Brick Ranch Remodel

travis4710December 12, 2012

In the process of purchasing this home, so I thought I would post here to get some ideas for the exterior. What do you guys recommend to help the look of the house? Thanks in advance!

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I am a fan of hipped dormers, though, in this example, they would be purely for show. Is the house brick all the way around? You plan on expanding?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 12:10AM
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I recommend that you get used to and learn to appreciate ranch style. There really isn't anything "wrong" with the house itself other than the bright white (vinyl?) windows inflicted on it.

Some landscaping, and I don't mean just a row of foundation shrubs, but some actual curves and variation in height and material for the plant matter, will do wonders for making the home feel grounded to it's surroundings. Other than that, choose an earth tone for the trim, and an architectural shingle for the roof that resembles cedar shakes, and you have a great MCM vibe happening!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 7:30AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Great MCM lines! A bit of shrubbery is really all that's needed to give some curb appeal here.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Very nice, I really think all the mature trees at the back of the home give a million dollar view. I agree with the 2 posts voting for landscaping. A few strategically planted trees at the front elevation will balance the property as well. As for the false dormers, stay with what you have, this is a very nice ranch, work with what you have.

Get a few or many landscaping books, visit local nurseries, take a ride and look at other properties in your area, take a few pics of those you would like to have. Spend a few bucks, if you have any after a new purchase, on a designer. Not to take advantage of anyone but some big landscaping pro's will give you a few designs along with a quote. Take the design and not the quote.

We started an English garden 15 years ago, the cost for plants was zero! We got all the perennials from family, friends, some growing wild on local back roads and neighbours. Save for a few yards of topsoil every few years and some free fertilizer provided by the algae from the lake as well as homegrown compost all we do every spring now is water, weed a bit and watch for the beauty. The least expensive and most beautiful enhancement we have made for our place. I would love to post a pic if I knew how. Just got Windows 8 and it took me a month to set up email.

Buy the way, am always willing to spend other peoples money but not my own.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:16PM
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We have to replace the windows, so would you guys recommend a beige vinyl casement window? Also, would you make any of the windows bigger? The two windows on the left are the garage, the big one is the living room, round is the guest bath and the last one is the 3rd bedroom. And finally, would you bring the front door flush with the brick to gain space inside or leave it as is? I have also attached a pic of the back of the house. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:37PM
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If you brought the front door flush, you'd have to build a porch "covering". As it is now, your porch is covered by your main roof. I think you should leave it that way.

As for windows, I'd only make them bigger if I wanted to bring things up to egress code (if they weren't already). But, it isn't necessary.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 7:20PM
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I personally don't like casement windows, to many internal mechanisms that one can experience problems with down the road. As well cleaning can be an issue, less of an issue with a 1 floor plan. Double hung is my choice that can .be flipped in for cleaning.

Colour is a personal choice, you will have windows not matching the facia which is white. Not a big deal to match soffit and facia to the new whatever the choice. Not knowing the budget as well as what the interior trim colours are if you go with vinyl there may be a clash with the interior millwork. If you go with a higher end window with solid wood interior sashes and mullions you can stain or paint.

I would enlarge the 3 smaller windows on the front elevation, for sure. This will balance the front view well. While your at the change out the circular window right of the front door (closet?). Glass block is an option. The round window dates the place.

The front entrance could be closed in with floor to ceiling windows with full view door with upper and lower transoms. See They have dealers across the US as well as a few dealers in Ontario. Depending on what HVAC is in the front hall you may be able to remove the existing front door and open it up, but you will lose that vestibule which comes in handy during inclement weather.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Fori is not pleased

Yes to landscaping (check out the landscaping forum once you get some measurements and stuff).

The back is so fabulous it really makes the unassuming front perfect. I'd go with dark brownish windows, or something like on the sunroom in the back. They should sort of melt into the brick.

It's pretty super awesome! Congratulations!

Here is a link that might be useful: landscape design forum

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 12:42AM
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use this info to select energy
efficient windows. look for
the label, climate specific
solar heat gain coefficiets & uvalues
visible light & other info on label.

I think your house looks fine.
the back of the hosue is really nice.
to dress is up..landscape.
paint doors & trim.

congrats & best of luck.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 4:29PM
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How would you guys reconfigure this floor plan? Would like to open it up, but not sure on placement of different areas. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 8:44AM
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I think the exterior just needs better landscaping in front.

Inside, I would expand the kitchen into the den area and turn that misc. room into living space. I would probably reconfigure the MBR to be entered from the hall only, not through the dining room and expand the storage and bath there.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 10:57AM
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Where is your laundry?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 12:53PM
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The laundry area is in the basement. What do you think of turning the misc room into the kitchen and opening up the dining, den, kitchen and living room into one big area?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 11:00PM
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I think the lack of differentiation of that large of a space, and coming into the front door into essentially the entire public space of the house would be a big mistake.

