Full brick on main level of home? Good idea? Color?

21 days ago

Hello design friends!

We are doing an exterior reno of our 70s split leveI. have been advised that the best way to go would be to remove existing brick, replace with a more modern brick on the entire front of the house (from ground level up to roof line on first floor) and then just paint second level. I am thinking of painting grey/charcoal/ Any ideas for a modern brick color? Do you think this is a good plan?

I am leaning towards a redish brick, but don't know if this is too bold and too much red. Thinking cream, but don't know if it is weird to have light on bottom of house and dark on top. Finally, is grey just blah?

Comments (42)

  • Sammie J

    I'm confused - is the image you posted your current house? And, wondering who your advisor is...a design expect? Cause I think the house looks great as is. Focus on landscaping and a nicer walkway to the front door, and it will really upgrade the look.

  • skru33

    My sister!

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    Paint the brick if you like. I'm sure you understand the risks. You can't go back and you'll need to repaint every few years. If that's worth it to you (it would be for me if I were in your shoes), I'd say go for it. I'd remove the shutters, paint the brick Gettysburg Gray (Benjamin Moore), replace the porch railing with a wood and wire architectural style and replace the front door with a rich wood door and paint the garage door a darker shade of gray than the house. Here's a similar home that was painted white >
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  • PRO
    JudyG Designs

    When garage is a prominent front gable, I like white….even the brick.

    Suggestion…remove the shutter…it does not fit the windows properly. (the shutters on house blow do not fit properly, either).

    New driveway is very important.

  • Current Resident

    IMHO, that is a quite handsome 1970s split level - as it is. The current configuration of brick empahsizes its horizontal lines.... you want that. Its part of the design esthetic. Not every house is a good specimen of its era.... but yours is. Im not sure what you gain by removing, and replacing existing brick with some other brick.... at no small expense Im sure.

  • skru33

    I guess I just hate the orange brick... perhaps best to just paint it and move on...?

  • celerygirl

    More colors

  • cat_ky

    Your house is perfect just the way it is, why would you want to mess it up. Too many people try and make their houses something they are not, and it just never looks right. Your house is a mid century modern style, and is very nice. Redo the walkways, and probably the landscaping. Its hard to see that, with the snow. No painting of the brick, and no, not a full brick front. You will just damage your resale. Mid century homes like yours are sought after, in my area, and are very hard to find, since they have been so called remodeled and no way resemble what they really were.

  • partim

    The natural clay color of the brick is attractive to my eye. If you don't like the variegated look, just stain the black ones to match the rest.

    Look into staining your brick instead of painting it. Much easier and less expensive than replacing it. Especially in your 4-season climate, stain is more durable.

  • Current Resident

    Cat Ky, yes MCM is HOT here as well.... and very well loved, people here embrace vintage MCM colors so youll see dark rusty reds, deep blues, mustard yellow, oranges, etc. Grays too of course. Gray was and of course still is popular MCM color. MCM and prairie style are the go-to architectural style for new construction here as well, so youll see tons of natural stone, brick, earth colors, rusty orange, dark green-grays etc.

    Maybe its the difference between midwest style and... I dunno, what do you call the current architectural fad - coastal? I dont know if Ive ever seen a whitewashed brick around these parts.... at least not in the older neighborhoods of 1870s- 1970s. I wish there was room for more regional diversity on these forums, would sure make life more interesting.

  • tatts

    No matter what you do, your house will always be predominantly a garage with a house tacked on the back. No amount of brick or remodeling will change that. Your façade from street view is mostly garage door and house roof.

    It seems the garage door in the first pic is photoshopped. Not bad, but the windows are too small. Celerygirl's is better, but too dark. Do a modern door that makes a statement--natural cedar or mahogany--for the most prominent feature of the house, not painted. Fix the driveway. Take the money you saved and have a swell vacation someplace warm.

  • flopsycat1

    Help me understand to this. I get that this garage is very prominent, and the usual consensus is to de-emphasize the utilitarian components of a house, and highlight the entry. That being said, modern garage doors with asymmetric windows clearly create a focal point. I’m sensing a design dichotomy.

