Curb appeal the front of my house--phase 2.5

May 22, 2015
We are going to be utilizing the assistance of an architect for our larger projects, but seeking advice from the houzz community as well. Purchased home in June 2013.

Phase 1 was tearing out old landscaping and replanting

Phase 2 was new Pella vinyl windows through the home, with the exception of the garage and 2nd floor sliding doors/balcony above it, as that plans to be tackled in later phases.

Phase 2.5-- where we are now and need help! New front door/storm door and shutter color!! Also will be installing new pole lights and porch/garage lights, already purchased. See pics.

Phase 3-- will be new front stoop

Phase 4--will be balcony removal and sliding door replaced with windows

Phase 5--will be replacement of stone
veneer with something more contrasting and updated

So for the front door, thinking of going with a craftsman style 6 light, with full length sidelight window, and storm door with retractable screen.

Thoughts?? Color?? Originally was thinking black front door and black shutters, to eventually go well with a stone front that has more greys/brown/black in it.

Appreciate any thoughts you may have, even if on s different phase than the one we are on!! Thanks much!

Comments (37)

  • everdebz

    Question - cause I would like that balcony --- can't there be a way to unify the look without destroying it? Maybe continue the horizontal line of the balcony going across to its left -- and remove the bottom one instead....

  • everdebz

    You know you have duplicate posts - delete a few?

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    Rereading my comment yesterday it sounded mean so I apologize. Sometimes when your landscape matures you no longer enjoy it but are fighting it or it is fighting the look of your house. I think this is the case. If you would like to keep the hedge I suggest you remove the shrubs closest to the walk by the front porch and those closest to the drive. This will make your entry more welcoming and noticeable. You could add planters now on either side of the walk near the porch, small enough so as not to over hang the walk. With flowers that compliment the new color on the door and shutters it would show off your entry and welcome people to your great front porch. Maybe a bench or a couple of chairs, a small table and you've got a great spot to relax.
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    I guess everyone thinks your fore-mentioned plans will do the trick. Now that you have moved the A/C unit and the electric meter, (can you tell me why anyone with a brain would put those things there?) (maybe electicians don't have a brain - I guess I never considered that)............................... I would bring the front walk from the street, to the right of the bed of pachysandra, in toward where the A/C unit once stood, put a nice dogwood in its place, overhanging a little welcoming terrace, with colorful plants in pots, then continue the walk to the little terrace at the front door. To the left of the front doorstep, place a row of upright yews to keep your guests from falling into the garage. Do you follow my intent. Be charming and offer a warm welcome to your friends and neighbors.
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    I agree, black door and black shutters! They will look good with all the different kinds of flowers that you plant when you own the house.
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  • shahfam

    Eek! I didn't think my post, posted at all! Will delete--thanks @everdebz!!

  • shahfam

    The balcony is off our Master Bedroom and it's really not deep enough to do much with, plus, being on the front of the house, the desire to sit out on the front of the house isn't there. I also think it dates the house quite a bit and windows would be an updated look. Right now, the sliding doors leading to that balcony have vertical blinds that I can't wait to get rid of. Garage is below, and that is a large planter box that we're planning on keeping there.

  • everdebz

    ... not even for a moment of moonlight? ... oh well.... :)

  • libradesigneye

    I think the balcony doesn't date the house but is the one thing that helps to shout contemporary lines . . lose the blinds but reconsider . . a balcony off a master bedroom is cool even off the front . you just need great drapery layers and a plan to plant screening in trough planters . . also - this is real stone and a lot of it . . updated stone that is real will cost a lot . and I'm not sure a high contrast would serve the look and massing here . . let me get you some great trim colors to try . . imagine the balcony in a dark contrast . . a sophisticated palette and you will see your stone in a whole new light . . the stone at the bottom of the wall is amazeballs . . but not contemporary . . the transitions are brilliant despite your reservations . . this is an architectural gem. . back with more

  • Milly Rey

    I would keep the balcony. The horizontal siding here is WEIRD. It should be vertical. Right now, the brick and stone don't work together. The mullions on the picture window are also a mistake. You need to go more modern, not more craftsman. There isn't enough that's craftsman to work with.

