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Design challenge: help us facelift the exterior of our 1970's-style mansard roof!

August 1, 2012
Need advice on updating the exterior of our 1970's mansard roof home. As you can see, the roof proportions are crazy--our house looks like a mushroom! We'd like to eventually do a re-design of the exterior but, realistically, that won't be for another 5-10 years. There are so many things to do on the interior of the home that we will be spending on those for the time being. In the meantime, I need some serious help getting our home into the present decade. I've already removed the two wreaths from the front doorways, and we are having the two evergreen bushes immediately flanking the front door removed this week.
I don't think it's clear from the picture, but the house numbers are also pretty 70's (bubble-type font and hung on a diagonal), so I plan to change the address plaque, but would love any suggestions on products.
What else can we do? Ideally, we need something that will help elongate the bottom part of the house so that the roof doesn't look so out of proportion.
Also, this is technically a colonial (and I love colonial homes) but I had been thinking of going with a more "cottage-y" type feel in the interior/exterior since the wood shakes and roof kind of make it feel that way to me. Thoughts? (We only just moved in a little over a week ago, so I'm not tied to any ideas yet. Just looking for advice. Thank you!!!)

Comments (49)

  • lefty47
    HI -- First thing I would like to know is , why did you buy a house you don't like the look of ? Was it the floor plan inside or the price, or you have a vision of how you want to change it ? The way to elongate the bottom part is to get rid of all the veritcals , like the shutters and side panels etc. and paint it all one color ( also put same color on upper windows) and then an accent color on the front doors.Your house is actualy nice but you are about the third or fourth person asking what to do with a mansard roof house. Ones like yours are slowly disappearing , being remodeled into modern or colonial styles . What do you plan to do with your in a few years ?
  • PRO
    Don't hide it Design it - the "Hollywood regency" embodied so much about the aspirations of Americans in the 70's -European history and classical symmetry - it started in the late 40's and eventually became a cliche but you could rediscover the origins of the style and add to the elegance your house has already -

    all the best
  • PRO
    here is a rough quicky idea
  • debbielewis
    love the quirky idea. Enjoy your new home!
  • PRO
    Vikrant Sharma Homez
    I liked all the Good Ideas Above , but I guess its Human not to be satisfied with what you have but I love it and most would Agree with me it Has a Charm to It ,You can Try to Preserve it, do some Landscaping rather than Going on spending More money on it.
  • fampoula
    I should clarify. I don't hate the exterior of our home. I actually find it to be quite charming. What I'd like to do is update the exterior to play to its strengths and accentuate its cuteness.

    When I say I would like to "re-model" the exterior, what we'll probably do is re-shingle in the next 5 or so years with a black architectural shingle, or a more streamlined cedar shake. (The current shakes are very thick/rustic) and, ideally, remove the wrought iron in front and create some sort of covered entryway that fits with the style of the house.

    Love the red door and also like the idea of removing the side panels. This house was built in 1969. Any idea as to whether there would be brick under there, or how to find out?
  • michele1965
    Window boxes would look awesome on the second story windows. Throw in some lime green potato vines and red geraniums to match your soon-to-be red front door!
  • lesliemahler
    How about... paint the house the same/similar color as the roof. Remove shutters. Paint door red as suggested above. Window boxes up top as suggested above. If it's too plain add black shutters all around. Darling neighborhood - your house will bloom!
  • lefty47
    HI -- I am so glad you are not going to re-style the house exterior. There are to many of these houses from that time being distroyed. It's actually a mid century style house that is not favored today, and that's too bad because I think they are kind of cool looking. Yours is a very nice one in a nice setting. There is one thing I would like to add to what I said before. I think your house needs a nicer wider front walk to the door. Not a straight walk but a bit curvy and a little off from center. I see there is a sidewalk there already but it's a little too far right .
  • betsyweisberg
    Exterior · More Info
    here is a pix of a great update. It won't take much! Good luck!
  • PRO
    Mint Design
    I agree with Michelle1965 that window boxes would really add to the house. They can be deep and visually reduce the height of the mansard roof. When you speak of elongating the lower floor, I assume you mean visually adding height, not width, correct? If so you do not want to get rid of vertical features; they add height. It is the visually shortness that gives it the mushroom look. I would add taller foundation plantings as well, such as espalier on either side of the door and windows. You may also want to consider painting the brick as well as the white trim a different color so as to be more compatible with the roof. Hope you will post photos as you progress. :)
  • fampoula
    Thank you, Everyone, for the advice! Especially thank you to antipodesdesign for your sketch.

