thatgirlstudioMarch 24, 2011
How to update the exterior of a traditional house in the suburbs?
Many hellos - we just bought this house in Il.
The inside is a colonial, but the outside scream 1980s 'burbs. Any advice on how to update this "style"?
Take off the shutters? New font door! Modern landscaping? Color? I am stumped. Thanks in advance!
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ZH Designs
Definetely a new front door! Window box w/ ferns on window to rt of door.
Absolutely would not eliminate the shutters, but I would have new ones installed that are larger in scale, especially on the double windows. Look through pics for a new color sceme, the black and white is so typical. The light fixture is lost under the porch against that brick wall, replace it with one that will pop, like brushed nickel. Balance with one on the other side.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    March 31, 2011 at 2:17PM
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bepsf
As far as the house itself - You should really invest in new divided-lite windows with frames and sashes that are something other than white - perhaps dark green or slate grey...
...and a new real wood wood front door that doesn't have a glass inset is a must. And the porch, I'd definintely consider tiling over - perhaps in slate? The columns appear rather spindly too - I'd consider replacing them w/ beefier units, or something else entirely, such as brick bases w/ shorter wood columns on top. While you're at it, a new wood garage door would be a great upgrade as well.

The asphalt driveway isn't doing you any favors either - That should be pulled up and a new stone/brick or concrete paver driveway laid and new landscaping done.

Finally - While your gutters appear to be in decent condition, those downspouts zigzagging across your facade need to go. I'd consider installing rain chains leading to decorative rain barrels/rock gardens instead.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    March 31, 2011 at 2:26PM
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thatgirlstudio
Thank you both - and I agree on all the issues pointed out, all the way down to the spindly columns - well played. Thanks again!
    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 2:32PM
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kathnajera
I think painting the brick the same color as the siding would really help it to look less 80's and more uniform. And then you could paint the front door a darker, bolder color to stand out. Hanging ferns and a nice sitting area would be nice in front too.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    March 31, 2011 at 2:34PM
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amandasmith42
A railing on the porch might help with the "understatedness" of the entry.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    March 31, 2011 at 2:41PM
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thatgirlstudio
Thank you - I would LOVE to paint all that brick... I agree, would tone down the "80s" feel of the house.
    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 2:44PM
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PRO
Paul Moon Design
1) Reduce Paving, increase landscaping, especially where the ground meets the house to the left of the entry and in front of the porch.
2) Try putting a gabled entry on the porch centered on the front door.
3) Pair columns, they look much better in groups of two.
4) Shingle siding instead of beveled.
5) Carriage style garage doors
6) Grids on the upper half of the windows
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    March 31, 2011 at 3:27PM
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inkwitch
1. Definitely paint the brick. Low cost is same color as siding. Creates uniformity.
2. You might go for a different color trim. The siding is so light, that white just looks -- uninteresting. If there's a color that you like, light gray, slightly darker cream, a paler shade of olive or slate green -- something to give definition.
3. Get rid of downspouts. Arrange rain chains. THey come in copper, stainless or other metals.
4. An "important" light fixture on the porch, or 2 "important" sconces flanking a door (which could be painted a deeper shade than the trim.
5. Do something about the columns. THey don't match the house. Look at some examples and find something you like.
6. Paint the porch floor, or, later, cover with slate tiles or something that goes with the color scheme.
7. Get rid of that semi-circular step off the porch and lay pavers across the whole front (you'll have to have some kind of rain control or water will splash off the stone against the house), use large potted plants (tall evergreens between windows?) and overflowing flowers, even a birdbath or build in a bubbling water treatment. Depends on tree shedding and sun.

Good luck and trust your own taste. Collect photos. Use samples of paint before committing. It saved me a fortune in mistakes!
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    March 31, 2011 at 3:44PM
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bepsf
My vote is against painting the brick - Here's why:

Brick is practically a maintenance-free material - once you paint it, you're going to have to deal w/ maintaining that wall because you can never go back without sandblasting the place.

That's why I suggest going w/ more brick - in the lower porch columns and even around the sides of the house.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 1, 2011 at 8:43AM
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thatgirlstudio
@bepfs - Funny that you say go with more brick - my husband is not for painting for the reasons you point out. He was saying to add more brick, to unify the brick look, add more out where that half circle thing is now and it with brick, square it off, or as you mentioned, add to lower columns and we would square off the columns up top, since the columns there don't match the style of the house.

