25 June 2012

Dear Miss Cote de Texas: Railings and Brick

 

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Today’s question comes from Jennifer – who doesn’t say where she lives, but it looks like it’s somewhere up north maybe?  Not sure!

Jennifer writes:

 

Dear Miss Cote de Texas:  My husband and I recently moved. We left our "forever home" which was a "fixer-upper" when my husband got transferred out of state and we have purchased another "forever" house that is also a "fixer-upper." For now, we are tackling necessities, the pretties later. The home is brick and sat vacant for over two years. There are two exterior balconies that both need to be redone as the roofing material on the floor is not suitable – it’s leaking, and causing rot issues. In the next few weeks, we will begin redoing both balconies. We plan to replace the "rolled roofing material" with slate flooring (seen below - I hope!). Eventually we'll replace the porch flooring and the screened in porch (to the right) with the same slate for a unified composition. 

But, the big question is regarding the balcony railings. The wrought iron railing on the front and all the wood railing on the right side will be coming down. Our contractor has offered to clean up the wrought iron, repaint it, and put it back just like it is, and also to rebuild the white railing (to the right), or to replace all of it. We think we are in favor of replacing all of it. However, this is one of those things that I want to do right the first time and not look back with regret - which is why I so deeply value your opinion and would be SO, SO, SO grateful for your help! Do we do both railings the same and unify the look? Should they be kept different? I'd much prefer iron to wood for maintenance sake. We just want to do it right the first time.  We pay cash as we can, so the progress will be slow going, but steady. We hope to be here for the long haul. The house has great bones and is loaded with potential!

Miss Cote de Texas, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help us!!! We would be so grateful!

 

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Dear Jennifer:

My first thoughts are wow – what a beautiful house!  I love old houses, they have such a charm that is lacking from most new houses – they are so much quieter for one, because the walls are more solid, as are the doors.  I love the room sizes and ceiling heights and how all the rooms don’t open up onto each other as much as they do in new construction.  And I love all the romantic nooks and crannies that are found in old houses such as yours. 

Now, onto your problem.  I must say, as you know, I am not an architect, so take my suggestions for what they are worth (not much!)  You might want to think about making an appointment with an architect to get a learned opinion.  It would probably be worth it in the long run. 

But, in the meantime, here are my ideas.  My first immediate thought is that I do think the two railings should be the same.  The house isn’t quite symmetrical, so if the railings were different, I think that would play up the asymmetrical look.  The iron railing that is there now seems a bit ornate.  I would research railings that are more simple in design.  The railing you sent me looks a bit French and a bit contemporary.  I don’t think I would use that exact one, search for one with more classic lines.

 

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This is the railing you sent me – but I’m not sure I would go with this railing.  It doesn’t seem to match your house’s style.  This would be more suited to a French design, not a Georgian brick house.

Now, after saying that you should do both railings the same – I looked at houses where there were two different railings, and I can see that could be the correct choice here also:

 

 

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This is the back of a house – but notice how similar to your house this is with the porch and the wood columns.  The wood railing above seems to make the two floors more cohesive in design.  Notice how the wood column is repeated on the first and second floor – they seem to flow into each other.   And notice, on the far left there is also a iron railing mixed in.  The mixture of the wood and iron railings here seem attractive and interesting.

 

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In this Tudor styled house, there is a brick balcony along with an iron one.  The point is – would two different railings on your house be interesting or distracting?

 

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Here, this house shows an upper wood balcony. 

 

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Now, here is a red bricked Georgian showing a similar design to yours.  To me, the black railing seems harsh.  If the rails were a softer gray color and the trim color was closer in shade to the railings, it would look so much better.

 

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Your house:  If you found a simple iron railing, and installed it in both places – but painted the columns on the right side the same color as the railing, it would blend in and be pleasing to the eye.  But I think there is something else you should consider before making the final decision.  The red brick!

I kept looking at your house, trying to decide if this was MY house, what would I do?  In the end, I decided I would make both railings the same.  As long as the iron design is kept simple, it will look good on the right – and on the left, too. 

But, the main thing I’m thinking you should do, and what I would do immediately if this was my house – would be to paint your red brick and get new shutters or at least paint them!  I think this will make a huge difference – and it could even make a difference in your decision between an iron railing or an iron and wood railing.

More ideas would be to build out a room over the two sides – or at least on the right side.  And – add new gutters and landscaping which would be long term goals.  I think I would close in those columns next to the front door and add fabulous gas lanterns on both sides of the entry.   Here are some pictures to give you ideas:

 

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This red brick house was painted cream – and notice the iron work!  Painted to blend in without sticking out.   This house is beautiful – love the pale celadon colored shutters. 

