Help with exterior!

lzhwongJanuary 30, 2013

Here is the exterior drawing of our house. The majority of the house will be hardiplank with brick and batten board accent. The columns will be stone. I was thinking of doing dark red brick with everything else being gray. The shutters and door will be navy blue. I'm not sure if it will be too much gray.

Any suggestions or input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

This post was edited by lzhwong on Thu, Jan 9, 14 at 14:15

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Here is the side view

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Well, for me, that seems like such a stark contrast...I just can't picture a dark red brick with grey, then a dark blue door. I would probably do a sandier colored brick to go with grey and the stone, and maybe a darker grey or mahogany wood door. Has your builder made a board for you of your choices? When we built, our builder did a little board with our roof shingles, brick, and pieces of trim so we could see how it would all look together. Do you have an inspiration pic to post?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:26PM
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An American Craftsman porch and door, a Colonial Revival facade and a Medieval French main roof with alternating dentils and brackets - I can see why you might have trouble finding the right cladding materials. A little of everything would be consistent.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:04PM
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I don't, (light) gray and blue is sorta patriotic, don't you think? Rule Brittania!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:56PM
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The front elevation reminds me of a gingerbread house, were the kids went a bit crazy with too many different candies. Renovator8 nailed (no pun intended) the description.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:10PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Take off 90% of the frou frou. Lose the gable over the entry. Lose the secondary gable on the right hand side and the dormer jutting out of the gable on the left. It's like a kid went through their mom's jewelry box and tried everything in it on. Bakelite bracelets with diamond drop earrings and a wooden necklace with a wide leather belt and a rhinestone tiara.

You get up in the morning every day and get dressed, and presumably don't go out of the house looking like you're colorblind or mixing stripes and polkadots and florals all in the same ensemble. Translate that skill to your home's facade.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Thank you for all of your input. I used Photoshop and removed the gable over the front door and removed all the dentil molding. Please help with materials. Right now, the entire garage is brick with a brick skirt. Should I replace the batten board with regular hardi plank? The front door will be 42'' door with no windows. Also, I was thinking of removing all the shutters and doing thick white trim around the windows. Thoughts?

I spent so much time fine tuning the inside of the house that I haven't spent much time on the exterior. We are getting close to finalizing our contract and specs and my husband is not pleased that I'm making these last minute changes. Thank you so much for all of your help. I certainly don't want our house looking like a gingerbread house.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:42PM
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one of my inspiration pics

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:49PM
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another inspiration pic with no shutters

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:50PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I'm not a fan of trapezoidal columns unless the house is complete arts & crafts...yours isn't so I'd go with straight-sided columns.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:02PM
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Just my opinion, so please don't be offended. But have you considered hardishingles or hardiplank lap siding rather than vertical hardipanels? I've seen a few homes with hardipanels and I find they look more like camps rather than homes. Here's links to a pics of all 3




    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:34PM
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The two inspiration photos shown are examples of current trends in neo-eclecticism.

The first is a folk victorian with the typical hipped main roof that developers like to build out of trusses and a front wall that is half masonry as if such a thing would even be possible in that era.

The second one is a Colonial Revival house dressed up with rake and eave brackets and tapered porch posts to look like a Craftsman.

Neither example is ugly but it is always unsettling to see a mixture of design elements that have such a strong identification with a particular period and culture in American history. What is ironic is that it would not take much to make these elements fit together and form a stronger design.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:16AM
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Renovator8: Can you please help me make these elements fit together to form a stronger design? What can I do? Thank you for your help!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:42AM
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Without the plan I can only speak in generalities and without knowing which elements you like most or what the site and the neighborhood is like I could only guess that the Shingle Style would accommodate many of these elements in an attractive whole. But I don't like to guess about something this important nor should you want me to.

IMO, the most common mistake homeowners and amateur designers make is to collect their favorite house parts and then try to make them fit together. That's certainly understandable because learning how to develop the parts together takes many years of study and practice and many who achieve that still can't do it well; half of my class in architecture school barely graduated and mercifully never practiced professionally.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 9:58AM
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Renovator8, having lived in New England for many years, I wouldn't call your last photo shingle style ... the real estate ad would probably say contemporary cape! You photo also seems to be a bit of a mix of styles!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 4:30PM
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chispa, if you believe the descriptions in real estate advertisements, then you and I must be true science fiction fans!