    I love the idea of the window boxes. I think it would draw the eye upward and look great, but I'm afraid it won't work. We've got crank-out windows throughout the house, and I also worry about watering and introducing repeated moisture to the cedar shakes... I have seen some great looking "fake" window box plants, though, so will definitely look into those.

    Betsy, I have that entryway picture saved in my ideabook and love it. That's exactly what we plan to do in the next several years. (Right now, the time frame is looking longer and longer...)

    Does anyone have any suggestions for light fixtures? And does everyone agree I should go with a cottage-type styling vs. traditional colonial?
  • houssaon
    I think you can achieve a big bang for your buck by changing the paint scheme.

    Change all the bright white to color similar to this:
    Covered trellis connector between Garage and Main House · More Info
    Or this example:
    Curved side porches with dappled sunlight · More Info
    Even this:
    Mount Curve Ave. Minneapolis, MN · More Info

    While these homes are not at all similar to your home in style, I think they show what beige or tan tone color rather than stark white can do combined with brick. Here is another example of trim color and the color of the garage doors (even though they are stained wood) might be a good tone for the front door:
    Exterior 2 · More Info

    Think about more earthy tone for the shutters, like this example: http://www.houzz.com/photos/877501/Guest-House-traditional-exterior-dallas
  • fife2
    Hey there - since you are focusing on the isnside - why not just remove those shutters, paint the entire bottom half a more natural color, like a grey, blue, green, something which does not stand out so much, then paint the trim the darkest shade of that color, keeping your door the shiny dark black. Especially painting those white things under the windows. This should give you a modulated look, and by painting the top windows a darker shade - will pull the eye upward AWAY from the bottom portion of your home.

    Just add some simple materials for now, like a lovely fire-red maple, a dark no fruiting plumb tree, a river birch - something with interesting color and bark - put a lawn light onto this, to again bring focus away from the home. I would then suggest some lighter toned landscape plantings - varigated grasses, ldifferent shaped hydrangeia like lace-caps, in different colors.

    And NUMBER ONE: Get rid of all that heavy landscaping, inlcuding that cedar tree! Replace with some groupings of taller, thinner bottomed plants like: 3 crepe myrtles planted together in a group -they grow TALL with beautiful light bark at the bottom? Too cold climate - try some beautiful lilacs - do well in cooler climates - smell great. You have a round sidewalk? Do some low level plantings in the apex of that walkway, in front of your door. This will pull the eye forward and away from the bottom of the house.

    Don't do anything to shorten the visual of the bottom. Underneath the windows - tulips, daffodils, allum, bright colors - in continual beds to each side of the house from the front door porch steps. With the taller plantings at the ends (like the crepe myrtles) how about some bright pink shrub roses at either end of these beds to balance out - 3-4 at each end. Fill in with Autum Ferns in abundance. Keeping everythng accross the front low, rich and lush?

    You want to draw the eye up and away from the bottom - with the concept of height - but you still need to anchor it so it does seem upside down - or floating because you have disquised it. Make sense? These are all relative in-expensive ideas until you can figure out what you really want to do. Loose the shutters, loose the white, leave the door - paint the upper trim - etc.

    I think it just might surprise you - how removing the heavy looking plant materiasl will change the entire face of the house. NOTHING with think, low bottom foliage.

