Challenge: Make this 1960's Home Look More Like a Cottage

What would you do to make the exterior of this multi-level home have a more cottage look?
Note: The vinyl siding and the size of the existing windows can not be changed.
(HT Readers: Question is resolved. Couldn't get that option to work when I clicked on it.  Thanks for your input.)
q challenge make this 1960 s home look more like a cottage
  11 answers
  • Mia8749530 Mia8749530 on Apr 19, 2017
    Would add shutters. Maybe a glossy black. Then paint front door a burgundy or hunter green. Window boxes with overhanging plants under windows. Would add more shrubbery..need some height. And bright flowers. By small porch and part of sidewalk, how about a white picket fence,,,,not real high, just for looks. If storm door stays, would hang a grapevine wreath on lower half of door. Around lightpost add some flowers, use a border of bricks or stones.

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      I do change the door decor (i.e. wreaths) from time to time with the seasons. Because we have underground sprinkler system, we'd have to dig it up and re-install it, if we were to install a fence. There are daylilies now planted around the flag pole, which was formerly a lightpost that didn't work.

  • Becky Becky on Apr 19, 2017
    Good ideas above. However, use a softer "black" more on the charcoal end of the spectrum to keep the shutters from looking too harsh. Surprisingly there are many shades of "black" to consider. Good luck!

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      There are softer blacks....You'll see below you and I are on the same page about that.

  • Smb17491370 Smb17491370 on Apr 19, 2017
    Add a porch complete with porch swing. Then it won't look so split-level-y. Change door for something in wood with glass, and paint if necessary. If do-able, make door wider, maybe with sidelights. Shutters, of course, and window boxes overflowing with color and foliage.

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      Actually this is a multi-level house (3 actually) rather than a split level

  • 169756 169756 on Apr 19, 2017
    I'd use some color on it. Shutters and door need to pop. If affordable, add a porch. If you don't want to block the light with a porch, use an awning that is retractable. and some landscaping would add to it also. Check my site for the yard do over from when we bought the house till now. (4 years ago) Plants can do wonders to a property. Good luck

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      If we had shutters and a door in a color that "popped" we'd look a little cartoon-y in our neighborhood of all brick homes...except for ours. We are the only non-brick home on our entire street. All are very 'sedate' looking so we needed to make some changes and yet look like we still fit into the other homes.

  • Zonski Zonski on Apr 19, 2017
    If you really want to have a cottage looking house, it seems to me that a good start would be looking into the concept of "cottage". Then find out pictures on the internet, pick up each architectural element you like from the different cottage pictures that you liked, print them, cut and paste to try and see what goes best with your home (you can do the same using any picture cutting or resizing software programme of course).
    Being from Europe, i automatically have in mind a British cottage (which has a lot to do with the french Normandy house - thatched roof and stones, with lots of wild looking though perfectly tamed flowerbeds...).
    I would also take time to think about the project, get to know about the different techniques used to build a cottage, ask professionals for advice (choose among friends so it does cost you too much, or ask small businesses who usually are happy that someone wishes to know more about their trade and give lots of sound advice for free as well). If professional advice is too expensive, turn to eco-friendly non profit organisations that will help you.
    If you're not too stuck on your "cottage" vision of your house, maybe have a good look at its potential as is, and find another vision.
    I, for one, would try and turn it into a very very modern though environment-conscious house where wood and brown coloured glass are used, with cubic extensions here and there.
    But anyway, good luck for your project.

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      Now you're talking big bucks.....Nice ideas but not possible with our small budget which was under $1500 (approx. 1380 Euros)  By the way, our interior does favor the French Normandy look.

  • Fra22350876 Fra22350876 on Apr 19, 2017
    I would add shutters if possible. put some Victorian pieces on the ends of the roof or stoop. more of a cottage door maybe even with a screen or a dutch door.
    paint it a playful color....make it more French country than so much of a cottage...
    yellow with white shutters, landscaping.

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Apr 19, 2017
    Hi, nice home and lot, by the way! I think to make this home more cottage like you would almost have to see it through the lens of Disney or from a lake setting. If the first it would be cheery and have flowers, butterflies, a winding walkway up to the door, a welcoming arched doorway, with bright flower boxes below the windows and inviting shutters on each window. There would be a welcome sign by the door with an inviting door mat and an enclosed mud room area between the garage and house. In addition, there would be some animal shaped small shrubs planted close to and around the house with cute little lawn art figurines tucked in amongst them. Just enough, but not gaudy! The roof could be wood shanks or blocks and add a chimney.

