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rfrank1031

Please tell me what you think of this front of house design

rfrank1031
December 19, 2015

We are in the final stages of a second story addition to our 1960s ranch. Because this is not new construction, there are many restrictions we are working within (existing structures like a fireplace, trying to limit square footage for budgetary concerns, placement of internal rooms, etc.).

Our style is casual, classic and somewhat traditional. I want something that will stand the test of time. If all things were perfect, our design would be somewhat of a center hall colonial with some craftsman type features added in. I specifically requested the eyebrow roof line as an element I love, so that definitely stays.

What we are struggling with is the long roof line on the left. We are tripped up on the asymmetry. Note that the peak over garage and that roof line will pop out a bit (or back I guess) so this 2-dimensional drawing makes it hard to grasp. Any thoughts (good or bad) and for the pros out there any other ideas on how to create even a bit more symmetry or am I being foolish? Will this grow on me? We really want to LOVE our new home, but am also feeling 1)pressed for time and 2)given our restraints this might be as good as it gets. Thanks in advance! (PS. not moving the front door because the porch/paver work is only 2 years old so don't want to redo all of that).

Comments (56)

  • rfrank1031
    Suezbell, I love the idea of the faux return and might be just what we need to help create symmetry without actually creating it! I will def ask for that to be drawn in. Wasnt sure if it was architecturally "sound" to do something like that so resisted asking. Not really sure what you meant with the first suggestion. Can you try to reexplain? As for the portico, we did see it drawn that way also but The architect felt that if we went with that roofline over the door we would have to lose it up above creating a straight pass in between both peaks
  • rfrank1031
    He felt that 2 eyebrows were overkill. Since we didnt want to lose the one above, we went with the straight porch. What are your thoughts on doubling that element up?
  • Rusty Empire

    Has anyone mentioned yet the "lets take every roof style we like and throw it in" approach may not be well advised. It looks somewhat schizophrenic in the translation I see here. Mia is right with her analysis as well as her advice: the view point of another architect may be worth it here. Sorry - perhaps not what you wanted to hear! The flip side of this is that the architect may be following the clients demands and not having their professional opinion weighed.

  • rfrank1031
    I should note that I have also conversed with another architect Who also happens to be a thing Feng shui expert. She wasn't bothered by the extended roofline and understood why it was done but again what it comes down to is us loving it. I get the feeling that our architect truly believes that this is the best solution for us. We really are happy with the internal layout and so I'm also worried about changing the outside might affect that as well
  • bunnyllg
    I recently sold a home that I lived in for 11 years. I have always for the most part, liked the layout of that home, but I never, ever liked the curb appeal and this clouded my experience living there. The porch was beautiful, but the unappealing window style over the front door and the hipped roof lines just made it a mutt of too many styles. I guess the moral of my story is work hard to get a home you will love for a long time.
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Do not look for symmetry, look for balance. Symmetry is an easy way to achieve balance.

    There is a lot of information needed to properly design any addition, and without knowing all the information it is next to impossible to efficiently evaluate a design. Also to evaluate a architectural solution with a two dimensional drawing is a poor way to drive a design.

    Concider hiring an architect to review the current design with the full programmatic information.

    rfrank1031 thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • rfrank1031
    Thank you all so much. I think what Im wondering is whether you all like it. While ultimately it may not matter, Im interested in knowing whether you think its interesting/nice/unique or if you would drive by and think it a miss. Part of what we want and yet struggle with is how different it is. However, we did not want cookie cutter either!
  • rfrank1031
    Thank you Mark. Already planning to reach out to another architect who is fully apprised on Monday.
  • bunnyllg
    I would not drive by your house and think it was a miss. I would sigh and say, what a lovely home...
    rfrank1031 thanked bunnyllg
  • PRO
    Michael Kilpatrick Design
    Why can't that so called long roof be made a hip as on the right? Do you have a left elevation and roof plan you can share?
    rfrank1031 thanked Michael Kilpatrick Design
  • rfrank1031

    The right side was designed specifically for southern facing solar panels. See attached left side elevation and interior just for info.

