Archive for the ‘exterior’ Category

Brick House Design

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Eric and Katie are in the process of fixing up an adorable little brick house and wanted to get some input on how to address the exterior. After a recent need to replace the front door, they decided on ordering something a bit more modern from Crestview Doors outfitted with minimal stainless door hardware. We all have experienced that moment of change – you upgrade one thing and all of a sudden everything starts to look a little shabby in comparison.

They are on a budget and able to parcel out small projects over time, thereby not taking on too much expense all at once. I wanted to give them an overview of possible changes they can do over time and create smaller projects they can tackle themselves.

Lets take a gander at a few images Eric sent of what they are working with.

Those are some giant trees! And a really unfortunately placed utility pole. They’ve been doing some checking and it appears that the pole is more of a support and not a full-on useful utility pole. They are working with the city in hopes of having it removed or relocated since it’s the only one in the neighborhood in such an an inconvenient spot.

Both landscaping and hardscape need to be addressed. They really enjoy grasses, shrubs and non-flowering plants with a bit of a Japanese garden vibe. Something clean, modern and layered – not too fussy, but a tad organic.

Also of note, they are not going to paint the brick but will take down the shutters and restore the fascia and window trim with a new coat of paint.

The main area they would like addressed is the front entrance and porch. They want it modernized and made a little more functional. The big trick was designing a way to keep their dogs secured on the porch and stalemate their tendency to run off chasing after little free roaming furry creatures.

So, cute little house with plenty of opportunity to snazzy it up. Here are some of my ideas (on the “Design Board” – please don’t make me say mood) to enhance what they are working with while staying budget friendly.


1 | Horizontal slat gate for the side yard entrance
2 | Horizontal slat staircase/storage area
3 | Sliding patio gate on casters (to keep the dogs in)
4 | Cable railing system
5 | Large round aluminum bulkhead exterior sconce
6 | 18” x 24” concrete pavers (two side by side) or custom poured concrete steps
7 | Crestview “Langston” front door
8 | Nuetra house numbers / Weston address numbers / Home Depot modern house numbers
9 | Flagstone pathway
10 | Stainless Steel door hardware
11 | Postino wall-mount mailbox
12 | Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10 (for trim)

First, they were not loving the white trim, so it has to go and be replaced with a much darker shade of charcoaly gray. I gave them a few options and they liked Benjamin Moore’s “Gray” which is easy enough to remember. I think that by removing the shutters and going with a moodier (and more grounded) dark trim, the brick feels sophisticated and modernized.

The other large paint issue was the dormer on the roof. The wood siding has some damage and the paint is in rough shape and it either needs to be replaced or restored. The original unpainted beadboard ceiling on the porch looks amazing and I wanted to pull that detail up to the dormer. The white siding would be replaced with a good clear cedar stained to match the rest of the wood details.

One solution to fancy up the porch was to remove the current wrought iron railing and crumbling cement steps. The steps would be replaced by a wider and simplified wooden stair and the railings would be reconfigured to include wooden supports with a simple cable railing system. You can buy all the necessary parts for cable railings at the local Home Depot and DIY or go for a sleeker look with readily available cable railing systems.

The big custom feature to keep the dogs at bay is a rolling gate that closes access to the stairs. A similar idea / design can be seen at John & Juli’s cottage.

For the entrance, everything needs a good coat of BM “Gray” including the porch cement. Ditching the maroon and going monochromatic is a surefire way to make the disparate architecture cohesive. The Crestview door will be complemented with a minimal door lever as well as a new wall-mounted mail box, new address numbers and an additional bulkhead porch light. I love the round ball lamp they have already and by throwing down a pair of fun patio chairs they are set for lounging on the porch, keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

For the side entrance the stairs would mimic the design from the front entrance with the addition of a little slat enclosure under the platform. The back side would be hinged and would create an area for storage under the stairs for tools or charcoal or whatever your heart desires.

The beat up chain-link gate would be replaced with a simple slat gate with an aluminum pull. A flagstone walkway edged with either hot rolled steel or composite edging, would have a base of decomposed granite to make it easier to roll those garbage cans out to the street.

Since they both typically arrive home and park by the garage, they wanted a little meandering path to get from the driveway to the front entrance. An organic path of flagstones set into the grass would give them a quick and dry footing to the front door.

The wider walkway from the street would be inset with pea gravel and have either custom concrete poured in horizontal slabs or go the more cost effective route of combing 18″ x 24″ concrete pavers to create the series of horizontal steps.

There is my rundown of solutions for all those vexing design decisions and conundrums Eric & Katie were running up against. They are working with a landscape architect who is going to hash out all the planting details and figure out the best choices for their climate. I want to just throw Papyrus everywhere, and Horse Tail Reeds and Japanese Maples, which must be the most go-to contemporary landscape plants ever.

Thanks guys! Can’t wait to see how it comes together.