Again, many thanks to all for your suggestions. We meet with a builder in 2 weeks to get some estimates on these projects.
    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 8:59AM
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barbe
curve that driveway out away from the house to arrive at the garage and plant some high flower beds in the center between the house and drive. Don't need that 'drive against the porch' motel look, something nicer than blacktop or line the edge of the drive.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 1, 2011 at 1:16PM
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Julie Hendrickson
Before I'd paint the brick, I'd paint the front door. If you can afford it, I'd hire a contractor/carpenter to address the proportions of the whole front entry. If there were a pitched roof just above the door that almost touches the window above, and has chunkier columns, it would surely look more like colonial architecture. You could also create a barreled roof above and line it with board and battens which would add some needed grace and detail. The whole thing should run a few thousand dollars. Maybe a cute new light fixture and mailbox too.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 5:56AM
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thealexanders101
Don't paint that brick! We've all become so caught up in glazing over what is natural! The brick is beautiful and probably taken from brick foundries within 50 miles of your home - it is authentic, warm and REAL! perhaps to dress is up - add stone around the windows instead of shutters - stone that will complement the pavers idea for the driveway....
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 6:43AM
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tati
I highly recommend you work with an architect. A do-it-yourself approach may cost you a lot of money in changes and may not end up in the result you hope to achieve. I had a similar situation and found a decent architect who redesigned my exterior. Below you find 2 pictures of my back fassade of the house before and after. I never uploaded pictures on this website and I hope it works.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 7:01AM
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engineerchic
I'm going to vote against the rain chain suggestions. If you get heavy rains you want to have gutters (with downspouts) to take that water away from your foundation. Rain chains soften the impact of the rainwater on the ground, but they don't direct the water away from your foundation. The downspout across the brick facade stands out, maybe switch that one to a darker color (like an aged bronze) and match the light fixtures with that color metal.

I agree about making the columns square (maybe use some Azek boards to minimize maintenance). A railing (as previously suggested) would be nice as well, and give the porch a more enclosed feeling. Adding grilles to the windows will definitely help, too (you may not need to replace the windows, that can be $500 - $800/window depending on the style you choose).

The garage door could be painted or replaced to look more updated.

Overall - what kind of house style do YOU like? Prairie, Craftsman, Colonial, or ?? See what elements you can add to your existing home to make it feel more like one of those without making it look out of place. I don't think you could pull of Victorian, for instance, but if you Google for images of home styles you love you'll find elements that you can incorporate.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 7:08AM
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tati
I also would like to point out that builders are not architects. It helps to have a blue print that your builder can follow. A builder often does not have your vision and your taste. A blue print helps to put both parties on the same page, litterally. My builder would have never thought of the details that added to the appeal of the house. Collect photos and meet with an architect. My architect was affordable considering the magnitude of the project and it was worth it.
    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 7:12AM
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My Design Guide.com
See the professional design we did for a similar house....you can 'borrow from this' or order your own - your style:) http://www.mydesignguide.com/realtors.php (at bottom). My Design Guide.com
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 7:25AM
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My Design Guide.com
The cost of our rendering was $199 -
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 7:28AM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
I agree with a lot of what has been said, with a couple of caveats: painting the brick, especially in a cold climate, will lead to potential maintenance nightmares; painting the siding can be done, but make sure to research it - if you use colors darker than the existing siding, it can cause it to fail from heat retention. Other than that, I would say beef it up: much bigger columns, bigger light fixtures, a more impressive - and accent colored - front door. I would probably go with a paneled front door, painted in a high-gloss. Have your contractor trim out the front door to give it some oomph - right now it looks very unimportant. This will really help the entry look more inviting.

Are your windows vinyl or wood? If they are wood, this would be another opportunity for color, but if they're vinyl, you need to keep the white as part of your color scheme. Someone suggested adding muntins in the windows. I think that is a great idea and will leand more character to the house. You can buy these as wood snap-ins http://www.newpanes.com/howitworks.html

Shutters, in the proper sizing, will add a lot to the facade, also. I would go with a solid panel type to match the front door in feel. Shutters placed on each side of a window should each be 1/2 the size of the window. The small single windows (bathrooms?) would look better with one large shutter. The double windows will just have to match the others in size, since they can't really be "historically" accurate. Adding hardware would look good, too, and will make your house stand out. You can buy this inexpensively on Ebay or elsewhere (search shutter hardware). This website gives some nice before and after and they also show hardware http://timberlaneshutters.com/gallery/before-and-after/

Reworking the whole porch area roof would be pricey, but someone else mentioned that putting a pediment above the door area could look nice and add importance. I would either stain the concrete in a color o
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 7:45AM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
It cut me off...continued.


