Scott adds curb appeal to his midcentury modest house — amazing transformation!

vintage-house-makeover-before-afterScott-crop-photoWhat a transformation! “My poor little house wasn’t an ugly duckling,” reader Scott said, “it was just suffering from a total beige-out.” Yup: What a difference that some color and applied decorationg — on new awnings, a new front door, porch pillars, roof and landscaping — make in brightening up this beautiful midcentury modest house. It’s like Dorothy stepping out into Oz.

midcentury-modest-houseScott writes:

Hi Pam,

Attached below are some photos of my little modest makeover.

I’d still be floundering over what to do with the place if it weren’t for Retro Renovation having opened my mind with the concept of the Mid-Century Modest. Before, I was focusing on details like peaked glass, swoopy attached carports, and other super modern features that I loved but just couldn’t be added to my house without major construction. But once I started concentrating on other houses similar to mine, the decisions all started coming quite easily.


One thing I quickly noticed in vintage photos and advertisements that was different from my house compared to the originals was the complete lack of color on my house. My poor little house wasn’t an ugly duckling, it was just suffering from a total beige-out. To make things right I added a green roof, green awnings, and a bright red door. When the new roof was installed I was thrilled to find the original roof was in place, a bright brick red speckle design. The hours I spent pouring over vintage magazines and concentrating on Modests helped me develop a gut instinct that color would make all the difference for my house and it did.

Here are the details on what I did:


  • New roof — Owens Corning Traditional 3-tab shingles in Chateau Green. My neighbors across the street are professional roofers, how lucky can you get?
  • New awnings — built and installed by Style-Rite of Columbus, in business since 1952. The original awnings were awesomely solid but badly banged and dented from carelessness over the years plus my stone front house needed something bolder than the Ivory. The color combo I went with was Fern Green (which is lighter than Ivy and has a slightly blue cast) and Polar White. New awnings are much lighter weight than the original awnings were and not quite as weather-proof. However I still highly recommend them as fresh new awnings add instant rejuvenation, look authentic, and you get to decide all the important details like size and placement.
  • New railing & patio posts — Style-Rite also added the aluminum railing and patio posts with the oak and acorn inserts which are just like my Grandparents added to their house when it was updated in 1958! The fancy inserts ratcheted up the price quite a bit but the awnings themselves were actually priced lower than I had imagined.




  • Rebuild steps — The crumbling concrete porch and steps were rebuilt with resin by Ohio Concrete, who did an amazing job for less than a third of the price of my lowest concrete estimate. Not tearing out the old concrete in this case was actually a safer prospect for my house, as it eliminated the risk of damaging the original stone, which is integral to the porch. I’m very pleased with the appearance and best of all, the resin doesn’t seem to freeze over as bad as concrete in the winter. To make it look older, I painted it with Home Depot’s Behr “DeckOver” in a warm gray, which I matched to my concrete then went a few shades deeper so the porch felt more visually weighted.
  • New windows — The replacement windows that came with the house when I bought it had warped badly and were leaking air and water. To completely side-step trying to figure out how to get a new window to look vintage I turned both street-facing windows into picture windows. The window on the left is an Andersen, the window on the right is a Lowe’s Reliabilt. Both look great, had top notch installers, and do an amazing job reducing solar gain, heat leakage, and noise. Going forward any other windows I replace will be Reliabilts, as the quality is great and the pricing is substantially lower.


At the door is my dog Lancer. Lancer and Daisy both demonstrate why dog owners will probably want the clear glass when they select a new door, as it will provide hours and hours of entertainment for the four-legged members of your household.

A big heartfelt thanks for everything you and Kate do. As you can see it is really having a big impact.

vintage porch vintage porchScott, fantastic job! It is amazing what selecting the right finishing details and adding some color can do for a house. Thanks so much for sharing your story:  We really appreciate it when readers like you take the time to send us write ups like, with all the details on the resources you used, and sharing your decision-making experience and lessons learned.  And of course, the photos are crucial — and when they include cute pups, well, all the better! Finally, Pam wants to extend a special thanks because we know you are such an active commenter on the blog. Such a wonderful group we have here! It’s just so darn nice.


