Tagged: exterior

revisiting the exterior: design

One of the things that attracted us to our house was its inherent simplicity. Despite its cosmetic lacking, the overall form had not been botched too much over the years. Living in Seattle we’ve also come to realize the importance of an entry space, somewhere to unload muddy shoes and rain gear as well as serving as a buffer between heated and unheated areas. Just as important, we envy the homes that have open front porches, a place to hang out on warm summer nights and talk with neighbors. Throughout its life, our house has had each of these elements. Our design problem was that we wanted both.


A reminder of what chezerbey looked like in its adolescence (taken sometime in the ’30s). Simple, open porch and smaller windows. You can just barely tell, but on the right side of the photo you can see the corner of the open back porch.



70 years later. Larger, double pane aluminum windows replaced the original wood double hungs. The porch was closed in and everything was covered with aluminum siding. Apparently there was also a sale on teal paint. The gable end (also metal siding) was originally a darker teal color but faded over the years.  



Three years later! (To be exact, all the exterior work was done in the last 8 months with the exception of the main roof which we replaced 2 years ago.)

In terms of design, we used SketchUp (bottom left image) quite a bit to try out different design ideas. One of the things that we didn’t love about our house was the symmetry. We considered a few different designs that would introduce some asymmetry – such as expanding the porch to the south, replacing one of the large front windows with a bump-out, or reconfiguring the steps. Ultimately though, big changes meant big $$ and we were definitely on a budget. The final design was a happy compromise – by changing the rise and run of the front steps we were able to add a 3′ deep landing at the top of the stairs. In addition to the “stoop seating” we could fit a couple of small chairs in that space and achieve our desire for a porch. We also maintained a deep overhang at the porch roof for extra protection from the elements.


While the completed interior portions of the house are fairly modern, we were more limited on the exterior. Though simple, the form and certain details are somewhat traditional. So, we decided to be selective and subtle in our modernity.

  • First and foremost, the color is different. There is a fine line, we quickly learned, between blue-gray, navy blue, and country blue.
  • For our new windows, we chose a dark brown metal clad window which adds an extra pop against the white trim.
  • We wanted to avoid the “tacked on” look that a lot of entry steps have so we designed the beveled cedar siding at the side walls of the porch to extend out, effectively becoming the guard rails for the stairs.  To play on the idea of integration and transition, we notched the siding at the stair portion to become the more open and inviting slats.
  • We knew we needed to replace the existing shingles at the base of the house, but we wrestled with what we would replace them with. We considered continuing the beveled siding down, but that option was expensive and we felt like visually, the house need a base. We also considered using hardi panel or corten steel panels, but these options seemed to contrast to much with the character of the house. Ultimately, we went back to the shingles, but opted for a dark brown stain that would pick up on the fir and ipe.
  • The two knee braces support the porch roof overhang, but structurally speaking, without something tying them together and completing the triangle, the roof would have a tendency to splay out. So we bolted a piece of all-thread to each of the braces and slipped a piece of conduit over. We probably get more comments on that one element than anything else, but it’s playful and we like it.
  • In terms of other small touches, we chose modern house numbers (Neutra from DWR), an industrial jelly jar style light that we picked up at Home Depot(!!), modern door hardware from Emtek and a clean and simple mail slot and doorbell.


So that’s it! Besides a complete landscaping overall, we also have plans to (eventually) add a deck off the back of the house. To see the full process, check out the exterior page.

porch materials palette

The remaining task for 2009 is to finish the interior of the front porch/mudroom. First, we need to insulate the vaulted ceiling and install the vertical grain fir tongue and groove boards. We’ll also put up the rest of the cedar siding on the “exterior wall” portion and install the interior light. That’s our goal for this weekend and next week. (What? We had about a two week break!)

Last night we snagged a paperstone remnant from Ecohaus to use for our bench top. After searching unsuccessfully for an entry bench that could provide the right kind of storage for the right kind of price, we decided we would design and construct our own. Here’s what we’re thinking: vertical grain fir plywood box on stainless steel legs (IKEA) with the paperstone top/lid. The inside of the box will provide storage for hats/scarves/mittens, Bailey’s leash and the necessary stash of “#2 doggie bags”. We’re also considering using an IKEA grundtal shelf (similar to our towel rack, but deeper) as a shoe rack, to either mount under the bench or on the opposite side of the space. We’ll also install a couple coat hooks on each side of the interior entry door.