    Good luck. let us know.
  • mrsrosie
    Hi, I made a comment on your other question as well. I think cottage-y is definitely the look this house is calling for. French Chateau's are definitely in keeping with a cottage look, again not needing to be too sweet. The picture betsyweisberg included is exactly what I was thinking when I made my other comment. Good luck!
  • rheum8
    When we were younger, we never had a lot of money leftover after our initial purchase of our new homes. However, we had youth and energy and believed in sweat-equity. I would suggest that you immediately remove the five shrubs that are right up against the front of the house. Take advantage of the natural light and views you may gain without them. (If you absolutely must dig in the dirt this year, consider buying or planting a dramatic basket for the porch.) Spend the fall and winter collecting landscape catalogs, and on-line sites for ideas. Who know what the previous owners may have planted that you won't see 'til the next growing season? Good luck, have fun, and CONGRATULATIONS on your new home!
  • fampoula
    Fife2, thank you so much. I love all of your suggestions. Rheum8, our position is just what you described. Thank you for the congratulations! We definitely want to remove the plantings in the front, but my husband is worried about taking up the bushes until we are ready to plant something new because he thinks their root systems help soak up and keep water away from the house. (Otherwise I would have ripped them out myself already!)
  • poeticmoma
    Taking out the trees, will not change the water situation... just make sure that you fill in the holes left after the shrub removal and that the pitch is adequate to move run-off away from the house. I would do this first thing as it will give you a clear understanding of the architecture of the house. As far as the walkway goes, it should be updated, yes, away from the house and more substantial. As the facade is symmetrical, the walkway should complement this and a curvaceous asymmetrical one just won't work. Perhaps a gracious quad or circle, like a formal herb garden, with boxwood and lavender just before you reach the front door - very welcoming. You could have smaller casual paths to the driveway. Lots of good suggestions. Don't add accessories at this point, you will make the house chotchka-fied! Clean it up. Yes, remove the shutters, they add vertical elements which will make the bottom appear taller, however, they slim the bottom down which adds to the mushroom effect. I would think a slightly lighter color than the roof will make the bottom appear a bit brighter and since it gets less light, you'll get a more monochromatic slate. Take photos of the house once the shrubs are out and print out light copies which you can drawn and color on. The post on Hollywood Regency has a few good ideas and some insight. Some sort of an arch above the front door, yet mounted on the roofing with large numbers....might work. Keep us posted and good luck.
  • PRO
    Custom Home Planning Center
    replace the front door with something like these: [houzz=
    No 2 · More Info
    ] The match the curves on the windows and the glass lets in light and welcomes the eye.
  • PRO
    Mint Design
    Window boxes need not be a water problem for your cedar shakes. The boxes should have a waterproof liner. I would definitely consider automatic drip irrigation however. Out swing windows should also not be a problem if you choose supple or forgiving upright plants as well as cascading ones. :)
  • larryhinkle
    im taking a different approach. Persoanlly I like the roof and thats what would attract me to buy that home....

    I see 2 things.

    1) all the trim and nonbrick/noroof areas are dull white. does nothing for the house

    2)What I think needs updating is the "pinky" brick. Thats what I would update it. Not usually a fan of painting brick but i think in this instance your house could pop. Im thinking either white (with different trim) or a great charcoal color

    what you also need is landacaping in the horseshoe area

    There is an upscale area in my city that built when these were popular and these homes are fairly common. They dont look dated at all and are usually the "drama" on otherwise boring streets.
  • tallgrassdesign
    Recently, we attended an open house of a similar home that had been remodeled. They replaced the windows in the formal living room and dining room with French doors. They were non-operating, but how often does one open the window in a dining room anyway? The French doors and the front door were painted dark charcoal gray, but the window trim on the second story was painted a lighter cream color which added more visual weight to the lower level.

    I would also suggest installing new landscaping. It looks like you have yews in the front now, but they look too squat. You need something very tall and upright to mask all those shingles, especially next to the front door. Visit a local nursery for suggestions. There are some fast growing narrow junipers that can reach 15 feet but are only 3 feet wide.

    It appears you lighting installed on both sides of the front door. I would replace these with very large black lanterns. Finally, when it comes time to replace the shingles, I would replace that window over the front door with somthing much smaller window and install a copper overhang for the front door.

    I think your home has a lot of potential. Good luck!
  • Madeline
    Hmmm, four months? How are things going? I never knew this was Hollywood Regency! I felt certain there was European, French ancestry in this design. Please bring us Houzzers up to date. I know I am curious, so probably are all of the people who gave you their opinions! It's interesting how many depended on simple modifications to the plantings. Thanks, madeline
  • victorianbungalowranch
    I say keep the groovy house numbers. I would consider building a brick or stone wall a ways out in front to make an parially enclosed couryard (depends on the setback requirements, but you are a long way from the street.)

