Elevation Feedback!

lniaNovember 25, 2011

Hello Everyone,

I am fairly new to GardenWeb but have enjoyed reading and learning from old posts. As we are about to embark on building our own home, I know that I will be using this site to help in some of the decision making, given all the great advice I have been reading through...

Right now we are still working with the architect on the elevation and floor plan. We are getting close although we still have some things to figure out.

Right now I would like to share with you our elevation. I am attaching the link to 2 pictures- only difference is the top window. I would appreciate any overall feedback and if you have a preference for one or the other.

Thank you!!!


Here is a link that might be useful: Elevations

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Wow! Beautiful home! Visually, I like the arched window--however the square window makes much more economic & structural (i.e. less chance for leaks from roof or window issues) sense.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Thank you, my dream house! I didn't even consider any structural differences between the two windows. I also didn't point out because I didn't notice until I printed the two pictures out that the square elevation only has one "wing" and no stone along the bottom. I guess my husband asked to see some changes and I didn't realize it. Anyway, I think I like the look of the stone along the bottom and I would probably prefer no wings or 2 to none. We were thinking only one wing necessary (for
Leaving garbage out) but I think it looks off visually.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 7:04AM
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You have a lot going on here: Bay window, archtops, keystones, 'wings'.

I prefer the archtop over the entry, but I'd reduce the architechtural distractions (certainly the keystones). I'd like more coherence between the entry door and the window over it. Maybe you don't want such a heavy porch (the balusters). The entry door looks too narrow for the overhead window -- lacks equal mass. Skip the 'wings'.

Will any of the bottom stonework be visible after landscapting?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 10:47AM
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Yeah, i kind off think we have a lot going on as well. Didn't even consider landscaping covering the stone, regardless, I think we decided on stone over the one peak on the garage and perhaps a little below the bay window. We do want the barristers...part of the charm we think it creates for the home. Agreed on the door. We will do an extra wide single door. Thanks for the feedback chisue.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 11:16AM
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The semi-classical cornice returns seem out of place (or at least they are a distraction) on what is essentially a Tudor Revival house. The same goes for the semi-classical entry columns and decorative balustrades.

The second floor window heads are tight to the roof eave; they should be lower or the roof eave should be higher.

Are the window perimeters stone or manufactured masonry? If they are trimmed in wood they might need to be simplified.

The change in masonry wall materials should occur at the top of the foundation line if at all.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 2:25PM
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Thank you for your comments, Renovator8.

The trim around the windows will be limestone or manufactured masonry, not wood. We may also eliminate, depending on costs although I really like the look.

I will definitely speak with our architect about the 2nd floor windows.
THank you.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 3:39PM
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I don't understand what you're saying about having stone 'over the peak'. You wouldn't put 'heavy' over 'light', right? Where will you have stone on the other three elevations? What style windows do you plan for the other elevations?

How much width do you have for the entry door and sidelights?

Do you understand that both Renovator and I think ONE more restrained style would be more pleasing than such a mix?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 6:35PM
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I was referring to the stone on the one garage triangle/peak (sorry I know I am not using proper terminology). We definitely won't do stone all along the bottom. I have seen stone just below bay windows and thought I would have our architect draw it up that way for the next round, So stone just below bay window and over garage triangle.
We are thinking one single door, 96 in height by 42 width. We are thinking about no sidelights.

We will probably just do the limestone or manufactured stone to border the windows....no keystone...just solid border...

Thanks for all the good feedback!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 9:37PM
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I don't see a garage. It would help if you posted all of the elevations directly in the message window; the images on the photo site won't stay put on screen.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 8:11AM
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I'd like the greater 'weight' of a single 42" door.

We have three large archtops on our front elevation and a 42" wide archtop door within an archtop surround. We also used manufactured 'limestone' surrounds -- plain, flat rectangles, no keystones.