    The color of the siding would be much better dark.

  • Kivi
    I would without question be replacing the horizontal siding before removing the stonework! The colour of the brick could be altered with a proper brick stain if desired. I would talk to your architect about replacing the siding with a more updated looking material because to me that is the weakest looking element.
  • libradesigneye

    To each their own. Horizontal siding to me is great because it repeats the horizontal lines of the brick and stone. Not a fan of it on the balcony as a rail but that can be fixed without great expense. Sadly (because I know it is a new window) must agree that front window could be better / more contemporary in form but . . if we do the right thing with the entry stoop - maybe a contemporary trellis from roof line out to corner of house and wrap that into the new treatment of the balcony - stainless cable rail? so we use the right contemporary materials for and incorporate them . . your throwback front door would be great in a high gloss .. back with images and color ideas for entry / door.

  • libradesigneye

    Here's a few steps further than you want to go now, but gives inspiration for how you can connect the lines here to do a great entry overhang - bringing the lines of the top of the upper balcony across the entry facade . . even with an open trellis that moves forward to this plane .. loving this open rail corner connected to frosted glass

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  • libradesigneye

    If you ever have the budget, changing the front window to have 1/3 (left side) stacked awnings (yours should only be 3 high) and 2/3 (right side) picture window no muntins would really be worth the added expense .. to expand the window height so it used all the area now filled in with siding below . .. . You probably replaced the sash layout you had .. tough to change window profiles without some pro help . don't sweat it - here's the image (albeit in black aluminum) but with flipped proportions designed to line up with garage lines below . .

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  • groveraxle

    Shutters? No shutters on this house.

  • groveraxle

    I hesitate to spend too much time here because the two other posts have not been deleted, but let me suggest that you should bring an architect in before going any further. It seems to me you need a vision of how the whole place will look first. THEN you can divide it into phases. I fear you're going to end up with a real mishmash if you continue this piecemeal approach.

  • groveraxle

    Consider widening the stoop and doing a wider door.

    shahfam thanked groveraxle
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  • libradesigneye

    Groveraxle I just reviewed everything when i read your thing about shutters .. found em up on the side of the house - that is probably what threw our original poster off about the house in the first place - bet they were there when she purchased - do take them down op

    Consider using the door you have and giving it a glossy coat of olive green paint - back with a specific one - look at this as an option for your new entry stoop - carry it from the corner all the way to at least past the window itself and then the steps down all around are great for this architecture .. it can be done with trex decking here in a khaki greige earth tone

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    test this shade on the front door and give it a high gloss top coat with a spray . .

  • shahfam

    Thank you all for your comments, insight, and ideas so far. Much appreciated.

    Again, I apologize for the duplicate posts. The Houzz app wasn't working for me yesterday and apparently, (even after googling for help!), there's no way to delete my discussions. I emailed the Houzz support yesterday once I realized it, but the duplicate posts are still here! ugh! Sorry!

    To address/clarify a few things-

    1) We did contract with an architect after having our windows purchased and installed to have photo renderings done before we go any further. We were *hoping*, hence this post, that we could go ahead and work on the front door on our own, but seeing all of your responses, we probably need to get our big picture plan together before we try tackling pieces at a time. Once we have our overall final project, then we can budget out what can be done, and in what stage.

