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lost_in_va

Sad split foyer needs front door help and curb appeal

lost_in_VA
11 years ago

Hello All! I have enjoyed reading your posts the last couple of days and finally decided to add one of my own. I would love it if you could help me out.

We live in your run of the mill 1973 split foyer. I know many people do not like this style of home, but I have to say it works out quite well for our family and lifestyle. We've completed a few projects and still have many interior and exterior projects on our "to do" list. Right now I would like to tackle the front door and possibly some additional curb appeal. We are ready to buy a new front door but don't have the funds to redo the landscaping right now (ie rip out the azaleas). I do know that in the future we will be replacing the driveway and walkway. At that point we will tackle the rest of the yard too.

My questions for you are what style of door do you think would look best? What color? Should I change the shutter color? I have two door styles that I like and two glass inserts that I like. I just can't decide which one goes best with the house. One glass does offer more privacy then the other and our front yards are quite short. We do live in an HOA and our home is supposed to stay in a "colonial" style. There aren't any specific colors we have to stay with but I do need to submit any exterior alterations to the HOA for approval.

Here is a picture of the house right now:

{{gwi:1654578}}

These are the doors I am debating between:

http://thermatru.com/products/entry/fiberglass-entry-doors/ss/index.aspx#/cfg:dbsl/dso:door-2_panel_center_lite-s30/go:av/ssol:sidelite-full_sidelite/ssor:sidelite-full_sidelite/

http://thermatru.com/products/entry/fiberglass-entry-doors/ss/index.aspx#/cfg:dbsl/dso:door-2_panel_center_lite-s30/go:kn/ssol:sidelite-full_sidelite/ssor:sidelite-full_sidelite/

http://thermatru.com/products/entry/fiberglass-entry-doors/ss/index.aspx#/cfg:dbsl/dso:door-1_panel_3-4_lite-s2200/go:av/ssol:sidelite-full_sidelite/ssor:sidelite-full_sidelite/

Thoughts?

Comments (43)

  • avesmor
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I grew up in a white house with red brick and black shutters, so that's what I tend to want to see (even though it's also very predictable). I've seen greens & blues done well too. Something that helps those shutters stand out from the brick will help. I have seen some very pretty & interesting color variations on houses fortunate enough to have the more brown/earthy brick, but not on the red.

    For curb appeal, one of my first reactions was to pull up the bushes that are (I think) blocking windows. Then I read your comment about no funds. :) Are those azaleas that are on the right?

    Your first link loads a door with scrolly branches. I would not use that one. I don't think the second one fits the style of the house very well. It's pretty ornate, for a non-ornate house. The third one loads a different version of the scrolly branches, which I still wouldn't use.

    Is there something wrong with your current front door? Structurally/functionally? If not, then in all honesty, I'd leave it in place, paint it something that will pop a little bit, maybe paint the sidelights to match the door (depending on color) and put the savings toward pulling out the bushes. Pulling bushes out is free, and I think I'd rather see mulch/no plants there, than plants blocking the windows.

  • yayagal
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree that each of those doors are more appropriate to a different type of house but I do like the first one in the last row. The plain door with plain side lights. It would work.
    My sister has the full view door and she doesn't like that people can see inside if they drive by or walk by. I think the door that is there looks just right with the house.

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  • stbonner
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree with the posts above. I don't see anything wrong with the current front door, and if there are windows behind those bushes then the bushes have to go. You could then plant something tall and narrow on the ends of the house - making sure that whatever you plant doesn't block any windows. You could also use ornamental grasses, perhaps, in the beds between windows to soften up the look of the house a bit.

    I think new landscaping is your best bet, and ripping out bushes is free - so even better.

  • lost_in_VA
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks for all of the quick replies.

    I'm not too sure what to do. The front door needs to go. The house faces due west and gets brutal afternoon sun exposure. The door is the original steel door with wood site lites. Everything is peeling and cracked. There is also a storm door and storm windows over it. I tend to use the front door as my main entry (hubby prefers the back) and in the summer I can't because it will be too hot to even touch.
    I was thinking of a glass door so that I could get a little extra light into the entry of the house. And I liked the look of the 1/2 lite with 2 panels because it didn't seem like too much glass and with the panel on top the glass is positioned at the entry/stair level, not looking upstairs. I also plan on not doing a storm door this time. Whichever door style we get we are going to do the new vented side lites. Maybe the first door on the bottom row and then some sort of decorative glass side lite?