It would be, going by the general measurements on the plan, a 900 square foot room, which I am assuming has an 8 foot ceiling. The proportions would be really bad, furniture arrangement would be almost impossible, and unless you had floor outlets and no rugs there would be no place to plug in any lamps or anything else except for the far reaches of the room. Structurally there is probably some load bearing in there too.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 11:16PM
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I wouldn't do what you suggest.

If it were me, I'd plan to make your MISC room into an entry space (you have acreage, what all is there? I grew up on a farm, so I value mudroom, laundry, back entry space.)

I'd move laundry upstairs, and let the downstairs be your misc/rec space.

and expand kitchen into Den, as was suggested before.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 11:44PM
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So the curved part at rear (looks really nice) is a screened porch accessible from den sliders?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Some questions that affect your house goals -
How many people? kids, pets, elderly?
What is the climate?
How is the drainage? Is the soil properly sloped away from the house?

I like the look of the house, very clean in front. It would be cool and bold to do a rectilinear garden design that builds on the straight lines and dimensions of the house/windows. Shine spotlights down the straight lines at night. Like interlocking Mondrian rectangles of stained cement patio, lawn, shrub, tall grass, sand, gravel, etc. What is low maintenance in your area? A toddler/dog play area framed in stepover height hedge? Punctuate with trellises the size of your windows placed at intervals for height but not too close to the house, and carrying roses or kiwis or virginia creeper for shade? Because a trellis can be rectangular, whereas small trees are mostly rounded. This presumes you bought the house because you like the clean rectangular look.
Would your family enjoy more outdoor space? a deck or screened porch or patio, or gazebo; whatever is comfortable in your climate.

The house looks great in a generic way, so the only question is to fit it to your needs. There is a lot of space out front that frames the house and distances it from the street, but doesn't look to be useful for daily living. (This speaks to my experience on a cramped lot, it may be irrelevant to you.)

I might put a detached covered rectangular patio out front along the right side of the yard, like a detached front porch at a right angle. A place for some chairs and a table, maybe a brick fireplace. It would make the place look more inviting, more friendly. If Zoning allows. That gives you a reason to have great pathways, a place to serve ice tea and enjoy the neighbors.

Do you want to shade the house to save money on cooling? Consider a rectilinear trellis for hops. Hops have a perennial crown and extensive roots, but get cut to the ground every year. So you get better sunlight in Spring, good shade in the really hot months, and then instant sunlight again when you cut them down.

Anyway, it's a lovely house. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 2:00PM
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To answer some questions...

My wife, myself, and our two year old daughter will occupy this house. We hope to have at least one more kid, so it does need to be kid friendly. The house sits on a 3 acre lot on a pretty quiet rural road, so both the front and back yards will be used by the kiddos.

The curved sunroom on the rear of the house is fully enclosed and is also climate controlled. This sunroom is one reason I'm considering moving the kitchen to the misc room. Once the kitchen is in the misc room, and the den becomes the dining area, you have a great spot for entertaining as well as room for a second dining table in the sunroom.

I agree that opening the middle section of the house up would leave a huge room, but I don't how else to make it more open and airy, and less 1970's ranchy.

Thanks for all the opinions and ideas so far, but lets hear more.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 10:50PM
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1970's ranchy is NOT a bad thing. It's very livable. Don't destroy the elements that make this home actually attractive by a remuddle.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 11:30PM
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Can you show where the sunroom access is, and how it affects the windows of the rooms at the back of the house? For instance, do kitchen windows look into the sunroom and bring in very little light? Does the sunroom darken the back of the house, or is the sun bright enough there that it does not? I see that the sunroom has a shingle - not a glass, roof. Can you mark on your room diagram how it affects the different windows? Or is it completely open to the rest of the house, if so, can you mark what walls are now open to it?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 1:18AM
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The sunroom starts roughly at the kitchen sink and extends to the entry door just past the 1/2 bath. It does shade the back a little, but it doesn't neccessarily make it dark.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:28AM
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When you replace the windows, would you consider going with dark frames? Right now the light window frames are intrusive and make the facade look choppy. Dark frames would disappear and make the home look sleeker.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Yes, when I replace the windows I plan on going with a brown or beige window. Would you guys stick with new casements or change to a double hung window?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 6:54PM
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Casements are more consistent with the style of the house. I strongly recommend dark brown, rather than beige.

