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.

See more of Sarah’s Round House:

  1. MattH says:

    Sarah, Do you have a copy of the floor plan? I saw a Gilbert Spindal called “Geodesica” at the Jacksonville, FL Museum of Science & History, but the floor plan was unintelligible. It’d be really nice to see how it was laid out.

    So, if you have the floor plans, and if you are willing to post a link, that would be much appreciated.


    1. Sarah g (round house) says:

      No I do not, but I know who has them… I’m working on it and eventually will try to share that with everyone.

  2. Tom Simmons says:

    Sarah, We are preparing a National Register nomination for a 1952 round house in Eads, Colorado, and came across your story. We’re trying to document the relative rarity of round house designs and it was interesting to learn of Gilbert Spindel. What city in Louisiana is yours located? Thanks, Tom, Denver, Colorado

  3. Kallen says:

    Sarah…what a small world. I have driven past your round house many times through the years. I think I first discovered it in the late 70’s and was always curious about it.

    We should get together and compare notes. I have a very unique1959 tri-level about 3 blocks away from you. Pretty sure it’s the only house in SWLA with a “butterfly” roofline…and part flat roof.

    “before” pictures of mine are here; http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwicmcm/
    Still a “works-in-progress”.

    1. Sarah g (round house) says:

      I’ve driven by your house too! (…and taken photos 😉 ). One of these days ill just stop by and see if you’re home, then we can trade house tours lol

  4. Costumedzyner says:

    The renovations did wonders for that entryway! Now I just want to see the rest of that odd and fabulous house!

  5. amanda says:

    It looks amazing! That traditional door that was on it before did not work at all. I’m so glad it was saved from a Walgreens, yay for the person who resisted. So where can I see the rest of the house?!!

  6. Jewel says:

    Sarah…what a great job you’ve done! You and your mother must be a great team! Please, please, please post pics of the interior as soon as you can. We’re all chomping at the bit to see them!

  7. Carolyn says:

    You did the architectural gods honor when you saved this house. Your choices on the entry are amazing, and the Homecrest makes it *complete*.

    I am aching to see the inside — I trust it’s more enlightened than its Fannie Mae cousin (I laughed out loud at the address post they thoughtfully included in the real estate pics).

    (and side note: I have that same crewel flower picture — it’s more ‘right’ in your home, though)

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