    The azalea's... I would love to rip them out and might just have to do that. I do have reservations though. My husband is not handy or helpful outside so it will be all up to me and with a 4yo and 15mo that is going to be hard. And it sounds like an easy job but with clay soil those things are going to take some big time man power to get out. I'm also not sure what to plant when they are out. There are four windows back there but here is the catch, the two windows on the left of the house and the first window by the front door on the right of the house are the same windows. The remaining three windows on the right of the house are different. The previous owners did not replace them when they did the other windows so we just had them replaced last month. Only problem is they aren't the exact same window. The frame is slightly thicker with a little less glass then the others. How can I help conceal this when the bushes are out?

    This is my first home and I have no idea what I'm doing, lol! Any and all suggestions are welcome!

  • graywings123
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Are you able to remove the glass on the storm door in the summer and insert a screen? That would reduce the temperature of the solid door. Sanding and painting what's there is cheaper than replacing.

    I don't think any of those three doors is appropriate for the style of the house.

    Rather than digging up the azaleas, you could hard prune them almost to the ground immediately after they finish blooming in late spring. People on the azalea forum could advise you.

    From the photo, your biggest curb appeal improvements will come from landscaping. You are right, though, clay soil is a bear to work in.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Azalea forum

  • kkay_md
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Regarding the landscaping: After the azaleas bloom this spring, trim them selectively to open them up and let light into the windows. You can cut about 1/3 of the overall bush. Do not "shave" them--cut into the branches. This will give a more natural, open look to them (instead of the dreaded "gumdrop" look) and give you some light while concealing the fact that the windows don't match.

    Then, if you have the time and inclination, plant another layer of plants in front of the azaleas, something that has contrasting foliage--variegated liriope would be an excellent choice. You can't kill it and it will lighten up the appearance, adding depth and interest (and it's cheap). I like to intersperse annuals too, to give some color, but don't worry about doing that until the kids are older!

    It looks like you have a sidewalk in front of your house. I would add a walkway from your front door down to the sidewalk when you tackle your driveway job. Make it wide enough to be proportionate with your front door/the heft of the house, and eventually do some plantings on either side of it. I think that could add significant curb appeal, too.

  • barb5
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Agree with kkay md. Those azaleas have been pruned by shearing the top, which signals to the bush to put out a million side branches, which then get sheared again. The result is a dense, sculptured looking bush like what you have.

    If you prune selectively by cutting the largest woodiest branches close to ground level, and NOT shearing at the top, you will open up the plant to give it an airy natural look. As kkay md said, you can take out up to 1/3 of the branches this way.

    Next year, take out the next 1/3 of the largest woodiest branches in the same manner, The third year, the next 1/3.

    In that way you will rejunvanate the bushes and they will look much more natural and airy. No hard pulling of deep roots out of hard clay! Also mulch with leaf mulch. I just use my lawn mower to cut up the leaves that fall in the autumn and then spread those leaves on my garden beds that love acidic soils, which azaleas do.

    I'm also not sure about those two little trees, conifers, that you by your front door. Are they dwarf Alberta spruces? If so, they will eventually grow big. The dwarf means that they grow slowy. You may want to consider taking them out before they grow big and overwhelm your entry.

  • lost_in_VA
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Okay, so now you've all got my head spinning. I was all set on a new door but it sounds like I should divert my attention and money to the landscaping right now instead.

    I do have a screen for the storm door that we put on during the spring, but it doesn't seem to do much with that steel door. How do I paint what is already there? Do I scrape the door or can you sand steel? The side lites are wood so that shouldn't be a problem. Am I able to paint the storm door/windows?

    I honestly have no clue what the little conifers are and I am more than willing to take them out. I actually have no problems starting with a blank slate.

    kkay md you and I are on the same page with the walkway. I just have to find out if it is allowed by the HOA. No one else in the neighborhood has one that goes from the sidewalk to their front door.

  • awm03
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I love your home! It has nice styling & proportions. Very charming. Plus, I've always liked high ranch homes -- something nice about having the living room up.

    I had the same problem you did. Our "architecturally appropriate" door absorbed a lot of heat from a southwest sun, so we had to be careful in picking a replacement. Also, I just couldn't live with our dark & depressing foyer anymore. The sidelights didn't let in enough light.

    I went with a white fiberglass door to reflect heat with a full decorative glass panel to let heat pass through the glass, and I'm really happy with it. The extra sunlight has made a big difference in the livability of my home. As my DH said, you live IN the home, not OUTSIDE. So we enjoy the light & sparkle & prisms of the decorative glass when the sun shines through it, even if the style isn't strictly correct for our colonial-esque home.

