Need advice on Curb Appeal for our rectangular flat roof home.
sjones1122
December 25, 2013
Our house is a FL Wright inspired home (Usonian). We are surrounded by 2 acres of woods. The house is long and rectangular and has a flat roof. Long downhill driveway. Any suggestions for landscaping OR adding features to the house to improve Curb Appeal would be welcome! See attached photo.
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libradesigneye
I would plant medium height native shrubs along the retaining wall above the garage drive - that will effectively screen the garage doors as the first impression. If possible, turning the drive above the Y, - closer to 90 - 110 degrees to the front door, even lengthening it by adding a curve there would help present the front first.
I wonder if it would be sacreligeous - could see a thicker vertical parapet eave, perhaps in horizontal running corrugated metal that rose 3' above the roof, and 16" below the current eave - framed out like a cantilever off the existing eave line . . . ribs running in the same direction as the brick. Or use a wood like trellis screen on the vertical rather than the horizontal emulating the parapet. FLW did some terrific boxy eave lines - echo them. Add another horizontal screen with L brackets over the front door to give it presence.

Finally, consider creating a modern landscape out front between the house and woods. Depending on the climate, juxtaposition of gravel and rectangular concrete paver path and a grid planting of architectural choices.
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 4:48PM
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pcmom1
Could you post more pictures of different angles, front of home?

Did a search of FL Wright.:
Tarrytown House
Wright Inspired Home
4 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 4:54PM
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pcmom1
Maybe something like this for the planter, with a large boulder in the foreground with the house numbers:

1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 5:00PM
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claudiann
I would replace the garage doors and paint them a bright red. We took out the brick center divider in our garage, installed a double door, and made a header over the garage door of limestone bricks. Something along those lines might look good. Then I would plant a tall, thin evergreen at the corner of the garage with some smaller evergreens or grasses in front of it to line that side of the driveway. In the planter with the retaining wall I would place a large landscaping boulder(s).
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Curt D'Onofrio
Flowers (perennials) and/or shrubs along the driveway and on top of the stone wall. The wall above the garage doors is too big and plain. Needs some decorative item for it
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 7:43PM
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Denita
Here is an ideabook on a Usonian Major Renovation that has some great ideas
Ideabook: Houzz Tour: Major Renovations Aid a Usonian Home
And another on a Frank Lloyd Wright restoration
Ideabook: Houzz Tour: A Frank Lloyd Wright Home, Lovingly Restored
Click on the Ideabook name to see the whole Ideabook.
5 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 7:59PM
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Denita
Since landscaping is an important part of design for Usonian and Frank Lloyd Wright it will help to first read up on "Wrightscapes" which is essentially how the landscaping flows up and through his home designs. There are many sources of study. For example: Here is a book at Amazon to help :) http://www.amazon.com/Wrightscapes-Frank-Wrights-Landscape-Designs/dp/0071377689
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 25, 2013 at 8:12PM
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pcmom1
Where would you like your guests eyes to go? One thing to do to keep it off the garage area would be some dense plantings on the area above the garage. Something to obscure that large blank area above the garage doors.

Then some tall trees down below next to the garage.

Mound up the soil in the planter and add a large weeping cedar, boulders, trailing rosemary.
Great Plant Combinations
Mill Valley Cabins
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 2:24PM
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Sustainable Dwellings
What is behind the blank wall over the garage???? Need some windows or something there. Maybe change up the paint. The driveway needs to be re-done, and landscape and light the yard and walkway.
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 2:29PM
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mollierulez
You could use some boulders and rocks or a statue you can always make your own out of recycle I did and it looks great
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 2:40PM
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pcmom1
Did a search and it appears you can have asphalt sprayed and gravel put on top. Maybe just have to redo the area nearest the house.
France
Entry Court
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 2:44PM
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JudyG Designs
I would invest in hardscape. You have way too much hot top.

3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 2:51PM
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smartin1
I'm not a designer and I do not play one on TV, but I would think that planting a Japanese maple where the tree is would refocus the eyes and help play up the Asian horizontal feel. Then, paint the garage doors the same color as the house, so they blend in.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 2:56PM
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libradesigneye
Here are some images that look like the parapet I suggested - Greico Designer Builders Dallas
Chanhassen
On the lower roof to the left and the roof close up on right- can be built and integrated with rainchains / easily cantilevered if you have any parapet at all.
I like the simplicity of the elevation over the garage . . the wall of brick signals nothing to me but modern, but if you did consider windows, they should be the high wide windows you see in the chanhassen elevation. . . .I suspect the rest of the house has fabulous views and so one of the driveway is not needed . . .

