Need help re-freshing, modernizing and updating brick ranch exterior
zmuggl
March 10, 2013 in Design Dilemma
This is a 4800 sq ft 1960 ranch in the metro suburbs of a southern city. It has been completely updated inside in a transitional style (see pics), but we are stuck on how to update the exterior. We want to keep the style but somehow bring it forward to today so it looks cleaner, fresher and somehow more modern. If we paint the brick a clean color (white, off-white, soft gray), what do we do with the vertical siding along the front porch? Paint it a contrasting color? My husband wants to take off the shutters to make it "cleaner," but I am on the fence about it. For this house, I feel like it would read like eyes without eyelashes. Also, what to do with the brick on the long front porch and walkway? We've already updated the front windows, roof and doors.
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zmuggl
Here is the porch (before we bought the house and updated windows and door)
March 10, 2013 at 1:22PM   
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rouxb
Def keep the shutters-they are good frames for the windows. I find that people often treat "updating" and "changing the style" as the same thing when they are not. What is the look/style you are envisioning?
March 10, 2013 at 1:37PM     
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janishill
Changing the look isn't just about painting and removing the shutters. New landscaping would give an almost instant update.

As for new paint colors, here is a combination that is fresh:
Body, a grayed green like this: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/croquet
Shutters: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/gentlemansgray
and white trim: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/snowwhite

Hope to see updates soon!
March 10, 2013 at 1:57PM     
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zmuggl
That's my problem - I don't have a vision for the style other than to update it. Our style is more midcentury modern than our actual exterior, but I don't want to make the house be something that it is not. The best I can say is that we just want to "lift it up" a little so it doesn't look so "country," "traditional" and dated on the outside.
March 10, 2013 at 1:58PM   
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zmuggl
Thank you for the suggestions on paint colors. A very interesting combination! Do you see the porch wall in the same green or keep it white? Should I keep the red brick on the porch and path, or perhaps paint them?
March 10, 2013 at 2:02PM   
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rouxb
I would suggest just living with it until you have more of sense of what you want. If you don't have a vision it will show in your finished product. Your house definitely has a "character" and if you want it to be something different from what it is you'll need to know what you want it to be. Sounds like maybe you want a more "contemporary" style?
March 10, 2013 at 2:06PM   
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PRO
Barbara Griffith Designs
It looks quite nice as it is and you should definitely keep the shutters. I would Photoshop in, the look of a little bit larger pillars..and maybe round. Maybe the shutters & door could also be painted a med-dark gray like BM Winter Gates see sample http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/wintergates#ce_s=winter gates

But most of all, re-landscaping is the real answer. Have the walkway curve out (no straight lines) and away from the porch creating a different planting bed inside with different levels of plants, textures & colors. Maybe edge the new walkway with plantings..add new large meandering islands with shrubs and perennials. Include some of the big trees in these areas. Make the entire house & yard more appealing. Edge some of these areas with real, natural stacked stone.
March 10, 2013 at 2:08PM     
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PRO
In & Out Design
There isn't anything wrong with the house itself. A wonderful improvement would be to redo the landscaping. Right now your foundation plantings are very basic and blocking the windows and part of the porch area. Many homeowners make the mistake of utilizing a basic 4' foundation planting in front of the house. However, based on the size of your property, you need your landscape extended at least 30' from the front of your house. The incorporation of the trees into planting beds would create a more cohesive environment for the entire home and landscaping.
March 10, 2013 at 2:12PM     
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janishill
zmuggl...paint the white area on the porch the same shade of green. Paint the area above the columns green as well. The front door could be the same as the trim: snow white..or it could be red

Don't paint the porch or the walkway.

Make the area between the walkway and the porch a perrenial bed using grasses and other low maintenance plants.
March 10, 2013 at 8:32PM   
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Denice Shuty
As a member of two award-winning residential landscape architecture firms for the past 15 years I would like to offer some advice about landscape design and installation. Landscape architecture these days is just as varied and sophisticated as building architecture - and even more complicated because it exists outside in the elements and deals not only with people but other living systems.