  • emmarene9

    It does not look good. I like asymetrical at times, but not here. I appreciate your frugality. I am a cheapskate myself. When it comes to not moving a door because the paving is new I think you are on the wrong track. The exterior might make more sense if we saw the interior floorplan. When you stay in budget you cannot have everything you want. It seems like you could nix the second fireplace if it is part of the asymmetry. I can't suggest you switch architects. For all I know he/she is very frustrated at this point. Why are the windows in the porch area so high? It is unusual. One thing you hoped for the design is that it "stand the test of time." A remodeled house with only a one car garage will not be classic. I take it this is your forever home so you are not concerned with resale. I hope one of the architects stops by with some remarks. I am sure this has given you a lot of stress. An odd thing occurred to me. That long roofline could be made to blend in better if the house was a faux tudor.

    rfrank1031 thanked emmarene9
  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    Yes, I would think that a miss. I would have to wonder why they didn't read, What Not to Build

    Eliminate the bay window and the 2nd gable over the garage. Carry the shed roof of the porch all the way across the front façade. You may be in love with the eyebrow, but it doesn't really work either. Having any home be full of things that you love doesn't ensure a cohesive design. It usually ensures just the opposite. You need a parti to inform all of your design choices here. Start with what the home IS. That's always the easier style direction rather than trying to foist off some total plastic Pam Anderson surgery onto it.

  • rfrank1031

    Hi Emmarene. This is not new construction. Therefore the one-car garage is already there. We could not make it into 2 even if we wanted due to side zoning restrictions. The interior floorplan is above if that helps at all. We cannot nix the chimney as it is the one linked to our fireplace and while my husband suggested it, I do think getting rid of a fireplace would affect our resale since not many homes in our area have them. It's our forever home, but of course I'm concerned with others thinking it has appeal and resale.

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    A ''forever'' home is pop nonsense. Unless you can retrofit every inch of the interior as ADA accessible, your stay in this home might be 15 years, tops. What you are proposing is a massive expenditure for not a lot of return as to resale. Or functionality. Might be better to sell and move than remodel if the existing home doesn't support a 750K expenditure.

  • rfrank1031

    Oh and windows in the porch area are existing (why they don't match). I stated above that the architect is in the process of redrawing with double hungs to match in proportion and style (no shutters).

  • rfrank1031

    Thank you Sophie. The existing home in our location supports the expenditure. I'm really just interested in opinions on the plan and any possible solutions if you are not a fan. Thanks!

  • PRO
    FMA Interior Design, Inc.

    I think you are way over thinking it. You said you had a set budget - so there is only so much you can do. I would make sure the interior meets your needs as that is where most of your time will be spent; which you already said it does.

    The design works. The key is to make sure your exterior finishes are appropriate & rich looking.

    What doesn't work are the small windows on the first floor or the generic one car garage door. Upgrade to larger Windows & a garage door that blends into the new design of the exterior.

    Move on to finalizing finishes and construction, so you can start living & creating new memories or scrape the whole design until you can afford to do what you really want. Either way - best of luck & enjoy!

  • miacometlady

    Rfrank.. if you look at my first photo, the roof line on the right is extended but it ends with a vertical line. I think that would help your design. I'm not fond of windows that sit on the roof line, it reminds me of cheap construction. Even with constrictions of lay out and budget, there is a plan out there and an architect that can meet your vision. Your current architect can be enamored with his design, so of course he stands by it, but it misses the mark for you - and us. I made one design mistake in the placement of my DR chandelier, centering it incorrectly. It has driven me batty for 15 years. You're talking about the design of your home! Don't let anyone near your home with hammer and nail until YOU NAIL the design. Keep us updated!

  • rfrank1031
    Thank you again miacometlady. I agree--he is definitely enamored with his plan and it has solved many of our wants. Its true when you work within budget and it isnt new construction, I knew we wouldnt get everything we wanted. Any advice on how to move forward gingerly with this architect? I doubt he is frustrated yet (this is only a second round of drawings and the first time he literally gave us this one drawing), however I dont want to frustrate him! I need to solidify this would be greatly appreciated!
  • rfrank1031
    Grrr...its supposed to say any additional advice would be greatly appreciated!
  • PRO
    Michael Kilpatrick Design

    This is what I was meaning by adding a hip to the left end.

    And I would also add a transom window above your garage door - or if not a window a decorative panel like you have below the major windows. I would also look at changing the two windows at the porch to be the same style as the new ones above. If you can't change the size then add in the decorative panels again to make them appear larger.

  • rfrank1031
    Hmmm Michael that is really interesting and offers a bit more balance. Can it be done? The chimney seems like its not connected...? Thank you for taking the time to do!!!
  • apple_pie_order

    This design is not balanced. The architect has put in a mishmash of features without establishing a dominant feature or rhythm. You can't paint your way out, either. Now that you have seen a design, try writing down your list of priorities, all over again, on a new sheet of paper. Are the priorities: solar panels, spacious staircase, cross ventilation in each room, eyebrow window? It's your choice. Often highest priority items get switched around when we're faced with an actual design.

