How to update the facade of our boring 70's ranch?

decoratingditzJuly 26, 2010

I'm a longtime lurker who is fascinated with the style of all you decorating divas!

The front of my home needs some updating and I finally have found the courage to post photos.

Here's my background:

I'm a country cottage-type "girl" who prefers a cute cottage in the woods (which is exactly what I had before marrying.) DH is a city guy with no particular style but he loves to be up in the clouds. When we purchased our home 25 years ago I swore I would never live in a boring high-ranch. But all the newer homes back then were high ranches (we're in the Northeast). So I gave in when DH found a home in wonderful neighborhood. At least the ranch was a bit different; it had a gambrel-style roof (it reminded me of a barn) and beautiful cedar shakes.

As the years went by we needed to replace the cedar shakes; DH convinced me to go with vinyl "that looked like cedar". We selected Alcoa's Lake Forest Premier in American Walnut (I think that's the color). That wasn't enough of a "cedar look" so I "painted" our fiberglass front door with cedar stain. We also used white trim for the soffits and for the replacement windows.

So what to do? I hate the stark contrast of the white trim and the brown siding. Would adding shutters and/or window boxes offset the color contrast? We can't afford to replace all the white soffits and fascia but could possibly paint the window trim.

I did a little photoshopping... what do you think? Any other ideas would truly be appreciated.

This is the original house. (Please ignore the weeds; it was either weed the garden to take photos. The weeds won.)

In this photo I added shutters and door painted with BM Deep Royal. Also white window boxes.

In this photo I imagined the white window trim was also "painted" with stain. (Love that cedar look!)

In this photo I painted the window trim dark brown. Again used the BM Royal Blue door but with loden window boxes. No shutters.

This is a similar photo but using that yummy BM Cottage Red for the door. (I love the color but does it work with my house?)

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I am fan of a red door so I like the last one. But I liked the pics with the shutters so maybe add them, the darker ones to the the last pictures?

I love the flowers, but in reality, would they really be in bloom year round? Could you count on them to add color? Unless they were fake. : ) Which is possible, I guess.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:36PM
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I also like the idea of a bright red, welcoming front door. Some additional landscaping around the front entrance path and toward the street could add a LOT. You said you like natural settings, so why not create more of that? How about a beautiful sugar maple that turns a striking bright orange in the fall? Also choose some flowering perennials, balancing their bloom times so something is always in color? Add the texture of natural mulch. Think about adding evergreens for visual interest in the winter months, or river birch trees for their beautiful bark. If you enjoy gardening, you can do a lot of the work yourself. By the way, we have BM Cottage Red on our front door, and it's a great color.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:02PM
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The first photo update with the dark shutters is very charming. The white flower boxes helps offset the white trim. It looks good with the matching door, but have you tried a shade lighter for the door?

Agree with the other posters about landscaping.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:19PM
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I would paint the window framing brown but skip the shutters and window boxes.

I like a contrasting door. Your house is a shade of brown that I would have a difficult time finding the right contrast color for. It is showing sort of pink-brown on my screen. One thought was yellow, but not if the brown really has pink undertones.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:36PM
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Excellent virtuals! :)

I do like the red door!! -- BUT please could you try a virtual with the red door AND white surrounding trim. With the white windows/shutters and windowboxes.

I do vote for the shutters and windowboxes. Just not sure if I like them in the darker color or in white.

Just for discussion -- I wonder if black shutters and door would work? Here at Rosemary Cottage -- the front door is high-gloss black!

Consider switching to a MUCH bigger lantern above the door. And perhaps a lantern with the light/bulb hanging down over a door?!

And consider adding a full-length (the width of the door and frame and side window) horizontal piece of wood trim above the door -- to add some visual height -- to the whole door area.

Just some thoughts! I do agree with the idea of adding more planting around the whole front facade -- and maybe a tree (and surrounding garden) added down front of the left-hand side of the house. The tree's height would add visual balance to the scene -- by balancing the height of the right-hand gable.

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:54PM
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I second the larger lantern or light fixture over the front entry.

If you do use shutters, skip them over the picture window, they are obviously not "real" then since they would never cover it. And if you could, hang them the correct way: the louvers should face UP when the are at each side of the window, so that they would be DOWN when closed over the window. Almost everyone who hangs non-operational shutters does it upside down and the plastic/composite ones are Made upside down.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 4:07PM
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The last two mockups you posted make your house look so much better. It's the combination of the darker trim color and the more modern trim instead of shutters.

I'm not liking the red door with your brown house. It neither complements nor contrasts nicely with the other colors. Just my .05.

If it were my house I would either A. keep a monochromatic look--medium brown house, darker brown trim and dark, dark brownish-black, high-gloss door(something like Benjamin Moore's deep caviar); or B. do something similar to the picture I've linked to below. I don't know what you would call the color of this door but I would classify it somewhere in the magenta-wine family.


