UPDATE! Be sure to check the bottom of this post for an update on this whole house renovation!
Yay!! I’m ecstatic over our new door! It’s the most beautiful front door we’ve ever had. Here is the shopping link for this amazing door.
Both the Door and Windows Needed Changing
This post is about the door & window decisions we’ve had to make for the new house, (not a new house… it’s a 1970’s house, just new to us!) so let me take you back to before and what tell you what the issues were and how I formulated a plan to fix them…
This is the house last winter before we actually even bought it. (but had a fair idea we were going to, so I needed some pics to start ‘noodling’ over)
It’s Such a Pretty Setting
We loved the lot the house sits on with water views on 2 sides and huge Norway spruce on the other side. I could also see the potential for the floor plan working well with our lifestyle. (that is once the floor plan was changed a little)
House Looked ‘Off’
I didn’t love the way the outside of the house looked… at all!
I took some pics and then just stared at them over and over, trying to figure out what it was about how the house looked that was bugging my eye so much. I knew it wasn’t the color, though I don’t care for it, I’ve been around the ‘block’ (in a painting sort of way) to not be too negatively influenced by color.
What was it?…
I figured it out…
Do you see it too?
The house lacks symmetry. Every single section of the house has the windows and doors placed in an asymmetrical way. Nothing is balanced. It’s askew in a not eye-pleasing way. At least not to my eye… and since it’s my eye that bought the house and is now calling it home, that’s what matters.
Needs a Plan
Once I figured out what it was, I had to formulate a plan to fix it. This formulating took months… and I needed inspiration from other houses to help me visualize something different for this one.
There were other issues besides just the form part of the design not working too.
For instance, the solid front double door blocked the light from coming into the house, and didn’t actually function very well for us. I like the warmth the woodtone offered in the doors, (although it was fiberglass stained to look like wood) but a single door with large windows was more appealing to me.
The picture windows in the living room (the bank of 3 to the right of the front door) didn’t open, therefore no wonderful breezes… Plus, the living room floor, now with a sunken floor, is going to be raised up the the level of the rest of the main floor. That meant if we kept the picture windows as is, they would basically be just a couple inches from the new floor height.
Asymmetrical is Not My Favorite
Back to the asymmetrical look…
The difference in lengths of these 2 windows just didn’t look right to me.
Here you can see the gable end with the two different sized windows too. Both length and width are different.
On this front view you can really see the difference.
Finding a New Home for Good Windows
This two windows were a fairly recent addition by the previous owner. They were in really good shape. The criss-cross grillwork was not removable, being stuck in the middle of the 2 panes of glass. I don’t like taking out things in a renovation job that are in good condition just for aesthetics, but there were so many aesthetically sound reasons these needed to be changed.
Old Door Sold
Fortunately I listed the door on a Facebook garage sale site and it and the window sold within a few hours. I am happy that they will get re-used and not just thrown in a dump.
So my inspiration on how to fix our new Mid-Century-to-Colonial-Revival house???
My Inspiration House
In a previous post I had mentioned that there one house in particular that has given me great inspiration on our new house project, but I was holding back showing that to you. Well today is the day I’m sharing that house with you!!
This summer while on a long bike ride through Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, we accidentally went up a street we had never been on. I was getting pooped by this point in our ride but was so thrilled when I came up the top of the hill to be able to rest and catch my breath with this house as my view:
Isn’t she a beauty?! So many things to glean from her.
Just what I needed to help me understand what was necessary to fix our new house.
Notice how it too is a long rambling house, but it doesn’t seem awkward? Instead it’s visually intriguing.
I think that’s because every section of the house has symmetry and balance… as much as possible. There are still a few little surprises to that symmetry… like the 1 little window to the left of the front door alcove, or the slightly off center french door…
But that works. I believe because the things that can be symmetrical, are. Allowing a few asymmetrical things to cohesively exist and not rule the over-all balanced feel. Each section is unique and special, but still balanced.
Bringing it Home
So back to our house…
My formulation consists of a few main objectives:
- Symmetry… To divide the sections up and in each section create a sense of symmetry &/or balance to that section.
- Focal Point… To create a main focal point welcoming and pulling the eye, (as well as guests) to the front door.
- Keep the Quality… Recognize and maintain what on the house is quality.
- Colonial Revival Style… Without breaking the bank, in every change create more of a relaxed Colonial Revival feel to the house, getting away from the Mid-Century look.
So here’s where we’re at so far, (as of writing this post… which is actually a couple weeks behind real time):
Don’t be swayed by the mix-match of colors on the house… there’s a plan for that too, but it will have to wait until spring warmth to paint. I’m just glad to have the windows and door and siding on before winter! (well most of it that is… there still is the garage wall of asymmetry to deal with)
The gable end windows are now both the size that the one smaller casement window was. We replaced both windows to Andersen double hung windows. (these two windows go into a bathroom and bedroom… not ideal windows for large expansive views with a busy road out front, so the lack of glass from inside is appreciated too)
The windows on the gable end now are placed symmetrically on the wall, each with equal distance from the outside corners. It was a compromise to lay them out this way vs. being able to divide up the space on the entire gable following the roof line.
