Friday, February 13, 2015

Split Personality: Adding Curb Appeal to a 70s Split Level

Before we bought the ranchburger, it had languished on the market. 

 I guess people weren't drawn to a squatty, 70s era home: 8 foot ceilings and a low pitched roof. Buyers flocked to the hottest subdivision in town, a golfing community that was tucked into a majestic hillside. But I saw potential in the old split-level. 




At night, I lay awake, imagining a hundred ways to add curb appeal to the ranchburger. I kept going back to cedar shake siding, crisp white shutters, maybe a tin roof, and gabled dormers (mine would be faux, of course).  I spent hours on Houzz.


I met with my general contractor, Mike, and an architect, Murdock. "Almost anything you do to this house will be an improvement," Murdock said. 
Traditional Exterior by Oshawa Interior Designers & Decorators Chris Kauffman


The ranchburger was long and narrow, shaped like a train. As I imagined cedar shake and white shutters, an idea took shape for a sweet, laid-back (but long) cottage. My husband's vision was formal and French. I'm leaving out a huge chunk of the story, because this is a blog, not a burn book.


Raising the roof wasn't an option, so the improvements needed to be cosmetic, if possible. Murdock, Mike, and I developed a plan.

Goals:
1. Create parapets on each gabled wing, giving the impression of a higher roof.
2. Add faux dormers on the long part of "the train."
3. Add curb appeal with climbing roses and shutters.
4. Replacement windows (as allowed by the budget).
6. Get an estimate on building up the chimneys and copper chimney cabinets
7. Estimates for adding dry-stacked stone to the front and rear elevations.
8. Adding cedar shake siding


The moment Mike added the bay window (we used stock French doors and saved $$), the house told me what it needed. Cedar shake would look great with the stones.




It was time to settle on the curb appeal. First, we began with the front elevation. Murdock let his imagination run wild. He told me that he'd come up with 11 elevations--good, bad, and ugly, take your pick. I'm posting all of them to document the process, and I would love your feedback. If you can explain why you like/dislike something, that would be so helpful. 


I like one in particular, and so did my contractor. My own choice shocked me! Murdock had a different one that he liked best. I'll explain more about our choices after a few votes are in.


# 1 





# 2


# 3



# 4



# 5


# 6


# 7


# 8


# 9


#10





#11


Which one do you like? Dislike? Vote more than once, if you like. Be as frank as you wish. In a future post, I'll share the most popular elevations, along with why you liked them; I'll reveal the sketches that Mike and Murdock preferred, along with my (shocking to me) choice.





Shared at:
The Scoop,  



56 comments:

  1. Hi Michael Lee! Oh, so much fun and very ambitious! I like #4 and #5 but I'm sure any will look most gorgeous! This is so exciting going though the remodeling with you. Happy Valentine's Day!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia:)

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  2. I like #8 - it just speaks to me LOL

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  3. I like #3 and #8, though I had trouble seeing the difference on some numbers!

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    1. Pam, I made the numbers larger. Hope that helps! Thanks for voting.

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  4. Michael Lee, I like #8 the best. This looks to be a fun project. I didn't realize you were completely changing the look. I admire your enthusiasm for these projects, and it's fun to follow along with the process and the progress.
    Love the new profile photo. Beautiful! '-)
    Happy Valentine's Day to you and the doc. Hugs ~ Sarah

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    1. Thanks for voting, Sarah. Could you tell me what you liked about 8?

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  5. I like #3 and #6. Some seem over the top with too much going on. #3 is nice if you want the dormers and #6 is a down played look that draws one's eye to the two side roof peaks. I'm sure whatever you pick will be lovely.

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    1. Sandy, thanks for explaining what you liked/didn't like. I have trouble figuring out the ins/outs. Have a happy Valentine's!

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    2. P.S. Sandy, I love the reasons why you picked #6.

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  6. #8. It just looks balanced. I scrolled hastily, feeling each gut reaction without picking any apart, and #8 felt good.

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    1. That's what the architect said--balance and scale (for those massive wings).

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  7. I like the larger triangle roof lines in 3's. #3 is my favorite because of the balance. #8 appeals to me as a nice asymmetrical alternative. Tough decision for you but you'll know what works best for you.

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    1. I like that one, too. I can really see this style with white painted brick and black shutters--a red door too.

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  8. I like all of them, but I think #6 would be my first choice. Primarily because of the little eye-brow windows. Those windows were put into a very good friends house to remind him of the Louvre. To me all of the plans look similar and I know whatever you pick with be fabulous. Happy Valentine's Day ML to you and the doc.
    Sam

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    1. I loved the eyebrow window in the movie Something's Gotta Give. Love that house. I have watched that movie so many times since the ranchburger came into my life. LOL Murdock and I had tried many times to add one. You helped me take a second look at #6. It has clean lines, and the eyebrow windows would look wonderful with white trim.