Here is a link that might be useful: brown house

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Thank you so much for the suggestions! I'll go through them individually in the morning.
But I just wanted to point out that the original photos were taken on a very dreary day from the street, which is downhill from the house. So you can't see the front steps and walkway.
These photos were taken today; it's a bright day and brings out the true color of the siding. And, with the weeds removed, you can see some landscaping that isn't visible from the street.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 12:13AM
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If you could paint the gambrel area a different color, that would make it pop.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 2:04AM
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I like the dark shutters.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 11:35AM
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So many wonderful ideas it's taking me time to process them all!

And yes. Ugh. I agree about the landscaping. It's atrocious. (Would you believe it looks better now than it did a few weeks ago? I dug out a bunch of overgrown bushes hence the bare spots.) And yes, I do love gardening but I'm not very good at designing flower gardens. (My experience is only with vegetables and there's no color design needed.) I'm hoping to update the landscaping this fall when the shrubs and perennials go on sale. (jan_in_wisconsin - Thanks for the suggestions! I'll keep them in mind when I plan the landscape design.)

I love the larger lantern idea. Can't wait to pick one out!

I'm also a fan of red doors. And jan_in_wisconsin - I love your Cottage Red door and the way it contrasts with your siding! But I think bluemoon28 is right; the red doesn't complement the other colors.

I love the monochromatic look of bluemoon28's photo of the Little Brown House. (Love the pretty landscaping, too!) I thought that darker trim without shutters was more of a modern look until I saw this photo. But I can't replicate the look entirely because I can't paint all of my trim, only the exterior window trim (sorry cardwellave, no gambrel fascia or soffit painting). So it would not be truly monochromatic.
I'll try some mockups with different colors later.

teacats' idea of black shutters/door is something I never would have considered but I think I like it! A beautiful wreath would really stand out on the door! I also added the extra piece of wood above the door. And I liked palimpsest's idea of eliminating the shutters on the big picture window. Made me think of eliminating the window boxes under the smaller windows; does this help with the balance? Do the lower windows need shutters?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 11:50AM
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That last picture looks great!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:05PM
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You are getting there! I like the black too. Just changing the color of the door will make a huge difference. Make sure you get properly-sized shutters, even if they are not operational, they'd still look "right". I don't think shutters on the bottom windows add anything though? Also I am not sure how you'd water the plants in that windowbox, but I like how it fills the void under the window.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:43PM
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Ditto - the last picture with black looks fantastic with that color! If you are going to add an architetural molding on top of the door, make it a little "beefier" - perhaps something that mimics the gambriel roof of the right side.

I have a pair of mocha colored capris and a black top looks better with them than any other color. HaHa.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:46PM
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Black is not one of my favorite colors but it certainly seems to go with my hard-to-match siding!
But I think I might like to add some color by changing the black door. And I "beefed up" the molding on the door. Not gambrel but triangular. Also removed the lower shutters.

These are the BM colors I tried. What do you think? Still like black the best? I am kind of liking the Yorktowne Green.

BM Rustic Brick:

BM Raspberry Truffle:

BM Earthly Russet:

BM Brick Red:

BM Polo Blue:

BM Pacific Sea Teal:

BM Yorktowne Green:

plain old black:

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 4:16PM
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almost forget maureeninmd - the replacement picture window is actually 3 separate double-hung windows. Each opens at the bottom (even the 48" wide middle window) so watering the windowboxes shouldn't be a huge problem. But I suppose I will need to remove the screen. I think I'll look for self-watering windowboxes so I don't need to water as often.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 4:21PM
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Bingo! LOL!

Of course I do vote for the black door (what a difference that piece of horizontal trim makes!!!) and shutters!! and the window boxes add a dash of "cottage" to the facade.

And a HUGE difference with the larger lantern too!

Again -- excellent virtuals!!! :)

Here's my front door at Rosemary Cottage:

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Of all the mockups you just did,I like the all-black scenario the best. It gives a definition to the house that wasn't there before.

If you're determined to have color on your door, the polo blue looks surprisingly good, and I'm generally not a fan of blue.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:33PM
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I don't like the triangle over the door, especially since the door isn't "balanced" with sidelight on both sides.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:59PM
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Well I'm afraid it's not BINGO quite yet.
DH doesn't like the triangle over the door either. In fact he hates the white trim around the door. He likes the monochromatic look and wants to eliminate as much white as possible. I hope to convince him to at least keep the existing white but painting the door trim white is definitely a no-no. And agreeing with terriks, the triangle has to go.

So I've added a simple straight crown over the door and mixed and matched several colors amongst door, trim, shutters and window boxes. This is my favorite; somewhat monochromatic: white, brown, black. The rest, for DH's viewing pleasure, are at this link:

teacats - Your high-gloss black door is so nice! And I love your door knocker. You found it on ebay?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 5:17PM
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Is this thread still active?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Oh good because I am in a tizzy!
Update: I added black shutters, a new light and some colorful landscaping. But after 2 years still can't decide what color to paint the front door and trim.
I thought a red white and blue theme would be nice so planted red shrub roses and blue lavendar and russian sage along the front of the house.
Then was planning to go with the black trim and BM Polo Blue door but DH thought it would be too dark. So instead painted the door low lustre BM Van Deusen Blue.
I do like the blue but somehow it just doesn't look right.

oh forgot to mention it still needs a trim piece on the top. Planning to purchase and paint this

Thinking now of an earthy red so went to the paint store and decided on BM Red Oxide. "A deep, dramatic red with a touch of black".
Um not a deep red. It went on as orange. yuk.

