What 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.
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.
- Editor’s note: Read our story, 12 places to buy aluminum awnings
- 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.
- Yup, RR has researched this too — 3 places to buy decorative porch pillars like Scott’s
- Therma-Tru Front Door — The is the Pulse Echo 5-Lite Centered, factory finished in Sherwin-Williams Stop Red. The quality and function of the door is amazing. I wasn’t happy with the factory watermarks on the glass so a local shop, Echo Glass, replaced the panes with automotive thermal glass, and now I love the door 100%. Lowe’s did a great job on the installation.
- 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.
- 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.
Scott, 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.