dutchmans barn??

blackcats13July 15, 2008

I love reading about the old houses and updates everyone is making here. I hope someone can help us out! We are buying this house. It's not a bungalow like we wanted (despite the listing saying it was), the front porch was enclosed and it has no character inside :( My mom said "oh! it's a dutchman's barn style!" I've never heard of that. We are going to paint it, but if anyone has curb appeal or style suggestions to make it nice, or info about this style I'd love to hear them. I know what to do with a bungalow, but not this. Thanks!


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Well, she's kinda close - it's more or less (quite a bit more less than more though :-)) a Dutch Colonial. That roof type is called a gambrel roof, or sometimes a Dutch gambrel, and is often used on barns, which is possibly why she merged the two phrases!

Since it has "no character inside" you've got a blank slate to work with. I'm sure one of the first things you're going to do inside is take down the dreary sheet paneling! :-) (I took the liberty of poking more through your Flickr album.)

Are the metal awnings absolutely required? Personally I'd take them off and put up thermal drapes/shades, blinds, or UV/heat-blocking film on the windows (contact a glass company) if heat gain must be controlled. JCPenney is having a good sale on energy-saving window coverings, although they have sales about every six to eight weeks anyway. The enormous awning on the enclosed porch gives me the mental image of a grimacing face with eyebrows lowered (windows make the eyes, steps the nose) and at the very least taking the awnings off the porch would wake up the facade and make the house feel more approachable and welcoming.

I think once it's a color other than light green that blends into the green plants and green lawn you'll have a lot more curb appeal - if you weren't painting it I would suggest planting plenty of brightly colored flowers and some really dark, taller evergreens, or something with color, flanking the front steps for contrast with the house color. Well, I'd suggest that anyway, you need height by the steps and under the windows, just the colors of the flowers might change. :-) (My previous house was a similar color and I used purple, white and yellow flowers and lots of really dark greenery.) What colors are you considering for painting? Since the houses on each side are pretty blah, one beige and one white, unless you have a HOA to deal with there's no reason why you couldn't do something fun and perky for a color to make your house stand out instead of fading into the line of tightly packed, virtually identical houses.

Too bad the front stairs look to be in really good shape, because I'd love to see them widened to get the door centered. ;-)

When/if you got around to it (low priority), trading out the wasp-waisted concrete front walk for something more interesting like pavers would look terrific. Until then, border plantings on both sides of it would draw the eye up toward the house. Again, I'd use something brightly colored to contrast with the green lawn.

There are some fantastic gardening forums here - you might want to look at the regional/climate forum for your area for specific plant recommendations.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 9:09AM
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Thank you for looking through the pics!! I'm glad your ideas seem in line with mine :) Here's what we are planning (which will take forever due to $$ of course).

1. The siding (according to inspector) is the cheapest ... composite? you can put up. We need to replace the badly deteriorated bottom 2 panels around the house, and finish where they put a window in upstairs. Then, clean it really well and paint it light grey with purple trim and stairs (nope, no HOA, can't abide them).

2. The awnings? Gone. I hate them. And there is a tree in front to help shade.

3. To the left of the front door are the only vinyl windows on the 1st floor. I would dearly love to replace with wood to match the originals (which are mostly in good shape!!) and get rid of the picture window. I need the crossbreeze more than the "view" of the city street!!

4. I want to do something with the door. Unfortunately it opens to a kind of mud room, with the real front door in there. Perfect place for an unseen break-in. The stairs are in good shape except the bottom one. However, we are playing with the idea of putting a small porch outside that mud room with the stairs coming off to the side under the other front windows. Depends on set-back requirements.

5. If we don't do the porch, or until we can afford to, I was thinking of terraced plantings (I think that's the right word). So a level built up next to the house (have to figure a way to protect siding), then a lower level... not sure how that would work, but I bet those purple and yellow flowers would be pretty! I 1st found this site through the gardening forums, but have been in an apt for awhile.

6. Need a small back deck that opens off the kitchen for grilling.

7. Then there is the boring stuff like replace the 8 (!!!!) layers of roofing very soon and replace the siding eventually (it's absolute junk)

1. Remove ALL wood paneling!
2. Upgrade plumbing.
3. The upstairs is an in-law arrangement. Gonna demo that and make it 3 bed + bath (and maybe tiny master bath).
4. Rip up carpet for hw underneath :D
5. Put small built-ins between living and dining room.
6. The kitchen we are stuck with until other things are done. I think we should paint it something crazy and fun in the meantime. The cabinets are dark wood and I dont know what to do about that. They are wood though, not laminate like the ancient counters and backsplash!

