids on the project for the grant. I just cut and pasted the over hang mentioned on the front of the house and liked it...maybe just a portico would be more doable and not infringe on front so much. We don't have much space to work with before we are on the sidewalk!
April 11, 2012 at 1:33pm   
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Airoom Architects-Builders-Remodelers
Definately eliminate the fourth window next to the door. When you have the siding done it can easily be covered up. Side the whole house the same color, but use a contrasting color for the corner boards, a white or cream would look nice. Then put a flat piece of trim on the left of the door, equidistant from the corner board to the door on the other side. This will make it look like the plane with the front door in it is bumped out a little and break it away from the windows. Add some white pilasters to the sides of your front door, and a nice piece of trim above, like a decorative mantle. If you can add a transom, go for it. (Here's a photo that's close, but not exactly what I'm thinking of:
)
April 11, 2012 at 1:46pm   
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shead
I played around with this a tiny bit in Photoshop. I extended the siding down and added a simple door overhang, which, I think, dramatically changed the feel of the house. Definitely paint the siding a neutral color with contrasting trim (beige/cream with warm white trim). Maybe consider adding the tin to the lower roof portion as well. I'd add nice light beside the front door, run a row of colorful shrubbery under the windows, and, finally, paint the door a color that "pops".
April 11, 2012 at 3:12pm     
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Jodi Coburn
I wish I had photoshop too...I am loving all your effort and ideas....we are getting new siding and roofing so feel free to do whatever to the colors!!It is really a blank canvas and as long as the changes can be done on a low budget DIY style before the contractors come I am game for any ideas you have!! Removing that window for example is moving up on my list in order to center the door to make it more of a focal point.
April 11, 2012 at 3:46pm   
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mmonika
While the colors themselves aren't perferct, I like that the bottom and top are different colors. When everything is the same color, it feels bland. How about continuing to use different colors for top and bottom ? ( Same color but different shades.. or grey & green?)
It would also be really interesting, and help to pull some height to your entry, is to use a different material for bottom porch peak entirely. Shake in another color?
As for your door, I think you need to ditch the screen door. It is not helping in "classing" up your look.
I think your door on street level is fine, it just needs some height next to the windows.
I'd investigate the cost of a transom. It will require you to have to reframe this door and the cost of the transom and maybe that is too cost prohibitive right now.
Look into a pre-fab overhang that you could install over the door way, as head9806 shows.
Or, if you decide to go with a different material in the peak, use that same material for over the doorway right up to the peak to tie the 2 together. Then put in some nice house numbers and a light fixture in that space.
I would definitly put in a row of sleek planters lined up under the windows with plants that reach up to the bottom of the windows.
April 11, 2012 at 3:52pm   
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Jodi Coburn
The door is already ditched and I have a plain steel entry door that will be painted in a different color. the inside of the porch is rather unfinished so adding a transom will be easy except for the cost of the window itself. I think a trip to the local Habitat reuse store is in order.
April 11, 2012 at 4:46pm   
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shead
If you really wanted to do the transom on the cheap, I had a decorator share a tip of hers....she created the "look" of transoms above garage doors by purchasing sheets of glass, painting the back side black and then framing around them as if they were actual windows. She said it was done VERY economically.
April 11, 2012 at 5:04pm   
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Jodi Coburn
I was thinking maybe some glass block...or a recycled stained glass window.
April 11, 2012 at 5:08pm   
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Shirley Bovshow
Start by adding architectural detail to the house before tackling the landscape and plants. Raise the vertical profile of the door to make it look taller by adding a triangular pediment that mimics the gabled roof. Add a couple of pilasters or posts for dimension and to lead the eye up.

Raise the level of the yard by constructing a raised garden planter so that the foundation of house is less exposed. Raising the levels on both sides of the walkway will make it appear to be recessed. This will give the door more prominence and make it a focal point.

You can run a beam across the front (over the windows) and plant a vine.

A drew a crude image but gives you idea of how I would tackle this project.
See more of my designs at www.EdenMakersBlog.com

Shirley Bovshow
April 12, 2012 at 2:00am   
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Jodi Coburn
Thanks for the pic...I was trying to see what another peak below the two existing ones would look like. Thinking of putting some sort of fence or visual at the sidewalk line. We have 6 feet between the front of the house and the sidewalk. A call to the local code officer needs to be made to see how much permanent structure can actually go in front of the house and not violate city code.
April 12, 2012 at 4:31pm   
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Shirley Bovshow
Hi Jodi,
Codes are tricky. You can probably get away with building a raised garden planter and then planting it with a tall hedge to avoid building a fence. This would create a courtyard effect. Place a fountain, potted plants for easy care. Sitting area.

