We received this Ideabook 911 Call awhile back, and I somehow managed to lose it in a pile of emails. However, Lindsey has been gracious enough to let us continue with her project. Here was what she wrote:
My husband and I bought this humble little home right after we found out we were expecting our first child. It was a rushed decision and as you can imagine I was a wreck at 7 months pregnant! Now our son is 4 months and we are ready to get to work We pretty much hate the house as is but see it's potential. We are thinking of painting it a neutral gray, replacing the columns with stained wooden ones, painting the porch floor a darker gray, white trim, no shutters, updated light fixtures,also painting the brick and a new front door.
I am also including a photo of a fence that is the style we like. We are thinking of doing a detail like that from the front post to the corner post on the porch. Obviously the bushes have to go! I find I have trouble with the L shape of the porch and what shape to make the new beds on either side of the sidewalk. I also would like to use two Italian cypress trees I was just given but am not sure where to put them. We love modern houses and really want to make this a place we love coming to. Please help. We would love any suggestions! While it may be a stretch to make our house look modern, I feel like the landscape will make or break it for us.
Thank you so much, Lindsey
Let me start by saying that I am NOT an architect! Or a very good at drawing! So take my advice and sketches for what they are worth. What follows will be a hodge-podge of ideas and inspiration shots for the house.
Alright Lindsey, first of all congratulations on the birth of your son and for having the foresight to see your home's potential! First of all, if you haven't seen it, may I direct you to The Brick House Houzz Tour
. This couple has cleverly completely transformed a ho-hum brick box into a fabulous Palm Springs contemporary home on a thrift store budget. It's very inspiring.
It's funny, though your house has a more traditional look
, it kind of has the lines of a mid-century modern ranch. I think the colors, the shutters, the windows and the columns are what throws it off track. I like your color scheme, but something about the very light chimney against that nice brick is bugging me. Thus, I'm thinking about carrying the gray to the chimney and the pediments over the porch. Yikes, is that chimney brick underneath the siding? I'm confused - if it is, rip that siding off it and expose the brick! Or perhaps clad it in metal someday in the future.
My other thought is to use beautiful wood planks
for accents instead of siding. However, this would be an expensive step that may go into the "someday Phase II" files!
I would LOVE to see those columns replaced with something a bit thicker and more modern, perhaps with some sturdy wooden structural beams
that are square. Or perhaps simply box in the existing columns to make them cleaner and a bit thicker.
Ditching the shutters is a great idea. At some point if you go with a more modern facade, I think you are going to want to replace the windows with something more contemporary. The size of them is fantastic, you are really lucky with that! I think (though I'm not an expert, and trying to read the tax codes for you left me more confused than I was when I began) that if you replace them with more energy-efficient windows, you may be able to get a green tax rebate, but please fact check me on that one. I know this is a very expensive proposition, but it might just be the perfect time to do it. Rebate or not, they will help you save in the long run, as you won't be losing your a/c and heat out leaky old windows.
I love the way the light fixtures on the porch are placed. There is so much potential to replace them with something more modern. Again, my mind goes to The Brick House and its exterior
globe light (see below). If you are on the fence, buy some cheap paper lanterns and test them out to see if you like the look there.
Onto plants! I assume the shrubs are not in good condition, but I LOVE the beautiful ornamental tree you have - it's shape is a nice contrast to what will be your new, emphasized, clean modern lines! Instead of shrubs, why not continue the architectural lines of your house with a long horizontal planter along the porch? Something just like the planter you suggested in the inspiration photo below. I've even seen a planter wall
/bench combo. Ornamental grasses or horsetail could be very striking in the planters.
I love Italian Cypress. They are most often seen in allees and as hedgerows in the countryside. Thus, I would suggest using them in a line along the driveway, or perhaps along one side of the sidewalk. I can also see them flanking the fireplace, but I kind of hate the idea of covering up that brick. I think when the palette changes that brick wall will really shine as an accent. You could also play off them with a smaller shrub that looks similar in the planters, but check with your local nursery to see what will actually survive in a planter situation.
As for the sidewalk, I'm not really into the idea of traditional beds
along it. I am thinking it should have a wider sidewalk instead. Let it form an interesting and powerful line, and be made from a material that draws the eye and goes with your new color and material palette. This is another project that could get pricey, so it may go into Phase II territory.
As for the porch, you're in Louisiana honey, I think you need some rockers! It doesn't seem wide enough for a rectangular table, but it sure looks shady enough to sit and enjoy some sweet tea while watching the world go by.
As for the L-shape, I think your porch will have two zones - one is the entry zone, which welcomes visitors from the sidewalk and connects it to the front door. The other part of the "L" is for you to hang out on. They will be tied together by the material on the floor and the matching pendant lights.
I know this is a big jumble of ideas, but I also know from what you wrote that you have great vision, so I think you'll be able to grab some good ideas from the images in the ideabook below. Good luck, and please keep in touch.
Also, readers, enough from me, what do you think Lindsey could do to make her house look more modern? Also, if you have your own design dilemma and are searching for inspiration, please post it to the Buzz Board and we'll try to help!