• A groovy front porch makeover — on a budget — for Sarah’s 1964 round house

    A local metal shop made the fab escutcheons
    The mosaic tiles on the outside wall are from Home Depot

    mid century front porchReader Sarah is one creative woman — in fact, it seems we have a lot in common. We are both homeowners (both bought our first home at age 23), both have tackled fixer upper type houses and both of us studied art in college. One thing we don’t have in common — Sarah’s super cool house is round (I’m jealous). When she first purchased her home, the exterior was in sad shape. Sarah used her creativity and design skills along with materials that were readily available in her area and in her budget — and the results are amazing.

    house-before mid century house in need of repairSarah writes:

    I’m 25 and bought the house — it was built in 1964 — when I was fresh out of college at 23. I was looking for a place to buy, but didn’t know that I would end up in my dream home. I went down …[the street]…to see a house that was for sale by owner and passed up the round house.

    I tried to be interested in the house I was viewing, but broke down in the middle of the tour and said ‘what’s up with the round house down the street?!?’ They said no one had been living in it for a couple of years. I got in touch with the next door neighbor who got me in touch with the owner….

    It needed A LOT of work. It was so dingy and had been redecorated in the early 90s so I had to bring it back to the 60s. There is also a problem pool in my backyard, so I negotiated and got the house for a thousand less than they had bought it in 1991.

    The house was almost torn down too, before I wanted to buy it Walgreens wanted to buy the entire corner and tear everything down, but because one person wouldn’t agree the project didn’t go through (thank goodness!) the ‘we’ is me and my mom, she is the handy man of the family. We spent 3 months working on it before I moved in, and there are still plenty of projects to do! (it never ends lol)

    Craziest thing…. Found another round house like mine from the same architect in Magnolia, Arkansas, last weekend and went up there to visit them! Such nice people and so cool to be in another house like mine. It was very twilight zone! They do not however have the same aesthetic as me, theirs is decorated very traditional contemporary with the beige and granite and you know…. But still very nice, very high end.

    front-door-beforemid-century-rounded-houseI’m sharing with you my front exterior makeover with emphasis on the door. I… have done lots of work using your site for tips along the way. The house is completely round, but still has the ranch feel. It was built in 1964 and the architect was Gilbert Spindel. The son of the architect said his father sold 25 of these house plans so there may be more of them out there! My goal is to find them all!

    The front had wood siding under the porch area before. We took that down and put up concrete board and finished that off with a mosaic tile from Home Depot. I was surprised to find the tile of my dreams there, but it worked out and was a very reasonable price.

    mid-century-door-handlesglass-door-insert-retroAs for the door, we replaced a single door with two side lights, for double doors. The double doors were just two plain wood slabs, and we had our local glass company make the window boxes for us.

    The dimensions of the windows are 5″ wide x 57″ high with a “cotswold” or “rain” texture. The glass lady tried to convince me not to pick this texture because it reminded her of a shower door, but I didn’t listen LOL. I like it, and I think it looks period.

    The round escutcheon is just flat cut steel that a local metals shop cut for us then cut in half. The diameter is 22 in and we spray painted it bronze. The handles are appliance pulls that mimicked the design of the tiles. The door is either open and may swing open with the wind or is shut and locked. Not the most practical, but we must suffer for beauty, and we have learned to live with it.

    The outside got a nice pressure washing and coat of paint. the paint is all Benjamin Moore. The green being Lewisville green, the beige is Barbados sand and the orange is Peach Sherbet.

    mid century porchThe decorative concrete blocks were found in the backyard in a pile, so I used them to line my beds then repeated the diamond design on the garage doors with the same orange as the front door. I got inspired to paint my garage doors from looking at old advertisements in vintage home magazines.

    The patio furniture is Homecrest found at an estate sale.

    mid century address numbersretro-wall-plaquesThe house numbers are those plastic wall art panels that you see at every garage sale. I just painted the interior black and put my house numbers in the middle. these were all solutions because I couldnt find authentic or reproduction retro in my area or within my budget.

    mid century porchSarah adds:

    The house won a GE all electric award when it was built. Heated flooring, internal vacuum system, curtains opened and t.v. Swung out with the touch of a button. Of course none of those features work today! Shucks!

