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My Home Exterior is Ugly, Need Advice

MRBr04
3 years ago
last modified: 3 years ago

My house exterior is very ugly. It was originally a 1970s split level and then it received a very large addition. It's half brick, half stucco and has really wide pitches (a little Craftsman-esque). I think it has a bit of an identity crisis and just really needs updating. It also sits pretty far back from the road and it just looks super blah right now because there's little contrast - it's all brown and off-white. We moved in 18 months ago and are finally ready to update the outside. We are not ready to do a major facelift yet (we've discussed adding siding over the stucco, a new front door and making some structural changes), but want to stick with basic cosmetics for now - paint and new gutters (or anything cosmetic that's not super expensive).


I would like to paint the whole house, brick and all. I do not like the contrast between the stucco and brick and I think those materials make it look more dated. I am envisioning a light greige color (still warm, but not super brown) on the whole house and bright white trim for some contrast. It already has shutters (pic #1 is before shutters were added) but I want them to be jet black. Right now they are a charcoal color (the garage doors are charcoal now too - done by previous owners) that was intentional but it actually just looks sun faded. We are also replacing the gutters this month and I'm really torn on colors - white or black? I love a classic white, but I thought the black gutters (along with black shutters) might make it look a bit more updated. I really love the farmhouse look and we live on 3 wooded acres so it's the right setting for it, but I also understand that our house is not farmhouse style, so I'm trying to figure out how to get a bit of that look without it looking silly.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? I'm open to all feedback and would love opinons on what I have proposed above! Thanks!





Comments (35)

  • Claire
    3 years ago
    I don’t think your house is ugly! I can see that there was clearly an addition but it was skillfully designed to compliment the lines of the original home. Your landscaping is very complimentary. Nothing jumps out to me as being “ugly”.
    I think you need to reassess what it exactly is that you don’t like and make small changes.
  • sambah006
    3 years ago

    Don't paint the brick.


    To me, it's the windows that are a large part of the problem. The house is very long and horizontal, but the windows keep adding in a vertical element that breaks up the flow.


    The design elements for the home need to accentuate the horizontal, not fight with it.


    Gutters should blend in with the color of the house, not be a design feature. You want them to disappear into the background and not be seen.


    I don't like the shutters.


    If this were my home, and I had the money, I'd hire an architect to draw something up on the front facade with a new window scheme to be able to get rid of all those vertical elements.



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  • cat_ky
    3 years ago

    I dont think your house is ugly either. I think it is rather nicely done. I dont like the shutters. It looks better without them. I can only see the picture of the garage doors where its white. I would however put t back white. Charcoal (or the black you want) just calls attention away from the house and all towards the garage. No black gutters. You dont want your gutters to stand out or be a feature. I also like the brick.

  • ackcx3
    3 years ago
    1. Definitely NOT ugly.

    2. Don’t accent downspouts!

    3. I like it better *without* the shutters. I don’t think those are the right size.
  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago
    Thanks to everyone that said my house isn’t ugly and I should say, I do realize that it’s not awful, but it’s out of place in the context of where we live. We live in an affluent area surrounded by newer traditional homes and modern farmhouse styles. So in our area, our house looks like a dated 70s house (which it is). So I would really like to find some ways that I can affordably update ($10k or less). Major changes are in the plans for the future, but bringing in an architect for a remodel isn’t in the cards right now (need a major kitchen remodel first). Here are a couple more photos - ignore the landscaping, we’re coming out of winter and it’s rough. I really hate the brick, someone please tell me I should paint it, haha :)
  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago
    I want my house to look like these. I know, I know, they’re different styles, but you get the general gist of the color and vibe that makes me happy.
  • lisaam
    3 years ago

    Painting brick is not a sin. Get your house to all one color with the trim a couple shades lighter and I thnk you'll be happier. No shutters. I'd choose something similar to the roof color for the trim and a gray more like insp. photos for body. Gutters to match body.

  • Oliviag
    3 years ago
    I wouldn't paint the brick.
    You found a lovely home, with a gorgeous yard and acreage, in a fine neighborhood. enjoy it.
  • sambah006
    3 years ago

    Those homes you would like to emulate have nice trim, cohesive details, texture, rhythm, and shadow lines.


    And relatively speaking, were a much higher price point when new, than your home was when it was built. The houses you pictured were the Cadillac Sedan D'Ville, and yours is the Chevy Caprice.


    Your house has no depth. It's flat.


    To get where you want to go will require an exterior upgrade package of all the trim and detail work, and probably the windows as well to eliminate those atrocious slider windows.


    That's where an architect would come in and at least draw it up, create the list of materials, and an estimated cost.


    Then you can budget for it, or determine that's it's really not that important.

  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago
    Sahbah - I feel like you didn’t read my original post. I recognize our house exterior needs upgrades, and we will absolutely do that in the future. We bought our current home for the land (3 acres) so we had to settle for an older, less attractive home because 3 acres of land is not available for new builds in our area. The inside of our home is wonderful, but the exterior leaves a lot to be desired. We know that. My request here is, until we are ready for a major exterior overhaul, what can we do in the short term to make our home more attractive? Your comment is appreciated, but not particularly helpful.
  • sambah006
    3 years ago

    I read what you wrote. It's my opinion, other than landscaping, there is little you can do to get where you want to go except an "exterior overhaul".