Our house is alternating sections of oversized cream brick and cream stucco, all around the house. You want to avoid stone *only* on the front of the house or you'll have a Hollywood-set look, with an elaborate front elevation, then nothing on the other three sides. Some development builders do this: Lovely brick front -- and vinyl sides and back, as though the house is only seen from one, head-on angle.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 1:21PM
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renovator, I have not had luck posting directly into the message field but I will try tonight because I will have access to different computer. It would help if I included the garage portion..
Chisue, do you know how much cheaper manufactured limestone is over the real thing? Any cons associated with the manufactured?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 4:09PM
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Pictures aren't the best but I finally figured out how to post directly into message....

I would prefer the arched center window to be below the roofline but when we do this, the window appears sunken. Need to talk to our architect about possibly lowering the columns/2nd level porch...Perhaps this would solve the issue.

By the way, your home sounds very nice! We like the idea of just solid door but thought the sidelights make it more convenient to see who is visiting. I guess that is what a peephole is for...

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 6:56AM
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I would ask the architect to show me a sample photo or perspective sketch of the kind of cornice return he is proposing. I doubt it will look much like the drawing unless there are no gutters.

As you know, I think these cornice returns look inappropriate on this style house but one thing is for sure they will be expensive to flash into the brickwork.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:04AM
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It seems to me that your architect is trying to combine the design elements of two very different popular historic house styles: Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival.

Here are some examples of the styles:

Tudor Revival

Colonial Revival

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:27AM
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Arched top makes a big difference in my mind. I think it looks better with it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 7:04PM
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Thanks for posting the 2 different styles, Renovator. There are certainly elements from both.

Thanks abdury. We are leaning slight arch...just trying to figure the height out now and if we want that window encroaching upon the roof....

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 7:58PM
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The two most popular home styles in the 20's and 30's were Tudor and Colonial Revival but they had little in common.

American Tudor did not copy buildings of the English Tudor period, it loosely copied buildings of the late Medieval period in England with the most common features being front facing gables, brick walls and narrow windows with multiple panes.

Colonial Revival emulated the early English and Dutch houses of the Atlantic seaboard. The Georgian and Adam styles are the most common prototypes with influences from Postmedieval English prototypes.

Both styles are eclectic because they combine historic elements from Colonial America and England but they were uniquely American.

The OP's elevations seem to have tried to combine elements of these familiar styles and some might find that interesting but I find it awkward and unsettling because the elements seem to be lifted from one source or the other and simply dropped into place with little attempt to make them fit together, an approach I fear has been fostered by computer home design programs that use the "Mr. Potatohead" approach. As you can tell I don't recommend it.

If I wanted to keep most of the features of this design, I would wrap the house in dark shingles and emulate the unusually forgiving and adaptable Shingle Style.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 9:06AM
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You do have a lot of things going on, but I like it.

I agree with your notes about lowering the window so that it too could have a border.

I would keep the garage window and the center window above the door with the curved top, but make all remaining windows square. This way those windows really would stand out and be a focal point.

Also, the two windows on either side of the front door, I would make them the same. In other words either both would be squared off, OR both would have the little roof thing.

I also like the stone all the way around. But, if you are going to put plantings, in the end you might not see it and you could save yourself some money by not doing the stone. We just went through the process of building our own house. We ended up putting the stone all along the bottom front and around to the side, but not the back. In the back we have a stone patio with a small sitting wall to break up the monotony.

Good luck and in the end it is your house so do what you love. Enjoy!!!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 10:03AM
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Do not like the whole entry way section, including window above--at all. It's a complete mishmash of styles with no real direction. Looks like a house made from "pick one from column A and one from column B and another from column C". The arched window is inappropriate. As are the balustrades on the mini balcony, the columns, and the mutton chops and bump out "wing" section. You'd do better to eliminate all of the above. Including the second floor window. Instead of a flat roof balcony over the entry, try a gabled entry, and you can maybe place a small (round? octagonal?) window in it's face as well as above the gable in the main house. You don't need to add in all of those inappropriate details to have a nice looking facade. It will scream McMansion rather than understated elegance. It's like putting 60 carats of cubic zirconia on a supporting actress. Overkill only looks desperate.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 12:00PM
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One of the mistakes being made in this thread is asking for design advice and only showing an elevation drawing. You know how far the twin gables and the larger gable on the left extend from the main house wall but no one else does. The arched window between the twin gables cannot be designed without knowing how the spring points of the arch intersect the gable eaves, etc.