    I like all three doors that you picked out.
    Door #1

    Door #2

    Door #3

    And who's to say what's architecturally correct for a split ranch anyway? Your styling is somewhat colonial, but there are some features that are not. So don't feel restricted to a traditional paneled door unless you like that style & want to retain the formality of that look.

    The vine glass door styles are charming and would nudge your home towards a less formal feel. Changing out the light above the door to something more cottage-y and, eventually, replacing the formal line of shrubbery with a cottage style garden would all add to the less formal look.
    You could add window boxes too. Not sure what color for the shutters, but something lighter and less dominant.

    But if you want to retain the formal, colonial style (and it IS a nice look for your home), try finding doors without the sparkly decorative glass. Pella has textured glass options which would allow light and retain some privacy.

    Pella doors

  • teacats
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    A vote for classic black shutters and a high-gloss white front door (which will match the storm door and create a more cohesive appearance)

    Check online and at YouTube for ideas for painting the door -- but a very good cleaning and scraping/sanding, a good oil-based primer and outdoor metal paint might work well. Check out the primer and paints from Rustoleum.

    Then replace the lantern above the door with an inexpensive black one that has a downward-facing light.

    Yes -- trim up the gardens and plant a bed of annuals (perhaps in fresh white to match the house) around your tree -- and under the windows on the left-hand side.

    If you get lots of sun -- consider adding some herbs to the mix in the gardens -- always a nice touch too!

    Yes -- a walkway to the sidewalk from the front door would look wonderful!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  • pamghatten
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yes, you can paint a steel door ... I did. ANd will need to touch it up this year. I don't see why you can't gently sabd the door ... but maybe just a good cleaning like Jan mentioned would be enough?

    I did use a Rustoleum paint.

  • kkay_md
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I meant to add that I prefer a very simple and clean door for your style of house. I like visual integrity in a facade and the devil is in the details--I think that one of those ornate doors could be too fussy and detailed for the scale of your house. I'm sure there is a door with glass that would work (something more along the lines of the windows), but I think the one you have suits your house, too.

  • suero
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yes, you can paint a steel door, but it will still get hot behind the glass storm door.

  • awm03
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here's a rough mock-up using Teacat's classic color combo. I realize the bottom right windows aren't true to life, but you can get an idea of what your house looks like without the azaleas. Same with the glass door & sidelights. I pasted in decorative columns in the carport, a decorative post & new lantern, & a pendant light over the door. Also, I removed the shutters from the lower brick section. I think it balances better visually with the shutters just on top (draws your eye upward) and makes the brick section look more like a foundation.

    I don't find your split entry home sad at all! It's quite a handsome house, actually.

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I love it with the black shutters and I would keep the door you have-just paint it some color you love.

    As for the azaleas, they have very shallow roots and are easy to dig up and move. I would thin them by moving some to the other side or the back yard and stop pruning them. I think they look best left natural. You could create a lovely garden in front with the azaleas mixed in amoung other shrubs and perennials.

  • palimpsest
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I don't know if someone else has mentioned this but the reason your door may be peeling and cracked is that it is painted red.

    My sister's fiberglass door came with a warning on it that painting the door red or a red based deep color and placing a storm door over it would void the warranty. Apparently the heat absorption of these colors is very high intensified by the glass storm door creating a greenhouse effect.

    I like your house BTW, for a split entry it is very pleasant looking.

  • jterrilynn
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Lovely home! I really like the picture that AWM posted. There is something not right about the area between top of door and roof. I don't have an answer on how to correct it though...but it stops the eye.

  • bigdoglover
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I like your house a lot too, and agree that the ornate doors wouldn't go with it style-wise, and they are too airy to give the needed visual strength. That door is visually holding up a lot. I really like a solid raised six-panel door (probably what you have), but paint it white as mentioned by others. Amazing what palimpsest said about red paint!

    If you really want some glass, a traditional mullioned door would look great. Either way, would you consider moving the light and putting an architectural element above the door, spanning the door and sidelights? A broken pediment, a sunburst... those are both very traditional.

    I'm so bad at landscaping, and was going to say don't get rid of azaleas, until I saw awm03' mockup, it looks great.

    On the left side of your house is a white downspout that's really driving me crazy. It would go a long way to paint the part of it that's in front of the brick, the same color as the brick. The designer at our church did this and it's amazing how the brick colored downspouts just disappeared.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Some pediments

  • arcy_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think it is the roof line of your house that makes your split entry more attractive than most. I long for the days when my kids were little like yours. That is when I began gardening. Kids love to be outside and I needed something to do while they played in their sandbox. I think you will find the spring/summer will be a breeze if you spend it outside working on your landscaping while your kids play around your work. To answer your question, with the proper prep your metal door can be painted by roller or brush. Pick a light non heat absorbing color and see if you still want the expense of replacing it. I would suggest you make some visits to your local big box home improvement store. They have people who would be happy to walk you through this. "New" isn't always the answer. Much can be fixed.

