Help me with curb appeal (xpost w/home decorating forum)

michey1st_gw Zone 7April 19, 2013

Hi GardenWebbers!

I wasn't sure the best place to post this, so I'm trying here to, since my new home qualifies as a small one.

I've been lurking on GW for the better part of a decade, but after 5 years of renting, I'm FINALLY a homeowner again! I just purchased this little 1400sf rambler (though I don't move in until June). So, it's time to delurk and start planning! For starters, my houseneeds a little curb appeal:

First off, the roof is brand. spanking. new. I probably would have opted for a different color myself, but it's definitely unique, and bright, and I think (hope!) I can work with it.

The gutters need to be fixed, and I'm toying with replacing them. I'm hoping window boxes on the two smaller windows will help to make them appear more in proportion to the rest of the house. The shutters on the bay window will be removed.

So, what sort of colors do you think can help bring the whole thing together? I'm thinking dark green (darker than the roof) gutters, black shutters and window boxes, then maybe a lavender or yellow front door?

Down the line, perhaps adding some sort of portico over the door to help break up the roof line? At first I was thinking of adding a front porch, but my realtor pointed out I'll be spending most of my time in the back yard since it backs to forested parkland.

I still have to see what the plantings are going to do as the season progresses - PO put them in specifically to not attract deer, which tend to roam around in the yard, but maybe some raised flowerbeds along the house will help break up the expanse of brick?

As you can see, I'm sort of all over the place with ideas. Oh, and of course I have a tiny budget. I'm a total noob when it comes to exterior landscaping and decor, so your help in keeping me grounded, focused, and working towards a well-thought-out plan that I can phase into is greatly appreciated!

Your thoughts are appreciated!

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Congrats! I'm not going to weigh in on colors because I have no vision for that. Excellent idea to get rid of those shutters on the bay window. I think window boxes would definitely help with the proportion there.

It looks like the yard drops off pretty quickly off to the left? I think a terraced bed would be a good idea there but if you can't or don't want to do that there, definitely some tall plantings there to make the house look more even.

You're smart to sit tight on the landscaping to see what you already have there. If it were me, I'd give serious thought to ripping out that entire front lawn and making it all gardens. I can see a great combination of perennials with ornamental flowy grasses and maybe even something more structural like boxwood but that is a BIG project and that may not fit your lifestyle.

Have fun with it!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 10:16PM
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I think you have just tons of potential and this front would not deter me from liking this house. That said, I hate bay windows and I would look into removing it altogether.
How deep is you overhang? If it could take a porch then that is what I would consider.
Exteriors are not my strength at all so I will look forward to others advice. Someone with an eye might be able to see the right planting to bring things into perspective.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 3:02AM
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Elraes Miller

There is a house down the street from me that is all brick. But they added panels under the windows down to the ground, they are painted black. It is one of my favorite ranches around here.

I wouldn't change the bay window. But I would remove the shutters and add a full base surround to it. Right now it is just floating and feels like an afterthought.

Lighting too would make a big change.

Actually, your home is like a blank canvas. You have a wide range of options to play with and make this a wonderful home.

Take some time and think about the yard. A couple of fast growing trees and wide flower areas to soften the squares of all.

A picket fence with an arbor would also soften the brick up to the high windows.

The link below shows a green roof and house details. Although it is a different style and wood, I like the details of green trim, windows, etc. The colors and lighting sort of help in thinking brick instead of wood. Most of the other houses on search showed yellow, white and different shades of green with a green roof.

Here is a link that might be useful: green roof

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:21AM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

Hey folks! Thanks so much for taking the time to chime in! Here's a few more pics, taken from my inspection earlier this month to give you a better idea of what I have to work with:

Wi-Sailorgirl, you're right on target with the grading of my property. I'm near the top of a hill that slopes down to the left so you're right, either a terrace or something substantial on the left side will work wonders. I'm not opposed to ripping everything out eventually, but you're right, I'm going to take it slowly. Who knows, once i get used to this whole yardwork thing, I may find myself wanting to add more and more til there is no grass left (hooray for not having anything to mow!)

Noodles, you nailed it! It's got lots of potential but to me it looks unfinished at this point. I'm pretty sure the plantings will fill out as the season progresses, only to die off again at winter, so i'm going to need to add at least a little bit of evergreen shrubbery at some point to keep me happy during these maryland winters. That window does kind of float the way it's currently built, which makes it rather odd. Since the rest of the windows are rather tiny (really, the only thing about the architecture of the house that truly "bugs me"), I suspect my cats will congregate on that windowsill most of the day, so at least having it there is SOMETHING that will keep them happy ;-)

The roof overhang is pretty non-existant, if I add a porch, it will need to tie in to the existing roofline, perhaps with a gable front. Definitely not a small job but something that will add tons to the street facade.