We have more know-how, more awareness, more products, tools and materials at our disposal than ever before. There are so many great styles, so many ways of creating unique spaces. The more you know is possible, the more you need to make informed decisions that are done in a manner fully aware of all that is possible and appropriate. There are no hard and fast rules, and no pat answers, but if you follow these guidelines you will serve your home and yourselves well.

The first is to be true to the home's architecture regardless of current trends with plant composition, curved lines vs. straight lines, and of-the-moment materials . The second is to be fully aware of of everything that plays into site conditions - sun direction, wind direction, key views in every direction - including from the inside out, views you want to screen and privacy, drainage, the mature trees and their impact, what's your soil like, etc. Then the third sphere of consideration is your use of the space - how you enter, how you want your guests to enter - and what do you want that experience to be like? Do you need shade, how much maintenance are you comfortable with, do you have kids, how do you entertain, where do you want to be at different times of the day or in different seasons?

There are no universal solutions because each home, each property and each person who lives there needs to be fully considered. You always start with the hardscapes and built structures first, plantings are the icing on the cake. Every house has good points and flaws. A good landscape architect or designer will help to emphasize the attributes and make the flaws nearly undetectable

Get your building renovations solidified, then begin to plan the landscape. Good luck!
March 10, 2013 at 9:22PM     
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PRO
Steven Corley Randel, Architect
If you like the mid-century era you could transform this easily into a modern ranch. These were very popular in the 1960s and were characterized by long and low horizontal elevations. I suggest painting the brick and the siding in the porch the same or nearly the same color, possibly in the dark cream or brownish grey. Use a contrasting darker color for the shutters, possibly in the greens. Make the trim a dark shade of the same hue as the painted brick and that darker line will help the horizontal emphasis.

I won't go into detail about exactly what colors you should use as there are many possibilities. But if you use a well thought out color scheme, emphasize horizontal lines and make the body of the house monochromatic, I think you could have a freshly modern feeling without changing anything else.

Cheers
March 10, 2013 at 10:30PM     
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zmuggl
The notion of a largely monochromatic color scheme, bringing out the trim to emphasize the horizontal line sounds like the right direction. Presumably, the columns would be the same color as the brick and siding so that they don't distract from the horizontality? I also agree with some of the others that the landscaping needs updating, and to do so would freshen up the curb appeal quite a bit. Thank you so much for all of these wonderful suggestions!
March 13, 2013 at 8:09PM   
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Steven Corley Randel, Architect
You are welcome zmuggi. I would paint the columns a darker hue of your main color in order to give them some emphasis. Perhaps the eave trim and the posts could be the same darker shade. This will still make the house appear long and low. Post a picture when you complete the project to let us know how it turned out.
March 13, 2013 at 9:31PM     
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mveasey
No exterior suggestions here, but a big compliment on the interior - looks beautiful! Im sure the outside will look just as wonderful in time...
March 13, 2013 at 9:55PM   
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Susan Jacobs
Your house is beautiful. Please don't get rid of those shutters, they just need to be painted the right color. I say paint the body a warm gray that pulls some color from the brick, and paint the shutters a darker richer gray - almost charcoal. I love the look of this combo:
March 13, 2013 at 11:00PM     
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zmuggl
how about siding instead of paint? A nice, clean wide plank with little overhang between planks (I'm not sure what the appropriate term is for that, but I've noticed that a more traditional look has overhang, and modern siding is more side-by-side - like flooring). Anyone have thoughts on this?
April 7, 2013 at 2:28PM   
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Susan Jacobs
zmuggl, is that what clapboard is?
April 7, 2013 at 2:52PM   
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Kevin Patrick O'Brien Architect, Inc.
Yes I think she is describing horizontal siding. Older Ranch Style used a heavier overlap/shadow line, that might be what she is thinking. Regarding which direction this should go, I like the "traditional" Country Colonial style and colors Susan was suggesting. But if the "Modern" Ranch is what the customers wants, Steven nailed it! I think "living with it" is sound advice if you are not sure which way you want to go!
April 7, 2013 at 3:27PM   
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joekaye1955
Love the idea of painting the shutters especially the color above if you can. Although, I think a warm bright might work, thinking warm yellow or warm blue. You can try putting painting boards and just taping them up there to see if you like the color change.