  • Debbie Downer
    3 years ago

    What about the top half (siding) dark grey or greige - google red brick and gray houses (images). It can be an attractive combo, with the right gray/griege. IMHO it needs to be a darker gray of equal weight to the red brick. It will still be different colors, but just wont look so divided. Its kinda like patchwork now.

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    Sorry but for 10k there really is not much you can do right now. Even painting will most likely cost at least double that price unless you want a hack job.

    For your home to look like your inspiration photos will take 10x your current budget, at least, and yes the advice of an architect. It will mean changing windows, adding trim, etc.


    If it were me and I really wanted to change the exterior, I would continue to save and reevaluate in a few years.. In the meantime your house is not unattractive

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    And remove the shutters. They don’t work with the house. Each shutter should be 1/2 the size of the window so they look like they could close over the window.

  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago
    Just to clarify for everyone - I’m not trying to make my house look exactly like the inspiration photos. My house is a different style and I absolutely get that. I was just trying to give a reference for what I like, rather than leaving everyone guessing. I am not trying to renovate my house to look exactly like those homes. Instead, I am trying to come up with smaller steps that I can take to make my home more attractive in the short term. Suggestions regarding paint, new windows and the shutters are helpful, thanks.

    Capartist - I already have quotes from multiple reputable painters and I’m looking at around $5k to paint the entire house. Of course costs vary by region and city, so exterior painting must be much cheaper where I live than where you live. I do not need double my budget just for painting.
  • cpartist
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    If that's all it costs then you must live in a much lower COLA than I do. :)

    I would remove the shutters and just do what Current Home suggests. I can see a grayed green color for the body of the house. If I have time later, I can mock something up or hopefully someone else can.

    I would not paint the brick at this time because it's a permanent solution and you may or may not want it painted once you start modifying the house in the future. I think painting the trim, siding and doors will do the most for helping update your house on your budget. Plus the brick bottom look was quite ubiquitous to your style of house.

    Personally with the exception of the slider windows, I think the house is an excellent example of a 70's split house and instead of fighting it, maybe emphasize its uniqueness in the neighborhood.

    A thought. If in 10-20 years you're ready to sell and all those other houses look similar (and in 10-20 years will probably look dated) and yours is unique and well put together, who's to say yours won't sell first. Especially since yours is on 3 acres. If you work with what the house is, it will withstand the test of time. The worst houses are those where the homeowner tries to turn it into another style. A prime example is turning a craftsman bungalow into a modern house where they strip away anything that makes a craftsman unique.

    Back in the 80's-90's no one would touch an MCM house or its furniture. Now look what's the hot trend. Back in the 80's Victorian was huge. Now no one wants that "old, ornate" stuff. My feeling is work with what you have and don't try and turn it into something it's not.

    OK off my soapbox. :)

  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Thanks carpist, all of this is super helpful and I appreciate it. Any mock up that you can provide would be really appreciated! We have only lived here 18 months and as much as I want to paint that brick, I think your point about waiting is a good one. We are admittedly still settling into the house. We are going to do a lot to the landscaping this year, so I am thinking that maybe we just paint the trim to freshen things up and then see what that and better landscaping does. I am sort of neutral on the shutters, but my husband loves shutters, so I need to figure out how to fight that battle to remove them :) Again, maybe we paint them and then pause on anything else major, to just see how some of these minor changes look. Also, I totally agree about not trying to make it something it's not. And I do recognize that we have a unique house and there's only so much that we can do - I just want to freshen it up a bit. I'm less concerned about long-term resale and more about enjoying the house while we live there, but certainly I don't want to do anything to devalue the house.

  • Anna Devane
    3 years ago

    I think painting the whole house (brick included) a soft warm white with French blue trim. might look nice. I know everyone loves gray now but i feel not every home can carry off gray. JMO

    I also think what you like about the homes you showed as aspirations is that they have a lot of trim and detail work. That may be the direction to persue with your home. I think your house can use shutters but the ones you have are seem sized incorrectly And you might want to look at other types.

    I would move the red maple(?) in front of the entryway as it takes away from the importance of the front of the house. If you could move it to the right in the corner it might look nice. I think it’s a great house. I learned Landscaping always is the jewelry of a home l

  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Hi everyone - I feel like a lot of people were getting caught up in "your house is a 70s split level and those examples are totally different houses" which is fair, but I feel like maybe I didn't accurately explain what I likes about those houses. At this time, I am not trying to completely renovate the outside of my home - I realize that my above inspiration photos are very different houses with more architectural details and higher-end finishings - I totally understand that. but I like the colors of them. So to better explain what I am hoping for, I found a few more inspiration photos that are of houses more similar to mine. Yes, these houses still have higher-end updates that we are not going to do at this time, but they are styles closer to our home and I really like the look of them too. So maybe use these as examples of where I am hoping to get closer to, which is just a refresh of the outside because I think it's very "blah" right now.