  • tatts

    Flopsycat1--What alternative would you select on an MCM house? It needs a plain door and the windows do little more than break up the expanse of flatness (and add light). They don't create a focal point at all.

  • skru33

    Love the discussion here. I do agree many of the Reno’s in the area just look wierd or bad, as people do not respect the style of the house. No the garage door is the real thing! My front door is black and was recently replaced... what if I added color around the door? Wood panels, shingle?

  • skru33

    I will be cutting down the bushes in front of my from windows and at least one big pine, perhaps it will help showcase my front wibdows

  • Kit Gleason

    A gray that skews green would work well with the brick and using a dark gray or black for the trim would maybe help tie it to the darker bricks?

  • Kit Gleason

    Either the darker trim or find a way to lighten the very dark bricks.

  • judygilpin

    I am another that thinks your house looks great the way it is. Whoever told you to remove the brick and opt for a more modern brick must be the contractor that wants to spend your money on himself. BTW, what is a "modern" brick. The only suggestion I would have, if you're looking for a change, is to stain the brick the color of your trim which looks like it's a dark charcoal. Also, I'd concentrate on updating the landscape. And whatever you do, DON'T paint your garage door white, as someone suggested, unless you paint the entire house white. Good luck.

  • Marcia Pierce

    Our Virginia home was the same, a red brick first floor and an almond second story vinyl siding. It wasn't so much that I hated it, but that it looked like every other home in the neighborhood. We wanted something fresh and new looking. We hired a painter that power washed and primed the entire house then painted the whole house a silver grey with dark grey trim. It looked so good we even left off the colonial shutters! 10 years later it still looks great!

  • cda1028

    You have an MCM house! Let it be its own classic self.

  • Lynn G

    Having the partial brick is typical of the split level - we had that when I was a kid. If you don't like the brick color, paint it. Don't replace it: too expensive, and in the end it'll still be a split level - people like them or don't.

    BTW: I had very similar brick on my fireplace when I bought my 1970's house 3 years ago. I painted it white. Couldn't stand the red, black and white bricks... I like it much better now...

    Note: In case interested... The paint color is Ben Moore's "Chantilly Lace". It's a great shade of white - bright, without being too blue, or too yellow. Not too warm, not too cool. I've used it in my last 2 homes.

  • judygilpin

    This is NOT a MCM house. MCM were in the era of late 1940's, 1950's to early 1960's. MCM were primarily one story homes. This home is a split level built in the 70's. Take a trip to Palm Springs to see what MCM is.

  • cda1028

    I just bought an architect designed split level built in 1955. Plenty of them in mountainous areas. Lower floor and midlevel floor on concrete slab with bedrooms above.

  • netska09

    @skru33 have you looked at Brick & Batten? They are an exterior design company and for a small fee they draw up what your exterior could look like and give suggestions on paint colors, lighting, etc. Just browse through their website and Instagram page. I used them and was amazed with their vision and creativity. (i'm not affiliated in any way.. i just love exterior remodeling projects so your post caught my eye)

  • Current Resident

    Well OK, MCMs close cousin then. Some designer folk do extend the era into the 1970s - many of same design features are in play - the strong horizontal lines, low pitched roofs etc..

    This is not to say someone cant change or alter their house - only that any alterations ought to be in sync and harmonious with the original design or you risk ending up with a "Frankenstein" house, with a mish mash of various components that dont relate well to each other,

    Unless you are prepared to go whole hog and completely remove and replace it - like they did in the most recent This Old House. They started with a modest 1950s MCM and ended up with a huge Dutch Colonial with a cavernous open floor plan.

    Some day the long derided 1970s split level will come into its own - youll see! Give it another decade or so.

  • Current Resident

    Oh just to be clear OP - I dont mean to say that what you propose, bricking up the entire 1st floor, would be a huge design faux pas or anything ... in fact it could look very handsome in its own way and wouldnt detract from the strong horizontal architecture of the house.

