Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Need a Face-Lift?

When looking for a renovation project don't be put off by an ugly house! 

With a few careful decisions and an eye to the aesthetics of your exterior, you can give your property a face-lift, improve its curb appeal and significantly increase the value to boot.

When we embarked on our project, I trawled the internet for pictures of similar style houses and how renovation projects have enhanced them. It is a good idea to set up a pin board on Pinterest or print them out and create a scrap book - making a note of both what you like and don't like.

Some of the properties that really inspired me were from an articles in Real Homes Magazine, follow link Their images below show how drastic the exterior transformation can be.

Home Building and Renovating magazine was also a great source of information with it's detailed and information packed features on home

Top 10 Tips for a Property Face Lift 

1. Neighbours

When considering the exterior look of your house it is a good idea to have a look at other properties in your road or local area. Chances are strong that if someone has already made the sort of changes you are looking at, you are likely to be granted permission to do the same.  A quick visit to the planning department will tell you whether it is feasible.

2. Roof

Replacing unattractive concrete tiles can totally revive your property.

Our house had heavey corrugated concrete tiles which really dated the property to the 1950's. By re-roofing with reclaimed tiles we felt we would be able to give the property more of a cottage feel and move away from its original purpose as a utility property to house farm labourers.

If you are aiming for a period style talk to your roofer about sourcing reclaimed tiles. They have naturally aged with the undulations and imperfections of time that give them their character. You can buy new tiles that are shaped to look reclaimed but they are still machine made so have a uniform manner and simply don't match up to the real things.  A brand new tiled roof will also look uniform and new for some time.

For a modern look, slate is a stunning roof tile.

Re-roofing is a big expense if you do not need to do so, however it really can alter the look of a house.  If you do re-roof be sure to insulate well.

3. Windows

From the exterior of our property the higgledy-piggledy window layout looked messy and dated. We decided to make the windows  symmetrical for a more cohesive look.

In order to get the inside space we needed as a family, we converted the integral garage for the boy's games room. Rather than garage doors we added windows on the ground floor to create further symmetry from the front of the house.

The higgledy piggledy window layout
needed to be made more appealing
The integral garage doors removed and new openings formed.
We chose Benlowe windows to replace every single window 
and set of French doors in the house.
The sitting room French doors newly installed

After much research we went with a company called Benlowe, link: Benlowe primarily provide windows for new housing.  We were able to blend the best of their new technology and locking systems with a traditional looking casement window (even down to the window fastenings inside).

They visited us at the house and went through each of the 25 windows and french doors we were replacing allowing us to choose each element: whether storm proof or casement, how many bars, even to helping us design one 'feature' window (see images below) from scratch, which we inserted on the rear column wall of the property.

Blank central staircase
column at rear of house
Addition of 'feature' window to back of house

Finally we selected the colour they would be sprayed in the factory (this gives a much longer lasting finish than painting by hand). 

Unless you are in a listed property you should be able to replace windows or convert an integrated garage without planning permission. Always check your local planning office website for more information.

Breakfast room windows onto scruffy patio
both in need of refurbishment

The breakfast room windows replaced by large
French doors to the new garden patio

4. Brick, Render or Weatherboard?

Once you start adding extensions or bricking up windows you will need to think about rendering or boarding the property to cover up the resulting concrete blocks.

We discussed weather-boarding, rendering, insetting oak beams (which was turned down by the planning department) and simply painting the brick.  Again at this point we thought about the village and what would fit in best and decided that weather boarding was not as appropriate as render for our own property situation. This example below shows weather boarding and render working well together to create a beautiful New England style property.

Visit  this link for more from Homebuilding and renovation magazine 
Unfortunately we were thwarted by the planners in our desire to inset reclaimed oak to create the look of an old oak framed property. It was our feeling that this would compliment the properties of the village but were turned down.  Similarly we considered dormer windows to further add to the symmetry but in that instance it was a budgetry step too far.

When we had settled on render we had to make the decision between granular or smooth render.
There are many coloured renders on the market so the need for painting and ongoing maintenance is greatly reduced.

However, to further create the period feel to our property we elected to have the traditional look render for its smooth appearance and therefore the paint and ongoing maintenance!

Of course one step further would be to put lime render on the house but this is significantly more expensive option, albeit a stunning period look.

5. Colour

This was one of the biggest decisions for me as get it wrong and the outside of the house is a permanent reminder of your mistake!

Putting colour on exterior walls lifts a colour chart by 2-3 times.  My advice is to select the colour you want then look at the colour 2 or 3 times darker as the sun-light outside will lighten it significantly.
I love the Farrow and Ball colour chart! Their website is a
font of knowledge and ideas: Link

Buy some paint and cover a large section of wall if not a whole wall to test it. In all honesty I would have gone to a darker shade if I had done this.

Also consider that each wall faces in a different direction and the colour will change accordingly.

How the chose shade looks at the front of the house should be the deciding factor in colour choice.

6. Re-furbish your Front Door

The original glass front door was
 half hidden in the corner
To make the front door a focal point we decided to reconfigure it to sit at an angle in the corner of the property. Who knew what a headache that would be!?

It is often the ideas that seem simple that end up taking the longest time and this was one of them.  There was much head scratching and going back to the drawing board over this part of the renovation!

7. Put on a Porch

Adding an Oak Porch can be achieved by purchasing a pre-manufactured kit or getting a specialist company for made to measure.  As our Porch was to a corner fitting door we could not get something 'off-the-peg' and our wonderful carpenter Brian built it in situ for us.

Our aim was to pull the eye in to this area on approaching the house.

An alternative might have been to flank the door by pots, or small bay trees could to frame and create an area of interest.

Alternatively simply painting front door a different colour can make a big difference.

Here are some examples of other lovely porches:

8. Spruce up your driveway / patio 

Once the property is renovated inside and out it is worth having some budget set aside to make sure that the garden and driveway match up.  A stunning house is quickly let down by a tired looking driveway or unkempt garden and scruffy patio.

The patio wraps around the back of the house for seating areas and access from
the French doors

To the front of the house we laid gravel using a 'telegraph' pole of oak sunken in the ground by the road and under the gates to the garden to stop the gravel spreading. At the back we extended the garden patio for a large eating area and, as there are 3 sets of french doors as well as a back door to the garden, we wrapped the patio around the back of the house.

A new patio replaced the old scruffy flagstones and gives
a well deserved finishing touch to the renovation

9. Don't forget outside lighting

Think about outside lighting by the front and back doors, on the back of the house over the patio and security lighting to the house as people approach. The lights will need to be first-fixed before rendering or weather boarding.

10. Finishing Touches

In order to break up the expanses of rendered walls we are growing scented evergreen variegated climbers. I have just planted 3 flowering Jasmine plants Trachelospermum Jasminoides (watch this space and I will track the progress of this!). The evergreen element will mean the plant is always in leaf so we are not left with bare twigs on the house in winter.  The flower is scented and flowers throughout the summer, even on our North facing frontage.

Pots and planters can be a relatively inexpensive way of sprucing up your exterior.
Simply painting the door and  putting pots either side of a
front door can greatly increase curb appeal
Planting climbers can break up large
areas of blank render

I had to have these lovely planters which frame the door to the garden.
They are filled with fragrant herbs just outside the kitchen door.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post.  

Please like, share spread the word and come back again!

Thank you, Lucinda

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Thank you for visiting my home renovation blog. Please like and share with your friends to spread the word. I would love to hear your comments and feedback. Hope to see you back here soon! Lucinda