  • stbonner
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    awm03, great mock-up! Also a very good call to put shutters only on the top windows. I totally agree.

    IMO, those azaleas have got to go. Trimming them up is still going to leave them obscuring the windows - something I think never looks right. Azaleas are shallow rooted and they really aren't hard to get up and out of the ground. Do yourself a favor and cut them to a stump first, so that you can maneuver around them easily.

  • lost_in_VA
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you all for your kind words and suggestions. I have to say that I agree with everything that you are saying. The azaleas have to go, the door really isn't that bad (and the ones with glass aren't exactly the right style), and the space above the door is awkward. I think we are all on the same page!

    Awm03 - that mock-up looks great! I do like how your eye is drawn to the upper level without the shutters on the bottom. I think shutters are in the architectural guidelines of the HOA though :-( I've also thought of a pendant light as well. We still have wooden soffits and at some point will need to replace them with vinyl; I think that might be a good time to put a pendant in.

    I hear so many people complaining about this style of house, but I've got to say it really is a nice, functional layout. Our home also backs to woods and it is really nice to have an upper deck and lower walkout level.

    I'm also still drawn to a door with glass. I can see how it wouldn't look quite right from the exterior, but from the interior it would be wonderful. I think I'll try painting this one first and if that doesn't work I'll consider a new door.

    Teacats - a new light above the door in definitely on the list. Do all herbs love the sun? I am not kidding when I say the front of our house get's pounded with sun. The grass in the front yard died last summer because of the intense sun and heat. The tree in the front isn't big enough to shade the front window either. Our a/c runs constantly in the summer. I would really like to take a good portion of the lawn out and replace it with garden beds. But again I think I can only do 20% of the front lawn in garden beds. I really do love having an HOA (no school buses parked on the street and no McMansions) but it can be a little annoying when all the houses end up with a very similar style because of the "rules."

    Palimpsest - I had no idea that the sun effected red doors so much. It was painted that color when we moved in and looked okay. It only took about 3yrs for it to start peeling again. I'm not sure if I would do red on a new door either.

    Jterrilynn - I agree that the space above the door is awkward. I really like the pediment idea. In my dreams I envision a nice portico extending the foyer out. But with the top level overhanging the lower level I don't know how a portico would look.

    Bigdoglover - I would definitely consider moving the light and adding some architectural element over the door. Any idea how challenging it would be to add a pediment where vinyl siding is? My lovely husband has absolutely no handy skills and I must either do things myself or hire someone to do it. I don't have a GC so I'm not too sure who I could get to do the pediment. Hmmm, have to start checking on that.

    I was hoping that with some landscaping the white downspout would be hidden a little better. We had to have a sump pump put in after our lower level flooded and they tied it into our downspouts.

    Arcy - I can't wait for nice weather again! The whole reason we bought this house was so that the boy's would have a place to play outside. We live in the city, yet have a little piece of paradise. The backyard is fully fenced and backs to woods. We also live on a no thru street so traffic is very minimal. My 4yo loves to garden with me. My 15mo is a little maniac though! The couple of hours that he naps in the afternoon is my time to accomplish stuff.

    Now. How should I go about remedying this?

    I've put in a call to a landscaper about redoing the front beds and adding some trees to the sides of the yard. Do you think that a small patio in front of the windows on the left would work? I was thinking something in a similar footprint to the mulch bed that is there now. That way I could put a bench or two chairs there and a couple of planters. Since we don't have a porch it would be nice to have some seating to watch the boy's out in front of the house play.

    As far as colors go, I have no clue what to do. The siding is actually a cream color not white and the red of the shutters actually makes it look a little buttery in person. If I was to repaint the front door in a lighter color what color would you do? Is there anything that would go with the red shutters? Or do I need to repaint those too? I think white would make the siding look dingy.

  • barb5
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think you are right to call in a professional landscaper. Just make sure that you and that person are on the same page. It is much like hiring an interior designer.

    Even tho you have to pay for the design, a good design will save you money in the long run. You can put the design in in stages- hardscape first, then trees, etc.

    I would definitely tell your landscaper about your front door that is too hot to touch and your need to run your AC all the time. The proper tree plantings can not only help you with those problems, but can raise your property values at the same time.