We have casements -- Marvin in the remodeled part of the house and Pella in the "original" untouched part. One old window has gone goofy on us, but I think it will be a simple repair when we get around to it. We've had double-hung in previous homes (all predating 1935) and I liked them, too -- better air movement -- but they really wouldn't be right with the style of your home.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 12:12AM
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Definitely go with darker windows and facia. The white on a ranch just looks wrong to me. As for Double hung vs Casements. Our 1953 ranch (with most of the original wood sash) has a mix. 13 Double hungs, 10 casements, and two awning windows. Depending on sizes and rooms. I recall it was not uncommon to mix this way, but the choice should be whatever you prefer.

This post was edited by ctycdm on Mon, Dec 24, 12 at 16:19

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 3:42PM
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I have been looking at your layout and thinking about what you have been suggesting for ideas for your remodel. I have some questions and observations.

I can see why it seems attractive to put the kitchen in the "Misc" room, out of the way. It allows you the wide open space you crave. There are a few things to consider, though. First, most people are squeamish about having a half bath opening directly into their kitchen. Your's has a door that will open directly into the working part of the kitchen. Second, the "Misc" room is broken up with three doors, a staircase, and a half-bath. It leaves you with an L-shaped (plus a fridge space off the L) kitchen space that is adequate, but this house deserves more than that. You would be remodeling in order to DOWNGRADE the kitchen. That makes no sense to me. Third, any parent who is working in the kitchen is pretty much cut off from all the goings-on in the rest of the house. Any sounds from the bedrooms are very unlikely to reach there. The kids could get in a whole lot of trouble and the parent would never know. You cannot monitor the front door from this kitchen, either. You can easily get groceries in from the garage and you can monitor the basement and the left part of the back yard. A kitchen in the Misc room reminds me of kitchens in the 1930s - a necessary workplace that no one is supposed to see. Problem is, today we use the kitchen as the heart of the home.

Questions: Do you want people entering the home to see out the big windows in the current dining room, to see through the home and out the back? If you don't care about that, do you care if they see into the kitchen as they enter? How about if they see a tall counter, but not into the kitchen clutter?

Which, if any, of these walls are load-bearing? Foyer -to- living room, living room -to- kitchen, Kitchen -to- den?

Do you want the kitchen mess to be hidden from the dining room? Do you want a counter to eat at that will hide the kitchen from the dining area, but clutter up the dividing space between kitchen and dining room with bar stools? Instead, do you prefer a wall dividing the kitchen and formal dining area? Do you prefer purely casual dining where you can see the kitchen from the dining area? Do you want a small family table in the kitchen, then a formal dining room separate? What furniture do you want in a dining room? A table to seat how many? A small hutch? A big china cabinet? Both a cabinet and a server?

How far up from the floor does the window in the current dining room start? I am assuming it is a window and not a slider, am I correct?

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 1:25AM
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@nancy I'm not neccessarily trying to put the kitchen in the misc room to get it out of the way. It was the only place that made sense in regards to the flow of the house, since it is right next to the garage and easily accessible for bringing in groceries and such . Also, I would be removing the 1/2 bath and the wall between the den and misc room as well as relocating the stairs. This would give me a 12' x 16' area Leaving the kitchen in its current location, totally separates it fr om the living are of the house due to the wall layout.

The only load bearing wall is the kitchen to living room wall, which I plan on removing by placing a beam in the attic. However when I remove that wall, I do not have enough wall space for cabinets.

We are a very casual family so we have no desire for a formal dining room, probably just a bar top in the kitchen and a table to seat 4-6.

Sorry for the rambling, just trying to answer a few of your questions and convey some of my ideas. I have attached a pic of a kitchen that I think would work well in the misc room as well.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Hi Travis, and Merry Christmas!
Wow, you really have your planning well underway. That is a beautiful kitchen. If you want some expert opinions about the layout and materials, posting this in the Kitchens forum will get that for you.

I notice that the ceiling has been raised and follows the slope of the roof. My thoughts on making your 900 sq ft mega-room were that raising the ceiling in there would be the only way to make that feel right. I had a 30 ft long room in a ranch with 9 ft ceilings and in that long a space, the ceiling just seemed to loom overhead. Now that I see your kitchen ceiling plan, I am guessing that your plan is to raise the ceiling in there, too.

People do make modern kitchens with no overhead cabinets at all. I linked you to one below. It is in a home with lots of windows, as yours has in the back. See if this kind of design could work for you without having to move it to the back corner of the house.

The place I found this kitchen is in The Finished Kitchens Blog. This is where folks from the Garden Web's That Home Site Kitchen Forum have independently worked to archive all of our kitchens going back to the early 2000's.

The older kitchens, with a fantastic "FKB Categories" list that lets you search the kitchens based on an astounding number of categories, is in a link at the bottom of the page.

Here is a link that might be useful: Finished Kitchens Blog - a kitchen without upper cabinets

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 11:44AM
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