The roof line comes over the porch area so centering them on the roofline gable didn’t look right.
The other option was to place them on the center of the gable each equal distance from the peak, but that didn’t work with the inside floor plan.
Therefore, we opted to use the actual wall, edge to edge, for the width to center the symmetry placement on.
This is such an improvement from the mis-matched sized windows before. I think I may play around with shutters next year on this wall to help that balance even more.
In the pic above you can also see the new living room double hung windows. They are basically the same width as the old picture windows, but are shorter. This will allow for the living room floor to be raised and still have about a foot of wall space below the sill to the floor. They also are now is the same height as the bay window to the right. And they open! Love that option!
My Opinion of Replacement Window Sales
A quick note here on replacing the windows. I started out my window replacement quest contacting a few different sources that only do window replacements. I gotta say… and forgive me if you’re in this industry… but I kind of think it’s a racket! The price to replace the windows on our house, which was like 12 windows, some large some small, was… $50,000!!!! Are you kidding me??!! That price was even after the ‘only-once-a-year-state-fair-discount’ of 40% off too.
Sorry, no way in ‘H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS’ was I going to do that!
In fact, to buy windows at Home Depot and have our carpenter install them was such a better deal. Someone in the window replacement business is making a lot of money… there is an obvious huge mark-up in buying replacement windows through them. Yikes!
Okay, off my soap box now… back to the picture above…
Beams are Looking Good
That is the beginning of our new front porch!
We weren’t planning to build that this fall, but once we found out the roof was leaking in the attic, the push was on to do all the things that would be affected with a new roof. This porch was obviously one of those things we had to address before the roof could be replaced.
I’ll have more info and details on the porch in future posts, but for now I just want to draw your attention to what it’s already accomplishing…
The new porch, even in its unfinished state is creating a main focal point directing your eye to the front door as well as creating a sense of balance to the brick facade section of the house. Love it! I’m super excited to watch this progress.
The brick part of the facade is quality and that was something I really wanted to be able to maintain in the new look of the house. Even though the individual brick is shaped a little elongated for a classic Colonial Revival style brick… that’s OK, it still is quality and worth keeping. After all, the ‘colonial revival’ style part of the renovation is meant to be more of a suggestion than an adamant style.
The Walls with Smaller Windows
Now, a view from the inside…
This is inside the living room. See the sunken floor? That will get moved up about a foot.
In the bedroom where that gigantic window came out they had to re-build the wall:
For the first 7 weeks that we lived in the house, before the basement apartment renovation was complete, we had to stay in this bedroom. In that time, I was not a fan of the gigantic window, in fact I hated it!
This house sits on a fairly busy road, yes, across the road is a lovely view of the pond, but there are a lot of people passing by every day… and the bedroom isn’t a room I sit and gaze out at the view anyway, for Pete’s sake, it’s dark out by the time I get to relax in the bedroom, right?! I felt like the room was on display to the street… I just don’t want people seeing in the bedroom windows.
So simply stated, the new ‘normal sized’ window seems more balanced and right from the inside too. There is also another window a little bit larger on the adjacent wall too, so this room isn’t lacking in natural light, that’s for sure.
A Little More Inspiration…
This picture I found online, (I’m so sorry I can’t find the source, if you know it, please tell me!) it boasts the black sashes we see on so many houses in New England. I love that sharp defining line.
Did you notice the new windows on our house have black sashes? Andersen windows allows the option to get a black sashes on the exterior. (I did white interior sashes and black exterior)
Then this house:
It’s a house we walk and ride our bikes by many times when at Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, Maine. I love the treatment they did with the garage windows!
The high windows let in light but not a view inside the garage. The long panel of trim extends the windows visually and finished with window boxes these small windows have become a feature!
I hope to do something similar to the garage wall on the front when we get to that project.
One More Look at the Front Door…
Everything around it is still a wreck, but isn’t she lovely?
The view now from the inside the front entry is open to the pond and the light fills the room too.
Shopping Link for Door
I got a whale of a deal on this solid mahogany door here. An employee at Home Depot told me they are trying to compete with Amazon so have some killer prices on some things available online only. Sounds good to me! I love competitive pricing!
Here you can see all the posts on this whole house renovation:
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This post is linked up at these other sites: Between Naps on the Porch, Skip to my Lou, Coastal Charm, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, A Stroll Thru Life, Stone Gable, Yesterday on Tuesday, My Repurposed Life, DIY Dreamer, Savvy Southern Style, My Thrift Store Addiction, My Delightsome Life, Imparting Grace, Olives & Okra, Simply Sweet Home, Chic on a Shoestring, DIY Showoff, Tatertots & Jello