Also get variegated hostas to break up the green. You have quite a bit of shade so stick to flowering shade plants.
April 7, 2013 at 3:50PM     
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Susan Jacobs
I would beef up the posts, but not make them round. That doesn't feel as modern to me.
April 7, 2013 at 3:58PM     
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julielen
i like the brick and the shutters, I think architectural shingles in something other than black (lots of greys and charcoal choices out there still read as black but isn't so flat and dull) will help - when ever you need to replace the roof. I'd re-do the walkway with something modern looking: maybe geometric square stones, spaced with grass in between - do a houzz search for "modern walkway" or "contemporary walkway."

The yews - round bushes and loaf hedge - are what looks so dated. I'd call a local nursery to dig up those yews and re-do all the foundation plantings. Maybe research some dramatic porch lighting.
April 7, 2013 at 4:01PM     
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zmuggl
Thanks to all of the great comments. To dip our toes in the waters of change, we took your advice and ditched the loaf hedge in favor of multiple, small boxwoods. Let me know if you think it makes a difference!
July 21, 2013 at 4:55PM     
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handymam
Really? Is that all you did? It looks completely different! Great job! It looks so much more open and inviting!
July 21, 2013 at 4:59PM   
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PRO
Capozzoli Metalworks
Looks much better !
July 21, 2013 at 7:20PM   
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Susan Jacobs
Much better! I guess the filled in trees and green grass helps too!
July 21, 2013 at 8:00PM   
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PRO
Triangle Brick Company
As a brick manufacturer, we love the look of natural brick and its durability. However, if you do decide to paint the brick, please be prepared for increased maintenance. According to The Brick Industry Association, “Most paint authorities agree that, once painted, exterior masonry will require repainting every three to five years.”
July 22, 2013 at 6:02AM   
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zmuggl
Ok folks, another design challenge for this house: This is the left side near the garage. I had 4 of these custom fretwork panels made to fashion into a garbage-can surround to replace the rotting fence you see in the photo. What color should I paint the panels: white, black or brown?
August 16, 2013 at 6:53AM   
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ktk1961
The fretwork panels are basically a variation on a Chippendale design, which was a style typically used on colonial-style houses like yours all the way back to Thomas Jefferson. Would definitely paint them white.

I would take exception with defining the exterior of your house as "dated." To me, it's classic. A formula that will never be out of style.

I agree that landscaping is the biggest need here, and you've already made good steps in the right direction.

I would replace the front double doors, which are always intimidating, with a single door with sidelights on either side (and, if you have room, a transom or rounded window above the door) to let in more light.

Would add some hanging ferns along with the new landscaping choices, add some beautiful classic wood rockers in dark green and call it a day!

Just my two cents ... Good luck!
August 16, 2013 at 9:42AM     
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Susan Jacobs
I would paint the fret work white
August 16, 2013 at 2:32PM   
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PRO
Lisa Harper of Akemi Gardens
From a landscape designer point of view the hedge along the porch area (old and new) closes the house in/ blocks it off.
A simple design could make the house look very different and soften the structured architecture.
August 16, 2013 at 2:43PM   
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zmuggl
... and here is the after...
October 18, 2013 at 12:54PM     
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klinksk8
Susan Jacobs, could you post a larger picture of that home that has a lot of brick, and they used gray paint with charcoal trim? Or tell me what the paint colors are for that house? I really like that combo..thank you! !
June 8, 2014 at 10:36PM   
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Susan Jacobs
I wish I could find more pics of that house. I found it on houzz a long time ago. Check out Iron Mountain by Ben Moore.
June 9, 2014 at 7:24AM   
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Susan Jacobs
Also see Amherst Gray and Kendall Charcoal from BM.
June 9, 2014 at 1:27PM   
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Susan Jacobs
June 9, 2014 at 1:28PM   
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June 9, 2014 at 1:30PM   
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Susan Jacobs
Look what I found! (Hope it works)
June 9, 2014 at 1:31PM   
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