“Updated?!”  Those who frequent this blog will know that the word is typically only used here in a disparaging sense. Last summer, however, I was contacted by someone who had read my post about the Shed style. He and his wife happened to own a Shed style house built in the 1970’s. The exterior siding was showing its age, had been patched in several places, and was in need of replacement. Would I be willing to help them select new colors — modernizing the house in the process?

Hmmm…. While I have assisted many people in the past in selecting exterior color schemes to complement and enhance the architectural style of their historic homes or business buildings, I had never done so with the express intent of making a structure look more modern. I was intrigued by the opportunity (and a bit flattered)… I saw it as a fun alternative to — and a break from — my usual routine of working with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century structures. Also, these houses still don’t really seem genuinely antique to me… I can remember when they were being built! I found it impossible to refuse. It was going to get updated by someone… I might as well give it a shot.

As the house is not near me, the homeowners emailed me photos of it, along with a photo of another Shed style house which had been updated in a manner that they did not like (I didn’t like it either; the house had been “normalized” with a forgettable shade of taupe). Also included were a few photos of modern houses that they did like. They indicated a desire for Hardie lap siding and wanted to emphasize the angularity of the house and have a more striking exterior. They indicated a color preference of grays and blue-grays.

The existing T-111 siding was looking very tired and was not doing the house any favors. The default purist in me could not get even a little bit enthused about replicating this look — even if stained in a woodsy manner. Because the homeowners seemed open to doing something slightly adventurous, I felt comfortable in tweaking the siding a bit. I emailed them concept sketches which they happily embraced and shared with their contractor. The following photos show the house before the project began, followed by photos of the finished makeover. All house photos are courtesy of the homeowners. Let’s take a look!

The main house is to the right; a detached guest house is at left. At some point in the future, this connecting breezeway will be enclosed with glass to serve as a new entry. The present entry is recessed and adjacent to a carport. Historically, Shed houses were clad in stained wood siding but in recent years have been frequently painted. The T-111 siding seen here had been painted an off-white, and it reminded me of striped wallpaper.

The recessed main entry can be seen at left. The off-white T-111 panels were not an attractive feature and failed to convey either substance or stature.

The main entry did not appear to be very welcoming.

The homeowners suggested using smooth panels on this wall (anchoring the carport) rather than lap siding. I liked that idea and decided to propose the use of smooth panels in other places as well.

A side of the house. Limestone is used to advantage here and in other locations to break up the monotony of the T-111. This area was in the process of being cleaned; the upper portion remained to be done.

The guest house and breezeway as seen from the back yard.

The back of the house.

A final look before the transformation…

First, a concept sketch:

One of my concept sketches for the house. The idea was to visually break the house into distinct units to simultaneously modernize it and to emphasize the angularity of each individual section. The core of the house was clad in dark gray lap siding while other sections were clad in flat panels of pale gray. The panels were staggered like giant blocks; reveal trim designed for the joints helps to emphasize them.

And here is the finished product as seen from the back yard.

The front of the house.

Much more inviting! The owners chose the new door, hardware, and light fixture which all complement the new look.

When the new entry is enclosed, it will be even more welcoming!

Another view of the front…

…and a detail of it. Note the new “robot eyeball” dryer vent (left center by the tree) and recessed hose hydrant (by garden hose) chosen by the owners and which are in keeping with the modernist exterior.

New LED lighting illuminates the carport and entries in the evening.

Although it was a bit out of character for me, I really had fun with this. I couldn’t have suggested this kind of a makeover for a Victorian-era house with a clear conscience, but I’ve been able to sleep just fine with this Shed-style transformation. And it helped to reassure me that I’m not as much of a purist as I have been told. Win-win! Many thanks to the owners for the opportunity to assist and for allowing me to post about the project!

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