Help!! Need curb appeal...
lmhowell
June 24, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We are planning on demolishing the concrete front steps, as well as the cement sides (damaged and crumbling). We don't want to pour new concrete steps, but would rather build with composite wood? What color? We were thinking a small landing/platform at the front door (18-24") then steps down. Railings? The old pavers are being removed and replaced with same shape, but new style. Husband wants to change walk from straight to a 90 degree turn to the driveway. Also have purchased Ledgestone stacked stone to cover the remaining 3 cement pillars. Any suggestions, hints or further ideas are very welcome.
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jabber629
I think it's a beautiful house and putting in composite wood steps would be a crime in a house of this age! I agree with your husband on the path but otherwise I would try to keep the house looking as close to what it did when it was first built as to preserve its character!
June 24, 2013 at 9:26am      Thanked by lmhowell
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DMH DESIGN
Lm--I agree with jabber, keep the character original. As far as the landing, I would make it at least 4' deep, as you have a screen door swinging over the space, it makes it difficult to open and stand to the side with anything less. As the steps move forward, with municipality approval, your path and paver landing will need to be removed and reconfigured, as suggested by your spouse. As you have four steps or greater, a handrail will be required, which I would match on both sides. For the structure, you could use CMU block, grouted, for the structure, and cap the steps, which should be a max of 7.75" high and 10" + 1 nosing deep, with slate, bluestone or rough granite, which would look great. The block faces could be skim coated and painted to match the existing. I would emulate the feel of what you already have, and use powder coated metal for the handrails. If you want to create interest in the plinths, and at the sides of the steps you've rebuilt, cut in shallow score lines to create the illusion of a shadow box, then paint the outside edges and leave the center the same body color, for the edges to stand out, you can do this with darkening the shade of the existing body color. There is value in retaining the consistent details of what you have. Here is an example of a wood shadow box and a stone plinth with a propotionate scheme to emulate. Paint will define your plinths, not layers of wood, like this example, you understand? Happy Houzzing.
June 24, 2013 at 11:33am     
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lmhowell
Thank you for your input. I really like the metal railings. The current steps and connected cement columns are cracked and crumbling. Our insurance company wants them replaced/repaired (which we have done in the past, but the problem returns). I understand maintaining the historical look and do like it, but was hoping to get a bit of new look, sort of a Arts & Crafts Cottage style. See attached photos. We already have the new pavers and stacked stone veneer for the 3 pillars, but we are at standstill on the steps/stairs. With our skill level and budget, we felt wood was our best option. Maybe face the new steps with the stone veneer as well?
June 26, 2013 at 9:57am   
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davidmjames
It always kills me to see lovely houses in this style with the awkwardly enclosed porches- the steps never seem to look out of place when there's the nice open space on the front.

That aside, while the idea of composite steps on this kind of house is off-putting to me, the second picture you attached does look very nice. I think the big thing that makes it work, though, is the common stonework around the steps that continues under the porch. Have you considered extending your stone veneer up to just below the windows to the right of the entrance?

For the walk, what about a curved path? Sounds like you already have materials for your walk, so that may not be an option, but doing a more curved route to the driveway could add the convenience that it sounds like your husband has in mind without the stark look that a 90 degree turn will bring...
June 26, 2013 at 12:03pm     
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Agree with David--The bottom photo is better, and can be feathered in with the stone veneer you have already added. Although, the second example is missing a handrail.
June 26, 2013 at 12:12pm   
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