Help with front of 1960's cottage

albryantJuly 14, 2010

Hello everyone,

I'm a regular GardenWeb lurker (mainly on kitchens and baths) and just recently noticed the Smaller Homes forum. I've enjoyed reading these posts and seeing photos of other small homes :)

Below is a photo of our 1960's Cape-style cottage. It's 1444 square feet on the main floor, and there are two rooms upstairs (total of 400 square feet) that just have a window unit. We'd like to add dormers in the front maybe one day, or do a big dormer bump out the back, but right now with three small children, that will have to wait. Most people think we're crazy for having a family of five in this little house, but we love it! It keeps us all close together and I can't keep this little house clean, so I have no idea how I'd clean anything bigger!

We've lived here almost four years and the house was orange brick when we purchased it. The entire neighborhood has houses that look exactly like ours, and we hated the orange, unattractive brick, so we painted it (gasp! - I know how much some people think there's a special place in hell for people who paint brick, but we're in the south and there's lots of painted brick around, so it didn't seem odd to us). We just recently purchased, painted, and installed board and batten shutters and we're happy with the way it looks for the most part (we still need to paint the trim white).

BUT - the part we HATE is that little peak above the front door with the Charlie Brown Ric Rac trim. The roof is 10 years old and seems to be in good shape. I'm trying to decide if it would look best to:

1. add a little portico with a peaked roof in the exact footprint of the little porch

2. install a fabric awning in the exact peak shape (many houses in the neighborhood have awnings)

3. live with it until we redo the roof, and remove the peak altogether and have nothing on the front

Opinions or advice?

BTW - The side porch you see is actually a porch to nowhere ;) The houses used to be duplexes and that was an entrance to one of them. When they made them single family homes in the 70's, they put a fireplace on the other side of that porch, but left the exterior door and the steps. I can't decide if we should put a nice new wood white railing there or remove the old metal one altogether. Any thoughts about that would be appreciated too.


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I personally hate awnings except in front of restaurants;)
I like the idea of a portico- which is what we will be doing when we replace our roof.
For fall safety purposes, if you take out the metal side railing ,I would put up a new railing- maybe some sort of wood lattice-y think that plants could grow up?

Your house looks lovely with the painted brick and black. Could you do a close up of your front door?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:29AM
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Thank you jennik78 for the thoughts. You're right about needing a railing to prevent falls. I think wood would look much better than the metal.

I am at work and most of my recent photos are on my home computer, but below is the best one I have on photobucket of the door (you can see the old brick). We replaced it with one with windows at the top to get more light in the foyer and added the storm window. The knocker and house numbers are from Restoration Hardware.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:42AM
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WOW what a difference painting the brick made. Really looks nice. The little bump above your front door is to help direct the rain water off your head while standing in the rain unlocking your door to get in. We have had a house with out that and it was awful. I think it is rather nice looking and adding dormers will make it look more like it belongs.

My take on th metal railing is to leave it and plant a pretty climbing vine on it. Clematis or something that does not get too overwhelming. Would be lovely in bloom.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 9:55AM
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Just to add on to what Chris has already said. I have a 12" over hang over my side door, but no porch cover. When it rained, water would just seem to pour down on you while trying to open the door. I finally bought the cheap-o awning to put over the door and it made a world of difference in re-directing the rain runoff.
If you use this door a lot, then it may be best to keep it unless/until you add the portico. If it is not your primary entry door, then it may not matter as much.

BTW I love your painted brick - it made a huge difference.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 2:54PM
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I like the portico idea I think it would really suit your house and would give you some cover in bad weather, a dry place for parcels to be left by the mailman etc.

Your painted brick looks great, the only thing I have against painted brick is the maintenance of repainting :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 4:46PM
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albryant, your house is charming! I love hearing about your family of five in a small house! We plan on staying here and we get the same "your crazy" reaction :) I love Shades idea of growing a vine on the railing, that would definitely be the cheapest way to cover it. If it really leads nowhere I would jackhammer the steps out and turn that corner into a small brick patio to sit and enjoy your neighborhood. I love the painted brick, flaky old white painted brick is my favorite house fasod :)

I SO appreciate that you made your new shutters operable (or at least looking operable) it just makes such a difference and looks so much more appropriate! We're working on how to "faux" our old shutters to look operable without having to buy new.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 4:47PM
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I forgot to mention. There is a house in our neighborhood very similar to yours with a gable over the door that is also similar. Their solution is some scalloped shingles up there, shakes could be pretty too if scallops aren't your style. Anyway it could be an inexpensive solution for the time being if you would like a portico in the long run (which I think would be really pretty as well :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 7:46PM
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I'm with the original hardware on your shutters. I would stay with the iron railing. There are some replica hardware options you could use on this too. Or the vine as Chris mentioned.

Are you saying this area goes nowhere? The door was covered up with a fireplace?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 6:57AM
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Thank you for the sweet comments about the paint. It has been a *process* doing it ourselves with small children, but it's finally done (except for the trim).

The shutters are fully operable - we had the shutters custom made from Extira (a wood composite)from a mom and pop outfit in Georgia. It was also a long process because we ordered the hardware so they would be mounted from the window trim and then swing out over the brick mould to the house face. Well, as always happens with old houses, the window trim was installed at an angle and it wouldn't work. So, we had to install them directly on the face of the house. And of course they were sized to just fill the window inset only, not the entire opening. I was sick about it, but from the street it doesn't look bad at all. Here's a close up of the shutter and flower shutter dog:

As for the door to nowhere - yes, here's a photo of the hideous fireplace on the other side:

Isn't that dumb? All of the houses were renovated differently, so some still have a working door, some have a window, some don't have fireplaces, some have siding there. That's what we should do eventually, probably, but it's not a big priority.

I LOVE Enigma's idea of the shakes over the door! I think that would be a great interim fix before going for the portico, and I bet we could DIY that or just hire a handyman to help.

Thanks for all the ideas!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 8:43AM
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Layne ~ I love your painted brick with your wonderful shutters. A little portico over your front door would be nice to keep the rain off that's for sure. I like the idea Chris had of leaving the original metal railing and growing a lovely vine up it. You could also put potted plants on the steps for a little container garden.

I think your home is sweet and you and your DH have done a great job with it.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 10:49AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Oh my, your house looks so much better! Love the colors you've chosen, and love the shutters. I even like the scallops over the door, but I think the fish-scale shingle idea is a good one.

This last house we lived in had a set of 'steps to nowhere.' I think the kitchen had once been a porch, and the concrete steps were left in place when the wall was enclosed. It was just three little steps, on the south side of the house, so I lined up flower pots on them. LOL, you could stage a whole garden on yours!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 2:11PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I love my front porch, which covers only half of the front of our house. A porch would look lovely on your house--you could extend it to include the landing of the defunct stairs, having a ready-made side entry. Something to think about for the future...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 2:19PM
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