    Just because it has shutters and a paneled door, doesn't make it a colonial. It is a Masard style house popular from about 1965-1980. They do have sort of modernized French (Second Empire) feel to them, but they will always look more modern. I would study hip houses of that period, including James Bond type locations (John Lautner did a number of groovy houses) and Post Modern and incorporate that, maybe with a touch of cottage/traditional. but in a stylized way.

    A good architect with an appreciation of this period and style could help. It will never be a colonial or a cottage, but it can be something special..

    It you change the shingle style, ti will look very different. Use a staggered cedar shake or architectural type with some texture to it if you don't go with the handsplit-type. You don't want it to look too smooth or too dark and heavy, because there is so much of it. May take some experimentation to find just the right finish.

    I think the brick is fine. Replacing the windows with full=lenth French doors is an option--actually that is how French doors were originally--really used more like casement windows that went to the ground.
  • fife2
    Hey - you do know - that by adding FRENCH drains along the base line of the house (you can do this yourselves) you can wick the water away from the house - yes? The do your plantings in FRONT of those drains - no one will see them - are you in a high water table area? Take OFF the bottom two layers of shakes, paint the base the darkest color of your trim - with Marine Paint? IF you are digging French Drains (water, sand and gravel) - go down a few more inches more towards the base of the house and paint this with marine paint as well - AFTER you wash it off with Clorox - just in case you have any fear of mold? Should ease your husband's fears. Then TEAR out all of that old heavy shubbery. Some beautiful Tuscan Cedars at the ends of the house would look nice - grouped in 3's - as the background at the corners - with your lighter plantings in front - like some crepe myrtles, River Birch - light and AIRY trees - to pull the eye UP? ONCE you totally amend your soil, making it light, and rich - it will not hold water (like Clay-ey hard pack) - as your husband seems to think - or get someone from a landscape design center when you go to look at plant material to explain this to him. Obviously - someone told him this years ago - and it has stuck - while not true - it is going to impede your progress in getting what needs to happen here done. I think French Drains around the base of the front is where you should start - and IF there are any problems this will definitely aleviate that issue. Check out This Old House on line for information on how to do this. Best Source ever! Luck :-)
  • fife2
    Hey - you do know - that by adding FRENCH drains along the base line of the house (you can do this yourselves) you can wick the water away from the house - yes? The do your plantings in FRONT of those drains - no one will see them - are you in a high water table area? Take OFF the bottom two layers of shakes, paint the base the darkest color of your trim - with Marine Paint? IF you are digging French Drains (water, sand and gravel) - go down a few more inches more towards the base of the house and paint this with marine paint as well - AFTER you wash it off with Clorox - just in case you have any fear of mold? Should ease your husband's fears. Then TEAR out all of that old heavy shubbery. Some beautiful Tuscan Cedars at the ends of the house would look nice - grouped in 3's - as the background at the corners - with your lighter plantings in front - like some crepe myrtles, River Birch - light and AIRY trees - to pull the eye UP? ONCE you totally amend your soil, making it light, and rich - it will not hold water (like Clay-ey hard pack) - as your husband seems to think - or get someone from a landscape design center when you go to look at plant material to explain this to him. Obviously - someone told him this years ago - and it has stuck - while not true - it is going to impede your progress in getting what needs to happen here done. I think French Drains around the base of the front is where you should start - and IF there are any problems this will definitely aleviate that issue. Check out This Old House on line for information on how to do this. Best Source ever! Luck :-)
  • victorianbungalowranch
    I have made my own French drains with landscape fabric and gravel, and with trash cans and pipes with holes drilled in them, lined or wraped in landscape fabric and filled with gravel. I ordered a yard of gravel from the local quarry for not much money, and bought a huge roll of fabric, and dug out all around the house and walkways. Was a lot of work (I hired some teen muscle to help, and some was dug out by a contractor when I replaced the steps) but it was worth it. Also installed pavers in the biggest problem areas, and limestone screening paths in others, but they require more weeding that I had hoped. Huge improvement though.
  • fampoula
    Hi Everyone, sorry for the lack of update! So, we ended up getting GRUBS in our backyard and lost half of our lawn, meaning our entire budget for the exterior (and then some) was blown on re-sodding. As a result, all of the front cosmetic changes have been put on hold. (Which, I'm kind of glad about because of all of the new, great suggestions we've gotten.) The light fixtures are the same, the house numbers the same, and the yews are still there.
    Before we put everything on hold, we met with three landscape designers. One recommended going really formal with the front to match the symmetry of the house and create a courtyard of sorts with boxwoods. I'm intrigued by that idea, but I'm hesitant to play too much to the "French" theme because, to me, this house is much more an American interpretation of a French house than traditional French. Another recommended a more playful take on French with French-style landscaping--bright colors throughout and even a French Lilac tree in front. (Very similar to I think what Fife2 is suggesting). I like that idea a lot more. Having some more knowledge, I now totally agree that the landscaping needs to be pulled down front (closer to the sidewalk), possibly including some hardscaping. I'm just not entirely sure how to do that. I also LOVE the idea of french doors in the front.
    Victorianbungalowranch, I agree that changing the shingles would really change the whole look of the house. I'm not sure what you mean by a "textured architectural shingle", though? Could you put up a link with an example? In addition to changing the shingles, I'd also really eventually like to pull up the roof line to make the house more proportionate.
  • victorianbungalowranch
    I incorporated some of the ideas of betsy and antipodesdesign and came up with these rendering, with and without a wall in front, with some more cottagey landscaping--soft bushes, flowers, grasses, with maybe a few strategetically placed potted plants. These changes soften the property and is similar to what I see next door, and will help make it appear more proportional, yet keep the 1080 flavor.