Can you make a suggestion for a red with brown undertones that will look nice with the siding?
And what should I do about the trim? Keep it all black? Paint the sidelight red, too? And paint the trim between the door and the sidelight red also?

I'm at my wits end! Two cans of paint and don't like either. I can't keep going on like this and am ready to paint both the door and trim brown to match the siding. I am not good at color.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 5:33PM
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I think a black door would look best - that siding color just clashes with too much. It looks so much better now, with the shutters and other improvements!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 6:13PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

I really liked the black door!

I am sort of wondering if painting the trim on the gambrel black would work or maybe just the soffit. The soffit might also look nice painted to match the siding. Somehow, the white there seems off to me.

I do think it is looking better though. Are you still going to add flower boxes? I love the way they look in your mock-ups!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 6:20PM
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For pure visual enjoyment, you husband is right. Make all the white black and the same on the door and it will look stunning.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Thanks for the replies!
I should have mentioned that DH nixed the all-black because the entry door is fiberglass and gets very hot in the afternoon sun. He's afraid it will warp. That's why I went with the lighter Van Deusen Blue instead of the Polo. I also like the all-black. Maybe I'll overrule since I'm doing the painting. haha

I also decided the window boxes were too high-maintenance but went with the colorful cottage-garden beneath the windows. Hoped that would give lots of color.
Interesting idea about painting the gambrel trim or soffit. I need to think about that one.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Get rid of all the white. Your house will look so much richer! I'm surprised you haven't photo shopped a scenario with all the trim painted dark! Visuals are sooo helpful.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 3:58AM
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You've done a lot of work already on your house over the past few years, and I know how expensive and time consuming that is. It's also the reason I feel impelled to say that, in my opinion, you are wasting all this effort because the color of the body of the house is unsuitable. It makes the house look like a very large, vertical deck, and none of the trim colors or embellishments (shutters, window boxes, additional architectural elements) can change the current look as long as it remains that color. You already have some interesting features and the lot looks very nice, but it's not working together as a whole.

Blue Moon's link to a darker house with dark trim and a dark red door provides a good color model for your house if you want to go with brown tones. I would wait on further improvements until you're ready to paint the entire house.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 7:05AM
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I think the new shutters and door color look very nice! I would just get paint the black trim around the door white. It makes the blue door really pop, and it matches the white trim around the windows. Here's a quick paint job:

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 5:27PM
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That's a shame you had to replace the original cedar shakes because they were perfect for your house. I have to agree with Kswl that your siding color doesn't play well with other colors. I just keep picturing your house with weathered cedar shingles or in a color similar to them with white trim or else something like Blue Moon's picture with a dark trim. I just don't see these little changes making much of a difference when the overall problem is the color of the siding. I'd love to see your house photoshopped in those other colors. I bet it would look really nice.

Here is a link that might be useful: weathered cedar shingles

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 2:49PM
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how about going and putting a stone walk way to the house?
Make a larger round flower bed with a statue or flagpole in the middle Bring out a large deck for seating, out into the yard. Plant large trees for height and shade. make a seating area by shade trees

Add flowerbeds along the stone walkway,not straight but curved. Put in flower beds in front of both sides of the front of your house, curved. shutters on bottom windows, iron window boxes with flowers hanging down on the other windows. add different accents in the yard, arches.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:52AM
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My vote is to get rid of all the white and go all black. It will look stunning. Can you get a black screen door to protect the storm door from warping?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:13AM
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Wow... lots of ideas!

The weathered cedar shingles are beautiful and I regret not keeping that look. But I couldn't find any siding manufacturers with vinyl shingles when we replaced the cedar shingles back in the mid 1990's. Today they make a variety of beautiful products. Love these Certainteed shakes in Sable Brown:

I also hate the white trim around the gambrel on my house. I don't know what I was thinking when we had it installed.
But I do like the brown siding. (Sorry kswl and chickadee2. But I appreciate your honest opinions!) All the homes in our area have either white, tan or yellow siding. I wanted something different. (Ha! I certainly achieved that!)

Although we can't afford to cover the white trim and/or replace the siding now I'll get some estimates. At least it's something we can budget for.

So back to the door. I need to cover the blue.
I visited our local BM dealer and chatted with the decorator about door color. She listened patiently to my sob story about how DH doesn't want a black door and how I would love to have a red door. Well she found the perfect red: BM Country Redwood. ("Nobody has ever returned Country Redwood") It's similar to the Cottage Red that I love but a tad more orange.
I painted the door last weekend and just love it! Makes the door the focal point of the house.

Will post photos as soon as we get a sunny day to take a picture.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:07AM
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