  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago
    Anna Devane - We want to stick with earthy colors for the house because of the setting on 3 acres and because that’s just what we prefer. We are definitely not wanting a super cool gray, more of a warm gray that is almost taupe. Something earthy but updated.

    I 100% agree about the red maple - I hate the location and have no idea why the previous owners put it directly in front of the front door. We are definitely moving it. We’ve considered removing the two columns on each side of the door and replacing them with one, large column on each side (cheap, easy project) because they tend to block the sight line to the door as well. Out house is far back from the street, so privacy is not an issue.

    Thanks!
  • Kate
    3 years ago
    We painted our brick house ourselves over two summers, first the back and then the front. My husband was resistant, but I hated the yellow brick. We use a SW paint and 10 years later it looks as good as the day we painted it. My husband was so glad we painted it after.
  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    That's a helpful perspective Kate, thanks! Fortunately, the color of our brick is fine - it's a nice classic red brick, but I just don't like the "patchwork" look and feel like if the whole house was one color, you wouldn't really notice the different materials and therefore, it would look more cohesive. I imagine the painting project was pretty intense, right? We have 3 kids, including 2 toddlers, and while we are very handy, I am just not sure that this is a DIY project that we can tackle.

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    I will play with it tonight. Off to the gym now. :)

  • Debbie Downer
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    That's very nice AWM - I like that you added just enough craftsman to give it some style but without going way over the top with it. Which is a mistake I see on a lot of houses on the interwebs. The new windows really help a lot - I like that those three on the upper floor are now same height & style (instead of three different random sizes& styles) which gives it a much more cohesive feel. Funny how just a little tweak like that can make it so much better.

  • cpartist
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    The problem is windows will cost you big dollars. A lot more than your $10k. As mentioned eventually I agree the windows need to be changed and I do like awm's window choice. What makes it work is how it's one simple style but adds some depth to the windows and widens the trim around the windows.

    I also like that choice of color.

    One thing I wouldn't do is make the garage door a different color from the house color. You don't want the garage to be a focal point.

    I do love the landscaping and that will help a heck of a lot. I didn't play with door color but just some house color. Here are a few others.






    MRBr04 thanked cpartist
  • Oliviag
    3 years ago
    i really like the last color choice cpartist showed.
  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    awm03 - That design is really amazing, thank you!

    capist - Thank you for your mock ups as well.

    I am a very visual person, so seeing these examples really helps. And the more I think about it, the more I agree that incorporating a subtle Craftsman vibe is probably the right approach. I have always loved the farmhouse look, but I'm realizing that it just doesn't work with our house. And because our house already has such wide room pitches, it already has a slight Craftsman feel. I am surprised to see that I like a darker color better and I think a more earthy tone is better because it works better with the red brick. I am really liking some of these brown tones.

    A new, wooden door is already on our short list and I love this example. I am a big fan of double doors, so we plan to go that direction instead of side lights. Windows are also in our plans too, but probably a next year project. So my thoughts is that we may get a start this year with paint and landscaping (and MAYBE a new door) and then we can do some other upgrades, like windows, next year. It's worth noting that the top windows do a decent side trim around them already, but you can't really see it in my original pictures because the trim and stucco are basically the same color. If the trim were painted a bright white, it would stand out a lot more, especially against a darker stucco color.

  • awm03
    3 years ago

    Beautiful door choice. And of course make changes in stages as you can afford them. We're still making changes to our fixer upper even though we've owned it for 23 years! Finally getting to our tiny master bathroom, now that college tuitions are over & retirement is looking more secure.

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    Personally I'd ditch the double doors. They are less efficient and you never open both sides. I'd instead go with more craftsman sidelights and that door style.


    Whatever you do, don't choose a white trim color. Pick a softer color that plays off the stucco color. White would be too harsh.

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    My personal favorite is my first one which is a grayed green but any of the choices will work well and if the browns are more to your liking, I think it will be a good choice. Just make sure to get samples first and put it up on the house on all sides to see how the color looks at different times of the day on all sides.

  • awm03
    3 years ago

    We added double doors. I wanted them for the ease of moving furniture & appliances in & out of the house. No regrets.

  • MRBr04
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I strongly prefer the double doors and I like how they let more open light in, which is important to us because our entryway tends to be a little shadowy. When I search images of Craftsman houses that I like, I am really drawn to the ones with true white trim. I hear what you're saying about a softer color, but I think a bright white is the best option for us. Also, our house is set back really farm from the house and is on a wooded lot, so I think the white pop will actually be a good thing. We will definitely put samples on the house before picking though!

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    True craftsman houses NEVER had white trim. It was always a softer version of white. Back 100 years ago, they didn't have a true white paint.

    Realize that a grayed or softer version of white on the exterior will still read as white.

    To give you an example, here is some exterior SW house colors. Notice that the Accessible Beige reads as white on the outside

  • Sheila Gilleland
    3 years ago
    Oh my gosh this is a beautiful home.