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'Modernize' This

Posted by worthy (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 6, 11 at 14:42

Here's a house I finished building in 2005. The buyer asked me this morning how she could "modernize" the exterior. At the same time, even newer homes in the area are striving to look more traditional--recycled bricks, stones etc. In building this house, the idea was to create an established look; I was actually flattered when several trades at first mistook it for a reno.

Elevation 51 C.

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Century concrete brick, Arriscraft stone, tinted mortar, fluted columns combined to
create an established look

In any case, all I could suggest was refacing with different bricks/stones, hardcoat stucco or a wash, though these are usually applied to make a home look more established.

Any pertinent thoughts appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 'Modernize' This

It's very nice as is. However, it is a little monochromatic for my taste, so I might suggest a darker and browner roof (echoing the garage doors) or as you suggested, a color wash of the stucco or brick. However, perhaps she should just sell the home and move to a "modern" one if she is just vaguely dissatisfied with this one's appearance and has no specific complaints.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

I'd get rid of the arch'd bumpouts and carry the facia/soffit back across straight but keep the lower bumpout and put a small shed roof over it. Square off the round columns, keep the stone wainscot only stucco over the entirity using a different color for the wainscot and the entry/above entry area.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

I think it's the curves, over the two windows. Maybe even that off and paint the house all one color. If you can't even it out...maybe make them pointed dormers, instead, but still one paint color, on the main body of the house. Maybe white garage doors to match the trim...or more wood (pergola over the lower left windows?) to tie in with the brown. Hope that helps :)


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Perhaps you might delete the fluted Doric columns and make a stronger feature of the portico roof.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

"Modern" can mean so many different things. (Most of which, IMHO at least, are rather soullessly ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

If I were you, I'd probably start out by asking the client to point out some "modern" houses that she likes to you so that you are sure you understand what SHE means by "modernize" before you even start making suggestions.

That said, if she is really looking for a modern concrete box, perhaps you could stucco over the top of all the brick and stone work to hide those "horribly old-fashioned" keystone lintels and all the textures. Remove all the trim from around the windows and doors so everything is flat and smooth. Then paint all the stucco a flat white except for the one inset wall where the front door is. Depending on your client's tastes, that wall could be painted a soothing earth tone or a crayola bright color... whichever she prefers for "contrast".

Extend those twin arching roof sections forward by a couple of feet each. (Paint the undersides of the extended roof sections to match the color of the contrasting wall section.) Also replace the roof over the garage doors with a flat slab roof that also juts out from the wall several feet. Ixnay the porch columns and extend the porch roof forward so that it is even with the front of the garage. If the porch roof or the garage roof need extra support, use steel cable attached to the walls above and "hang" the roofs instead of using supporting columns. Replace all those prairie windows with plain glass. Replace the front door and sidelights with twin solid glass doors with frosted glass in them. And, replace the carriage style garage doors with some modern looking garage doors made with aluminum and frosted glass panels. Oh, and pull up that stone porch and the brick paver driveway and pour cement instead.

Basically, get rid of everything beautiful and textured and replace it with the flattest, most utilitarian substitute you can think of and VOILA... "modern."

And, if by now you can't see my tongue wedged firmly in my cheek, I'm just not trying hard enough.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Don't see this style in Mass, but if it was for sale the RE ads would describe it as a Contemporary Colonial!


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Thank you! All very useful and interesting.

Personally, I'm of Hollyspring's view. For a true modern, start over elsewhere.

Here's an example of one several blocks of away. It features a detached garage with transluscent glass doors and an indoor swimming pool. (No leaves, falling branches, raccoons and deer to worry about.)

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The designer I've contacted said he will get back to me next week. In the meantime, I will take bevangel's astute advice and ask the potential client what she likes, with examples.
****
Contemporary colonial. Real estate speak covers a lot of ground, eh.


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clarification

The swimming pool is not in the garage.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Lose the prairie style windows, lose that stone style (stucco over), lose the classical columns (unless you can use them _ironically_).
Cover the bays in stainless steel but lose the arched top. Paint each bay between the stainless in a different primary color. Instead of garage doors, use those horizontal tubular chain-link roll up security grilles.
That will be $3500 for the consult.
;-)
Casey


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RE: 'Modernize' This

a possibility ...

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RE: 'Modernize' This

Not bad at all!!

The left lower bay would have to be moved forward, along with the window and deeper jamb provided on the inside. The columns are 95% decorative--just four small anchors in the porch tile. Still, I'd probably add some support to be sure if a couple of roofers, say, start walking around there some day.

This would also be an opportunity to redo the existing EIFS face sealed bays, already showing signs of deterioration.

Funny, how a treatment used at least 3,000 years ago is called "modernizing" by many people when what they really mean is I want change.


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Followup

Here's one of the neighbouring homes behind the subject property. When I was marketing it, the repeated comment was that mine was different. This may be the time to remedy that. No one really likes a non-conformist.