Technicolor, I swoon for moldings and architectural detail! I think I know what you mean regarding those window panels beneath the window. I'm running into a few logistical snags with the windowbox idea (i have to make sure my casement windows will still be able to open outwards - something I didn't think of before having never had casement windows before. )

The paneling may be the next best, and lower maintenance thing! Do the shutters go the entire height of the windows/paneling? Paneling out the base of the bay window could then carry that paneling on the right side of the house - I think you may be on to something!

I REALLY like that green roof with the dark brown trim in your example! How do you think brown trim would play with my reddish brick? I also have to ask, did you google "green roof" at any point in your picture search? I did and was totally surprised to see the bulk of hits were of people that plant gardens on their roof! I guess something like that could be a "Plan C" lol!

Thanks everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts with me!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 6:49PM
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Elraes Miller

The panels on the house I mentioned go from the bottom of the window to the ground. The shutters are next to the windows only. They are true shutters with the right hardware.

If you like trim, It would really help the front windows to add additional trim and bulk out their looks. Even the front door.

I did the green roof search too and was fascinated with the living environment. Then went to HOUZ which is a go to for many of us here. But I changed the search to brick ranch with green tile roof. The photo wasn't anything like this, but the colors and ambiance were there.

Retrorenovation may work for finding ranch styles, she has original pics as well as restored.

I'm not sure I would do brown. But right now not a clue for colors. You have time to see what the spring brings around you. Still think a couple of trees are needed.

I removed all grass in front and back. Have a xeriscape cottage garden with a dry creek. Most of the plants reseed themselves and the yard is almost completely filled in. Am In the east Rockies and on water restrictions. Taking a walk I found that there were others that did the same. We can only water twice a week for 2 hours. Those with tons of grass are in trouble this year and hope they don't lose it. My area is a mix of small cottages up to McMansions and all syles/eras.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Paint the supports under the window -- match the shutters or the brick. If you paint the front door, choose the green or the red of the brick.

Plant 3+ same-sized good-sized bushes under the window to camouflage the window supports. Hydrangeas? (These can be had from a friend with overgrown hydrangea hedge.) Turn the corner for about 6 more feet with more of these bushes if you can afford it--will expand the width of the house visually. If you had a line of these beyond the back door parallel to the street that stops the eye before it goes from driveway down the hill at back you would also add some definition.

Flower boxes on the small windows will simply look like there's a gardener who needs to be on tippy toes to water them. From street, you will look UP at them, not straight into them. Instead, cover the expanse of brick on that side of house from foundation up, not from the windows down. Plant larger, taller bushes on the left side of photo along the front of the house where the land slopes downward--arborvitae or other tall evergreen? Something with a pale bark and great silhouette that will outline itself against the red? Existing plantings in this area are much too minimal.

If you use annuals, only use one major type or stick to one major color so that there is a strict pattern that is definable to observers. Consider pink if the brick has a maroon tone. "Knock-out" pink roses? Whites would look great against a brown-orange brick color. Tall cannas? green/white hydrangeas? white potentillas?

Create a small garden between the house and the city sidewalk to give the lot depth but it's important not to make an "eyebrow" or odd shape but instead an organic shape that fits the existing features. A cluster of 3 different shrubs with contrasting leaves and bark, with one having a very chartreuse leaf? You could include the existing sapling tree in this garden. also need a defined walkpath from driveway to front door. You may need to change the plantings you have on the slope in order to make the front door very inviting for those approaching from driveway side of house. If you create a sidewalk or formal path here, create some kind of tall perennial or shrub hedge on outer side of the walk from driveway to step, to give the yard more depth and definition.

If you buy a tree, get the largest one you can afford.

A line of hostas that follows the city sidewalk along the boulevard side of the sidewalk would also give the house some width and the lot some defintion.

Consider painting the front steps white. If you use flower pots, get large ones in white, but don't put any more on the steps except on either side of door.

White half-curtains in lower part of each window on 3 sides of house would add coordination. If you get honeycomb or other blinds, choose bottom-up type and leave them at half-mast during the times you don't want sun gain in daytime.

This is a darling house and I wish you a great time in it!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:21AM
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Personally, I'd go with some natural redwood shutters , a wreath on the door and some plantings.Maybe widow boxes? Good luck! Looks like a great small house. Love to see some interior photos when you have the time.

This post was edited by jannie on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 8:18

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:14AM
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