Curb Appeal Needed BIG TIME!
August 20, 2013 in Design Dilemma
What would YOU do?

We are likely putting an offer in on this home tomorrow. It would be our first time owning a home. We have a young family of five. I've always dreamed of living in a farmhouse, and although this doesn't hold the original charm of one, it is on five acres in the country and we are excited about its potential both inside and out.

But the outside is definitely crying for some help, and I wouldn't know where to start. So, help?
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Back side...
August 20, 2013 at 11:44pm   
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Linda Zaff Architecture, P.C.
Hello Ashley, How exciting to be buying your first home! Would you tell us in which state this home is located? It would be good to know the climate. I looked at your "Exterior" Ideabook wondering if you had looked at 'contemporary farmhouses'. It looks like you prefer more traditional, and I agree this house has a lot of potential. It's simple on the exterior so you could do a lot with it. If you purchased it, would you be willing or able to make a large investment to do significant changes? Or, are you just interested in adding some details, color, decoration and/or landscaping? You might want to try searching for farmhouses or 'contemporary farmhouses' on Houzz for some ideas. I think you have a lot of opportunity to add other elements like an outdoor living area, a large porch or a sun room/screened room if you want to make that kind of large change in the future.

There are a number of possibilities depending on your budget down the road. You can change the style of the siding, change the windows, change the roof material, change the style of the garage doors, add floor-to-ceiling windows or french doors leading outside. All of those choices depend on what style you want to evoke. Adding some planting areas around the house would ground it and enhance any outdoor seating or living areas.
Here are some inspirational images:
Menlo Oaks Residence
Modern Exterior
jamesthomas, LLC
Woodland Residence
August 21, 2013 at 4:24am     
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Linda Zaff Architecture, P.C.
If you want to make smaller changes, look at color, siding, and details that add character. I'd be careful with things like adding shutters. If you want to do that, consult on what houses were meant to have shutters and how to install them for an authentic look.
More examples to consider:
Rear View
View from the Front
August 21, 2013 at 4:52am     
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good God, one would have to really try to make a house so void of interest, fortunately it has TONS of potential. Start with those windows. Good luck.
August 21, 2013 at 5:21am   
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Agreed, there are lots of potential for this house such as extending the porch and siding color change.

August 21, 2013 at 5:25am   
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Linda, thank you so much for your input! Windows were the first thing I thought of, better and larger for sure. And I wouldn't have thought to extend the porch, but I really love that idea. Right off the bat, though, we wouldn't be putting a ton of money into the exterior. The inside needs some minor updating, the property was just logged so it would need landscaping, and we'd be building a shop/barn as soon as possible. Oh, and I forgot to mention, we are in Washington state.

Thank you so much for those photos! I will be saving them just in case this works out today. You're right, I do have very traditional taste, I think that is why this one is kind of throwing me off a bit. Not so many ideas come to mind.
August 21, 2013 at 7:04am     
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Dar Eckert
Ridgeside Vineyard Farmhouse
Historic Farm House

Well, I would start with adding a softer color to the exterior such as the green in the photo. Add a few country touches like the posts in the first photo. Then go with landscaping. Get started on that as soon as possible because it takes a while for small plants to grow. How about a sweet cottage garden below that set of four windows?
Front Porch Makeover Summer 2010
August 21, 2013 at 7:17am     
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Linda Zaff Architecture, P.C.
You're welcome, Ashley. If you buy the place, post some updates! Oh, and depending on where you are in Washington, I know a designer out that way who does really nice work. She has done interiors, remodels, additions, new homes, etc. If you would like her contact info, message me on my Houzz page. Good luck!
August 21, 2013 at 8:05pm     
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I think until you're ready to install new windows, there's no point in sinking money into other improvements. Paint the home and trim in a dark color- I'd chose blue or red since you're surrounded by green. A yellow door would look great.

Beef up the porch posts and maybe add long planter boxes between them with a mix of flowers and evergreens. Foundation plants or a stone walled patio to the right of the door.
August 21, 2013 at 9:22pm     
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How exciting for you! Since it has recently been cleared, I think I would take the early fall to get a guy with a grader, put down some soil amendments and seed grass. In the NW you can do this here shortly due to relatively mild and rainy fall weather. Come winter, all that dirt will be, well, you know, MUD.