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French Provincial style stucco, 5,100 s.f. 100' frontage (approx.) Don Mills area of Toronto, Ontario. Valued at C$2.2m.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Here's two alternatives the designer has come up with so far.

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Elevation 2 may be more in line with the owner's ideas.

Natural stone and stucco with cast surrounds and a band at the second floor; additional columns beside the garage matching columns now on piers on the porch; Second Empire wrought iron atop the porch.

I'm thinking I'd also add cast surrounding the entry. I wonder if the greater detailed facade will clash with the plainer sides, one of which is in plain view to the street.

I guess the colour is up to me.


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RE:further thoughts

And I see that the portico roof has been visually strengthened as renovator8 suggested. In addition, the left projecting bay has been plumbed out and becomes all stucco.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Turns out it is "Front Elevation 1" the homeowner wants.

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But with one further change: A mansard style roof scabbed on to give it greater apparent height. (See first pic to realize how the roof currently recedes too much from view as the slope is not great.

Now to speak with a designer who can tell me if that's possible and what it would look like.

When it's done they want to resell and build a larger home.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Gosh, I would sell it as is. Not sure that is a big improvement . . . yes the roof recedes but the other has those strange looking roof angles.

Have they tried to sell it as is?


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Another comment

What about eliminating the strange curved tops to the bump outs and just doing hipped bump outs that align with the roof. Maybe a taller hipped roof? And fix the portico. I think cladding with stone is a waste of money, personally :)

I know you don't get the painted brick thing but swapping windows, painting the brick, fixing the portico, and raising the hipped roof a bit could look much better for not tons of money . . .


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RE: 'Modernize' This

a taller hipped roof

Unfortunately, the best solution is not available as the roof is at the limit of the permissible zoning. That's why other builders use mansard roofs and or massive gables to camouflage the sloped roof at the rear. My thought is that the projecting garage makes any Mansard design problematic.

What the owners want is to be more competitive with newer homes in the area, such as the smaller very nicely done one below listed at $2.995

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Have they tried to sell it as is?

That was actually my suggestion. (Hard sell is not my game!)

(I have to confess mrs. worthy didn't like the roof design from day one but I insisted it would be fine. Men are so stubborn.)


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RE: 'Modernize' This

We're still at it.

Front Elevation 1 it is. But she still wants more "oomph". All I can think of is adding full eaves returns and maybe windows in the gables and/or copper details in the peak of the gables.

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Full Gable Return

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Filagree woodwork at peak of gable. Reproducible in copper?


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RE: 'Modernize' This

After a summer hiatus, the homeowner is her own "designer".

She now wants a copper portico roof and copper over the garage roof.

And EIFS quoins over the brick corners and EIFS detailing around the windows to match the details around the EIFS bay windows. I can't find any home that utilizes this combination of materials. But I may be misled, as I've seen painted wood mimicking stone over Palladian windows on a brick house.

Technically doable. Personally, not my choice.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Modernize? Send her to the library for a book on the work of Mies Van der Rohe. Or any of the Bauhaus architects. Sheesh!

None of these houses are capable of being "modern" That's their charm. They are very wonderful and appealing just as they are.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

Not sure what is "modern" about the suggested revisions, perhaps she means currently fashionable pseudo-whatever rather than anything identifiable as modern.

I'm no architect, but I think the house would look a lot better with a roof that had some pitch to it, but I guess that is not an option at this point.

If the client really wants Modern I'd go with a flat roof and carry the strong vertical elements top to bottom. (with the help of an architect!)


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RE: 'Modernize' This

I am confused as to why this is your problem? If a buyer wants your house bad enough, they will buy it and then figure out themselves what they want to do with it. Sold As-Is and be done with it, unless I am missing something.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

I'm sure its not charity, and in this economy a paying customer is a paying customer..no matter what they want done. Am I right? hehe


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RE: 'Modernize' This

The thing over the garage looks strange resting on that flimsy little roof. It looks like it slipped or stretched.

It would look better if it were the same height as the one on the left, with the little detail under the window the same size. At least paint it to have the same height white and use a grey that blends with the house for the lower portion.


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RE: 'Modernize' This

I think the house would look a lot better with a roof that had some pitch to it,

Yep.

My bad. During construction, I heightened the elevation 2.5 feet but didn't have the roof redesigned. We couldn't just change the pitch due to height limitations.

The [bay] over the garage looks strange resting on that flimsy little roof. ...
It would look better if it were the same height as the one on the left...

Agreed. Another one of my on-the-fly deviations from the original design. Carpenter's idea.

If a buyer wants your house bad enough, they will buy it

They bought it nearly three years ago. Now they want renovations.

in this economy a paying customer is a paying customer..no matter what they want done.

Bingo!



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RE: 'Modernize' This

Gotcha. The way I read it, you built the house, and lived there currently, and were moving, and the potential buyer wanted to know how they could modernize it.

FWIW, I think it looks great as it is. IMO it would be a complete waste of money to "modernize". That being said, it isnt my money, and in the end, if you get to do the work, you make a buck.


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