    I don't know what the deciduous tree is in your front yard, or how far out that is planted and how big it will get with full growth, but I am wondering about a small understory flowering tree planted in a bed to the left of your front door with plantings or groundcover underneath it.That could provide shade to your front door in the spring, summer, and fall, but drop leaves in the winter to help with maintaining heat.

    I once walked by a home in Conn with a magnolia in full bloom by their front door, brick path running by it up the stairs. It was so beautiful it stopped me in my tracks.

    And there are native magnolias so with luck, some birds could nest there and have some insects to feed their young with. Another one of the benefits of your split level is that you could look out your picture window and be at the right height to watch the whole show!

    Anyway, I join the chorus of those who think your home is lovely. With your problems with the heat, I personally would stay away from dark colors for your door and shutters. I might think hard about something in the blue range, as you could go lighter, and blue would go with the cream of the siding and the red of the brick.Blue also looks really nice with gardens.

  • denali2007
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I, too , think that your home is lovely. Our last house was a split foyer and didn't look as nice as yours. Love the roof line.

    Our home was white also but did not have the brick on bottom like yours does. I painted the shutters a mid toned gray. I loved it. The house still has the gray shutters and we moved from there 26 years ago. I guess the new owners(there have been several) like it too. Gray would go along with your roof color also.

    I think that a pediment above the door would be great.

    I would also pull out the azaleas. You could just cut them off and leave the stumps for now.Then plant some annuals to fill in for now.

    Most landscape nurseries have a free landscape design service. You don't have to buy. You could use that to plan your landscaping until you are ready. I would just do a little at a time. Do part in spring that add more in the fall. It doesn't have to be done all at once.

    I agree that the doors you picked out don't go with the house. If you want light pick one with some windows at the top.
    First, I would try painting the front door and see how it turns out. If you really hate it and want something new go for it.

    Good luck.

  • brittone2
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I grew up in a bilevel/split foyer.

    One of the blogs I read regularly is written by a talented young designer who happens to own a split foyer. She renovated her exterior and really has done some amazing things w/ the interior. Her exterior is not colonial in style, but I really love what she did with her home. I thought maybe you'd find something useful on her blog.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Pure Style Home

  • awm03
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Lost_in_VA, I thought you might enjoy this web site. It has some good ideas & things to consider:
    Curb Appeal Tips

    An important tip, IMO, is that you have to consider roof color too. I think that's why black shutters work well on your home -- they tie in with your roof. Charcoal or a soft iron gray would look nice. Do your shutters absorb heat? Our dark shutters warped from the heat (cheap vinyl things), so we ditched them and are going shutterless.

    If you go to Sherwin Williams' or Benjamin Moore's web sites, they have online tools that will let you play with color combos. You can upload your house's picture & try colors too.

    At the Ben Moore sight, I found a nice color combo that works with cream & charcoal. Here are (once again crude) mock-ups:

    Indian River on shutters:

    Wrought Iron on shutters:

    I can't get the door colors right: my software doesn't change colors of cut & paste objects.

  • Arianne377
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Your home is more of a raised ranch. I have a split foyer that we built in 1971. The difference is in the bump-out in the front of the house. My house has a flat front.
    My roof is extended in front and I have a portico with columns.
    You could easily (but expensively) change it, but it is nice the way it is.
    If I knew how to at a link here I would.

  • bigdoglover
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I like awm's wrought iron colored shutters better, the light ones somehow make the top of the house look too big, IMO.

    I have never hung a pediment, but I think you would just find the studs and secure it, and probably caulk around it. I was in Lowes recently waiting at the millwork desk and happened to look through their huge catalog sitting there. they have some really gorgeous trim work, including outdoor pediments.

    I think you could see how it would look if you printed out awm's mock-ups and just draw a pediment above the door -- again it would span from the left side of the left sidelight to the right side of the right sidelight -- you could see how it would look.

    You could also draw mullions on the front door and see how that would look. I'm going to print it out here and do those things, but I'm sorry, I don't even know how to post pictures let alone scan something and post it.

  • bigdoglover
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I drew it and it looks great! Wish I could post it. Anyway, I drew a broken pediment with a finial (similar to the one shown on the link below, first photo on the left), and a simple single "French" door (also known as glass door with divided lights or mullions, I think.) Wow, it just makes a beautiful focal point. I think you can also get real sturdy storm doors with divided lights, which would give you the same effect, that way you could have the solid door open for light, or closed for privacy and security.