    Only that IMHO, it just may not be worth the considerable expense and effort - and in the long run whether your color scheme is true to its original earthy tones vs. switching to the current gray, gray, and more gray..... the fact is trends come and go and after a time whats old is new again, and what was new starts to look old. Just something else to keep in mind, not saying one way or nother.....

  • judygilpin

    Wish we didn't have to talk in "web talk" . Had to look up IMHO and OP. I'm not a Gen Xer or Millennial.

  • cda1028

    Finding out the meaning of an unknown word in common usage has been the hallmark of a lively and inquiring mind since humans first started using words. It’s a way to connect, so anyone making the effort to learn web-talk is to be commended.

  • Lynne

    I like your house now (minus the shutters), perhaps you should hire a landscape designer. Landscaping makes a huge change, and they might even suggest house colors if you do want a change.

  • halseym

    I'm echoing many others, save your $ on the brick and hire a GOOD landscape architect. I suspect s/he will want to pull out the foundation plantings and create an outdoor room at the entry that will encapsulate the entire area from the left end of the house to the driveway sidewalk. Perhaps a courtyard. A properly selected short trellis and plant can help obscure the brick if it's that offensive. Personally I think this is a rare MCM partial brick split level that I actually like.

  • briandbec

    I think that the pic with the house surrounded by snow plays a trick because the white snow highly contrasts with the brown exterior and roof, making the house look better than it might the other 3 seasons. skru33, I don't blame you for wanting some change. Regarding the brick, I think you have 2 choices that will work as well as a full exterior teardown. Paint the brick or work with the rest of the exterior to dull it out. I think all that dark brown is making it pop and that's what you hate about it. A neutral paint in the same tan or beige family with warm tones will dull it out. Contrasting color, like blue, will make it more vibrant. For the garage level, and perhaps the main level, I would choose a light tan that is maybe a bit lighter than the brick. The upper level should be a darker tone in the same family so that it doesn't stand out too much against the dark roof shingles. Horizontal siding on the top floor could also ground that level as well, but regardless, in my opinion, shingles don't belong on contemporary style houses. They were a practicality in colonial days and along the coast before midcentury modern took hold. Once the modern era came to be, the assembly of varying shapes and sizes of the building and windows removed the need for false shutters. Interest comes from asymmetrical design and tactical use of materials. The house you own looks great, albeit just a bit dated. Fresh use of color and texture will make it a true standout, but in a good way.

  • chris copeland

    Brick color can be lightened by a light wash of most any color. The best color choice is usually what complements the grout as only the brick face should be painted. Use an exterior grade paint in a soft color thinned by between 1/8 and 1/4, experiment on side or back of house until you get your color. Apply lightly with rag, by dabbing with paint. Be advised that red brick can easily take on a pink hue if the wrong wash color is used. I used the wash technique on my 70s ranch which had brown to cream brick next to the front door and flanking garage door several years ago and still get compliments on it. As far as the garage door, check You-Tube for excellent garage door STAINING tricks which make them look like costly wood doors. ANYTIME you PAINT a garage door, keep in mind the extra weight the opener now has to lift.

  • cda1028

    Where geographically is this house? The areas I have lived in have not had the garage in the forefront of the house. It’s hard to have a facility for car storage the leading feature of a home. Garages are more commonly to the rear of a house or with an offset driveway so that the garage door is around the side and from the street the garage masquerades as heated living space. As far as garage doors go, the one you have is very contemporary looking. I frankly dont notice the brick except to think that it looks akin to the pillars on a Craftsman style home and the grey in the brick ties into the grey of the garage doors. I rather wish you hadnt bought that house because another owner more like me would be pleased that I did not have to spend even one penny to make it “better.”

  • lazidazi

    Leave the brick and do not paint it.

    Pick a color for the siding [maybe green...?...or terra cotta...?] that goes well with the colors of the brick.

    Revel in the design of the house rather than changing it.

    Whatever color(s) you decide to use, do not "accent" the garage door or its trim - leave them the same color as siding [the way it is now].

    [green siding, terra cotta front door...?]

    Fwiw, I like the design of your garage door.