It appears that this building is being designed in 2 dimensions so you need to stop and draw a perspective view or make a model. To continue in this approach will result in a house with unexpected proportions when viewed from different locations and roofing details that may cause serious maintenance problems in the future.

If your architect has not offered a perspective or model he/she is not doing their job well. Frankly, I'm curious to know his/her level of experience and training, not that it's any of my business, but the drawings look a bit amateurish to me and I am concerned. If you don't know what I mean, I can give you some examples of what architects are usually expected to provide for clients.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Amateur is right. An exterior isn't designed in a vacuum. It's appearance directly reflects the interior layout---and vice versa. Not only is the overall "style" dissonant, but it looks like it's being attempted to be "designed" and then the interior fit to the facade. I'm far from a style purist, but an eclectic traditional style isn't a collection of single features from every magazine cutout that appeals to you. You have to have some consistency in the choices. It's time for you to have a serious talk with your architect. He's either acting as a draftsman, not an architect, and merely translating what you're asking for into CAD, or else you aren't listening to his suggestions. Someone doesn't have a clear vision, and the other doesn't have the balls to tell them that.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 2:52PM
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These are just initial sketches, so no model or perspective view. We are close on the interior design from sketch perspective (i will share eventually) and architect used that as starting point and fact that we liked balustrades on balcony. Since we like the balcony, it made sense to have two peaks (at leAst from what i have seen in other homes). We have a bump out in the den, thus the bay window.
To be honest with you I am not familiar with the specifics of different elevation styles (thanks for the lesson renovator) just what I have visually liked in other homes. So yes, I guess my house right now is a combo house.
So, for you design experts, if I like the balcony, what do I eliminate so the house is more pure from design perspective? And any advice on that center window?

Thanks to all.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 9:22PM
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I understand the difficulty you are having. When so many things look beautiful, it is hard to have a strong vision. My recent reading has included the books listed below. I was able to get both from the local library on inter-library loan. I recommend them in the order listed. "Designing" covers the thought process for determining what you want both inside and outside your home. He does discuss good architecture, but many styles are presented without bias. The second book discusses exterior features mostly. The autor is a bit of a classical design purist (in my opinion) but it was great to see why some things don't look or feel right on an elevation - or the houses on your very street for that matter. Perhaps these books will give you a better feel for what you are looking for.

Designing Your Perfect House [Hardcover]
William J. Hirsch Jr. AIA

Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use & Avoid [Hardcover]
Marianne Cusato

I think your home has a lovely symmetry. Balancing window styles and minimizing the overall mass (or feel of mass) on the left side may improve things a bit. I am certainly no expert, though; just a person also at the design phase. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 11:22PM
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If your architect has not yet done a perspective ask him for the roof plan and post it so we can understand the relationship of the roof eaves. I strongly suspect there are drainage problems over the entrance portico. Also tell us if you are in snow country.

The photos below are similar in some ways to your basic idea but they do not create the same problems, not because they are true to an architectural style, but because they use eclectic elements with more balance and proportion.

The wood clad houses can be built of brick like yours (please omit the stone at the base, to me it is typical of suburban subdivision development, not custom architect design) but the introduction of stonework at the windows puts the style of the house decidedly in the late Medieval/Tudor Revival category so the wood )or neo-classical elements would take you dangerously close to the world of over-the-top eclecticism often called McMansions.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 8:32AM
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