 

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Note: here is the slate Jennifer wants to use on the balcony floors. If she did use this – she could pick out the paint colors from the slate – the shutters could be a darker celadon and the brick could be a soft, light gray or pure ivory – exactly as shown in the above house.

 

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Painted brick, copper gutters, gas lanterns, and the iron work is painted to match the gray shutters.  Another beauty! 

 

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Painted brick, although it’s a little too yellow/creamy.  But notice the left side with the wood railing.  It looks like a room was added on the top of the sunporch of this house – exactly what you could one day!   These colors are not great – the green shades look dated with the yellow/cream brick.  IMO!

 

 

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Pretty, pretty painted brick – very true cream without yellow.  The shutters are just a bit darker.  Notice the grill work – painted the same color as the brick.  I love this look.

 

 

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Two identical houses in the same neighborhood, except one is painted brick.  Look how much fresher the house on the left looks.

 

 

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Painted taupe brick with a moss green shutter.  Very pretty.

 

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This house was updated with paint and great landscaping.  The copper awnings really add so much to the house.  Notice the bottom windows were traded out for French doors.  Lanterns.  Beautiful!

 

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Another painted brick house with new black shutters.  This wood railing above the front door looks nice in ivory.  And notice they mixed the iron railings on the railing with the wood balcony.

 

 

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Taupe painted brick with black shutters, lantern.

 

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Cream brick – shutters were removed and new French doors now replace the bottom windows.  Pretty driveway gate on the right side.

 

 

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Painted a light gray.  Notice the landscape here – I love the curved line of clipped box and the plain Versailles wood planters.  Very simple, but elegant!

 

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One last house – again, the landscaping is elegant – just groundcover and small box.  Pretty painted brick with a great lantern.  I especially love the old brick sidewalk with the steps and welcoming planter boxes!

 

 

Jennifer, thanks for sending in your question!  I hope this gives you some ideas.  Be sure to read the comments as the readers will have lots of great ideas too!!!

 

To enter a question to Dear Miss Cote de Texas – just email me at mrballbox329@aol.com

 

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And finally, did you hear that Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin just bought the Veranda House that Windsor Smith designed?!!  What a lucky girl to be living there!!

 

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I wonder who will be the designer – or will she do it herself?  I love the entry – pictured here, a long wide room with gray and white stone checkerboard floor. 

 

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And the best room - the gorgeous kitchen. Maybe one of the prettiest ever!!

 

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And looking the other way – the walls in the kitchen are either white marble or subway tile!

The great 360 tour of the house is still up – catch it before they take it down for good – HERE.

 

106 comments:

  1. ...love jeniffer's house...love joni's ideas...

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  2. Dear Joni: This is an amazing post, full of great advise! I don't gravitate towards brick houses, unless the bricks are whitewashed or painted.I just love your selection of houses.

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  3. I don't know that I would paint the brick, as the red brick looks vernacular and appropriate for New England. When I see red brick down south, I agree, it looks derivative, but in the Northeast, I think it is appropriate. The farther south one is, the lighter the colors tend to be.

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    1. I don't know how far South you may have traveled,or in what regions of the south you may have been, but if you are lumping Florida into the South category, please don't. Southern towns and cities have some of the most beautiful red brick homes on gorgeous large lots with towering oaks trees that you will ever see anywhere, including in New England. I agree that there are varieties of "red brick" that are not so pretty, but that happens to be the particular clay that was used for production and the selection of the owner/builder. I too love painted brick and the freshness it brings to many homes. Most red brick homes, however, need whiter trim to give them that same freshness. It's difficult to tell from the photo here, but my first impression of the subject house was that the brick was not it's best asset because of its particular color. That could be just the photo, however.

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    2. There certainly is a lot of red brick in the south, the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg (1722) comes to mind first, and in Atlanta as well, and that is where I thought that this house was, when I first saw it. ANd I prefer painted brick, too.

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    3. y'all, there are tons of red brick houses in the south - Houston for instance! but, a lot of people paint theirs now. In West U - so many of the new homes were built with red brick starting in the 80s, so it's still def. something we have here. I just don't care for it - unless it's an exceptionally pretty red brick. most looks just tired and dirty. i don't know. I do like it- just thought her house would look so great painted.

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  4. Jennifer's home is beautiful but with a few fixes it could really stand out. I'm with you Joni the iron railing is to ornate for the home and I would make both railing the same wood or iron. Love her flooring choice and she should pick out a darker color from it for the acccents. About the only other thing I would change are the ball shrubs they don't fit the house and hide it. It's a beautiful home and I love your suggestions for Jennifer.