    The key to making it work is to keep it somewhat oversized and not too traditional. I put somple horizontal iron railings accross the openings of the top windows (they will be deeply recessed from the masard roof), and kept the glazing very big--don't go with lots of litle square mullions, and repeated the windows on the bottom, both the same width. The mullion style is called "cottage" but they are oversized.

    Then I pasted in the suggested entry. I think I would go a bit simplier with the detailing, not quite so traditional/Colonial, and it could be nice to add some sidelights to open up the front entry a bit and make it more welcoming, or change the doors to glass in proportion to the new windows..

    Then I tried adding a low masonry stone wall in front, roughly in the tones of the roof. This will visually elongated the facade. A fence or a wrought iron fence is also possible, but would relate to the house differently. A open lattice type concrete block with a cap, of the sort popular back then, is a possibility, and would be fairly inexpensive in comparison to stone. Be sure to build a proper foundatin though. Slightly raised pillars would be a possibilty on the corners. It would look best with some low shrubs or ground cover in the front mixed with some flowers, and the backside could be planted too.

    I would keep the natural shingle color on the roof and not go to black or charcoal grey--it will look very heavy that way, and the current contrast of textures is nice. Asphalt shingles will look very flat in comparison. There are some metal and other roofs that similate rough cut cedar shingles but the color will be less varied, and the texture will be more regular, and they can look sort of fakey.

    For now, I would get rid of the big bushes by the front entry, but keep the large one one the left and the two on the right. Then I would paint the doors a more welcoming color--could be a brick red type color or something more subdued, like a sort of bronze brown color, and add some looser foundation palnting away from the house. Then I would add either the portico, then the windows, and then the wall in stages as you can afford it. The roof will be a big expense, so that will take priority.

    I included your current picture for comparison, and what it would look like just the portico but not the windows. If you save them and view on your computer, the details will show up a lot better.
  • victorianbungalowranch
    Sorry to hear about the grubs. We had emergency furnace and plumbing plus a new roof, so no money left over for anything fun too. Oh well, first things first.

    Pulling up the roofline could be very expensive and you would have a hard time matching the brick. I actually think it might look even less porportionate because just raising a bit would cut the building right in half.

    The higher front entry makes a huge difference, even if you don't do anything else. That is the only place I would tear out the lower part of the roof, and if you do the longer windows. Not worth it, and takes away some of the home's uniqueness without much gain.

    I do like the walkway where it is if you don't do a wall or a fence. If you do a wall, it will look much better with some planting in front of it to soften it. I would plant for winter and fall interest as well. Houzz has some good articles on that.

    Architectural shingles just refers to a more expensive and dimensional class of shingles than your usual asphalt 30 years. Even 50 years are thicker and noticably have more texture. There are a lot of upscale choices but they can be pricey. I would really check out the roofer too before picking something a little different. Concrete, metal, synthetic slate and clay tile are also options. Some are very heavy and probably not suitable though.