    My comment on a two story forever home is that it is useful to design in space for a motorized chair on the new staircase, or for an elevator to be added now or later. Get estimates for both the chair and elevator. A washer and dryer on the same level as the master bedroom saves a lot of awkward hauling up and down stairs.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Micheal - Be VERY careful putting your titleblock on someone else's design. Familiarize yourself with the legalities of intellectual property.

  • emmarene9

    Rfrank do you really need the left front bedroom?

  • rfrank1031
    Yes emmarene, we have 3 children so trying to move us all up togeter. They are still small so splitting us up is not an option at this time.
  • crappiebass30
    I framer the round roof is hart to do
  • crappiebass30
    If you put metal the round is good
  • live_wire_oak

    "Popping the top" of a ranch house is almost never a cost effective design solution unless the cost of land is VERY expensive in your location. I don't know what your budget may be, but I hope that you have had a contractor's input into the eventual costs of implementing the design as it was developed as a "check" to the ideas of your architect.

    Many times, in an older home in an expensive land location, a tear down is much more cost effective than rebuilding the entire home. Adding a second floor is NEVER a "budget" solution. If your architect hasn't sought a contractor's input, I would highly suggest making that happen before investing more in this plan. I think you will be shocked at the costs. Not to mention the costs of moving out for 9 months added onto the top of it.

  • rfrank1031
    Thank you. We have sought contractor costs/input. In our area second level additions are very common--there is no land to buy for new construction. We are an hour outside of NYC where 2 level homes are currently selling for more than $750k and that is not even with current updates. We are shelling with my husband gc'ing and handling much finish work. My main concern at this point was solely the look of the design from the outside.
  • rfrank1031

    Hi Tedbixby. I guess you are right. Though some people did feel it worked. To answer your questions, I do have many Houzz ideabooks...perhaps they are private? Not sure why you can't see them. I will look into that. And, yes, if we had not redone the porch I would be much more willing to move the door. That said, perhaps we would still consider moving it to the right a bit. Though, I'm still unsure how that would help our roof line situation? Thanks for your feedback.

  • rfrank1031

    Oh and the I think the architect feels that the eyebrow is the standout feature. That was one of my only outside design requests. That and "not too many gables please." He feels the eyebrow then demands a straight porch (not curved as I originally thought). So, I'm curious, if you don't feel that is a standout feature, might that be a matter of preference and would you have any suggestions for us on what might help the design?

  • PRO
    RappArchitecture

    It's taking me forever to read all these comments, but here's my two cents: 1) symmetry is overrated and shouldn't be an overriding concern; 2) that "long" roofline won't be nearly as apparent from the ground as it is in this 2D drawing; 3) there IS too much going on here visually, the design needs to be simplified; 4) if you love the eyebrow, keep it; 5) adding a hip on the left would provide more balance; 5) don't count on the design "growing" on you, if you don't love it now you never will. The bottom line is, you need to talk to your architect and let him know how you feel. If the response isn't what you want, you need to cut your losses and find another architect who will give you what you want. Good luck.

    rfrank1031 thanked RappArchitecture
  • rfrank1031

    Thanks RappArchitecture. Very helpful observations. :)


  • valeriec
    I loved the floor plan our architect designed but greatly disliked the front exterior drawings. I expressed my concerns and the plans were redrawn but they still didn't look right. At our next meeting I brought in pictures from Houzz of homes that I did like and reviewed them with the architect, pointing out individual features on each that were appealing to me (front porch, rooflines) but also pictures that showed what I specifically didn't like (too many peaks). I realized from that meeting that what I couldn't express in architectural terms I could show through pictures which was the guidance he needed. The result was amazing and exactly what I wanted but didn't know how to describe. Try to pinpoint what bothers you about the exterior - it may be a relatively easy fix for your architect.
  • rfrank1031
    Thank you all so much. Tedbixby, extending the porch roof is an interesting idea we can entertain. Hubs and I just walked through moving the door which would now affect the placement of stairs inside which begin right where the first window is located. We would lose an open entry concept so will need to think that through. It will also require conpletely renovating direction of walkway and stair location. I do think that given our budgetary constraints (the sky NOT being the limit) we may have to give a little too--and it may end up being on the outside :( I should note that I dont hate this design, something just seems off to us which is why I posted initially. Family members have told us its beautiful and wont bother us in "real life" but wanted more objective/seasoned opinions--which have confirmed we should go with our gut and still ask for more from the architect!
  • Rusty Empire

    Rfrank: you've been a good sport. Do post your project later to show the final result. I'm sure it'll be a great home for you. Cheers.