    2) Re: The choice of our window with the muntins, we we actually were hoping to go the opposite way of Libradesigneye's ideas above. (I like your ideas, but more contemporary and modern than what we were wanting) We're wanting to make this home more traditional, as the inside of the home already is. (crown moulding throughout, oak banister/white painted spindles/white painted colonial woodwork, etc). We're in a neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs, built in the 1960's where the homes are mostly Cape Cod styles, traditional 2 story Colonials, or split-levels. If we were to go with one of those more contemporary designs, we'd look like we landed a UFO in the neighborhood. :)

    So we are hoping that if we were to remove the balcony and replace the 3 panel-wide slider with traditional style windows to match the living room, (maybe of varying heights with/without a transom?), that we could achieve a more traditional look, or at least something that pulls everything together. We did purchase, but not installed 3 awning style windows to go into the garage, with the grids. Not installed until we figure out the balcony/sliding glass doors above it. Budget is not endless, so we need to do what we can to work with what we've got, as much as possible.

  • shahfam
    In addition here at some other closer pics--- we have 2 different types of stone going on, where it looks like previous owners patched and could not find exact match. Also the tall wall of stone is two different colors due to fading over the years where the roof overhang shades it.
  • shahfam
    And here are closer pics of the crumbling, bandaid work done on the front porch!

    See side view of the layers of "fixes" over the years.

    And Not sure who mentioned it, but we are planning to widen the porch, over to the "star, grey water meter box". I moved the hose caddy over so you could see how far.

    Oh and the lights we already purchased, not yet installed, also more traditional are in a pic too.
  • PRO
    Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch

    If all you want is curb appeal, you are wasting time and money, as you failed on step #1.

    My interpretation of curb appeal is to want to be invited inside, to be a guest. To this you have failed. You have not provided a walk for me to approach your door from the street. You have not provided any planting to enhance the front facade. You planted a few puppies at the foundation, but why bother.

    Ask your neighbors, ask your realtor, if you have enhanced your home by laying it bare and entering it from the garage door. Ask your mother-in-law. Ask yourselves.

    I have nothing to gain by pointing it out to you, but you have much to gain by considering my comments as valid, from a landscape architect and past real estate agent.

  • libradesigneye

    Cascio sometimes has constructive things to say . . .. not so much there.

    There are some simple mid century modern exteriors that aren't alien spaceship or extremely dated. I'm sorry your architect didn't steer you there and I'm sorry that you have invested a lot in that direction already. It usually takes significant (and often wasted - no real return) investment to take a home of one architectural style exterior wise and transition it to another - it is almost always less expensive and a better result to work with what you have. I fear that if you continue in the direction you are headed you will lose what was high end about this house outside - the real ashlar pattern stone, the outdoor connection for the master, the proportions of horizontal brick, ashlar pattern real stone. Interiors may be very traditional (what would have been considered high end for the 50's / 60's when this home was built or what was brought in later), but your windows are anything but traditional despite the colonial muntins.

    Still, this is your home, your property and you need to be pleased with the result.

    I work hard not to put anyone down here and want you to know that my feedback was intended to assist you. I'm concerned that this direction will cost much more than you have and the result will fall far short of what you desired.

  • libradesigneye

    ps your wall of stone is not two different colors - the original color is still there up under the eave where the sun has not worked on it . . the rest is just what mother nature does over time

  • shahfam

    I very much appreciate your feedback Libradesigneye, and you bring up very, very good points and perspectives we must consider, which is exactly why I created the post! I can't say that my architect has steered us one way or another--yet--as we haven't even gotten back her ideas yet. I was thinking we could go ahead and move forward with the front door, but seeing all the feedback, we need to have an "END GOAL" design before we take any more steps forward. I certainly don't have the funds to do a project and find out it doesn't turn out as we had hoped.

    Re: The stone wall and the different colors. Yes, I understand where the stone has faded due to sun, but in addition to that, see the lower wall by the front stoop stairs, on the pic I posted in one of my comments above? Previous owners must repaired that area and it's not the same, nor is it the same mortar in-between. I'd really like to have something that matches all the way though and the front stoop bandaid right now is yet another paver brick stone. Here's the pics of the house when we got it, and while I don't at all think that our landscaping updates are award winning, I do think we made some big improvements over what was there previously. Heck, just tearing out and power washing the house made it look better!