    I am no good at landscaping, but am wondering about a pair of beautiful trees in the front yard, flanking the house. I drew in pretty large ones, twice as tall as the house (eventually, LOL!) just regular trees with trunks and, hopefully, shapely tops (maybe a flowering tree?) I have no idea of species! They would be just to the left and right of the house. Also drew a raised round bed around them which gives a lot of architectural strength, and could have flowers planted within. You have to excuse me if it's too old fashioned -- my taste is VERY traditional. :-) But IMO they really frame the house beautifully. I don't know if awm or someone else could do a photoshop of these ideas... ?

    Here is a link that might be useful: Pediment, first photo on the left

  • jterrilynn
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm having a hard time visualizing a usual Pediment up there. Could a pediment throw the ballance off with the upper windows and such? Perhapes a bit of thick plain moulding at the top of area above door but by the roof line and ending at the upper shutter height. A hanging light would fill the rest of the space. Maybe just a little somethin would be just right and stay with the style of your home while.

  • lynn_r_ct
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have a "split foyer" home like yours. Called raised ranches in New England and high ranches on Long Island - no matter what you call it, here if you enter the home and go either up on one side and down the other about seven steps - you're living in a split foyer home.

    It would never have been my choice of home - they are known as poor man's colonials for lack of a full basement. When we moved to our town 11 years ago, if you didn't have 500K to spend you bought a raised ranch. The builders had gone crazy snapping up land in the 70's and putting as many as quickly as they could for a huge profit as they were cheap to build. But my town is on the shoreline of CT which is why I moved here. We have made the house work for us by adding a two story addition off the back. Zoning regs require at least an acre of land so I have a beautiful back yard with a stream and woods but I always look to see what I could do to make it look less like every other RR from the street. We had an architect when we added the addition and he reworked the front of the home to the point where you would have no idea it was a RR. $$$ later we had to abandon the idea so like you I am always trying to figure out what to do. I can tell you what I think has and has not worked for me so far.

    Like you, when we moved it we had the crazy bushes (ours being rhododendrom)in front of the downstairs right side windows. My window configuration is somewhat different than yours - I only have one window on the bottom - as I have a one car garage to the extreme right (and I only have two windows on the top right). It was amazing how much larger the house looked after we pulled them up and certainly the room with the window became a nice and bright room. I am still playing with plants there. I planted some can't kill (for me at least) hostas that are doing well and a holly bush to cover the gas meter. And then a lot of mulch as someone suggested as I play with some other plants. It seriously looks so much better.

    I also have the brick red shutters. My house is white and I have decided to repaint them black after cruising and stopping at every white house to see what color combo I liked best. Although black is so predictable, it just seemed to appeal to me the most.

    We too have considered doing a new door. We have a solid wood eight panel door with two complete sidelights. I have driven around the neighborhood and saw the RRs with the doors you've shown and to me they just don't go together. The doors are just too fancy for a RR in MHO. I am keeping my door, I may... or not... paint it - time will tell. But the one thing that is a saving grace with our door is the screen door in the summer. There is no true breeze in the house for that story and a half foyer and the rooms get really warm. If however, you decide on one of those glass doors, try to remember if you have every got "caught" when someone rang the doorbell when you are still in your PJ's or just out of the shower with only a towel wrapped around you. I know screen door days wouldn't prevent that but there have been instances where with the solid door I can run and grab a robe at least.

    To the left of the stairs there was a bed of pachysandra when we moved in. It was done in a sort of 1/4 circle area from the walkway to extreme left side of the house. It has really grown quite well with no upkeep. The curvy lines make the house look less boxy IMHO.

    But, if I could give you just one warning - the tree could become your enemy. We have a tree planted close to the house like yours around the time the house was built. It is now over 50' tall. If you look at our house straight on, all you see is this thick grey trunk that reaches the roof before the branches start appearing. Totally cuts the house in half visually and I just know that someday down the road we could have root problems. I have gotten prices in the 3K range, not in the budget right now, otherwise that baby would be out of here. If it were me, I would move your tree closer to the street, if you can.

    The mockups people have done are wonderful. You can also take an exacto knife to your pics and cut out the door and shutters - then hold them up to different paint chips to get an idea of what appeals to you. Please take what I say as simply opinion - you have to do what feels right to you. Isn't change fun though?

    P.S. Sorry I am so long winded tonight!

  • bigdoglover
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    jterrilynn, you have a good point about just a big beefy crown moulding. Maybe with dentil moulding. OP said the style of the community is colonial.

    I still think a full out pediment would look good (or does in my drawing anyway, but drawings are not reality of course.)

    Here are some links to raised ranches with architectural elements above the door. Most of the have stairs so not quite like ours, but it gives a little bit of an idea. You may have to copy and paste into your browser.

