What would you do with the front of this duplex?

22 Replies

We are currently fixing up the outside of this up/down duplex. Trying to get some different ideas to work with.

We've pulled off all the siding on the front of the porch (it went right to the ground) the front of the house can now 'breathe' and now we can show off the porch.

We need to do a small foundation repair under the current porch and will be taking the floor boards up to do this.

I'd love to get rid of the siding on the front of the house under the protection of the current covered porch and eventually remove it completely from the house (think board and batten or clapboard-vinyl siding is a big pet peeve of ours)

We have a habitat re-store nearby and many small sawmills that we can visit. Windows are slowly being replaced (this duplex has so many!)

Just looking for some ideas to freshen up the look of the front and give it some nice curb appeal, it's located in a historic district of town with many other older homes around it.

We are taking out the concrete steps (left in the picture) and putting a new staircase on the right of the porch, it will come down 4 stairs to a landing and turn 90% and have more stairs to the driveway.

I'm thinking raised beds on the rest of the lawn-full sun all day and steep.

Thanks all!

Shelly,

See the 2 very thin lines below the last sentence of the original post? You need to hover over it and click to get the picture to display...

NOt sure if this is how it is suppose to work or is a glitch.

Hope this helps,

Chris

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I think removing the vinyl from the front of the porch was a great idea, and so is moving the staircase.

I would probably skirt the front of the porch with something, however.  It looks a bit unfinished as is.  I'd move the Direct TV disk if you can, subject to its need for a certain angle of the southern sky.  

It looks like the retaining wall in front is in need of replacement.  I would think that is especially true if it would be obviously where the walk to the old concrete stairs would be removed.

I would probably turn that front lawn into one big mulched bed, with durable plantings, for ease of maintenance.  I don't love that look and would never have it at my home, but for a rental a front yard as difficult to maintain as that looks is no fun.

Last thing.  You only have 3 posts on the porch.  You can get really nice turned posts these days for $100 each.  Could make a big impact for short money.

T Connoly

What are you doing with the front stairs rails?
Are you fixing the driveway or is trust ok?

If you're keeping the siding you could just repaint a new color like light blue or dark grayish blue for window trim just do simple frames and for light blue paint window frames trim and outer doors and dark blue including garage door make sure to match garage door with front door it looks sloppy when they don't match.

if you're changing the front you could try flat stone in charcoal grey and match the siding on the sides do the house with same paint color. Paint Window frames trim front door garage door black
Now for mailbox if it's attached to the building either match it with the outer light fixtures I suggest going with black mailbox for the grey and paint the mailbox dark blue or black for the blue theme. And the outer light fixtures black for both houses.

Let is know which one you choose post some after pics

If you're keeping the siding you could just repaint a new color like light blue or dark grayish blue for window trim just do simple modern frames and for light blue paint window frames trim and outer doors and dark blue including garage door make sure to match garage door with front door it looks sloppy when they don't match.

if you're changing the front you could try flat stone in charcoal grey and match the siding on the sides do the house with same paint color. Paint Window frames trim front door garage door black
Now for mailbox if it's attached to the building either match it with the outer light fixtures I suggest going with black mailbox for the grey and paint the mailbox dark blue for the blue theme.

What are you doing with the railing in front for the staircase to the porch
The front porch looks unfinished needs direct walk way to the stairs from the sidewalk or some step stones maybe?

Let is know what you did post some after pics

Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Yes the front yard is hard to maintain (if the tenant doesn't want to) we are about 40 mins away and I can't just zip over to weed after wk.

The retaining wall is actually pretty solid just ugly as all get out-I was going to plant some creeping plants to cover it after the reno is done.

I had been thinking about painting the siding to a nice dark blue/grey colour BUT when it was installed there were many gaps left and it's just a horrible job all around.

So far we've taken all the wood off the top (underside) of the porch and replaced it with tongue and grove pine and replaced the single ugly exterior light with 3 brushed steel pot lights attached to a dimmer. The wall under the upper bedroom windows was insulated properly first.

We replaced the front door with a steel door with a half window (original door was a full single  glass interior door-that's going to be our new to us bedroom door)

I like the idea of boxing in or replacing the posts to give them more appeal. We've also mulched EVERY YEAR and heavy and can't control the weeds-it's sickening.

@T Connoly 

As far as the weeds, I'd recomment

1. Round-up entire yard (do it soon - roundup works best when temperature is at least in high 70-ies)

2. Landscape fabric

3. Mulch

Thanks Chris that helped (a little wierd). I'd definitly add some color (door, trim, railings, etc), defitely block off entrance to ??? from under porch -- above ground garden bed in front of that would look nice (you could replant the hostas that is growing by the sidewalk they are easy to take care of) -- also would definitely fix retaining wall that is crumbling by sidewalk and maybe add some nice sod also . Hope to see your finished pics

Originally posted by @Andrew S.:

@T Connoly 

As far as the weeds, I'd recomment

1. Round-up entire yard (do it soon - roundup works best when temperature is at least in high 70-ies)

2. Landscape fabric

3. Mulch

 Yep, this is how you do it.  Unless you want to dig out every root just to avoid the roundup, and then you still need the landscape fabric.