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  9. #3. I don't like all of those others with the rows and rows of windows at top between to the two main parts of the house. You want to be able to see the tin roof. In my opinion if you see the roof, the cedar shake siding at least 30% and the rest windows and doors and fireplaces that would give you a great balance. Just my thoughts. You asked.

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    1. That's true--I forgot about seeing the roof. The house is hard to see from the road. You almost can't see it until you are right up on it. I like your idea of doing 30% shake. Thank you SO much. Great, great ideas.

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  10. I'm probably going to be the only one voting for this one but I'm going for #11! For me, it is the only one that gives you a genuine center focal point and breaks up the long, long aspect of the center "train''. I like the higher center elevation. The cupola and the widow's walk are natural with cedar shakes. And it's just happy and fanciful and draws me in, like a British folly. I would put a pennant or an interesting weathervane on the top of it.

    I also really like #6. Those eyebrow windows do a really nice job of breaking up the long line. I could even see using them instead of the dormers on #11.

    You wanted explanations so here are mine. Yes, I know I'm kind of "different "in my opinions. Oh well...here goes:

    #1 - center horizontal windows seems squashed
    #2 - windows are better but the overall center design reminds me of a train station (sorry!)
    #3 - I would add 2 dormers on each side of the center section if you want a more Georgian look
    #4 - too many dormers emphasize the long line
    #5 - between this and #3 I'd choose 3. The odd number of center windows looks better to me
    #6 - wouldn't change a thing - understated and elegant
    #7 - another long center line - what a difference those eyebrows make!
    #8 - I can see why others like this one. It is more formal. Pretty.
    #9 - reminds me of Noah's Ark! :) Kidding aside, it looks more like an afterthought and not a seamless entity
    #10 The roof of the cupola looks a little flattened
    #11 Makes me smile

    Everyone sees so differently and I in no way want to sound like the "Correct Club", please know that. I'm only one person enjoying your blog in Virginia.

    It's so great that you let us exercise our creative muscles by allowing us to weigh in through the process. No matter what you choose, getting ideas from outside your own head is really smart, especially when a great deal of money is being spent. It's a win, win for everyone!

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    1. Wow, this is a gold mine of information and ideas. Thank you! I'm going back to look at each drawing right now. BRB.

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    2. I would stand in line for design advice from you. Just wonderful! The first time I saw the drawings, I just passed by #6, but now, I am really liking it.

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    3. P.S. About #2. I saw a photo of a house (Google search) that had a similar look, and it just wouldn't work for me. At that point, I began to worry. After reading everyone's comments, I'm looking at the drawings with better understanding.

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  11. My vote is also for #8. The larger gable over the "train" breaks the long center, and sort of gives the illusion of a rambling house that has been added to over time. I can't tell you how much I am loving following this remodel of yours-I know it's going to be fantastic!

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    1. I do want it to look as if it has been added on over the years. Love that in a house.

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  12. Michael, I think my favorites are #2 and #10. I don't particularly like #5, 6, 7 or 8.

    I had a little trouble telling where the front door was on some of those drawings. Will you have a front porch?

    Are those steps going up on the far right end? If so, could those be moved around to the back side of the house? I'm not sure I like having stairs visible on the front.

    This is exciting! You're going to really transform this home! That's funny that Murdock said anything would be an improvement. :) That may be true but you still want to be crazzzzy about it when it's done.

    Did you say they will be able to move your beautiful English Garden Shed...forget what's it called. If you go with the drawing that shows the little turret/gazebo type thingy (not sure what that's called) on top in the center of the house like in the last few drawings, should it mimic or coordinate with the one on your garden shed, if the shed will be nearby?

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    1. I had the same reaction to #5, 7, 8. Loved #2. However, Murdock says the shed gable will straddle the roof, so he has to work out the engineering part of it. To answer your questions, the front door used to be on the far left corner of the front porch. No walkway leading to this. Your keen eye saw the walkway on the far right end of the porch. My GC and Murdock want this to be turned into a garden and to re-route (eventually) the walkway to the front. They felt that it just didn't make sense to have an entrance like that. I revamped the foyer, so now it will have three sets of French doors; the center door will open into a sort of gallery/foyer with soft arched openings into the LR and very simple, square columns. I'm getting an estimate for the little shed to be moved (it's just up the street, lol), and it would go in the back garden, not close to the house. It's so uncanny...I loved #2. The safe approach would be the center gable, #3, but that moves the house in a more traditional direction. Would be pretty, though. I am warming to #6, but since we aren't raising the roof, the eyebrow windows could get lost (at that barely-there pitch). It's so hard to tell from drawings. I lack 3-D vision. Sometimes when I see a drawing, I'm not crazy about it, and when I see the real house, I love it. Wish I had that "eye" to see beyond 1 dimension, but I don't.

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  13. My 1st choice would be 4 and 2nd would be 11.