Reworking the whole porch area roof would be pricey, but someone else mentioned that putting a pediment above the door area could look nice and add importance. Add a couple of nice, large urns with plantings.

As for a color scheme, if you are willing to paint the siding, choose a color that you like in a grayed-version: sage, blue-green, gray, etc. Do your shutters in black, the wood trim in a darker version of the house color, and the columns in white. Paint the garage door a darker color (trim color) to blend in rather than stand out (same with that downspout, if it remains)

Looks like you are staring with a pretty blank slate for landscaping. I would use some low shrubs - combination of deciduous and evergreen - under the living room window with perhaps a larger flowering tree or shrub on the corner (weigela, flowering cherry, etc.). Curve these around to the front of the porch corner. Underplant with a ground cover (vinca, pachysandra, etc.) Do a similar planting to the right of the door, but with more annual and colorful planting. I agree with others to get rid of the asphalt to the porch. Replace this with pavers. If possible, I would actually have this run all the way across the driveway, and terminate on the other side with a small circular area, perhaps with a birdbath or similar in the middle and plantings around it. This would, again, place emphasis on the axis of the front door. A short hedge (yews are slow growing) following the curve of the driveway would also be nice. The rest could just remain as grass.

A very long-term project might be to add dormers on the roof. I also agree with several people who said to hire an architect if you are going to be taking on some of these larger, suggested projects. You want everything to be the correct scale, and they can suggest materials, details, etc. which will make a huge difference, but which neither you nor your contractor may come up with. Gook luck
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 7:53AM
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Laurie Mischel
I love all the ideas above. Beefier columns paired in twos, A llarge scale peak in the porch overhang above the front door, gorgeous interesting painted wood garage door, new painted wood front door, new lights, paint the downspot a color close to the brick color and it disappears.....and two sculptured 5' privets in pots on either side of the front door. Two adirondack chairs with a little table in between with a great pot of something on it.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 8:17AM
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silke schubert
Its a very large and fun project for you seeing it evolve. Got one idea that struck me right away about your landscaping..I always loved tree lined driveways you pass along as you see your house come into view..the curved driveway is perfect for it, not sure what your curbe appeal would be of course but just imagined deep red and golden colored leaves in fall as you drive up to your house, will give you privacy too. Simple lawn around it, strewn with Crocus in early spring....hmmmm..Congrats on the purchase of the house.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 8:47AM
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Vicki Jackson
Say no to painted brick if you plan on living there for some time. Its maint. waiting to happen. I would remove some of the driveway and make a wide front porch the length of the house with wider columns. Perhaps the driveway can be rerouted some to add flower boxes in front of the porch? And then a new front door and some wider shutters.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 9:12AM
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bonnie kovacik
I would extend the length of the porch area. I would have some wide columns
constructed then have crown molding at the top to add some character. I would add some shoe molding at the base. Next I would add a banister with
traditional spindles on either side to the center of the house. For the center
entrance to the porch I would hire a carpenter to establish a gable roof on top
of the existing roof. You could have some fish scaling design to jazz the front of the gable up. I would replace the door with another that might have
some glass window. You could construct columns on either side of the new
door & add some crown molding above. The door will now look like it is set
back some what from the existing stoop. I would also Crown out if you have
some space between the existing top of the windows with crown molding also. The ceiling could be bead boarded. A couple of fans on either side of
the entrance would be great! Then you can add some nice furniture to dress
the porch area up & make it more inviting. The garage door surround could also be dressed up by adding decorative molding. You could dress up the
entrance walk by replacing what is existing with whatever hardscape surface you like. Take a look at some garden magazines for ideas for the front of the house to add curb appeal. Good luck!
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 9:37AM
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leslieli
I would not do the rainchains either. That downspout is right at a corner. You don't want all that water going down against your foundation. I would tear up some of the asphalt, which is impeding any landscaping...if that's not possible, you can achieve similar results with rised beds.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 1:08PM
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janishill