    There are also steamed cedar shingles that look almost like thatch and specialty firms for that. I would really consult a specialty roofer to hash out the options. Keepiing with the hand split or machine cut cedar may be price competative after all.
  • fampoula
    Well, it’s a pretty minor update, but we finally got the two yews by the front door removed and I couldn't be happier. I think it definitely makes the house look taller, and I am even liking the shutters more. I also like that less attention is called to the wrought iron fence in front.

    Victorianbungalowranch, thank you so much for your renderings. I completely agree that the raised entryway makes such a huge difference without the expense of raising the roof line or other more drastic plans. I also love the idea of putting the low stone wall in front. It draws the eye toward the front and also balances out roof.

    So... questions. For the time being, I am not sure what to replace the yews with, if anything. Due to the arched walkway, there is actually only about 18 inches between the house and the cement. I have considered doing multi colored river rock gravel, or two tall, skinny urns maybe with boxwoods or something taller?

    In front of the wrought iron fence, I was thinking of doing a row of short-ish boxwoods, in front of that maybe some bulbs or perennials, and in front of that, some low-growing ground cover. Part of the reason our house looks a bit funny in our neighborhood is that the majority of the other houses are Victorian and have 5 or 6 steps leading up to them. Our house is pretty short and squat, although it is on a (very slight) incline. I was hoping that by doing taller plantings in the back, leading to shorter plantings in the front, it would create the illusion that our house is taller?
  • fampoula
    Ugh. I'm sorry, everyone. For some reason, I'm having problems posting my pictures. I will try again later.
  • fampoula
    No yews is good yews :-)
  • fampoula
    And from a little farther away
  • PRO
    Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch

    No comments for a couple years. Have you closed the debate? The door is still open so I have stepped in.

    I like what Betsy showed you, but you need to move the edge of the roof half way up to the upstairs window, can you do that. The mushroom would disappear.

    My only offering, since I can't tell where your property line is, consider a nice 3' high white picket fence with the carved pickets. Very decorative and it will separate your house and bring a smile to the viewers. Once you open the gate, you yell, "I'm home!"

    I expect you live on an alley, so take the bus to work and you can arrive back out front, with the newspaper under your arm, and the kids and dogs can run out to the gate, and yell, "Daddy's home, Daddy's home!" Or the husband can run out to greet the returning wife with a big hug. - Get the fence!!


    fampoula thanked Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch
  • fampoula

    Hi there! Thank you for your interest in our progress! We have had lots to do on the interior, so what I've done has been solely through landscaping.

    (I do think it is possible to raise the roof line since it extends below the first floor ceiling, but this would be a MAJOR project. My hope is to one day add an entryway similar to the one suggested by Betsy, and by doing so hopefully avoid having to alter the sidewalls of the roof).

    Using fife2's suggestions and victorianbungalowranch's renderings, I enlarged the planting beds in front and brought them forward. I think this helps bring the eye forward and lengthen the bottom of the house. We also let the shrubs to the far left and right of the foundation (at the ends of the house) (not clearly visible in this picture) grow tall, rather than continuing to lop off the tops. This, also, I think helps create more height.

    In the front bed, currently, there is a group of hardy hibiscus on the right, limelight hydrangea on the left, some crimson blooming peonies in front of those, and cranesbill 'rozanne' and creeping Jenny in the very front of the bed. I have been using annuals and divisions/transplants either received from others or moved from the backyard in order to experiment with colors, heights, etc. before doing anything more permanent (the large clump of foliage on the front left is nasturtium). I also planted some gladiator allium, Veronica, bearded iris, and salvia along the foundation this fall. When they bloom, we'll see how the purple looks against the orange/salmon brick.

    This Spring, my goal is to add some evergreens as the bed is completely barren once the perennials die back. My original plan was to add three boxwoods on either side of the front door to create the illusion of a center entry, and then 2 medium size (3-4 foot high) globe arborvitae on the far left and right sides of the bed (see drawing below--forgive the quality, this is the best I can do!). However, I've found that I like the look of having a "hedge" in front of the front door (top picture) in that it masks/covers the dated wrought iron scroll fence currently there. (Those are actually garlic chives that were planted by the prior owner that I let spread to experiment with, but I now desperately need to get rid of before they take over the bed.)

