Cindy’s midcentury modern porch remodel, including traditional random color slate

cindy's midcentury modern porch entryThe amazing Cindy is at it again. We’ve seen her house, her bathroom remodel, her Amtico kitchen floor, and her new pinch pleat curtains, and now she shares the new, welcoming entry way to her 1963 home. I love the long, low lines, and the integration of a favorite mid century surface material, random multi-color slate tiles. She also helped design the custom made planters. Read on for more of Cindy’s vintage Sunset-inspired front porch makeover –>

Cindy writes:

the entrance to cindy's 1963 house "before"

The entrance to Cindy's 1963 house "before"

I’ll start with before photo of the front of the house — wild overgrown yews that were surely original to the house.


mid century modern porch entry

Cindy's new entry way "after" complete rebuilding

After all the work, above and below: The new front entry.

new entry way to 1963 house "after"It was entirely rebult, the stoop area is slate – my favorite material and so appropriate to a mid century house. I then had a concrete slab poured around it. inspired by a photo I saw in a 1960s landscaping book from the library. I think it was one of those Sunset books….

cindys custom made midcentury modern style plantersThe inspiration for the planters came from a restaurant I went to in the Azores last year. I searched your site, local garden centers and googled wooden planters numerous times, but found nothing that satisfied me.

mid century modern style plantersSo I had them made by a local cabinet maker friend. They add a bit of Asian feeling I wanted for this front area.

Great job, Cindy — I love the new expansiveness of the entry way. You can sit out, have a cocktail, and watch the neighborhood go by — but the landing still has a strong geometric feel that totally suits the modern design of your home. Interestingly, I have read that midcentury ranch homes were designed in a way that they would be “open to nature” — but that generally meant open at the back. I like that you have added this friendly touch to the front of your house, but in a way that is harmonious to the front facade. The landscaping looks “friendly”, too. I have several of those hydrangea trees — a very satisfying cultivar in our part of the world, it blooms all summer long.

mid century house front entry way random slate tiles

vermont slate depot multi colored slateI have a photo of Cindy on her old/original landing (above> from when I first visited several years ago. You can see that the random multi-color slate tiles were original to the era. Cindy has replaced them, including with a tidier squared-off design on two levels. Random multi-color slate tiles are abundant in Massachusetts – and they are relatively affordable. The concrete platform below, which Cindy designed, kind of “mirrors” the shape of the garage roof adjacent (nice touch, Cindy, you have “the eye” for sure!) and adds visual contrast. The concrete is also reduced her cost (compared to laying more tile), I assume. Be sure to work with professionals or to really know what you are doing if you attempt to do this kind of job yourself: Up her in northern climates, we can get cracks in concrete due to freeze/thaw heaving if the underlayment and binding (?) of the concrete is not done properly. You also will want to talk to a professional about the pros and cons of sealing concrete.


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  1. Trina says

    I have a question about the slate. Looking closer at the pictures, it looks as if the tiles were set into the concrete vs being layed on top of the concrete. Can you clarify how the tile was set? Thanks so much. You have inspired me to get going on my mood board for my exterior!

  2. Jeff says

    Superb! Love the slate, am ordering it for my breezeway and may indeed now extend it to the stoop outside as well.

    My only concern was the color of the slate outside next to buff/pink colored ledgerstone planters I have under the breezeway windows.

    But it may look great.

    Love your front door and the massive door handle/backplate- that linkage must be impossible to replace today, better have multiple keys made!

  3. Katy says

    I love this! I’ve been wanting to do multicolored slate in our entry ever since your previous post about it, Pam. Our 1953 ranch has the same sidelight at our front door, and I love it–it provides tons of light with full privacy. I just wish I had your gorgeous front door to go with it!

  4. Cindy says

    Thanks, all, for the great comments. I fall in love with my house all over again every time Pam writes about it!
    This new exterior started with a vision that I had to convey to the landscapers and masons I worked with….the ones I didn’t hire wanted to work with blue stone or pavers – both beautiful, but not part of my vision – or they wanted to put in modern grasses in the front instead of the rhododendrons, azaleas and hibiscus. I’m glad I stuck with my own ideas which were helped along by the research I did on our favorite website RR 🙂
    Gavin, you can come by anytime!
    Trina, yes, the slate is set into the concrete by a mason.

      • Gavin Hastings says

        Can I jump back in again, as I think Cindy and I used the same mason?

        When I first saw my finished walkway…..I was somewhat shocked. I had expected the usual colonial “random natural flagstone look”. What I got seemed to me a bit more “Catholic Church 1961”.

        This mason explained to me that after several seasons, lots of the “typical” slate/concrete walkways fail due to the nature of the stone: Concrete is poured and irregular shapes of slate are pressed into it….creating stress areas, natural depressions and small gullys where water can work stones loose in a freeze/thaw cycle.

        This guy cuts each of the stones to a uniform thickness and removes any potential risky areas. After he is done (and he is a perfectionist!) the concrete and set stones are amazingly level and joined to the concrete seamlessly. These extra steps take a great deal of time and skill, and I believe most installers no longer wish to spend this much time on such a project.

        The 3rd picture down shows the quality of this work

        My walk has been in 8 years with no problems, no ice and no slippery areas! It took 3 days to install-start to finish.

  5. Cindy says

    My slate entry area is covered so it is unlikely to be slippery, and yes, I used Gavin’s mason and he was quite particular about the slate configuration…it is really gorgeous. I learned a lot about concrete in the process; there are some cracks in the concrete L-shaped patio area and he has given me three likely reasons. I love the look of it, but for anyone who wants it, you need to know that concrete settles and cracks and has a mind of its own!

    • Gavin Hastings says

      Cindy…compare the photos of old and new….Wow!

      The man is an artist and this is his Art.

      And seriously, think about sticking a piece of pvc pipe during the winter where the concrete meets the drive. I would hate to see a chunk of that corner get smashed by a rogue snowplow…..

  6. Pencils says

    Very nice! I have the same random multi-colored slate tiles on my small stoop, and a stepping-stone path of them to the driveway. This is giving me some good ideas for restoration.

  7. Squirrelgrrrl says

    Thanks for the post about the tile! I’ve been looking for this random slate pattern forever; it’s very popular in early and mid-20th century homes here in Michigan, but impossible to find now. I’m ordering it for my foyer.

  8. Jacki Anderson says

    So enjoyed this. I’m the youngest of 6 and my 5 older siblings lived in a 1950s cinderblock ranch home in Dearborn, MIchigan. My dad added a “breezeway” and garage to the house, and the breezeway had a slate floor. My parents were into ultra modern at the time. And my dad made several really cool pieces of furniture. They later moved to a brand new neighborhood and quad-level house in Farmington, Mi. in 1961. Our house was on the corner of the block, and there my dad used the left over slate to create a path from the front to the back of the house, with all kinds of unusual plants. We kids called it “the jungle”. We moved to NC in 1975 so thanks for the memories!

  9. Sandra says

    Here I was thinking that the junipers in the “before” picture totally made it authentic. My 1956 neighborhood is full of junipers, and I well remember their use and smell when my 1959 -60 neighborhood was being landscaped.

    They can get overgrown, but I was thinking of using some new varieties that stay low.

  10. afromod says

    Cindy’s landing lighting fixture is exactly like the pair I have in my kitchen. Unfortunately, I broke one shade. Any suggestions about replacing?

  11. Leslie says

    I like it! I think the colored slate gives it a clean, interesting look. The shrubbery in the before picture obscured the entryway too much and made it look a bit unsafe. The after picture looks much better!

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