Here are some landscape images to consider - brick horizontal walls to match would be ideal, but a simple material like concrete would work well to the right of the drive above to signal - Enter Here [houzz=La Canada Residence] - a concrete tone of gray - the green gray is right but perhaps a bit deeper in tone would be great on all your trim and garage doors with a front door done in a deep charcoal
Trim - something like bm storm cloud gray http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/stormcloudgray
Front door - maybe the sashes on the windows that were trimmed in storm cloud -
bm rainy afternoon http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/rainyafternoon
Galvinized fixtures in an industrial style but oversized . . .
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 3:51PM
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Denita
Do you have additional photos of other angles of your home that you can post?
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 3:57PM
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sstarr93
Different garage doors, not these stock builder doors. Best would be a modern style in natural wood.
Black edge on roof/eaves.
Black or charcoal (not white) window trim.
A metal, modern sculpture at the corner, where the upper and lower driveway meet (in front of the tree)...
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 4:54PM
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Denita
I agree with sstarr, garage doors like these would be nice

3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 26, 2013 at 5:44PM
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mrstinylady
Keep what you have, just accentuate it!
11 Likes    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 5:31AM
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Sustainable Dwellings
If you are not doing anything structually to that wall above the garage doors... get a large metal sculpture to hang there.
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 5:46AM
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pcmom1
Would sure like photos of the home's front! Thinking if that area was played up more: new hardscape, pergola.... huge help!

Oh wait, mrstinylady's just popped up. Yes! Much better! Mrstinylady, could you add more stacked stone to the other side of the drive? And larger, flat roofed pergola coming off the front of home?
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 9:44AM
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mrstinylady
pcmom1: Thanks. I have a pergola on the front and spent a good half hour trying to make a glass top (we try on this humble computer, don't we). The end result is the concept of what you requested with a patio underneath it. See it? It really didn't post well. The stone work you want is on the right to line the drive to box it in? This drive looks to be a dead end, so I'll give two more mock-ups and you can chime in. Give me an hour.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 12:56PM
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mrstinylady
Do either of these have appeal?
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 1:52PM
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mrstinylady
Varation on a theme . . .
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 2:05PM
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mcbriec
Love mrstiny's renderings! Flat roofs (I grew up in an MCM) are a total nightmare, even in Southern California which has almost no rain. The above change not only creates much more modernist interest both inside and outside, it also provides a much more practical roof. Plus, given how heavily wooded the area is, the added windows would provide lots of light.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 2:12PM
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handymam
Can you please show other sides of he house as well?
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 27, 2013 at 2:31PM
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pcmom1
Thank you for your hard work, Mrstinylady! I like the last one with the largest pergola on the front of the home. I see it with a great water feature smack in the middle!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 5:35PM
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mrstinylady
Love the fountain idea and plants. Wonderful addition to the patio--next to the lit umbrella tables and rows and rows of overhead string lights! Some wild fragrant dogwood in the far background would be delicious.
I was also considering a half-wall with a wrought iron gate so that you could drive up, park, pass through the gate (listening to the joyful sounds of softly flowing water), drop off the groceries and tuck the car into the garage at bedtime. Do you like that?
Ahhhh . . . the only problem with my rendering is the actual cost of doing it!
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 8:14PM
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sjones1122
Thank you all for your creative thinking. Very much appreciated! See additional photos as requested. The house was set to allow a lower level walk out and to take advantage of the summer sun. The upper level of the back of the house is floor to ceiling windows. sjones1122
1 Like    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 9:00AM
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sjones1122
and two more photos
    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 9:04AM
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Denita
Is the exterior of your home brick and wood in the back upper section? Or is it stucco on the front side? Are you looking to keep the structure the same or make structural changes?

I am asking because you can achieve a great deal of curb appeal by accentuating the wood and brick contrast - something like below, without making structural changes and then work with the surrounding hardscape, patio and landscape areas leading into your home.

2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 28, 2013 at 9:25AM
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Denita
Another example of the contrast in materials to showcase your existing home (hover over photos to see details)
Glass & Steel

Here is another example where the contrast brings interest
My earthy, contemporary home

Last example, I promise
Pigeon Creek Residence
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 28, 2013 at 9:33AM
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sjones1122
Thank you for all your great suggestions! Yes the house is all brick ( painted brown, was multicolor) except for back upper deck and one room on the deck that juts out from the house. We are willing to entertain structural but those of course are more expensive than landscaping. Appreciate all the wonderful advice.
    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 12:11PM
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joy5390
I think very little needs to be done to improve curb appeal. Your home has a definite vibe to it that is reinforced by the lovely surroundings!