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    1. Thank you for voting! Hope you are having a wonderful Valentine's Day!

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  14. 11 is my favorite, but is probably too over the top :-) I think #2 & #8 look the least like additions & seem more like they were planned that way from the beginning. 10 is good but it seems like there should be something more between the two dormers. Not sure what though. Maybe a fan shaped window.

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    1. Great ideas, Suzy, and solid reasons. They are helping me so much. Thanks! PS Love a fan shaped window.

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  15. My favorite is #8. It just looks right - something about the balance.

    I may be back to further explain in detail the why likes and why not-likes, but that is clearly my favorite.

    Sorry I haven't the time at the moment to explain- but it looks as though it isn't YOUR favorite, and that is all that truly counts.

    Happy St. Valentine's Day, ML!

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    1. #8 is the architect's choice. Thanks for stopping by--I was hoping you would. Happy V-Day to you, too.

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  16. My first choice would be number 8. Balanced but not symmetric. Second choice is 4. Good luck with your choice!

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    1. I'm starting to warm up to #8. Thank you, Janet!

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  17. Happy "Gal"entine's Day! You have shared your love of life so beautifully and joyfully with the rest of us. You truly live artfully and it flows from everything you do. Many blessings to you and thank you so much.

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    1. What a kind and generous thing to say, Yolie. Thank you for making a trying day so much better.

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  18. Gasp! The changes that will make to that house! I am drawn inexplicably to #10. I love them all, but ten keeps drawing my eye.

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    1. So happy to see you, Terri. Thanks for voting, and have a great V-Day!

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  19. Going with #8, then six then seven. 8 gives you a prominent entry...but the other two give a serene roofline. I love dormers...and first thought of the line up of individual dormers across the lower part of house...but I am seeing lots of dollar signs with that. Oh gee, I am no help at all. Ha!
    Sheila E

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  20. I like #3 and #5 both plans give the home more height and architechural detail. They both visually balance the chimenies on either side without looking too busy. If possible it may also look great to change the roof line on the ?sunr oom/deck on the right to give further visual balance. To me the home speaks symmetry. If asymmetry is your love you could do that with landscape. Just my humble opinion. I love everything you are doing so far so I am sure whatever choice you make will be beautiful.

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    1. I like symmetry, for sure. Thanks for your vote and ideas.

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  21. I'm quite taken with #8...it speaks to me. I think perhaps because it's off center...it makes the house more interesting! It will be interesting to see which one you select! ;)

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    1. It'll be a hard decision! Thanks for your vote, Donnamae.

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  22. Okay, here's my vote, for what it's worth... I like #'s 3 and 5 for the symmetry of the gables, and #8 for the definition of the entrance. I can't wait to see which one you choose. It's fun to share in this journey with you, Michael Lee.

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  23. Michael, looking through these again, I think I would like 3 as well (if not better) than 2 if there was one more dormer on either side of the center cable. The single dormer seems a little lost on either side but two would balance it out more, I think.

    Check out this post showing a beautiful old barn Gail Claridge turned into a house. It's really beautiful and the windows across the top remind me of what you have in mind with number 2. Especially look at the very last picture in that post.
    It has the cupola atop the roof, too. I know your house isn't a barn :) but I thought the 3-d aspect may help you to envision the top if you go with #2. http://betweennapsontheporch.net/gail-claridges-beautiful-country-meadow-equestrian-ranch/

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    1. Susan, I looked at the post and left you a message. I like the cupola. I'm going to ask Murdock to take a look at those photos. I agree that we need something else for #3. In all of the examples, the dormers or eyebrow windows will have a view (if it can be seen) of an unfinished attic, and Murdock had suggested to add plantation shutters. But that would depend on the windows. Thank you so much!

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  24. For some reason, I like # 8. My eye thinks it is more balanced. The addition of the room with the large gable really does break up the length of the house and gives it character.

    Take care.

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  25. Without over-analyzing, my first impression told me #8 and here's why: The solid bank of french windows/doors across the front looks confusing as to where the entrance would be, making the appearance of the home resemble something more along the lines of a clubhouse-type building. Definitely, the shed dormers make me think of this as a recreational building and the single row of dormers is an overwhelming look to me that aesthetically detracts too.

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    1. Oops, I need to clarify that the reason I like # 8 is because it defines the entrance and adds depth to the facade.

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  26. I'm torn between #2 and #3. I like how with #2 the roof addition follows the ridge line of the original house and it feels the most ranch like but then #3 pops in an additional gable end that repeats the other gable ends and creates a uniform look. Ultimately I'm picking #2 because of how it repeats the same ridge line with the right side of the home and I think it's in keeping with the ranch style look the best.

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  27. #1 - so straight forward without a lot of fru-fru.

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  28. Love the symmetry as in #5 and love the cupola of #11!!...hard to chose from so many magnificent facades!

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  29. I really like #8 too! Something traditional and homey about it.
    Sherry

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