    Enjoy your week Joni!
    XX
    Debra~

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  5. As a New Englander I stronger disagree about painting the brick. The beauty of brick is that it's low maintenance in not having to have it painted, again and again. Just my opinion. As for the rails, I'd go with a simple metal rail for this gorgeous house.

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  6. Joni, the "Dear Miss Cote de Texas" is truly your strong suit. I think it would be difficult to add much to the already great advice you have given. I really love your idea of painting the brick first, and then moving forward with the decision on iron vs. wood. I really love the idea of keeping the balconies asymmetrical because they don't appear to be perfectly aligned and different materials would give both texture and interest to the home. All of your ideas were perfect and I hope the owner will address the paint first before moving forward with the next decision. The owner is certainly correct that this home has great potential for being a home with lovely curb appeal.

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  7. Beautiful home you purchased! We buy fixer uppers too. Paint the brick and remove the large bushes in front. We did this same project, painted the brick, added a porch with white wood trim and black shutters. When it was time to move to a bigger home the house sold quickly with a full price offer.

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  8. I love the choices you gave! My current home is painted brick. It is very easy to paint, took me less than 3 days to paint our brick ranch. Jennifer's home would be gorgeous with your suggestions!

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  9. I love the style of the house and agree with the railings being the same simple iron railing, but I love the red brick and would not paint it. A better color for the shutters and railings would be my solution. But the homes Joni selected are magnificent.

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  10. Joni, I thought you were wrong about painting the brick - until I saw your photos! Now I agree: the painted brick is truly beautiful. I also agree that both railings should be the same, simple style. Great post! Beth

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  11. I love the house also, and agree with using the same railings.....but I would not paint the brick. Red brick is so classic; when I drive by a painted brick house I always wonder why it was done. Spruce up the other stuff first and then think about the brick. Think about leaving it as is....:)

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  12. I love the idea of this reader painting the brick. My mother lived in a nearly identical house and it was painted a rather unfortunate sage green with red shutters. I desperately wanted her to paint it gray with black shutters. The house is really lovely and I think the reader is very smart to pay cash and tackle things as they are able.

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  13. This home has amazing potential! We had a consult with an architect before working on our house - best decision ever. I personally love the idea of painting the brick for a much softer look. It's a bit formal and imposing right now. With softer colors and lines, it could be so welcoming. Big beautiful lanterns are a must. And landscaping with make a huge difference too. What a wonderful project - enjoy the process!

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  14. Has anyone noticed that the pierced brick wall above the entrance seems heavy and is blocking the middle window? I think it was added and is not original. I would take it off along with the little porch below and add a beautiful little front entrance porch as seen on some of Joni's photos.

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    1. Laura...that's the first thing I noticed too about the house. There's something odd about the bricked-in balcony. The brick doesn't match. I would remove it and have a balcony there with railings to match those on the wings. I would also change that window to a french door. There is too much brick in the middle of the home, taking away from the other features. The front entry also needs a make-over. The small columns with the space in between looks odd. I think the house would look good without shutters. I noticed the shutter on the left is folded in, possibly because the gutter is in the way. The house certainly has great potential. It's odd that Joni thinks the house is in the north, and may very well be. However, my first reaction was of a home in the deep south!

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    2. Yes, I noticed the pierced brick, too. It makes the entry look so heavy and it blocks the window behind it. So there are actually three different porches -- one iron, one brick and one wood. Could you address the brick one, too, Joni?

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    3. I very much like Joni's wonderful ideas, with so many illustrations. I agree about the part over the entrance, and that the entrance needs molding or something to give it importance and a more pleasing appearance. I'm guessing Jennifer will address the landscapting at some point....needs something softer, a better plan to enhance the house, hide the meter. I don't live in the north but the painted brick surely adds softness and is, to me, a wonderful look. It's elegant, classy, just enhances everything. I think. How wonderful to have all the input here. Last.....I think you would never ever regret a consult with a good architect. Experts think of things that amateurs don't, know what works, can cut to the chase. Find one who specializes in restoration type projects, or has had experience in that area. They can save you money in the end. Good luck with this wonderful house.

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    4. yes, I noticed it too and couldn't figure out what it was, but it's awfully heavy looking. I didn't address because she didn't and i'm not sure if it's original to the house. but if it could be fixed in some way, i would def. do that. i do think the columns are odd and should be filled in or removed or something. the entry does need a little work. she should meet with an architect to address these concerns. just one meeting? might be all they need.

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  15. Joni, what a GREAT post! Love the painted brick in all its forms. This is a lovely house to start with--great potential and lovely "bones".