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://recentpastnation.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/BI-LEVEL1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://recentpastnation.org/%3Fpage_id%3D110&h=480&w=640&sz=69&tbnid=Z18Hk5qDA5X42M:&tbnh=103&tbnw=137&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dphoto%2Bbi-level%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=photo+bi-level&usg=_5lq33sPhtiIyjwouQHsCxmNJE7k=&sa=X&ei=fvSbTc-E8GcgQfXzrmCBw&ved=0CB8Q9QEwAQ

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pbsnc.com/Portals/0/raised-ranch.jpg&imgrefurl=http://illinois.inetgiant.com/AdDetails/Raised-Ranch/2120196&h=300&w=400&sz=31&tbnid=Azvz6DJxqKFrAM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=124&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dphoto%2Braised%2Branch%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=photo+raised+ranch&usg=__W12SeivGXgK06vXIJYfbaFkMiwg=&sa=X&ei=ufSbTfXtBIfHgAeY69CXBw&ved=0CDYQ9QEwBQ

    http://www.canambuilders.com/ranch.html

    http://architecture.about.com/od/periodsstyles/ig/House-Styles/Raised-Ranch-Style.htm

    About the pair of trees, I was thinking they'd be further up towards the curb. I have no idea if that would be too close to the house as far as roots, that's a good point. Maybe smaller ornamental trees, like a flowering fruit tree. As drawn, they really soften the house.

  • lee676
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My first thought is it looks quite good the way it is.

    I've always liked split foyers. They work well in real life and I'm glad to see a few builders start building new ones again.

  • busybee3
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    your house is very nice!
    in my last house i had a full length glass door (with decorative glass which offered a bit of privacy) and i absolutely loved it! it was different than any other door i ever had so i wasn't sure i would like it, but i really did! i brought in so much light and it was easy to see out of---to see who was there and to watch kids, bus, etcetcetc. i wouldn't want it if i lived in the city where there's lots of night foot/car traffic, but for our neighborhood, i loved it. my current door is 1/2 glass with full side lights---not as airy as previous house, but also nice!

    i don't think i would like the vine glass which obscures everything... i would definitely want to see out... i don't get creeped out with the thought of others being able to see in though-so i would choose a glass which offered only partial privacy...

    agree with the black shutters- i love black shutters on lots of different types of houses---very classic.

    i would work on pruning the bushes as suggested above(they look healthy!) and planting some perrenials for color, but would save the bulk of landscaping to when you redo your walkway...

  • Woody204
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here is a good example of various split, bi-level, and raised ranch homes.

    http://www.splitlevel.net/bi-level.html

    The picture half way down the page shows a house with columns across the front. This is the spitting image of my house except my shutters and double front doors are a little lighter than charcoal grey.

    Here is a link that might be useful: bi-level homes

  • lynn_r_ct
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Woody, interesting article. We had looked at a RR with the columns you have and loved it. It was just enough to break the cookie cutter exterior. It did however, have water issues so we were forced to walk away. There are about 6 RR in town that have managed to alter the front so they do not look like every other house on the street but you can see the bucks it would take to redo an existing home.

    With our addition we are totally repurposing our rooms so the inside doesn't look like every other one and it is better for our family's usage. We are still in Phase 2 of the 3 phase remodel with lots of work and money to go.

    I keep on trying to convince myself that I spend a great deal more time inside the house than out so my dollars should be spent here but I wish there was a magic fix to the exterior - quick and inexpensive. Haven't found it though.

    Lost, if you are going to replace the front door, there are tons of "non Victorian" looking doors out there. Changing out the door, painting shutters and cleaning up the landscaping will make a big difference IMHO.

  • Woody204
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    We added a Palladian window above our front door and my husband added dental tooth molding and adornment to the columns. Those additions go further to adding that individual flare. We also have a 2 car, 2 story garage that hubby added in 1979. That extends the roof line straight across the front, making the house 67 ft. across the front and with the covered back porch that hubby added in 1986, and the portico across the front, the depth of the house is 44 ft.
    The house has 14 rooms and originally had 5 bedrooms in order to accomodate our 5 children and my father who lived with us for 17 years. The original house is nothing like it looks today. We took a new house and spent over 30 years making it look like a period home. The interior is Queen Anne with Cherry & Mahogany . Even redid our kitchen with cherry cabinets, enlarged the dining room, and added a garden room. Like Jefferson's Monticello, our house is a work in progress. We are now 72 years old and are enjoying the fruits of our years of labor. You will also.