I would add the pediment to front door as well as to the door in the back.
Shirley Bovshow
EdenMakersBlog.com
April 12, 2012 at 5:05pm   
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ej610
How about doing the top section in a composite cedar shake and the bottom in a clapboard? Or the top could be a board and batten instead of the cedar shaker look. Paint the top a darker color than the bottom, and trim it all out in white. The windows could use a thicker trim to give them more presence. Maybe a simple trellis over the door will give it some depth and shouldn't cost too much
April 12, 2012 at 6:08pm     
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ej610
Here's a picture of a trellis over a door.
April 12, 2012 at 6:13pm     
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Jodi Coburn
I like the contrasting sidings but we are limited in what the grant can cover and what we can add.

I am hoping to get some input from the siding company/contractor when it comes to those little architectural details like the crown over the windows.

I think we are leaning toward things that have lots of impact but little construction. We are going to cover up that 4th window. Hubby liked the idea of a contrasting corner boards and adding one equidistant to the left to mimic the bump out on the second floor. We are going to add some bulky trim and possibly some transom or transom like feature to expand the door. Moving the mailbox to the other side then becomes a neccesity. Adding some lighting and just a simple door overhang will finish the house part.

We have plans to fancy up the concrete walks and relocate the landscaping I have added to compliment the changes. I will post a new pic when we complete our redo!!
April 12, 2012 at 6:53pm   
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johnruskin
Get rid of the 4th window and add light fixtures on each side of the door.
April 12, 2012 at 7:17pm   
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Bill
Why do you have two doors? What about putting the door on the side, up at floor level and then use a small set of steps or porch to pair the two entrances. That'd leave only one entrance to dress up. Then re-space the windows along the front wall. You'd eliminate the inside steps down to the door and gain more at-level floor space. Since you're doing the roof, if you move the door you could eliminate the peaked segment of the porch roof. That'd eliminate the unmatched angle of the porch compared to the roofline.
April 13, 2012 at 7:10am   
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Jodi Coburn
Not sure why...unfortunately we don't have time for such a major overhaul before the grant work begins. The side porch can't be raised or it will block the door inside the porch leading to the basement. It sounds like a simple idea but will lead to a major reworking of basement access inside the house. Gotta keep it like it is and just do some cosmetic changes outside to make it look less awkward. Thinking of tying the two doors together with some sort of patio though. It will be nice to have an outdoor place to sit on the front side since the back is all fenced in now.
April 13, 2012 at 11:15am   
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Jodi Coburn
Work is underway and I will post the transformation when it is complete!
June 27, 2012 at 7:13am   
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TanCalGal
What kind of a house grant do you have? How did you find out about the house grant? Others might be interested!
June 29, 2012 at 6:24am   
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Jodi Coburn
It was a 'small cities' grant and it was written up in the local paper.
June 29, 2012 at 9:31pm   
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TanCalGal
Very interesting, thanks!
June 30, 2012 at 6:32am   
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Jodi Coburn
Here is the almost finished product. We still have some landscaping and some masonry work on the front cement block. The weather has not cooperated here in ny so it will have to wait until spring. The entire grant took a lot longer since we had to switch contractors halfway through the job.
Thanks for all your help!
November 29, 2012 at 7:08am     
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victorianbungalowranch
Well, I must say that does look a lot nicer and is in keeping with the style of the house and you had to make a lot of decisions rather quickly. Congratulations! Some landscaping and new house numbers would really finish it off and help cover up the exposed concrete block.