This will give you several months to decide what to do next. Although windows have been mentioned, if your windows are double-paned aluminum, replacing them would probably be for aesthetic, not energy reasons. Surprisingly, we had our home energy assessed, and the window replacement didn't pencil as far as energy costs were concerned. (See mild winter/mild summer.)

A paint job, even if just trim, beefing up and adding detail to the posts along with some planters would do wonders. Given the setting, you may want to read up on deer resistant plants before tackling the landscaping.
August 21, 2013 at 10:34pm     
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Petros Design
I also took a look at your ideabooks. I love clients that have your organization. You will do very well to hire a designer for the landscape and outside space organization. You are ready to get the best work from any designer working for you. It is very clean in this space. You need a connection between the drive and parking area. I would create a gathering area in the front. I suggest this since I am assuming you are going to have horses and other animals. So space will be required for the shops, barns, coops, and the Hoopla. You must have room for a small tractor:) I can not see the property as a whole however. It will require a site visit to truly see what is going on.

The front space (if sunny all day) could incorporate raised garden beds, blueberries, fruit trees like apples espalliered for a quaint transparent fence effect. This could be around an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor fireplace with a very comfortable seating area. stone veneers could be used on elements of the farmhouse and outdoor seating areas as well.

Good Luck. I am truly excited for your family. We live on a small farm in SW Wa. and our 4 kids love it. I hope your blessed with hours of kids chasing chickens, fresh veggies, and a little dirt everywhere. Happy thoughts!

visit for stone ideas and thin veneer stone blends developed in the NW for the NW.
August 21, 2013 at 11:20pm     
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Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts! The windows in the home are brand new and are energy efficient, so as much as I'd love, love, love to swap them all out right away, and I really do think they'd boost the appeal greatly, we'd have to save that for further down the road. Yard, shop/barn, updated kitchen/bathroom, fencing would be first priority. Offer is in as of last night, so I am anxiously waiting to hear back!

Since you've all been so helpful with the exterior, let me share with you the living room. I'm really bothered by the odd brick placing above the stove, and I'm trying to figure out what the best furniture arrangement would be. We'd have to get the television in there (I'd opt out if my husband would let me!) and obviously with three kids and family nearby, we need as much seating as possible without overcrowding the not-so-large room. What do you think?
August 22, 2013 at 5:19am   
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Also, I really don't love the trim color inside. I LOVE white. Would the baseboards and window trim be worth painting white, or would I be better off getting new white trim (bigger than what it currently has)?
August 22, 2013 at 5:25am   
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Ashley good luck with your purchase! If you are working on a budget I would leave upgrading trim for a later project. Painting all the trim and bookcase out in white will make a huge change to the look of the room. As for your weird brick arrangement, I'd sheet rock over the entire brick/shelf area directly above FP, add a mantle, a bit of trim, center TV on FP. Best of luck to you :)
August 22, 2013 at 5:51am     
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Climbing vines up the porch columns would be nice and disguise the fact that they are a bit thin. I'd recommend getting some paper and mapping out your landscaping. The easy option is shrubs that you plant then forget about (after watering frequently enough that they get rooted in). A decorative tree or two is always nice. I'm fond of fruit trees. You eat a lot more fruit when it's in your front yard.

Even if you aren't ready to plant, put mulch on your future beds and paths. You need to get grass on your yard fast. Mulch makes a decent temporary path and grass is hard to remove. Mulch is also easy to plant through and will keep the weeds down. Buying shrubs small is cheaper, so I'd be tempted to get foundation plantings first. Also, think about favorite plants and get some of those early. Most plants can be divided, so start with a few and you'll have some to divide in a year or two.

Grass, a path to the front door (even a mulch path), a few shrubs and a baby tree would make your house look a lot better.
August 22, 2013 at 6:14am     
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Congratulations - the crossbuck entry door is charming and the simple house has lots of potential. Paint is your cheapest first step to a whole new look.

Using the new windows, you may be able to add grilles / muntins - the window suppliers generally can do this on their brand window (find out who locally installed them / talk to them about a price for that) in place and that will do a lot.

Because of the tone of the roof, I would also vote for a grellow tone - a yellowy green / apple green. Here's a proven historic color With white trim and windows, window boxes, maybe paint the front door cherry red? Look for red adirondack chairs at the end of season sales to set out front.