    As for the latter, it would be more of a beach or lake theme. There would definitely be shutters, but the outside theme and adornments would be either (ocean ,lake, fishing or hunting themed). Make it look rustic and add faux log siding. Add a small pond in the back yard with a deck off the back with sliding doors so you can enjoy your evenings outside by the "lake". Add a fire pit to roast marshmallows and make s'mores, gather with family and friends and relaxin the evenings.

    Basically, the sky is the limit! Enjoy your Reno. Looking forward to seeing what you decide. Have fun!!!

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      You had me laughing with the visions you created. Not our style since we don't really go for themes...but wonderful ideas for someone else looking to make changes. Thanks for the input. Actually our neighbor does yard themes in a big way....and either of your suggestions would make our block look very Disney-ish..... I'm kinda wondering if the city would come around and we'd get a notice... LOL!

  • Centrd Centrd on Apr 19, 2017
    What kind of budget? The inexpensive impact would be to add thick molding around the windows and doors. And add some color. And plantings. I think the roofline could use some variation so a small porch with a gabled style roof would have an impact. A bigger porch with a nice railing would make all the difference. Adding a shed or gabled dormer could have a big impact if done right. Adding decorative shake shingles could help. Window boxes. So many options. Check out this porch illustrator link. (just click next to see the changes) Here are some inspiration photos.

    • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
      We are looking into possibilities of adding wider window trim. I always wonder why homes that have vinyl siding and windows done around here, they never add on wider trim. It looks so "undone". I even talked to a siding installer here and they said "That's just how we do it". Ugh! So we're working on ways to design and make something ourselves.

  • CK CK on Apr 24, 2017
    Good ideas in many of the responses.
    Here's what we actually did  Our out-of-pocket budget was rather small (less than $1500 total). The shingles were replaced as a result of hail damage. The new color we picked allowed us to change/coordinate all other aspects of the house.

    1. Built new wider steps and decorative pergola all maintenance free materials(Removed old sinking concrete steps---Can you say "Fun with a jack hammer on a 100 degree heat week?" Arrrggg...LOL!)
    2. Painted front door, pergola and steps a dark charcoal (PPG Knights Armor) to coordinate with new shingles
    3. Changed out screen door to a full glass version with "hiding" screen when not in use.
    4. New dark gray shingles (Original pale sage green vinyl siding was retained)
    5. Enhanced the flower beds next to house with Russian sage & added more daylilies and a few other low-level plants to fill in open areas
    6. Added more planting beds to end of sidewalk
    7. Added flag pole (Former light on post was non-functioning)
    8. Backyard patio that has a cedar privacy fence just recently was stained in a dark gray to coordinate with the shingles, front door/steps/pergola to make entire house/yard more cohesive.

    Plans to possibly add wider trim to windows. We're looking into options to do so that wouldn't harm the vinyl siding AND that would be able to be added without removing existing windows and j-frame trim that's very narrow. While in theory I like the look of shutters, in reality, with windows this wide, shutters ordinarily sold at stores such as Lowes and Home Depot, might look too small unless we could get them custom sized.

    We discusssed and drew out designs for a full front porch at the time we were adding/designing the pergola. However, because the large front window is very low to the ground, for security purposes we didn't want anyone being able to come directly up to that window. Plus we need all the light we can get here in the upper Midwest winters that are long. Additionally we knew we'd have to move all the plantings that were there if we constructed a full porch. While that could have been done, another issue would have arisen: We would have had to dig up and reposition the heads for the underground sprinkler system that is right up next to the flower beds. Toooo much work/cost!

    Also the overhang of the roof line on the photo looks as though it would be wide enough to have a covered porch. But in reality it's only about 3 feet....not enough for a covered porch that one would want to put chairs on. So we'd have had to build out the roof line---a cost that was prohibitive to our budget.

  • Caroline Caroline on Apr 24, 2017
    If you're really on a tight budge I would start with paint and landscaping. Then add shutters and touches when possible.

  • Rachel Rachel on Apr 26, 2017
    To the actual garden I would add bush's, flowers, garden gnomes, etc.
    To the house- I would change the screen door and maybe update the windows somehow...

    • CK CK on Apr 26, 2017
      See the "after" and "in transition" photos I uploaded :-)