    Anyway, that is the current state of affairs! Any thoughts/opinions on the center entry look vs. the hedge are appreciated. Also, I'm looking for an alternative to boxwood, as it seems like a lot of people in our area have had issues with winter burn over the past 2 winters and I'd like to avoid having to put up a burlap shield. The front of the house faces south and there is no relief from the hot afternoon sun, so I would need something that is heat-tolerant.

    Thank you, everyone! If there is interest, I will post some pictures as things bloom.

  • fampoula

    Also, I am planning to paint the shutters a deep grey/blue color similar to this: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/temptation.

    I'd like to paint the door one or more shades lighter for some contrast.

  • greenfish1234
    I think those are real cedar shingles? If so do NOT replace w black architectural. Those are for those of us who can't afford cedar. Cute place!!
  • PRO
    Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch

    I am your fan, fam.

    Here are a few comments on your remarks this morning.

    a. The front bed is to die for, perennial-wise - what a great selection. Expect me to drop by for coffee on your new front terrace, this summer (see d.)

    b. Looking for a hedge to hide the iron scroll fence? Why not remove the fence? You can reuse it on the street side of your new hedge (see c.) or use it as a gateway on both sides of the front walk, before the plant bed.

    c. Looking for an evergreen hedge material? What could be better that the upright yews - Hatfield is a little neater and darker in color than the Hetzi, and place them on the street side of the plant bed - very neat and simple lines from the street, and a handsome background for your carefully chosen flowers.

    d. How about a little area of flagstone between the perennials and the walk, just inside the iron railing gateway and the yew hedge. The hedge will partially screen you from the street, while you have your morning coffee, while waiting for the school bus, or having a moment alone after your spouse has gone to work (or before you depart your garden for the corporate world.)

    Enjoy what you alone have created, with a little help from your friends.


    fampoula thanked Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch
  • greenfish1234
    We have garlic chive mania too. Give up. You will never dig it all out, and it seems to cause them to multiply. They are great in salads, and they die off once summer hits in earnest. I cover mine with a few layers of newspaper and then mulch to keep the beds reasonably clean. Enjoy :)
    fampoula thanked greenfish1234
  • sweetpea5372

    I envision your house eventually looking like this!

  • sweetpea5372

    OH, It isn't letting me load the photo. It is the French manor house addition in Westchester County, NY on Felhandler / Steeneken architects website

    fampoula thanked sweetpea5372
  • fampoula

    Thank you so much, Cascio!! Your encouragement means so much to me. Sometimes I feel great with what I've done, and sometimes I feel like there is just so much more to do. That said, I found this photo of what the front bed looked like when I first took over and before I enlarged it, and that made me think, "Wow. I HAVE done a lot!"

    **I was such a newbie when this photo was taken, that I actually had a horsetail weed growing in the right corner there as a focal point! Also, as you can see, I hadn't really grasped the concept of "scale" yet. :)

    As to (b) and (d) in your comment, I LOVE the idea of adding flagstone. I have been thinking and thinking about it ever since I read your comment! I have long lamented not having a porch, and the flagstone would be an amazing way to create an area for two chairs and possibly even a small table. What a great idea!

    As to (b), the fence is now rusting and needs to be re-painted so it is forcing the issue of whether or not to put money into painting it, or removing it altogether. I also love your ideas on how to re-use it. It could be quite pretty in front of a hedge or used elsewhere.

    Two questions for you if you would be so kind as to share a little more of your time:

    (1) What are your thoughts on adding the two globe arborvitae on the far left and right front of the bed? Looking at the photos from my last comments, I realize that I like the asymmetry of the beds contrasted with the symmetry of the house. What do you think about adding two different types of shrubs (maybe one arborvitae and one golden cypress*?) and placing them in slightly different places in the beds---one further forward and one further back so that they complement eachother, but are not completely symmetrical? Or, I could still do two globe arborvitae, but just place them slightly off-center with one another?