Apparently we will be working on this house until we die or get an inheritance! More suggestions and opinions are very welcome. (Although my man keeps saying 'honey, we haven't even closed yet!' LOL)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 10:35AM
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awww, it's cute! there are some of these in our neighborhood, 5 of them, all in a row. they all have open porches though. can you open all or half of the front mudroom rather than adding a front porch?
agree that the awnings must go.
just a hint from a bungalow remodeler...leave the carpet down til you're done with the renovating and possible plaster work (is there a good reason for the panelilng?)...it's hard to wait to see the floors but it will help to preserve them.
looks like you have an original clawfoot tub, hiding under some covering.
just from my experience, i would suggest awnings, roof, and plumbing first. then panel/paint/carpet removal.
i think it's actually better than a bungalow of the same size, because it has more than one bathroom and it actually has some closets!! kren

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 11:06AM
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Yep, there are a bunch of these on the block, all with lovely porches. Being in Chicago we really wanted a Chicago bungalow, but this really fits our space needs better, especially with the closets and bathrooms!

We are going to leave the carpet as long as we can stand it (in fact, I presented exactly that reason to him last night). Luckily, unlike many others we saw, this carpet is actually in decent shape. Good question about the paneling ... I hadn't thought about that.

What used to be the wonderful front porch is now half living room extension (the picture window side) and half mudroom (the door side). They really integrated it into the LR, so way too expensive (I assume) to put that exterior wall back. The other side...I'm not sure. Other pics I have, the floor and ceiling look like it might be from the porch, but not the walls (wood paneling again). I wonder if it would feel too closed off being on the side like it is? And too, I don't like the way the actual front door is kinda hidden from view a bit... Maybe I'll have DH put it together on photoshop so we can see what it looks like.

Oh, a clawfoot tub would be so wonderful, but I'm going to try not to get my hopes up. Not expecting too many of the good surprises like you get in bungalows!

Your 'order of operations' looks good, though we may have to do the exterior painting soon so DH can live with it! He didn't even really look at the house when we went to see it due 'ugly factor' and didn't want to offer until we 'painted' it in photoshop LOL

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 11:47AM
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I thought the kitchen looked like it was in pretty good shape. I wonder if removing the paneling will provide with some "clues" about where the orginal walls/doorways were? Too bad about turning the porch into part of the living room - it seems like they went to a lot of work for not much space. Was the MIL suite an old porch? Is there a separate enterance?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 1:39PM
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The kitchen is in decent shape which is why it's low on the list, I just don't like it ;) Everything is old and worn, but perfectly serviceable. Yes, they didn't get much space by enclosing the front, such a waste! I spoke with the neighbor when we were doing the inspection. She said PO said it was the biggest mistake she ever made with the house. As for the MIL suite, it's the whole upstairs. The back addition upstairs is enclosed but unfinished and that's where the door to the upstairs kitchen is. There is also a door by the front stairs that has a lock on it. So, yes, separate entrances, but inside the house, and no separate utilities. Just private space I guess. We'll make the kitchen and back porch into our master suite and rearrange the layout of the other 3 rooms to provide a hall and 2 bedrooms. At least, that's the plan!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 3:40PM
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i remember thinking that fake washed oak paneling with avocado green accents was the ugliest thing that you could find on a wall. imagine my surprise when i removed it to find water damaged plaster held together with remnants of the ugliest wallpaper i have ever seen!! i kept a piece for posterity, looked at it recently. yup still incredibly ugly as i remembered. don't worry it is all fixable. and the back of the paneling was so smooth we were able to use it as a subfloor for our kitchen linoleum. wishing you happy endings to your renovations! kren

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 12:24PM
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Oh, wow! Thanks for mentioning that about the damaged walls. We will definitely keep that in mind when thinking about what to do when, rather then just getting to the "I can't look at this anymore, tear it out and we'll finish later" stage!

We stopped by and looked at the outside again last night. There is a house a few doors down that has the enclosed front porch with a tiny wood deck and stairs in front of that which gave us an idea of how it would look. I think we will add something similar to our project list, and put a real front door on the front of the house, instead of in the mud room like it is now.

We close on Monday and I can't wait to get started! Although the month of August will be filled with less fun things like having someone go in and clean it (I am currently physically unable to), changing locks, and painting DD room. I've already read the garden forums for hours as well. I think everyone will be seeing a lot of me!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 11:03AM
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