  • Milly Rey

    I actually like your "before" shots much, MUCH better.

    But anyway....

    Keep the inside traditional and make the exterior understated modern. Who says they have to match? It's 100% better than trying and failing to change the style. I don't think you have to go HARD modernist, but this will make one fugly traditional house. Traditional houses DO NOT HAVE HORIZONTAL WINDOWS. Traditional houses do NOT have highly asymmetrical windows, either. You CANNOT make this into a traditional house without ripping out all the windows and likely reconfiguring the interior space.

    The new light looks BAD with the house. The new windows detracted from the house as well.

    Fix the stone issue by yanking off the new stone and extending the stoop to that corner, and widen the stoop to the window or go all the way and make it a terrace across the entire inset front.

  • newdiva2014

    I'm coming into this late, and am not a designer, but it strikes me that what you need are more horizontal lines, not fewer. Tearing out the front stoop and expanding the entry to include a terrace/patio to the left of the front door would balance out the weight of the right side of the house with the balcony. You might also consider widening the front door (or make it a double front door) to give it more of a presence. I wouldn't do away with the balcony as that might ruin the original design, however, it could be lightened by replacing the wood with a modern, wrought iron design, which you might also use around the terrace/patio. Finally, I'd consider using strong, dark colors for the front door and trim. If you were to add a black wrought iron balcony, I recommend using black for the accents. Good luck with your project.

    shahfam thanked newdiva2014
  • twofromdelaware

    So sorry to agree with earlier comments. Choosing a house for neighborhood, then trying to remake it to fit the predominant architecture there is just not going to work. Your dominant 2 story structure has assymetrical windows - as Milly comments, you probably can't change that without an interior rearrangement. So try for the lushly landscaped soft - very soft - mid century contemporary exterior suggested by Libra Design. I'm sure for you this will feel 2nd best, but it IS part of a sweeping international trend, so consider yourselves part of the vanguard. Plus, no matter how hard you try to make this house traditional, it will always look like a crummy traditional when it can be a great mid-century house.

    The 1st door suggested by grover axle helps. Don't even THINK about adding shutters - a total waste of money. Sorry you added a traditional LR window - that needs to be a period window in wood tone trim. Casements are okay, but if you do your research you'll find floor to ceiling windows with foot square boxed panes, transom topped or bottomed fixed panes, and more. Your horizontal siding should eventually be replaced with vertical board and batten - effective and less expensive than other contemporary alternatives. Pull the balcony off if you must, again - a waste of dollars. Instead, once you redo the siding to vertical cement board - with staggered vertical lengths to maintain a total vertical look - do some research on mid century balconies to find a more open railing you love.

    Also sorry to add your architect has not helped you so far. Find someone who understands this style house! And also your desire to avoid the spaceship thing. I totally get that.

    And last but not least, find a landscape architect who can create the broader front door steps and landing, a lovely curved approach with lighting that softly highlights stacked stone steps and walls for subtle changes in level, and plantings that enhance rather than bare and expose the architecture.

    Color? I would stick to soft wood tones on door, trim and siding to enhance your stone - which is stellar BTW but you have leeway there to showcase your own tastes. Choose what you like - just remember Soft Soft Soft.

    Good luck!

    shahfam thanked twofromdelaware
  • shahfam

    Appreciate the continued responses! Again--remember our Architect can't be blamed for any of this, as we haven't even gotten their ideas back! We had window done before we brought them in, so that's 100% our mistake. I was turning to the Houzz community for your insight as well, which I'm thankful we did!

