Exterior Musings

While the exterior is not high on the priority list, we are forced to think about it due to a couple of changes we are making; namely, extending the front entry six feet, switching the front door location, and replacing the garage doors (which are original to the house and operated with gigantic springs that could snap at any moment).

Current exterior, on the last sunny day in recent memory

Our second garage door is obscured by the lattice-covered Port-o-Let.  We love that the house is set back from the street, especially because this gives us two side-by-side parking spots in the driveway – in addition to the parking in the garage (which we hardly ever use for cars). This kind of arrangement is rare in San Francisco and we’re not messing with it! Otherwise, there’s not much that we like about the way the house looks: it’s boring and too “Mill Valley” for the mid-century modern time period during which it was built. As much as I’m loathe to put money towards it, the reality is that this facade needs an update.

Work in progress

When all is said and done, the entrance to the house will be located where that big post is, giving us six more feet on the inside. We are also moving the door to the right (where the window is now) so that when you enter the home you are standing right in front of the stairs to go up to the main floor (as opposed to the hallway that leads to the master suite).

Entry Pergola

We think the pergola and big spiky plant in front, as well as the bougainvillea, are on their way out. The pergola is too bulky and won’t make any sense once the entrance is moved out. And that big plant is taking over; those leaves are sharp and can cut you on your way into the house. And as much as our neighbors will miss the fuchsia blooms in the spring, we won’t miss the sweeping of the dead flowers and maintenance of those out-of-control (and sharp) vines. We’re taking the planter boxes down while we’re at it, too.

Cornice detail

I think we can live with this roof detail. Given a different exterior other than shingles and a better paint color, this trim could end up looking pretty sharp. As much as I can’t believe this, we’ve also decided to replace the existing aluminum windows with… aluminum windows. BUT – they are double paned, gorgeous Blomberg aluminum windows, made to match the set we’re installing in the big wall in the rear.

Clearly it’s a lot easier to decide what to get rid of than what to replace it with. My brain turns to goo every time I start thinking about what the outside of the house should look like. One thing I find myself drawn to consistently, though, is the bright front door:

Fun yellow front door

Especially gray with yellow, orange, or green.

Pacific Heights project by Feldman Architecture

But just when I think I’ve made some kind of decision, I find other photos that inspire.

Sagan Piechota Menlo Park renovation

This mix of old-school Ranch (vertical white) and new-school modern (horizontal wood, glass window at front door) is lovely. Modern (those numbers help), yet inviting.

More white and wood (sorry - don't remember the source)

This has a similar materials mix, and feels like a easy modern update of what we already have. This is pergola I could live with – not bulky, no nasty bougainvillea climbing all over it.

So – still a lot of thinking to do. But there does seem to be an aesthetic emerging – or at least one that isn’t. No metal, not too contemporary. We’re aiming for clean, simple, and inviting – and somewhat true to the original house design (which is buried under all those shingles!).

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One Response to Exterior Musings

  1. I’m a fan of shake shingles… in New England. I love your vision(s) for updating your exterior. The grey/yellow combo is very modern and fun. The white/wood combo is still very modern, yet a little more grown-up and understated. Tough choice, but I think either direction could work for your house. I think I’d opt for the latter look if it were my house.

    I like the concept of pergola to give your entry some dimension, though I guess it will look different once you move the entrance. I know the fun and challenge of making so many decisions in a renovation… I’m interested to see how it turns out!

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