  • skru33

    Wow everyone! Thanks for this great feedback! You are all making me feel better about my house!

  • chrissiekirk

    You mentioned about "cutting down one big pine" and I wish you wouldn't...we need all the trees we can get! The huge pine tree that we can see some of the branches to the left in the photo...I would have the branches removed from the bottom up to open up the view to your home (we did that with a previous home--saved the tree and opened up the view with branch removal and what a difference that made!)...once spring has arrived rework the landscaping in the beds around the house and then make the drive way your big, replace, whatever it is that needs to be done to bring it back to something most pleasing to see (stain the concrete, pebble the surface, replace with pavers). I would stop with those items, stand back and see how the house speaks to you at that space in time. All the best and hope to see in the future as to what happened to your great looking house!!

  • Little Bug

    I’ll jump on this bandwagon! I like your house in spite of the garage as the most prominent feature. I’d like to see, though, a quality wood garage door with a window or two or three, a similar wood front door, and a lighter, brighter paint color. I’m not a fan of gray in any hue.

    It’s hard to see the driveway. Is it in good shape? Imagine a spanking new driveway highlighted with brick edging and/or incorporated brick designs.

    What we really need is a far-back picture so we can see the tree you are talking about and the overall landscape feel. Here’s a thing: we can’t see much of your sidewalk under the snow - is it really only that wide? Many times a well thought out landscape/hard scape is all a home needs to go from OK to IMPRESSIVE.

  • cda1028

    So maybe a new driveway and garage door would add to the curb appeal—someday. If the current ones are in good functional condition, upgrade when they need to be replaced, because really we’re talking emotions here. What we can see now many of us truly admire.

  • Little Bug

    You’re right, cda. I was thinking of the $$$ that the poster’s sister was urging him to spend on a whole new brick exterior - with that kind of money, a nice new driveway and sidewalk plus a new Garage door and professional landscaping could be easily achieved.

  • Joan Myers

    I think the shutters being referred to are interior blinds. I’m guessing this house is in Calgary? I think painting the brick is all that’s needed to make this house stand out. The home owner has done many things right already.

  • judygilpin

    To me it looks like the garage door has a row of small windows running vertically down the left side. So unless the door is original to the house and in disrepair, I'd leave it. Also, I don't understand all of these suggestions to replace the driveway. How can you see it needs replacing when it's covered with snow??? As to the large tree, I'd remove it. I begged our previous neighbors to remove a large old tree that was in their yard but close to our house as it would drop debris on our shake roof. I even offered to pay for it's removal. They would say "We love that tree, it's one of the reasons we bought the house". Well, during one winter storm, the wind blew it over right on the bedroom wing of their house badly damaging their roof. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

  • cda1028

    Run the numbers. How many people in well-built houses are killed by trees in the area you live in? What does it cost to remove a tree? What does your homeowners insurance cover in terms of damage done by trees? We lived for 25 years in an area with frequent hurricanes. Most people hopefully said, “we need a new roof and maybe we’ll have a hurricane this year.” Those same people paid an arborist to keep those trees healthy and strong and we were a community of middle-class government employees. The arborist was a full-time salaried professional forester but had his own business on the side.

  • judygilpin

    @cda1028, At that time we lived in Western Washington State. Our neighborhood was developed at the same time this home was and was very well built. At the time it was built, the developer left it very "tree infested" to draw buyers, I guess. In the 30-40 years thereafter, other developments were built around us removing many trees. When we bought the house we removed 4 of the 5 large firs on our property because we were on the top of a hill overlooking the bay and received forceful winds. To answer your questions, our H/O insurance rates went down after the large OLD evergreens were removed or blown over. At that time, about 15 years ago, tree removal was between $600. & $1000. dollars a tree, depending whether or not you wanted the roots bored out. We now, for the past 10 years, are living in sunny Arizona and don't miss the trees or rain at all. The landscape danger here is saguaro cacti dying from within and falling into sidewalks, houses and cars parked nearby. Believe me it happens often. They are just as dangerous as large evergreen trees. There are just some plants/trees, etc. that should be left out of the residential home landscape.

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