Be careful to make sure the soil still slopes away from the house and don't plant too close to the foundation, or it will trap water. Also be sure to plant species that stay a certain size--I made the mistake of buying some pretty bushes that only grow to 4 ft tall, but get very wide! Fortunately I planted them where they had room to expand, but they crowded out some other plants I had. Since your foundation is so high, a slightly raised planting bed could be nice.
November 29, 2012 at 7:30am   
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TanCalGal
Amazing! A real Cinderella story outcome. I especially like the 3 windows on the lower left. Removing the 4th window was a great idea.
November 29, 2012 at 7:31am     
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nevadan
The problem you have now is that the windows on the left as you face the house are much too small. An arcitect can help you select windows that will look good inside and out.
November 29, 2012 at 8:01am   
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olldcan
Sure enjoyed reading this thread in it's entirety. Signifigant improvement Jodi, you must be pleased.
November 29, 2012 at 9:57am     
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bdennison
Love this transformation. It was like reading a novel going throught the whole post. Great Job.
November 29, 2012 at 10:18am   
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Jodi Coburn
Nevedan the problem we had was the door being on street level made everything look weird. I am hoping to add some window boxes underneath to lengthen them cheaply since we just replaced those windows with the largest we could afford. We didn't want to go with anything taller or longer since the floor on the inside of the porch is about even with the bottom of the siding. We had a limited amount of time and a limited cash budget, no major structural changes could be made. I think it will look great once we stone in around the door and landscape under those windows!
November 29, 2012 at 7:16pm   
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Jodi Coburn
We made the local paper for our grant transformation. the before and after pics were part of an article about the grant!
December 17, 2012 at 3:32pm     
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PRO
Pebble and Co. Mosaics
A bright red door and continuing the siding all the way down to ground level will go a long way to pulling it all together. Considering the house front is so close to the sidewalk, I suggest a period style white picket fence to separate the house from the street visually and physically.
December 17, 2012 at 5:15pm   
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Jodi Coburn
Thanks for the new suggestions but we just finished the siding and doors. There is still some stonework that will be done but we did all we could do through the grant. Next up is some landscaping. It is hard to see what we did have growing in front since it is winter now in WNY.
December 17, 2012 at 7:30pm   
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TanCalGal
R U doing the landscape yourselves? Do you want some suggestions?
December 17, 2012 at 7:44pm   
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Jodi Coburn
We will be, I already have some plantings there but we need to extend the walkway and move a bunch so the mailman can get to the mailbox since we had to move it over to make room for the fancy door trim. The section around the door is getting faux stonework or maybe the real thing(depending on our mason friend's opinion). I want to add things that will block the ugly block or paint it to blend better with the siding. We couldn't get it extended lower in the grant. I need to convince hubs to put in window boxes under the three windows too!
Any suggestions would be great!
December 17, 2012 at 8:09pm   
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TanCalGal
Let me tell you what professionals do here in SoCal. They plant the exact same evergreen shrub all along the front. It looks very attractive (& is easy to copy). Landscaping is not as fussy as it used to be. Plant easy to care for evergreen shrubs that grow well in your area. Maybe 5 on left side and 2 on right side. Here they like India Hawthorne. Not sure how high the block foundation measures, so choose an evergreen shrub that does not grow higher than the block. Nurseries often have people who can help you. If you are having decorative stone, I might not plant anything in front of the stone (why hide a beautiful feature?) or perhaps choose a lower growing shrub on each side of door-stone area.

Along the sides weed cloth and Japanese style smooth stones are nice (Mexican River Rock is sold in Home Depot). You might have to dig down and remove some soil so the stone stays in place. Mediterranean Back Garden

If there is space on the sides and you want shrubs, plant all the same along the sides. Not the same shrub as in front. Here they plant Wheeler's Pittosporum.

If you bought several flats of Pachysandra ground cover you might not need grass in the front. Drive around various areas in your planting zone and make note of shrubs you like.
Foundation painted same color as house might work Distant Island Home
December 17, 2012 at 9:05pm   
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Jodi Coburn
I like the stone. I am going for more of a cottage garden look and trying to grow as much of my own food as possible so I am adding some more herbs and perennials. I already have two roses one all the way to the left and one on the side by the driveway. Hostas and thyme and chives are planted but need to move. I want to replace all the grass in front with plants! I have a 12 foot strip of shade to the left of the house that I need to do something with too! I do like the idea of stone and will have to look for more ways to incorporate that in my landscaping. Thanks!!
December 18, 2012 at 6:35am     
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Sharon McLeod
Wow! What a transformation!!!
Congrats!
December 18, 2012 at 7:41am   
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TanCalGal
Great idea for edible landscape! Borrow from library Rosalind Creasy's book: Edible Landscaping.


Below are some links to various gardens.

In the center of my back yard I have a round rose garden and down one side of the house an herb garden. For the herbs: don't plant just one herb, plant 3-5 together for a better look. On the other side of the house are stones and a broken concrete path. Gardening brings much joy.

edible landscapes http://www.houzz.com/edible-landscape

edible garden http://www.houzz.com/edible-garden

cottage garden http://www.houzz.com/cottage-garden/p/12

herb garden http://www.houzz.com/herb-garden

rose garden http://www.houzz.com/rose-garden

hosta garden http://www.houzz.com/hosta-garden
December 18, 2012 at 10:16am   
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