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  1. J D Log says

    Great job Scott I feel for you I have started working on the outside of my house which has been beige out.
    Building a front porch replacing fascia boards and eves putty up the windows and painting the weatherboard. When this is done will start the garden Thanks for the inspiration

  2. LRapp says

    Thank-you Scott!!
    I just ordered this exact door from Thermatrue and I have been concerned about how it will look. Yours looks fabulous! I cannot wait until mine is installed. 5 more weeks…(maybe).

  3. Brandy says

    Very inspiring. Especially good to know about the porch since I have porch issues as well. I just purchased my first home, a MCModest, and it was turned into a biege palace inside and out so I am trying to slowly add color. Definitely going for awnings!

  4. Joe Felice says

    The house looked pretty MCM-authentic to begin with, but Scott did some great improvements on it. Personally, I would have gone with a light aqua on the gable, but white looks good, and, if that’s what Scott likes, I am happy. I think that little window next to the porch is adorable. I wonder what’s behind it. And I really love the door chimes. I’m thinking that front alcove/foyer and the stone facade were added at some point, and they really bring architectural detail to the front elevation.

  5. says

    The work you did to beautify your home is absolutely brilliant. I will always look at this type of home with new eyes due to your carefully thought out and artistic eye. Everything is perfect…from the door to the colors to the shape of the bushes.

  6. Laurie Louise says

    Wow, Scott. From ho hum to hubba hubba! (Pardon me if I sound like a judge on Dancing with the Stars!) You were so sensitive and wise with your use of color and form. And your sweet house looks so authentic now–as well as beautiful. I hope you and the pooches are busting your buttons (them, on their little sweaters) with pride.

    Question: How hard/expensive was it to replace the windows on the door?

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Scott says

      Hi and thank you!

      I don’t how it would work for all brands of doors, but for the Therma-Tru it was pretty straightforward. The exterior and interior trim frames were taken off first (held by small screws and/or adhesive), then each individual old sealed unit could be removed through the front of the door. The adhesive/insulation was a bit pesky to get loose but the installers took their time and each unit finally came out with no drama or glass breakage.

      The glass company had already measured and built the replacement sealed units in advance (looking like small glass blocks more or less) and the swap-out took around 90 minutes or so.

      Some touch up was required after but it was all confined to the trim pieces, no marks were made on the door itself. I was able to get an exact color match as Therma-Tru included two small bottles of touch-up paint with the door. The bottles included a built-in brush but I used a good quality small square-tipped artist’s brush so I’d have better control.

  7. says

    So cute!! I just love, love, love these modest little homes. They are so perfect in their efficient use of space and small footprint. And while I love what you did, I think it was adorable even before its transformation.

    And your dogs! The pictures of Lancer and Daisy are the best. Thank you for including them in the photos.

  8. says

    I’m looking around at landscaping for my new mid century fixer upper. I love this! I think you used rock. I’m going to spend the extra cash for rock too. Give Lancer and Daisy a kiss for me.

  9. j says

    The first thing I noticed was the landscape edging. New address numbers now needed. I wish I could find a small, affordable house like this.

  10. Kathy says

    Scott, I was wondering how the Deck Over paint has held up over the epoxy repair has held up over the past two winters. I have a similar problem with my steps and I can’t find anyone willing to repair them and I’m thinking of trying Abatron’s epoxy concrete repair, but the color is totally wrong. Thanks!

    • Joan Becich says

      I also have stairs needing repair….not in the front of the house though. Curious about how the epoxy repair has held up as well!

  11. Scott says

    Hi Kathy. So far the resin is holding up quite well. I went with that option too as no one wanted to do concrete work on my porch due to the stone that is integrated into the sides.

    The only thing I would do differently is that on top of the resin, a light top coat was applied to add texture and mimic the look of concrete. This layer is troublesome and tends to chip so I would skip this step. That will leave a more slick surface but the Deckover has a slightly matte, almost rubbery finish that will add back some grip. The Deckover is sticking great everywhere except in places where the faux concrete finish chipped but on the plus side touch-ups are easy. Deckover comes in a nice range of colors and since I first used it they reformulated it to take the extreme odor out.

    Other benefits of the resin besides lower cost is that the material tends to not freeze as quickly as concrete and a broom is all that is needed to get rid of the snow which is handy as you don’t want to be rough with the resin.

    Good luck with your porch!

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