While there are several terrific ideas mentioned, you are the only one who knows how your family lives and what your needs really are. With that in mind I must say I agree with Tati. The DIY approach may cost you more than you had expected and the results may be less than satisfactory.
If I were you I would consult with both a landscape architect as well as a building architect. The cost to hire a professional may save you money in the long run, as well as give you the look you desire.
They will be able to give you a mock-up of the finished look, so you will better know the out come of your labors.
Speaking of which...you and your husband will still be able to do much of the work, even if a professional does the design.
Oh..and I would put a weeping cherry on the left hand corner of the house to balance out the porch/garage roof. ;-)
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 5:48PM
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thatgirlstudio
Many, many thanks to all! Some great ideas here. The sad part about this house, is that the previous owners divorced and there seems to be neglect. It will take a while (and pay checks) to get this home / land back in shape. The photo here is of the driveway, it's a circular driveway that leads right up to the front door. -- again, thanks for your time and suggestions.
    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 5:51PM
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janishill
For some 'instant' and inexpensive curb appeal you can do in a weekend:
1) Stain your porch a very deep brownish-mossy green.
2) Paint your shutters a medium dark mossy green.
3) Put a large (though not huge) window box under the window to the right of the front door. Paint it the same color as the shutters.
4) Add a brushed nickel light fixture; just one on the right side. The visual weight of the light fixture and the window box on the right will add a sense of balance while drawing the eye to the door.
5) Paint the door a plum color using high gloss paint, then paint your house number in the space just under the glass. (see photo)
6) Add a brushed nickel kick plate to the bottom of the door along with a brushed nickel handset and lock.
7) Hang an outside mirror or large reflective metal art on garge wall of porch.
8)Paint the garage door the same color as the body of the house.
9) Replace light fixtures by garage door.
These projects could all be completed in 2 or 3 weeks. Then you can go on to the bigger things like:
1) Plant boxwoods under the left window. Do not plant in a straight row, but stagger them.
2) Plant pacysandra, agua, or mondo grass in front of boxwoods.
3) Place a bird bath centered in front of left window.
4) Remove conifer to left of house.
5) Plant weeping cherry
6) Replace columns
7) Add pavers to edge of driveway.
8) Replace asphalt walk and semi-circle concrete with pavers
Here's a link for 20 ways to add curb appeal:http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/exteriors/curb-appeal/ways-to-add-curb-appeal/
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 3, 2011 at 10:01PM
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thatgirlstudio
Fantastic ideas! Love the number on the red door, I had marked that concept in my ideabook.
    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 12:39AM
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kindlkolor
I like many of the ideas here as well. My husband and I are in the housing market now, and we have noticed as we drive through neighborhoods that light and sagey greens are beautiful pairings with brick. I would look at some colonial garden designs for your front yard; they may give shape to your plans for the driveway. I also agree that brick would look lovely if you choose to redo it.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 4, 2011 at 11:10AM
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janishill
Razzle. I can spell nickle, just not at 1 A.M.! :-)

If plum isn't a color you and your husband want to use, a deep gold would look nice as well.

The handset on the red door is what I had in mind, but in brusehd nickle.

Anyway, please keep us updated. I would love to see it after you guys have had an opportunity to make some changes.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 4, 2011 at 3:24PM
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colonialgp
My two cents - grew up in a similar burb house. Remove the shutters - they're too small and they don't look right with double windows. Change out windows to multi-pane and paint trim a contrasting color. One over one windows tend to give a vacant house look to a residence.

Extend porch the length of the house and make it deeper so you can really use it. As someone else pointed out, change garage doors to a more barn/carriage house look.

Paint the brick since it's only facing and not structural - reason being nothing (to me) looks cooler than brick peeking through white paint. Just always loved the look and it will take a while before that even happens. Adding brick to the facade is iffy since it would be difficult to match - that's the problem with lots of additions on homes.

Details such as porch lights/sconces, brass door knocker on a solid wood door (do not skimp on the quality of the front door - nothing from a big box) matter and will help immensely.

Also reorient driveway to allow for better landscaping around the house - shrubbery, window boxes, urns with evergreens, etc.
    Bookmark   Thanked by thatgirlstudio    April 5, 2011 at 11:16AM
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