  • lynn_r_ct
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Woody, would love to see some pics!!! Sounds like you have really been creative with your changes. I may be able to apply some things to my own home.

    Lynn fr CT

  • Woody204
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I hope this works, if so I will send more

    Here is a link that might be useful: Snapfish

  • leahcate
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    awn03...love your mock ups! Would you have time to post one of the brick painted the same white as above portion. A few years back when squirrelheaven was here, a poster( (metromom?) had a somewhat similar two tone look. Even the never-paint-brick-ers loved the new look done all in same color. It visually enlarged the house and gave it presence.
    I confess to not reading everything, so sorry if I'm repeating.

  • lynn_r_ct
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Woody, the changes you have made are great. Funny, but I was looking at some of the double doors on the internet. My concern was with having a screen door in the summer - something I really don't want to give up. The "door guy" at Lowes said they make screen doors for them that pivot in the middle but that didn't quite make sense to me. I think I need to go talk with someone at the lumber yard.

    I did see the pics of your door and columns but it wouldn't allow me to view your album. I would love to see any other changes you have made. It is always interesting to me to see what changes people have made to their RR's both inside and out.

    Again, thanks for the pic you did send.

  • lost_in_VA
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Okay, let's see if I can catch up on all of your helpful posts!

    I met with a landscaper and we were pretty much on the same page but there were a few things that I didn�t agree with. Maybe I just have no clue what I'm doing and maybe his recommendations are truly better than the picture I have in my head! I'll be meeting with another designer on Monday to get his take on it. The first guy was free and we just talked about what the plan would be. The second guy charges $50, but will draw up a whole design. They also do driveways, which the first company does not do.

    The one thing that I really didn't like about the first guy was that I felt like I had seen all of his ideas in my neighborhood already. I don't want something crazy that doesn't fit the house or neighborhood, but I also don't want the same thing everyone else has. How do you get your house to stand out from the others but still "fit"? Just because everyone else has "x" number of garden beds and "x" amount of front yard grass doesn't mean I have to, right? I did read over our HOA docs and they simply state that no more than 20% of the yard can be raised garden beds or container gardens. I would really like to make maintaining the lawn easier and to shade the front a little more. He wasn't on board with that.

    As I said before our yard is quite short, only 25 ft deep from the sidewalk to the front brick. So that will definitely play a big part in the design.

    The front tree is a cherry tree (with fruit) and I have been told that it will grow large enough to provide cover for the front window, not too sure about the door. Every arborist and landscaper that I have talked to seem happy with that tree and tell me not to touch it.

    The shutters have actually done quite well with all of the sun and heat that they get exposed too. No warping or anything. Considering the roof color is a good point. I think the wrought iron color would look great. I still don�t know what I want to do with the door.

    I have been playing with pictures of the house for days now. I've cut and pasted so many different designs I'm stuck. I think that there are some styles and looks that definitely work, some that definitely don't work, and then there are the in-between ones. I don't mind having my house look a little different then the neighborhood. I have two tri-levels on each side of me and three true 2 story colonials across the street from me. From my mock-ups I think can get away with some different looks that neither of the other two styles could pull off. And that is why I'm stuck. Too many ideas. I think a designers eye is what I need.

    The other challenge I am having right now is prioritizing what to do with the house first. The inside still needs to be painted. I could use some new furniture too. If I did do painting I would want to update the lighting while the ceilings are getting a fresh coat. As far as the outside goes, we obviously need landscaping. But we could also use new gutters and soffits, possibly a new door, and new hardscaping. My husband would also like to close in the carport. There is just so much to do and I don't know where to start. The changes we have already made to the inside were easy because they were done out of necessity. Really none of these other things have to be done. I think that I would like to focus on the outside simply because I have a 4yr old and 1yr old that make it a little harder to maintain the inside versus the outside. And I can handle the inside myself. I obviously need professional help with the exterior.

    So, any ideas on how to prioritize my projects?

  • denali2007
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just a quick suggestion on prioritizing. I would go ahead and paint the shutters. For what's it's worth, my home faces west and gets the blazing sun all day also.The paint store recommended that I paint the shutters in a gloss. I love it. The shutters don't need painting as often as they did in a semi gloss. The next thing I would do is trim back the azaleas as kkay suggested in her post. Yes, let them bloom first. Then just plant some annuals on the other side for now.

  • Woody204
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If this works, then I will post more interior and exterior photos.
    The house originally had a picture window flanked by 2 double hung windows which were popular in the 1970's. We replaced them with 3 double hungs, more in keeping with a colonial home.

    Here is a link that might be useful: That Home Site