    The entire house is decorated with 50s and 60s furniture because I’m a garage sale freak! The bathrooms are original too one is terrazzo and the other is lavender!

    I could talk and write about my house all day, I was an art major so this house is my ultimate masterpiece! LOL so I will end here… I hope sharing my reno tips inspires others with their home projects.

    house-before mid century house in need of repairmid-century-house-exteriorSarah has made some great design choices. The use of a neutral dark tile around the front door creates contrast from the lighter brick facade — which when combined with the orange door — creates an inviting focal point and directs visitors to the entry. Her use of repetition — the starbursts on the garage doors, diamond shaped address plaques and decorative blocks as well as the rounded metal on the front doors which echo the shape of the house — help to make the overall design feel cohesive. What a fabulous house!

    Sarah, the creativity and resourcefulness you put forth in your exterior restoration job is impressive. Kudos to you (and helper Mom) for a job well done. You’ve shown all of us that if you have a vision, a little ingenuity and some creativity that you can successfully restore a home on a budget.

  • Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

    Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

    Comments

    1. Hi Sarah
      I have had the pleasure of working on a house like yours. It is located in the mountains of North Carolina. I ran across your house while doing some research on it. Just thought you might want to know there is another one by Mr Spindel.
      Zack

    2. Glenna Cable Brown says:

      I remember going in a round house as a model when I was a kid. The house is in Kettering, Ohio. I think it’s on Park Lane, off Wilmington Pike.

    3. There are 2 in Durham nc on duke street. Thought this might be one of them at first.
      Great job!

    4. I remember touring a mid-century round house in Fairmont, West Virginia, when I was a college student (1973).

    5. There are at least three of these homes in NW Oklahoma. One belongs to the parents of a friend of ours in Fairview. Last I knew, their home was nearly original. Woodward and Mooreland are the other locations.

      • Roundhouse Sarah says:

        Thanks Kay D!! I was able to find the 3 you mentioned. They all appear to be Spindels. I also found a fourth one in Swanee! You’ve single handedly increased the count from 8 to 12, mega thanks!!!

        • Sarah,

          Glad to help. If I get near Shawnee, I will have to take a look. The one in Mooreland does not appear to have the clerestory window/level like the others. The brick also seems a later style. Do you when the last plan was sold?

          • Roundhouse Sarah says:

            Yeah the one in Moreland is the only one that google earth won’t show a ground view of. So perhaps it’s not a Spindel since it doesn’t have the clerestory windows. The other 3 however seem to be spot on. I don’t know when the last plan was sold but the plans were made in 1957 and I know of one house that was built as late as 1970.

          • Roundhouse Sarah says:

            I’ve got confirmation that the one in Shawnee is a Spindel. The man in Fairfeild said his is not. Can’t figure out house number for woodward.

    6. Creative genius.

    7. Hello,

      My husband happened across this and remembered an article in our pile of 1960′s Interior Design magazines featuring a round house. I searched through and found the article, entitled “Living in the Round”, in the August 1960 edition. The house in the article is very much like your round house and was built by interior designer Edward M. Holbrook, A.I.D. The home is located” on the outskirts of Norfolk, VA. (Turns out to be in Algonquin Park). It gives the floor plan as well as interior and exterior photographs. If there is a way to attach a scan the article I will do so.

      Google searching turns up part of this article as well as other information about this particular home.

      • Roundhouse Sarah says:

        Hi sandy! Thank you for thinking of me and my house but I’ve been fortunate enough to have tracked down this article and purchased a copy of the magazine myself through ebay. I’ve got it framed and on my wall along with other geodesica stuff I’ve found. It’s a great story, it shows the original design that Holbrook came up with and the edited version that Spindel created to sell to the masses ( my version ). Here is the link for the story RR did about my house plan and it’s architect.
        http://retrorenovation.com/2013/10/15/architect-gilbert-spindels-round-houses/

        • Hi Sarah,

          Thanks for letting me know and for the links. All very interesting.

          If there are any other round house folks out there who would like the article sent out just let me know. I’d be happy to send it for you.

          Sandy
          (rectangular home dweller)

    Leave a Comment --

    If you are under 14 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
    Here are the full legal terms of use you agree to by using this comment form.

    (required)