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.

therma tru midcentury door

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.

therma tru midcentury front doorvintage-front-door-at-night


  • New hardware — Hardware is Schlage “Orbit” knob from Build.com paired with a vintage NuTone Mount Vernon lighted doorbell I found NOS on eBay complete with the chimes, box, instruction sheet, and transformer.

red front door

  • 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.

    1. Amy says:

      I couldn’t leave a new comment that I could see so I will piggy back here. I love it! Be proud!! Those pups are proud of you :)…. I can tell! It looks so clean and wonderful. I was considering using cement grip in a tan or gray cover…it almost spreads like sand in paint and has a gritty texture to it. I just love the porch, super refreshed!

  1. Sara says:

    Very nice! I love the colors and your house is adorable!!! I replaced my front door with a Therma Tru door last year. Mine is a Pulse Echo as well, but with just three windows. My dad was my installer, and he said we did not need to get a pre-hung door. That he could just install it in the existing jamb so that we wouldn’t have to tear out all the old trim or disturb the 70 year old siding. We were warned by both a local supplier and a big box store that this would never work. That we had no idea what we were talking about and the door would not fit. Well, they were wrong and my dad was right! The door fit just fine and the install was pretty darn easy. The door is beautiful and compliments the style of my little 1950 ranch very nicely!

  2. Lana says:

    That is so adorable! Love that the little doggies can look outside.. lol The color scheme and awnings remind me of growing up in NJ near the shore in the late 50’s early 60s.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

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