Here’s a glimpse of the current palette:



That’s right, we consider Bailey (and his furry coat) to be part of the palette. We think he’ll be spending a good deal of time in here, keeping an eye on all the neighborhood action…and drooling all over the door.

The flooring will be Flor carpet tiles – primarily the animal series in “irish setter” (most golden retriever like) with 2 squares of the “coir” at the door to act as a walk off mat. The cedar siding will be painted the Benjamin Moore “soot” to match the rest of the house. The bench box, windows, and ceiling will be fir. The trim will be painted white and the jelly jar light (to be mounted above the interior door) will match the one above the exterior door.

Our mudroom is only 5’x7′ with windows or doors taking up about 75% of the wall space. Therefore, it was important to maximize storage without compromising circulation. Our hope is that the space will be used primarily for every day needs (including a place for guests to store their coats/bags/shoes), without becoming overloaded with outerwear.

revisiting the exterior: materials

A few people have asked about various materials used on our recent exterior project so we put together a synopsis of the main elements and how they were treated or finished. This project was a lot of work and we don’t want to think about maintenance anytime soon, so we paid careful attention to selecting and applying the best finishes/sealers/primers/paints to protect against excess moisture and UV exposure.  



A few other measures to ensure that chezerbey looks good in the years to come:

  • we chose hearty materials that have a long life span – cedar, ipe, metal clad windows, etc.
  • we kept most of the original 1910 cedar siding, removed all the old paint and then sanded it smooth, set the old (non-galvanized) nail heads and filled them with rust stopper, and then spackled and sanded the holes. Next, we caulked all vertical joints, corners and seams and applied a pre-tinted penetrating primer before the final coat of high quality exterior paint.
  • we replaced the old shingles at the base with new cedar shingles (after installing new building paper), then applied a tinted stain that provides UV protection. We also used stainless steel fasteners to avoid the streaking that can result from galvanized fasteners and cedar tannins.
  • we treated the fir front door, but it is also protected by the deep overhang of the porch roof.
  • we followed thorough waterproofing and flashing techniques when installing new windows and doors and sealed every nook and cranny with spray foam insulation.
  • we installed kick out flashing where the porch roof eave hits the wall of the house. This directs water toward the gutter and not down the face of the house.
  • we used ipe or pressure treated wood in all areas that have direct contact with concrete or dirt.
  • we used a lifetime warranty urethane caulk in all areas that needed further sealing but that are susceptible to expansion and contraction.
  • we installed ridge and soffit vents in the porch roof to allow the roof to breath and mitigate potential mold/mildew issues. [We did the same thing for the main roof, which was completed 3 years ago.]


Next up, “revisiting the exterior: design”!

video: porch transformation

Throughout our exterior project, we took photos from the same spot at the edge of the street, with the idea that we would eventually put together a little video of the transformation process. Maybe it would be better with a sweet soundtrack, but at only 35 seconds we decided to go with a vintage, silent movie style. The first frame is from when we bought the house, to illustrate the official “before”. The second frame starts in March, with the final one taken just a few days ago.



the long awaited before & after…

Drumroll please…as of today, we are DONE with the exterior! After a productive three day weekend, we finished the painting, installed and stained the shingles and trim, and put up the new gutters and down spouts.  Good thing too…as it’s supposed to start raining tonight and continue for the next week or so (and since we’re in Seattle, it may not be sunny again till April)! There are still a few small things to do and of course we should finish the inside of the porch at some point, but there is also a definite sense of relief today! Afterall, we did start this project in March. March, people.

Check out the exterior page to see how we got from “before” to “after”.


The official “before” and “after”…September of ’06 to October of ’09.



We even had time this evening to clean up and mow the jungle that our yard had become! Ugh…I guess there is still some teal left.


New cedar shingles after one coat of Sikkens stain. We’ll try to get another coat or two up if we get a dry weekend and it’s not too cold.


Kyle and Dustin spent most of Saturday and Sunday installing the cedar shingles.


We had to pull the temporary stair away to install the shingles which also meant that Bailey was at a loss on how to get back in the house.