If you have a space, big or small, and need design consultation please email me at to discuss solutions for all your decor dilemmas. Depending on your budget and the scope of your project, a quote for services ranging from 3-D rendering, mood boarding, product sourcing, or actual physical shopping can be arranged.


Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Wow. You guys have some opinions on porch paint.


To be fair, I thought it might be prudent to show some daytime images to give context to the twilight photos. At dusk the gray looks much darker, but during high noon it bleaches out a bit. I shot some pics real quick like (sorry for the deep shadows, this is probably the worst time to take pictures).

The porch and stairs seem really dark but those are just shadows, don’t let them fool you! In real life it’s more like a darkish mid-tone warm gray.

There isn’t a second coat since we were still debating on what to do. We lived with it yesterday and now today and I think…I like it. Maybe I did have color shock.

Yikes. It really needs a couple more coats. Check out those kitty prints.

Some voiced concerns were:

Heat ||  That cement is getting hot no matter what. Try walking on the back cement porch during noon and your bare feet will hurt. We just know to wear shoes during the summer.

Darkness || There is plenty of light on the porch at night, tripping won’t be an issue. When we landscape we will be adding a pathway and lighting which will help out as well.

Dirt || Yeah, I agree. It’s going to get dirty. No matter what color it is it’s going to get filthy. Mostly from cats walking on it instead of people since our friends and neighbors tend to come to the back entrance to stop by. This is a habit I need to break with unexpected visitors. Sometimes you don’t want people pepping through your back windows, because, say your blogging without pants on or something. Not that I would know anything about that.

The dirt issue will also be helped by landscaping. When our driveway was all dirt, everything was CONSTANTLY covered in a layer of filth. Since we graveled it, that issue is so much better. Now we just have pines needles everywhere from the neighbors gigantor stupid monster tree.

I think I’m going to paint out the rest of the porch with “Intellectual”. I mean, come on, it’s the smart move right? Don’t worry I just punched myself in the face.

BOY 1. ME 0.

You win this time sucker. Stop gloating and go paint the second coat.

Porch Painting

Monday, September 20th, 2010

After running around all weekend, entertaining guests and working on some killer new design projects (like this one!) by Sunday afternoon I was pretty pumped to prep and paint the porch in wickedly hot 95° plus temperatures. Pysch! Seriously, I wasn’t pumped at all.

Sometimes we have to do things even though we don’t want to (is that what the psychiatrist lady said to bratty little Sally on Mad Men? Which was AWESOME, BTW). Or maybe it came down to the recently purchased paint sitting on the porch for a week mocking me with our inefficiency.

The cool looking red robot? That’s a power washer. Best thing ever.

The ugly maroon paint? That’s about thirty years of ugly paint layers on the cement. Why couldn’t the P.O.’s just leave the cement alone? Jerks.

Check out my caulk. We caulked a bunch of cracks and holes and all the edging around the house. The boy swears by caulk and loves to prep everything with it because it totally works miracles. Caulk makes painted areas look a ton cleaner since it fills the gap between two unlike surfaces – which are usually riddled with cracks and weirdness.

Check out all that caulk!

We also scraped and sanded all the areas where the paint was flaking or scratched up. That was awesome fun.


I gave up one important decision to The Boy. Of course, if you haven’t inferred this yet, I’m a bit of a design nazi when it comes to the homestead. That was always sort of my gig in the partnership. But The Boy has been going on and on and on about what color he wanted for the front porch. He wanted something dark, something to break things up, some color. My immediate reaction was CRAP, those are the three things I’m trying to avoid. I want light, lots of cohesion and a neutral backdrop for landscaping.

While we were painting his choice of color, he was like “You are going to put this on your blog and blame me if it goes bad.” Yeah, totally. Duh.

I mean really, he drinks tall boys of Bud Light (check out the photo evidence). This dudes choices are a bit suspect. I mean come on, he’s been with me for over eight years now and I’m a nightmare. So, like I said – suspect.

He picked Behr’s “Intellectual”. I kind of want to make clear why we always use Behr. It’s not because I love it, in fact I think it’s super crappy, but there is no Benjamin Moore or good paint within a fifty mile radius of the house and Home Depot is pretty much our main source for everything. Not a lot of demand in Hemet for the classier things, so we make due with the options available and the price is always right.

Anyhow, it was super hot and the paint was drying too quickly, so we had to wait till the sun went down to try and finish the first coat at dusk. We didn’t finish painting everything, but from what I’m seeing so far my big main concerns might have come to fruition.

I know it reads a bit darker because the sun was down, but that is DARK gray. Really dark. Like, looks like a battleship or a shark, dark.

We aren’t done obviously, that whole white bit of the planter will be painted out dark as well. I’m trying to imagine it with tons of Mexican Feathergrass billowing out of the planter and the landscape softening things up a bit…try imagining that too. I think I like it, but still feel a bit worried.

My question for you is this: Did The Boy do good? Or do I need to do the second coat in a shade similar to the roof?