When guests arrive where do you want to direct them? To me it looks like there is parking up by the house. That is where, if I lived in the house, I would direct them. To do this, I like what other posters say, use the grassy area above the driveway. By adding plants you will be able to obscure the driveway down to the garage. I would leave the color of the garage doors, they help break up the wall and are a great complement to your surrounding area. That said, the wall, which looks like brick, (same brick as house, I presume) needs to be reworked. It looks like it is crumbling in places.

I would rip out the old driveway and replace it with concrete in large rectangles (width of driveway by 4 to 6 feet) bordered with matching bricks of the house. I then would stop there and live with it for awhile. This will be expensive, but I think it will give you an outstanding entrance to your home. You could add a screen at the end of the drive way near the house if you want. I would use wood boards on the horizontal, playing up the low lines of your house.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 28, 2013 at 12:31PM
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libradesigneye
sj - the board and batten on the bump out (and where they made a window smaller on the lower level) makes a great nailer for horizontal siding which in cedar, ipe, or aluminum made to look like cedar (yep, they sell that now) would totally play up the mod vibe. Also would be amazing in corrugated galvinized metal to pick up the galvinized fascia flashing you have now. Love this running with ribs horizontal to echo the brick.

The upper garage was a surprise - calls for a modern treatment . . . like adding corrugated metal / galvinized metal door or splurging on one of the new frosted modern glass garage doors.
Challenge is then you would feel inclined to replace the others too . . and the splurge becomes too big for its britches. Paint in the deeper taupe grays . . .darker than the brick will give you a modern look.

If you use all four garage spaces, great, but that upper one to me cries out to be a pool table or ping pong table room with open connection to a new outdoor seating area across the path . . . . . perhaps inside, with a wider / better connection to the rooms adjacent.

If you have to replace a furnace, you might look into upsizing to include that square footage . . . no doubt it is easy to use in one season by lifting the door in summer, (tho you may need a screen door to the rest of the house since a bug screen for that size space is a bit more challenging)

the gazebo is most decidedly un - modern. if you love it and use it, then keep it but screen it with new plantings, otherwise, consider taking the top off, leave the deck and in the summer, put up a teepee - add some stone or concrete floating steps from it down into the woods . . they are big now as playrooms and retreats / can be bought on etsy in many sizes of canvas and sort of work as a site feature no matter the style of the house . . great with mid century modern.

finally, consider thinning some of the trees and losing any brushy / piney underplantings between the suggested "site wall" location at the end of the house back to the front door in a sort of triangle shape so the sight line to the house is opened a bit.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 28, 2013 at 9:44PM
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Pebble Stone Coatings
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    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 31, 2013 at 12:15PM
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sstarr93
This is a beautiful house with some real architectural integrity that needs to be respected. It would be simply wrong to throw out the design by bumping up and changing the roofline. I do regularly draw pergolas, porticos, dormers, and other alterations, but would not do these things to this house.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 31, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Bettie Waddle
What is your roofing material? I replaced the tar and gravel on my flat/slanted roof with a membrane roof. Since I live in Dallas, I opted for white, but it is made in other colors. Best house decision I ever made. Plus, my insurance agent was able to get me a huge reduction in my homeowner's premium.
    Bookmark   Thanked by sjones1122    December 31, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Balber Architecture, Inc.
Usonian homes are beautiful if they’re done Wright (ahem). Obviously being done “right” is subjective, but one of the elements in the vocabulary of a usonian home is stressing the horizontal (see my attached rendering of a usonian home I designed for a client in California). There isn’t any element of this house that does that; actually there is only one element, namely a box. Without adding major structural elements to try and make it something it’s not (usonian), I would just try to make it more of a contemporary style home that deals well with what it has going for it. Don’t fight the box…embrace it! Believe it or not I’ve had many people ask me to design them very modern boxes. A box can be very cool and hip if done properly.

Skimming some other posts, it seems other people are suggesting upgrading materials…which I think is a good approach. From the one picture you posted I see very dated garage doors. You can buy some beautiful garage doors (can get pricey) to dramatically change the front elevation. It is already a bit odd as you approach the house from an angle, so in essence the garage doors meet guests even before they see the front door, thus making them a high priority in terms of the attention you give them. If you have the budget I’d match the front door to the garage doors to make the design more homogenous. Good luck! :)
1 Like    Bookmark   December 16, 2014 at 5:15PM
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