  • suezbell

    A faux return on the gable on the side with the long roofline would be decorative and, in this case, should not affect the structural strength of the home either way. It should give the home more visual symmetry -- something many prefer.

    The absence of structural symmetry actually makes your home look a lot less like the cookie cutter same old same old style and a lot more distinctive.

    I'd personally want more front porch and to make very certain that the steps at the front door are not going to be an awkward entry -- making sure there is plenty of flat space for a flat landing as you step out of the house and before you begin to step down to the sidewalk.

    What I meant by a way of what would be needed for one way to get rid of the long roofline altogether is that your room in the upper left corner of your drawing of your home is recessed behind the long roof: the front exterior wall of that room in the upper left corner is not directly above the front exterior wall of the garage.

    If you were prepared to change that and make the front exterior wall on that entire left side of the house a straight vertical wall, one with a single gable over it, and with the return at the right lower corner of the gable roof beginning at the left edge of your eyebrow, and having the roofline rise to a point half way between there and the left side of the house, and with another return at the far left side of your home, then you would end up with a standard gable with two uniform slopes.

    You'd need to extend the floor of that room on the upper left side of the house -- including removing the current front exterior wall and moving it so the front exterior wall of the upstairs room is atop the front exterior wall of the garage -- in order to accomplish that. You'd end up with a somewhat larger expanse of blank front wall in which you have no windows or other architectural feature but one on which you could create a faux gable (just trim boards in the shape of a gable) over the garage.

    Hope this helped.

  • emmarene9

    Is it possible for the garage to have a shed roof? I feel like the garage gable draws attention to the roofline. I don't know if it would help, it was just a thought I had.

  • rfrank1031
    Suezbell, we have asked to explore that option, which means increasing sq footage inside. That lone window is currently in our master which sits at the back of the house. We asked for a way to have a view of the woods across the street w/o adding in the awkward sitting room to left of chimney. I think the longer gable may present other issues as well such as where do windows (which are currently centered) get placed? That js for him to figure out though so we will see!
  • apple_pie_order

    Do you have a current photo?

  • rfrank1031

    Looking for a current photo. Will post shortly. In the meantime, here is an alternate option with the eyebrow over the door. I photoshopped windows down below to match and added an extra column (these are tapered, though I think we were going with straight) to even spacing out on front porch. Does the eyebrow in this location add an element of focus/balance that was missing before? Or does front entry appear cramped?

  • rfrank1031
    I suppose they could have the same detail...do you think it would look funny or overkill under a single window? With this design I pay less attention to the left roof line but now am kind of stuck on the straight line above as rather boring. We originally rejected this one because entrance seemed tight. The column I added also doesnt align properly but is centered left to right. Not sure if these are architectural issues.
  • rfrank1031

    OK, tedbixby, here is the porch roof line extended. I like it. Not sure what would happen to the garage roof line. And, on that side of the house there is no actual porch (only a landscaping bed). Would that be weird? Not sure I want to extend the actual porch across the whole front. Pillar located by garage might also be odd then..... Hmmmm

  • bunnyllg

    Not odd. Extended porch roof looks nice also and I am sure your architect can blend in the garage roofline. BUT, check with your town as I know we ran into a problem with porch roofs as we went over our "roof allowance" so we had to make some overhangs pergolas. Also, the porch roof in the front will darken those interior rooms, so keep that in mind.

    rfrank1031 thanked bunnyllg
  • rfrank1031

    My gut IS happier and I think that even if it is not exactly this, I have learned that I really need to keep playing until I find the right combination. Also, with a solution such as this, it won't affect our interior plan, which is nice. My fear (believe it or not) is that my architect will not approve and for whatever reason fight us on it. Thank you so much for all of your feedback! Much, much appreciated :) Happy holidays!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Do you think your architect is an idiot? Trust him to come up with a solution better than anyone else can come up with and fear nothing.

  • alicejean
    I think the roofline should be straight on both sides of the house. I like the straight lines on the left. Why is there a slight curve to the roofline on the right?
  • rfrank1031

    Hello everyone. Just wanted to share a new, recent drawing that our architect supplied. With some minor adjustments to the bottom right side window placement, this is what we decided to go with! It's a total departure from the previous drawing, but much more traditional and symmetric, which is what speaks to hubby and me. We love it! Hope you all like, too :) and thanks for pushing me to push the architect!

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