@B Reeves Wonderful job on the porch and yard. Opening up the porch, lightning up the color, and redoing the yard really makes the yard and the house appear bigger.

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@T Connoly - you need REAL railing and spindles. Lose the 2x4s rails. They need to be close enough not to pass a 4" sphere. Make the railing a bit taller and it looks richer. Skirt around the porch. You can use the vinyl lattice from the big box. Trim the bottom to match the contour of the ground. Add some trim too. Put some around the posts. You can add 1"x around the base up above the rail height and then a foot or so down from the top. You can add fillers in the top corners to make it seem more Victorian like the rest of the house. See the image. It has turned posts but square posts work on a budget.

This is not mine just an image I grabbed off the net. This is way fancy but adding detail and painting different from the main part of the house makes it really pop.

Thanks @Richard C. and @Shelly Swanzy  !

It was a flip in an historical district...it sold right away for a little over asking price.

It was technically a 1 bedroom and I turned it into a 3 bedroom with a master suite.

It was a fun project because it was so challenging...I tried to wholesale it first but my investors wouldn't touch it! ;))

Good luck with your project @T Connoly !

@Bill S.  

 The current 2x4 is left from when we took the siding off the porch, it was lined with plywood inside the siding. I left it there simply to keep it 'safe'

The tenant is moving out at the end of this month so we can really rip everything out without having to work around someone living there. I do want to put spindles and we will close in the underside with lattice or fence board so the neighbourhood cats don't use it for a litter box.

These pictures are just when everything was ripped apart so it looks like crap. I'll take more pictures as we get more work done.

The retaining wall is actually rough  stone  and very solid-just as I said ugly. The piece of rock sitting on the right end of the wall was under a potted plant and was just left on the wall after it was used. I'd love to redo it but it's far down on the list of 'to-do's'

I love that I'm getting so many responses so far and i'll certainly keep everyone updated with our progress!

I have a rental with a front lawn about the same size as this, but mine is even steeper - and the tenant mows it with an electric mower (which given the slope and the possibility of tipping, electric mower is safer than gasoline).  The grass there is primarily zoysia; I'm normally not a fan of zoysia grass, but it works very well in that specific application where the lawn is sloping.  Turns out zoysia is slower growing so less need to mow it; downside is that the lawn turns a straw color when the weather gets colder and only greens up again come spring warmth.

Given that I see exposed rafter tails near the soffit, I'll guess that this was built around 1920 to 1930 (give or take a couple of years).  If that is the case, then this would be an "arts and crafts" or "craftsman" period house; you can search the web for how that type of exterior would have been colored - earth tones would have been used in most cases.

LOL, I'm going to split the difference between Bill S and Steve, and say that is neither Victorian nor Craftsman/Arts&Crafts, but is an Edwardian era workman's cottage.  I'm guessing 1900-1910.

Even if it is later, the style really isn't Arts&Crafts at all, and so I don't think adding typical elements of that style (whether it be the earth tone colors, square, wrapped porch posts, leaded glass, etc) would look terribly appropriate.  I also wouldn't go whole-hog gingerbread Victorian on the porch trim.  Just something.  Turned posts with a bit of profile, shaped balusters, something along those line.

The neighbourhood has many other older houses with earthy colours, there are quite a few artists in this area and they have really dome up some of the exteriors of their houses quiet nice so I'm trying to pull different ideas from different houses and mesh them but not in a gaudy way.

We MAY get lucky when we pull the siding off the front of the house-we saw some clapboard underneath and if it's in reasonable shape I can fill in the nail holes and paint it.

The house used to be a single family (easy to tell when you look at the inside and how things were changed around) maybe one day we'll turn it back into that but for now it's 2-1bdrm units.

Here's what we've done so far, new pot lights (on a dimmer) took out all the old wood and plaster and lathe on the house (under the porch covering) insulated, house wrap and new front door (I'd like to paint it also)

We are just in the beginning stages, you know the FUN part! LOL

@ Linda Weygant

I did forget to post the finished product didn't I lol? Keep in mind it hasn't been stained yet as we just finished and the snow decided to fly, this will my spring/summer project.

The tenant loves the pot lights on the porch, it actually really makes the house stand out at night. It still needs a dimmer switch installed so she can sit outside and not feel like she's on a stage.

Top picture gives you an idea of the lights and how they look at night, bottom it's complete (no stain yet)

I'm thinking an earthy green, cream/yellow trim with a dark red door. Any other paint/stain ideas?

Have a great day!

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