    *Have not looked at all into light requirements for golden cypress, so not sure if it would be proper in this hot, full sun, bed

    (2) For the yew hedge, I looked at the hatfield and hatzi yews, but noticed they grow relatively tall. I was thinking of something in the 3-4 foot range. I know it wouldn't offer the same privacy, but that is not too much of a concern to me. I would rather see more of the front door and house. Do you have any other suggestions on yews?

    Thank you so much, everyone, for your comments!

  • fampoula

    Sweet pea, I found the photo through Houzz. Love it! And especially love the canopy door. I wonder what type of shrubs they have under the windows...

    French Manor House Addition & Renovation · More Info

  • PRO
    Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch

    Fam is my fan, imagine.

    Here is my further advice, which you might put on the table next to the local advice from your plant material suppliers - do not just go to one garden center or nursery to seek your perfect front yard companions.

    a. First, please stay away from the arborvitae and cypress. They are not the quality you want in your outdoor room, right at your elbow. They are not long-lived and will start by losing their lower branches. These are part of your furniture, which you always keep neat and trim for your guests and family.

    b. I do not think you will be happy with anything golden year-round, only that band on your finger. If you want bright colors, use deciduous material not evergreen. Take a look at the colorful leucothoe though, but for out in the beds.

    c. There are dwarf spreading yews that will remain low, but, of course, grow horizontally. Any plant needs to develop new foliage to sustain life. So if growing beyond your desires, cut it back, with HAND CLIPPERS, please, not loppers or hedge shears. If you want the growth to be at point X, then cut it back a few inches further so the new seasonal growth can reach out to point X, where you want it. Or cut it back twice that far so it will take two growing seasons to reach your goal.

    d. Another way to handle your indecision is to purchase some planters that coordinate with your outdoor furniture in your outdoor room. Place these shrubs in the planters for a year or two while you decide where you wish to finally plant them, shifting them here and there, adding more as required to satisfy your need. Then plant them. Or.................................... you may become so enamored of your living furniture, you may want to keep them in the containers forever. You can do this, but not with the same pals. You can root prune them for a few years (as they are growing down there in balance with the top growth), but then will need to put them in the ground - I expect you have plenty of good needy locations for your old friends - or give them to the neighbor who has been salivating over them for years.

    e. Perhaps boxwood would be your best choice, as at all the grand estates around town and around the world. In spite of all the new introductions in the plant kingdom, they certainly stand the test of time as noble furniture in our outdoor rooms.

    f. Do not visit only one garden center or nursery, perhaps avoid all the discounts, and look for sage advice from an old pro - like your friend Joe Cascio - and shop for quality to last a lifetime, or until you change your mind or your outdoor room decor.

    g. A final note on the planter tubs or boxes. If they are double lined, two layers of material between the plant and the surrounding air, the double wall will slow evaporation of the soil and keep the roots cooler in summer.

    h. I lied, here is the final note. If you have decided where to plant these shrubs in the ground by your front "room", keep the planters where they have been arranged and fill them now with colorful plants: annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs. Don't forget to bring in fragrance, so you can save on the cologne. If you want thoughts on container mixes, let me know a website and I'll email you something I prepared for a houzz client who has a balcony in Bangkok.

    i. Another note, perhaps most important of all, involve your kids in every bit of work you do outside, no electronic devices allowed. (Except your cell phone to receive the calls from your neighbors wanting to be invited over for coffee in your new outdoor room.)

    Thanks for your confidence in my advice - it's free, and worth every penny of it.


  • marigonzalez02

    We have a similar style house and we also have no idea how to make the house look its best. We are getting new windows soon and will need to repaint once that is done. Not sure if to paint brick and siding all one color if to leave brick the way it is and paint the rest of the house. Re landscaping needs to happen but we are not there yet.

  • greenfish1234
    Mari, start a new thread. You will get lots of good advice. For starters: 1) remove vinyl/aluminum siding 2) check out this blog on proper shutter use as well as siding: http://www.oldhouseguy.com/shutters/ 3) don't paint brick. 4) consider spending some money on windows with an exterior profile (i.e. "Real" muntins). Your house will be adorable :)
  • jshearer2009

    love love love the 2nd one from victorianbungalow!!!!! changing sidewalk to front door makes a huge difference and adding wall gives whole different look!!! just my 2 cents! good luck!

  • celerygirl

    an old post

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