Need ideas for exterior modifications to our 1950s ranch!

pinkdaisy22April 2, 2013

So this is the 1957 brick ranch that we are in the process of buying. We are budgeting quite a bit towards renovations, since it's had the same owner since it was built and needs a lot of updating!

The one thing we're totally stuck on, however, is how to update the exterior. I hate the red garage door and trim, and I hate the giant bushes. But I don't know what to do instead. Some of ideas so far include...
- New garage door? What style? Or just paint the existing one? But what color?
- What color should the trim be? White? Or would that blend with the cream-colored brick too much? Taupe? Or would that be too blah?
- What to do with the area currently occupied by giant bushes? Just replace with new landscaping? Or jazz it up more somehow?

I need help! We'd really appreciate any ideas or advice.

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I see that all the gutters and soffits are the same iron ore red. To change it all to change colour isn't a great use of resources. I would spray paint everything to save $$$. The window trim is the same iron oxide red. If they are original windows you should be replacing them asap. If not they are most likely wood and can paint them for now. Replace the storm door with a full view door showing off the new entrance door you will be installing.

As for the bushes, I love them.

Colour of course is an objective choice, somebody chose that rust red. I would not choose white, but then again I love the shrubs. You can email them to me when you rip them out.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:59AM
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You should consider posting on the Home Decorating forum. Some very talented folks over there who have helped others with curb appeal issues.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 6:45PM
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I don't hate the red. It's not far off from the Cherokee Red that was FLW's signature color for floors and some trims. And your house has a FLW vibe to it, too, with the simple, low lines and the light brick. I would keep the red, but I would paint the garage door to blend in with the brick. Maybe get rid of the country-style storm/screen door -- if that's a vintage front door, keep it. If not, and it's some sort of fiberglass raised-panel thing, consider something like what Crestview Doors offers.

Here is a link that might be useful: FLW Cherokee Red

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:17PM
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What jakabedy said. The red along the roof line enhances the roof color. The red garage door: paint it the same cream as the brick and paint the downspouts too. Another option would be to pick a medium taupe color that compliments the brick and paint the window trim and garage that color.

I don't like the bushes and (sorry SC) I would have them ripped out. Then I would post a picture on the GardenWeb, Landscape design forum and ask for help. Make sure you give them a front view from the street as well. There are some very talented landscapers on that forum. It is going to be a great home!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Wouldn't down spouts that didn't match soffits and gutters be odd?

FLW, can't we just take a bit of time and type Frank Lloyd Wright? I'm on a bit of a acronym protest. I guess these standard internet acronyms have been accepted even in everyday speech but FLW?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:10AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Paint the garage door the house's body color and then STOP. There's a lot of charm already present, and most of what's there actually does work with the actual nature of the home. Don't get in a hurry to do something just because you want to change something. You're not going to take this home and make it into something it's not, and you shouldn't even try. Learn to love what it is and work with what it is.

And yeah, I like some of the "mature" landscaping, but a little of the hacked to death hedge look goes a long way. Looks like they tried to keep something that really wants to be 20 foot high at 3 foot high and it didn't really help either the plants or the house. (A lesson to be learned about accepting the basic nature of what a thing is. If a holly wants to be 20 feet high, it's a lot of work to keep it at 3 feet, and it ends up looking awkward and unnatural.)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:06PM
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Those shrubs should go asap. They are far too large for the spot and that's why they now constitute a Crime Against Horticulture.

I really love your garage door- it has character and suits the front of the house.

You must get rid of the red if you hate it. Is the whole front brick? I can't tell from the photo. Is the brick painted now? I would probably paint the trim something like Dunn Edward's "Weathered Wood" or just a bit lighter in the same color, but it's hard to tell if that might not make the cream look too pinkish.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 1:58AM
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THANK YOU so much to everyone who responded so far! Yes, the windows are original, and yes they will be replaced. Definitely planning on a glass door to take the place of the storm door as well.

The whole house is cream-colored brick. Not painted. Thanks for the ideas about the trim. I'm still going back and forth about it, but I like the idea of painting the garage door to make it blend better with the brick. As for the rest of the trim -- not sure yet, but I just can't leave it red. It's my least favorite color!