  • hattie1

    Definitely no shutters. do not paint the stone. I think the balcony balances with the planter below. Paint the white some great shade of gray and the door an orange red

    shahfam thanked hattie1
  • Rhoda Powers

    You've received some very sound advice here. If you choose to ignore and move forward with your original plan, here are my quick fixes which reinforce much of what has been stated before. Vertical siding. Widen the stoop and add the double doors. DO NOT PAINT THE STONE. Lastly, landscape with some great architectural plants, and shrubs. Embrace what you have, it's pretty terrific. I am currently downsizing into a 1980's side to side split. It screams 80's outside at the moment but is a contemporary art house inside. You can be you on the inside! I may be posting my Help Wanted request on Houzz soon myself. In need of some clarity and an attitude adjustment on my own projects!

    shahfam thanked Rhoda Powers
  • lake1114

    I don't think I have ever seen a house with brick, siding and not one but two different types of stone all on the front facade. Yikes! In my opinion, something needs to change with all that before you can get any kind of satisfactory look-be it midcentury or traditional. I agree with widening front stoop as well as no shutters on the front.

  • sandybk
    I thought I would add a short comment here regarding something no one has offered here. I love all of the natural stones you have going on but would maybe consider painting the brick, maybe a white or a tan and then placing some texture and color in your planting season. Fixing the "non-inviting" walkway, adding some box woods along the walkway would be a nice traditional and inexpensive fix. I would also tear down the vertical blinds and replace with either grey or taupe patterned drapery with dark rods. These are all inexpensive fixes that would leave you more $$$ for the stoop which I agree with you is in dire need of a total replace.
  • Brown Dog
    Your house has oodles of potential! There's a lot going on with all the different surface finishes so if I were you, I'd make the grand plan all about simplifying. I like the idea of removing the balcony and making the door into a window. I think what throws me off the most is the difference in contrast between the visually big stone area and the colour of the siding. If you choose to keep the stone ( which isn't that bad looking), replace the siding with a colour similar to the stone colour which would be much darker than what it is now, I would go with much wider horizontal siding for a more current look. I would also add siding across the bottom of the stone area to cover the bad patch job. I would also add a walk-up porch across the front of the brick part of your house and clad the bottom of the porch with the same siding. That way both sides of the house will be visually tied together. Your front door needs more presence so if you have the room, make it into a door with 2 sidelights. Keep all your finishes contemporary to go with the architectural style of your house.
  • kellyvorbroker

    i think janethumphreys has the plan!

  • twofromdelaware

    This thread just popped up in my email, so wanted to add: Jane's suggestions really work. Agree with the taupe suggestion - as a natural soft "weathered wood" tone in harmony with your beautiful stone. Broad board horizontal wood siding is very current, and usually quite expensive, as shown in some if the photos sent by Libra - also you wanted to avoid the space-ship fèeling.... if you use cement board (not vinyl!) and a soft taupe the horizontal will work. Carrying it to the brick on the lower side of the house also works. If you don't want to spend to build a front porch on that side (also a great suggestion) I think everyone agrees that broadening your doorway is a good design choice.

    Now how can your architect top all this collected design wisdom!? Seriously - glad to hear he/she has not yet weighed in, and that a local expert will help you with plans and selections.

    Again, good luck.

  • leelee

    Just curious, what did you like about this home when you bought it two years ago? All those steps are a lot of hassle not to mention the expense.

    You don't need shutters on your house.

    The original design of a vertical half wall of stone stopping right in the middle of the house is a very bad idea. It was also a bad idea was to mix the stone and yellow brick.

    Adding stones in your landscaping plan adds another element that creates a cold and hard exterior. Pine straw is a warmer look and would give some contrast to all the sameness.

    There are lots of steps you could take to change the looks but how much of an investment are you willing to make?

  • rosalyn1224
    Plant a tree to the left of the balcony....some sort of false cypress to anchor your home. Add flowers on the bottom balcony and flower bed in front of your balcony. Don't forget the other flower bed. Place a tall planter to the right of your door with multiple plants.
  • everdebz

    This might be way late as to what you've expressed - this is what I meant but it's a different house course - railing all/ most of the way across front:

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