Yes, extending the porch /swooping it up would be nice but that is a big change, so for now, try planting hardy climbing vines near the base of all the entry porch posts (nothing prickly! - consult your nurseryman), and next summer run horizontal stainless cable between them near the roof line with eyebolts so you can train them to run horizontal without getting into the structure. Imagine that added charm. Across the base of the house past the porch, you will appreciate evergreen shrubs that will reach 3' ish - mass like plants across the remaining area as your base layer, then place a lower layer in front of flowering shrubs or groundcover.

Planning the grounds around the home is like thinking of garden rooms with different purposes - for this year, before spring, just get a few things in next to the house and then study the subject, buy a sunset western garden book or take one out at the library. Join your native plant society - with that many acres, you want to friend the pretty natives that need no water once established - especially the flowering shrubs from 2' to 12'. Designate an area near the kitchen entry for compost / herb / kitchen garden - take that slow and build one room at a time. Consider solar shade when you plant trees for long term.
August 22, 2013 at 6:34am     
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sigrid - great minds think alike! writing while you were posting!
August 22, 2013 at 6:35am   
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Cheryl Newman
Congratulations! I am going to assume you are on a tight budget. We certainly are at out house. I have a few thrifty suggestions. Maybe start with rustic shutters and window boxes. I am partial to white clapboard houses with dark green shutters. Window boxes will make the windows look larger. Definitely beef up the columns. There are vinyl wrap kits you can buy that are reasonable, or just build a wooden box around the posts. A few hanging baskets
And planters by the door will add some color. Fall is usually a good time to plant. I would put in some shrubs and bulbs this fall. I have great luck finding landscaping stuff on Craigslist. Good luck! What an exciting project.
August 22, 2013 at 6:44am     
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Libradesigneye, thank you! I do really like that color, but I'm wondering just how green it would look. It's funny that you all are recommending painting the house green - That is one color that I have never liked on houses at all! If this would turn out looking more beige, then it could be a possibility.

I do have a Sunset Western Garden book and I have plenty of plants bookmarked. I love good flowing shrubs. Hydrangeas, lilacs, etc. are my favorites. When it comes to evergreens, though, I'm clueless. Fruit trees are a must at some point, and great idea about the herbs/garden/compost being near the kitchen (back side of the home).

I will look into the windows like you mentioned, too. I didn't know they do that.
August 22, 2013 at 6:47am   
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I also love the window box ideas. I have always loved their charm, and I do think they'd help make the windows appear larger. Would you only do the bottom story windows?
August 22, 2013 at 6:51am   
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If you can do them all, do all the windows with boxes - and feel free to use silk material in the upper boxes for green all year long, and in summer add silk red flowers there / real but matching geraniums or the like below.

Yep, green is kind of counter-intuitive. Your roof is earth toned, and the cedar finished garage doors and entry / posts tend to invite natural tones but something tan is going to clash with the cedar. Also, beige / tan has just taken over suburbia. You are really out in the country, so you can do something beautiful. A color against creamy white trim (bridge the eye to the white white windows) will help bring out the cottage charm inherent to a plainer structure. You will have to test some things to see what you like -thus the suggestion to use the virtual tool with your own photo.
August 22, 2013 at 8:34am   
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To me there just isn't enough break in the clapboard for the house to look right in a light color. Perhaps with window boxes it would be ok.
August 22, 2013 at 1:46pm   
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HomeStory of Omaha
Ashley, congratulations on your first home!! It is so exciting! Door replacement can transform your home and new technology makes it easier and less expensive than ever to update your home's look. Here you can see the difference in a hallway. Imagine what that would do for your entire home!
August 22, 2013 at 2:08pm   
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Beef up the porch columns for a farmhouse feel, to start with. Then work from there. Possibly a nice railing along the porch to the front door can add some additional farmhouse architecture. A couple lanterns on each side of the entry door and at the garage would add additional texture. It may all fall into place. Good luck
[houzz=Crisp Architects]
[houzz=Historic Farm House]
[houzz=Folk Victorian farmhouse]
[houzz=jamesthomas, LLC]
[houzz=Historic House]
[houzz=Ridgeside Vineyard Farmhouse]
[houzz=Horse Farm]
August 22, 2013 at 2:09pm     
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