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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Ranch House Exterior Needs Help

lauraa99November 9, 2012
Hi Houzzers,

I am seriously considering buying an old brick ranch (from my parents). The inside is really large, and I love the lot. Unfortunately, the exterior leaves a lot of be desired. It is extremely long and looks very squatty. The shutter color is also very bad in my opinion. I know the roof needs replacing. I was thinking maybe slate? Also, I planted some miniature gardenias in front since this photo was taken.

Any ideas? Simple or dramatic?

I really appreciate your help :)
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Merry Memories
For color before you go crazy on other costly item choices, add color to the landscaping! It needs color and that pop I love so much, maybe nature can do what you are looking for with this house, let's see interior pictures..."bet it's beautiful"!
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:50PM
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This is awful. It looks like an old motel. I suspect it is not much better on the inside. Why don't you use it as a rental and buy something else to live in?
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 5:58PM
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I think the house is too long and low. I don t think you should spend a fortune on the roof, but rather break up the facade and put some architectural elements at the front entrance, for instance. Get rid of those shutters and put in handsome windows, some full length. Don't try to fix the house by planting dinky things. Do the house exterior work, then the plantings in the periphery of the yard ( trees and shrubs and fences) and only then decorate nearer the house, with a handsome entryway or something to draw the eye on that long facade that looks more institutional than domestic. There have been many renovations of ranch houses you could draw inspiration from.

Good luck!!
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:03PM
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Trust me. Hire a landscape architect and your house will transform to a fabulous looking house! Professional landscaping does WONDERS and will add interest, depth, color, texture, etc to your home. You will love it. They will offer advice on your shutter colors, etc as well. Hardscape and softscaping...get a few designs and quotes. When you drive up, you will say, how lovely, instead of this is a long, squatty house.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Aja Mazin
Very nice!

Consider a navy blue roof.

Popular with brick in the UK.
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Custom Home Planning Center
If you are considering slate I'd have a structural engineer look at the roof to see if it would support the additional load. A better choice would be a metal roof or the soft look of a cedar roof. I'd need to see the whole house exteriors to make any design recommendations. A floor plan might suggest an area to add a kick in the wall to break up the long wall runs. I'll look forward to more information.
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:19PM
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    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:21PM
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Aja Mazin
Completely agree with Darzy.

The house needs only imagination.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:33PM
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Merry Memories
Bravo! This is a well built home! Maybe a color change of shutters also...appraise it you may be wonderfully surprised! Before you go is the smartest thing you could do! Landscaping and color is key for you...I believe that is why you are "bored". Now it needs you!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:43PM
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Thanks for all of the advice so far. The photo above probably isn't at a very good angle. Here's another old one I dug up. It shows you more of the entry. The original bushes were taken up because they got so high! Any landscaping ideas in particular? I'm afraid if I plant something too tall, it'll make the house appear shorter.
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Merry Memories, any shutter color suggestions?
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Merry Memories
Laura, I truly believe working on the interior is like working on ourselves. It's as though one finally knows the exterior is not what carries us through is the strong, elegant, expression of our interior...have fun with landscaping...then see where you can go from there OK.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:08PM
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We spent years remodeling our backyard and interior and FINALLY hired a landscape designer for the front yard. I am amazed how the "first impression" makes such a huge difference. We thought doing the back (which is where we spend most of our time ) was most important. But, driving up to a beautifully landscaped front uplifts you and is a reflection of the homeowners before entering. Do the front first! It's a lovely home and I say buy it!
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:15PM
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If you're single or have a significant other who is NOT handy, a brick house is a good fit. I have a very similar looking house though my entrance is more of a focal point. I had a landscape architect plan my yard so maybe I can help. I really can't see where the front door is?? Anyway I think you have to get rid of someone's very hard work - the long and linear brick walkway. Assuming your front door is where the double peak roof is, think about the shape of a Texas Longhorn - starting your mulched bed at the far right corner coming toward the front door in the pattern of the curves on a Texas Longhorn. Keep plantings taller on the corners and gradually getting lower near the entrance so the eye is drawn toward the entrance. If your driveway is on the left, create a shorter curved walkway (maybe use the old bricks). I wouldn't do anything with the shutters until you select your roof. Since the brick is quite busy, it would be great if you could take a picture of the house and give to a roofing supplier and see if they can do some kind of mock-up with the shingles. (Aside from the expense of a slate roof, I don't think it's appropriate on a ranch - just my two cents.) It's late - I hope this makes sense
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:01PM
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Studio S Squared Architecture, Inc.
The lines of this house are not bad! The ranch style is inherently low-slung and simple, and this is an archetypal example of that. Your front door location is quite clear, and the material pallette is fine as is, I wouldn't change the brick or the shutters.

Don't (over)spend on slate, it will cost you a fortune and will almost assuredly trigger structural upgrades as others have mentioned. Your simple roof forms would look great with a standing seam metal roof, if you could afford zinc it would add a lot of character and movement to the roof, and it will last forever if properly installed.

Your house is nicely sited on a gradual upslope from the street, and your frontage creates a great deal of opportunity for a wonderful landscape foreground. Consider hiring a landscape architect to pull it all together. The best ones use plant material as sculpture; a few well placed trees and palnt groupings will really break up the front yard into smaller areas of interest. The money you spend for a well-conceived design will create value and save you money on costly redos. :o)
    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:17PM
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Thanks all! I will definitely focus on landscaping. Smldesigns, your feedback was especially helpful. I did have to google a longhorn but perfect example. I think that would definitely help to make the entry the focal point. I think i will step back from the slate roof idea. I'd rather use any excess funds to add some sort of architectural detail to the front entry.
    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 5:21PM
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