I'll definitely post on the landscape forum when the time comes. Thankfully my mom is a landscaping wiz, so she'll be helping me in that department too!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 7:56PM
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Just remember that your roof is there, and from a distance, it becomes the second largest surface area your house has. And it is red. Well, it has red in it. That is why some of us want your trim to remain red, I think. The roof goes so very well with the tone of the brick and the red trim just ties it all together. You are very lucky in having the roof and the brick complement each other so well. I was driving around a lot today, and we live in an area north of Detroit with a lot of these light brick ranch homes. I cannot tell you how many I saw today that have a creamy brick with that white shingle roof with gray undertones I felt like hitting a loud buzzer like in a game show when you give a wrong answer. I am noticing roofs now because we had to replace ours in the middle of winter and I am still in the "did I choose the right color?" mode. Whomever chose those roofs was colorblind. It would be driving me batty to live in one of those houses.

But you, your previous owners got it right. They have a matching roof that adds color and interest to a blah uniform brick. So you don't like the trim color. That is okay, but how about considering a DIFFERENT red? If this rusty red is dated, how about cranberry? I have a cranberry screen door from Pella that is just beautiful. It is pulling my house out of the blah brown brick we are stuck with. The door behind it is supposed to be the same color, but it is really more of a deep red. It needs repainting due to construction work it had to live through, so I am going to try to match the paint to the Pella cranberry red on the storm door. It will brighten it and draw the eye.

I fully understand not wanting the garage door to compete with the house door for attention. I agree that painting it to match the brick is your best bet.

I tore out all of the mature circa 1978 bushes my first spring in our house. Ones that were worth saving got transplanted to the back yard. I have a lilac and two other pretty bushes we salvaged from the front. We kept the huge umbrella-shaped Japanese Maple that spends each spring the same color as my storm door, and I made a curvy bed that extends 2/3 the way to the sidewalk and filled it with mostly perennials. Half the bed is in shade, so, luckily, I had experience with shade gardening from my previous house.

You may find that a Japanese Maple is a good choice for one of your plantings. You need to give information about your zone and what direction your house faces for better suggestions for what to plant where.

Your house could be right in my neighborhood, it looks like so many houses around here (except that a non-colorblind person chose the roof color).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:57PM
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Actually the roof isn't reddish, although I can see now that it sort of looks that way in this photo. (The cream brick even looks more pink here than it really is.) The roof is really just a taupey brown. Thanks for the food-for-thought, though!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Great! If the roof is brown, you have a world of colors to choose from. In that case, I would chose a color for the trim and then paint the garage door that same color. The house door can then be another color to bring attention and help it stand out. Do you want to paint your trim every several years, or are you wanting to cover the trim with vinyl and aluminum? That is the first question you have to decide. The second choice greatly narrows your color choices. If you decide on paint, Chose a color family (like dark taupes or bronzes or ivory or hunter greens or turquoise...) and get paint samples at the local paint stores and paint some poster boards. You just live with them next to the house and roof on non-rainy days and see what you like. I once painted stripes of color on the wood of a house we were going to side. Neighbors walking by were asked to vote!

Are you gardeners? Are you interested in taking care of annual flowers (water once or twice a day, fertilize occasionally, keep weed-free), or learning about perennials or bulbs? If you want to learn, you can actually make a garden bed that always has either a bulb or perennial in bloom. Or, you could go low-maintenance with shrubs and mulch. Again, your zone and your house's orientation (NSEW) is needed for anyone to give you advice on plants.

I am with those who think that your bushes are way too old and overgrown. Maybe you can keep one or two that are green all the way to the bottom and don't look all shaved down. Use those as a backdrop and go from there.

Are you interested in putting in any hardscape? If the window next to the door does not come down too low, it might look nice to have a bench there. Is there a concrete slab area behind the bushes there? if yes, you can use containers to add colorful annuals. If you want to garden, you can make garden beds in front of the front door area. Little fences or a raised bed made with landscaping stone are all options.

Over where the room comes out further than the porch, there is a nice bush near the corner that may be in good enough shape to keep. Not the one by the downspout, the one in the front. (I would remove all of the bushes to the left of that one.) If there is a matching bush in good condition on the other side of that room, I might leave them both, but remove the ones in the middle, so the other two have room. You might be able to put a trellis under the window and train a flowering vine to spread side-to-side and fill some of that space on the wall. A few low plants around the tall bushes and in front of the vine, and you are done in that area.

With a taupe roof and creamy brick, you have a pallatte limited only by your wallet, skills, and imagination!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 3:02PM
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