Please help spruce up our front elevation.

mebke33July 18, 2012

We will be starting construction on our home soon. I'm concerned that the front elevation does not have any character. We are not going for any particular look, but don't want it to be too boring. We will be using cultured stone veneer & CertainTeed Weatherboards. We have been looking at this over and over but are unable to pinpoint any changes we could make. Thanks for any help.

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Just a quick look at it...
sidelights/transom on the front door
arch window on the gable (perhaps the same arch as the porch)
steeper pitch on roofline?
Create another gable that encompasses/emphasizes the front door

Hire a landscape architect/designer - plants can make the biggest difference...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 3:51PM
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How about making the columns more interesting/substantial? Perhaps brick on the bottom and painted on the top. Also, since your garage doors are part of your front elevation, you could make your house more interesting with the color or style (ie adding windows or interesting hardware) of garage door you choose.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think you should get the book (at the library or buy it) "what not to build" which talks a lot about exterior home design. I think you have a lot of materials on the exterior which is too many....don't do the shutters...they don't belong and are too small. There just seems to be too much brick.

Also, the first thing you see is all the garage doors when the front door should be the most prominent element of the front facade. I would do what I could to minimize the garage doors (paint them to match ... maybe not brick the large gable) and emphasize the front door by boosting the trim and making the porch more prominent.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 6:03PM
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I agree that the garage is taking over here. I know a lot of people build this way but I do not like to see the garage as the main front focus on the house. But I hate garages so much we are not even building one until we can afford to do a detached with a mother in law. Anyway to swing the driveway around to the side and have the garage entry there?

It is not really your style with the brick I don't think but we are doing a long front, one level house too and we are using two shed dormers to mix it up and give character.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:22PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Eliminate the brick at the bottom. It's inappropriate. Instead, choose one of the bumpouts to brick entirely, front and sides. That is a much more cohesive look. Eliminate the shutters and put the money into larger, taller windows.

I'm assuming that this lot is too narrow to do a side load garage, but the large gable over the double door and then the small secondary door pulled back gives the impression that the home is all about that double garage. I can barely find the entry. I'd suggest completely redesigning the garage section to place the double garage as the recessed one , with a gable entry and only the single to be projecting forward as part of a nested gable. That is, if you can't do a side load here.

I'd also eliminate the gabled bumpout to the left in favor of putting it above the entry to focus the eye on the entry. Or shift the small gable to be above the other window, and put a larger, taller, gabled entry in the center of the home. As I mentioned, with it recessed like that, it's not at all prominent enough.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:26PM
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I'm always hesitant to post a picture of my house but it's similar to yours and we used certain teed siding.

We did follow our architects plan to the letter so this pic might give you some ideas for your own house.

I know folks--too many gables, bad shutters and troublesome valleys.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 9:41PM
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We started on a narrow residential lot and have now moved to 3 acres. For this reason our plan was initially switched to a front garage. I would prefer a side garage but for some reason my wife wants the front garage. Here are some of my thoughts towards making the switch to the side garage. My concern is that with the side garage the front of the garage will be about 15 feet in front of the front edge of the porch. Will this look like the right side of the house is protruding forward too much. I'm including some pictures that our plan was based off of that have the side entry garage that would match ours if we changed. This would also greatly simplify our roof layout. I've also included a picture of those changes with the new lines in pink. This roof pic is not to scale in terms of how far the garage would come forward. I would like to just switch the garage to a side entry, eliminating the bump out for the 3rd stall of the original plan, and hope it doesn't stick forward too far. Any thoughts.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:13PM
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While the side entry is certainly better looking from the front, and 15 feet isn't too far for it to project, there's something else to consider:

Where will guests park? With the side entry, if they park in front of the garage, their temptation will be to use that door to its left, which I assume is to a mudroom or the kitchen. Your front door will go to waste. Will you provide parking for them close to the front door?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 8:32PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Just some random thoughts for you.

In your first pic, there is way too much roof and it is overwhelming the house. The 2nd pic looks so much better with the lower roof.

Is there anyway to compromise and put the 2 car garage to the front and the one car garage on the side? I can relate as we chose to do just that. Mainly because having the garage in the front shortens the driveway which is great for winter and it makes the front door used by guests as they know where to go. Most houses with side garage doors do end up with guests entering the garage...many houses around here don't even bother putting a sidewalk to the front door. The exception is where there is a circular drive that people can park in and then they use the front door. But the risk with that is that people leave cars there and it ends up looking like a car ad.

We made a prominent gable and stoned it and then bumped out the entry porch even more to make sure the front door was outstanding and then blended the garage in with the rest of the style of the house with the dark doors receding. The 3rd garage we were able to build under the house and hid it with a garage door that looks like french doors.

(we've since painted the french porte garage door out to match the rest of the trim....)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 9:46AM
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The original plan is much better from a visual perspective. The changes that you made took away from it's look. Change it back. Including making the garage a side load. With 3 acres, it should be a no brainer that you have room for it, and it's a 1000 times better look than a front load.

Annie's garage is about as attractive as a front garage gets, so notice what she's done here. She's used the character doors and the garage itself is pulled back from the plane of the house itself to minimize it. It's look harmonizes with the home. It looks like a part of the home. Yours uses standard doors and is forward of the home like Jay Leno's chin. It looks like it was planned first and the home was an afterthought. If your wife insists on a front load at least do those changes to minimize it's look.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 11:40AM
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Nice House Annie. I am going a bit off topic but what colors did you use for the exterior and what type of stone? My house is similar in materials. We break ground in 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 3:49PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

This is our retirement home so we wanted as low maintenance as possible. We used certainteed cedar impressions vinyl siding in natural clay. All the trim is azek.

The stone was from, but it looks like they've changed the names of the stone looks something like this one which they now call Boston Blend. This stuff is real new england field stone which is then sawed thin to make a veneer. This is not molded manmade stone. Note what is critical when stoning the house is the size of the joints. It's a lot more expensive as it's a lot more work, but thin joints got me the look I wanted.

We also felt strongly about the stone being appropriate to the geography. We are in New England and the idea of some kind of red arizona rock on the front of our house didn't make sense, especially since we still have the 200 year old barn and the outhouse!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 4:25PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Thanks, greendesigns.

Also note that the roofline of the garage is lower than the rest of the house too, helping to diminish its prominence.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 4:30PM
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Thanks Annie...the close up picks helps me see the color better. We are doing painted hardie. Need to find out from builder where we are getting the stone. This helps!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Thank you for all of the suggestions. We have switched to the side entry garage and feel this will greatly improve the front elevation. Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:24PM
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I would get rid of the brick because the house is too low and modest to be masonry clad ... It is really a cottage so it should be unfinished cedar shingled with no corner boards. A heavily laminated asphalt shingle would give texture to the otherwise plain roof.

Please don' t be offended but this is a job for a professional designer. Whatever you spend for one would reap great benefit in appearance and resale value.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 11:23AM
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