A Cape Cod does not have front gables and there's no such thing as a "contemporary" cape, except in the minds of those who write real estate ads. All of these people should be forced to attend architectural school and major in architectural history. It would be good for the participants and the faculty!

Shingle style is a very versatile syle which doesn't depend on decorative features and encloses rather complex shapes with a unified, single smooth wall surface (shingles). It is actually a very good architectural style for many of today's bulky, over inflated builder plans which give more attention to laundry rooms with cubbies and four-car garages than to exterior appearance.

The photo is a pretty good design, IMO. It's essentially a rather complex form unified by roof, wall (shingles) and some consistent trim. Thank God there's no stacked gables!

Just my milage--everyone else's may vary!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:07PM
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I have lived in New England for 55 years and I can tell you that an original Cape Cod Style house would have no front facing or cross gable, no dormers, no ganged windows, no porch, no round windows, no double door or sidelights, no classical columns and rarely shingles. However, those features are all characteristic of the Shingle Style.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1883 Shingle Style house in Newport RI

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 20:00

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:58PM
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This is a true Cape Cod Style house

Shingles were sometimes used on the sides and rear but the front was usually clapboards

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 19:37

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Historical architectural styles may have characteristic elements that identify them but they were not created by "pulling them off the shelf" and assembling them; they were a response to changes in our culture that caused designers to look back or, less often, forward for inspiration. The use of classical elements became popular when the study of classical cultures became popular and this happened multiple times thanks to the work of classical archeologists and historians. Some later styles were responses to the excesses of the previously popular styles so much so that it is impossible to understand the newer styles without understanding the preceding styles. To borrow or adapt a style it is important to know what the designers and their clients were thinking.

Speaking of these styles only in terms of their primary characteristics is like limiting the discussion of medicine to observed symptoms. To understand an architectural style (and art in general) it is necessary to understand the culture in which it developed and who the major advocates were and look at what they did or as much of it as has survived.

It is rare to find a real estate agent or a buyer who knows much about architecture. Buying houses is a serious business and there are many issues more immediately important than style as long as the buyer likes what he/she sees. When I bought my house it was advertised in the newspaper as a "White Victorian" presumably because it was painted white and built in 1891. In fact, it is an early example of the Colonial Revival style, intended to be a refreshing change from the rambling complexity of the late Victorian styles. It represented pride in our national heritage with classical detailing thrown in to reflect our new national sophistication and power. I found a watercolor rendering of my house in the 1892 Architect's Supplement of the Scientific American and restored it to the original off-yellow with white trim.

The Shingle Style is unique in that it incorporates something from several styles: the late Victorian Queen Anne style, the early Colonial Revival style and the Arts & Crafts/Craftsman style. In fact, the Shingle Style was considered to be one or the other of these styles until the late 50's when Vincent Scully wrote about it and gave it a name. This style was championed by H.H. Richardson, Sanford White (of McKim Meade and White), William Ralph Emerson (cousin of Waldo) and Frank Lloyd Wright.

As modern homeowners seek a design style that has open, multi-use family spaces, accommodates larger floor areas and volumes without being ungainly, and has an understated sense of tradition and sophistication, they are slowly turning to the Shingle Style instead of the currently popular developer neo-eclectic styles consisting primarily of large steeply hipped roofs filled with trusses, front facing overlapping unoccupied gables, oddly proportioned porches/porticos and abbreviated/mock classical detailing. To anyone who knows where these ideas came from this design style is a caricature of architectural history, as if the French had decided to emulate the British, as if those who revered the culture of ancient Greece had never learned to shape wood or stone.

The challenge in using the Shingle Style for modern families is to scale it down and yet retain the grandness of the style. I've been working on it and getting close to several solutions. The first example I posted is a good example of a successful adaptation but unfortunately I don't know the designer.

Below is an elevation drawing and photo of a renovation and a small addition I did for a William Ralph Emerson house in Brookline, MA.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:51AM
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