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  16. Joni, I love your idea of painting the brick. Pointing out to the home owner the interest that particular greenery will bring to the final look is so right. Let's hope the homeowner takes many pictures and keeps us up-to-date on the transformation. Maybe something to feature on your blog.

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  17. I'm another don't-paint-the-brick New Englander. It looks from the comments above that our aversion to painted brick is nearly as strong as men's aversion to painting "wood" paneling! IF the brick is particularly unattractive, painting could be an option, but around here people mostly disguise ugly brick by painting it a nicer shade of RED. Totally aggree with Joni's advie about simple, matching rails. Personally, I'd also look in to beefing up some of the house's molding, particularly around the front door to make it look like the American houses of the time. OR go the other way, and make it a plainer English Georgian by removing the shutters, and adding paint or brick veneer to blend that big white triangle with the rest of the house.

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    1. I have never seen a red brick home painted red. Even if the color of the brick is not attractive, the brick is never all the same color because of the pigment of the sand and the curing process that gives the brick it's character. Putting a solid pigment of red on red brick would not look as organic as red brick nor as soft as painting the brick in a more neutral shade.

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  18. Our home in Texas was red brick & then they smeared the mortar on the brick to give it an aged appearance. This technique lightened the house, and it was maintenance free.

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    1. I love this look (I'm in Texas, too). I wouldn't want to paint over red brick (I've seen some pinkish brick that I would paint over). But I do love the smeared mortar look....

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    2. omg!we did that on our terrace~ the bricks were laid w/o mortar and the pink brick turned dark reddish without - so they smeared mortar on the brick to lighten them up. i still wish that we would have just redone the terrace w/ mortar. btw = the smears are still there after 18 plus years.

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  19. I do like the red brick. (I'm from New England but generally don't like brick houses.) I agree with the comment about the entry with the pierced brick. I think it should be removed and changed. I like X railing -- wood or iron. I think it would work on this house -- especially over the three arches on the porch. I think Joni's advice to consult an architect is a great idea. That would give Jennifer a unified vision of the front and some certainty about where they are headed with it. It's a beautiful house and would be worth it.


    Jane

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  20. Joni, I agree completely on your advice for this lovely house! Just wanted to mention there is a fabulous book called Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use & Avoid by Marianne Cusato. This book explains why some things just don't look right to our eye, and details the proportions which are more pleasing. Lots of "do this - don't do that". It discusses interiors, exteriors and materials for both large and small houses. I haven't checked this morning, but it probably even discusses mixing railings!
    It's recently out in paperback; I purchased mine from Amazon. (Bonus: forward by the Prince of Wales!)

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    1. i'm going to order that right now!
      thanks!

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  21. First, may I suggest that the Reader buy a book called "What NOT to build" by Sandra Edelman out of Dallas. It shows the horrors of mixing styles and how to avoid them.

    Second, did anyone else notice the mortor work on the bricks above the front door and on the pillars on the two balconies? It appears that those elements were added after the house was built because the brickwork does not match the rest of the house.

    This is basicially a lovely house and, with just a few changes will be even more lovely. The thing that bothers me the most is the front door area. It is too squared off and modern for the style of the home. It appears that the brickwork above the front door was added and the square white posts were added to support the weight. As far as I can tell, the pierced brickwork above the front door serves no purpose and, in fact, hides the bottom part of the 2nd story window above it. It would be so much more attractive to reconfigure the front door area - perhaps add a lightweight, faux balcony above it and replace the modern looking pillars with pillars more appropriate to the style of the home.

    Regarding slate for the 2nd story balconies - does that really go with red brick? Slate is very heavy, expensive and does not guarantee that the roof will not leak. "Holmes on Homes" on HGTV had a very interesting episode a year or two back about just such a problem with leaky balcony floors. Before spending your hard-earned money on a fancy cover-up, you need to be absolutely sure that area is properly done and water tight.

    Best wishes. You have a real diamond in the rough!

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  22. What a lovely home! I tend to agree with Joni. The iron railings that are there are too New Orleans for a Georgian style home. Maybe a Chippendale style railing - either iron or wood; or a Chippendale design in the center with straight balusters either side, something like the effect on the existing right railing. I have to admit I'm partial to painted brick and like Joni's suggestions. It looks to me like the wing on the left was added later and the brick doesn't match exactly (though it just may be shaded in the photograph) - a good reason to paint, if so. We're in the south and our 1928 Colonial Revival has always had brick painted white. In the twenty-four years we've lived here, my husband has painted it once with a few touch-ups now and then, mostly when we pulled off ivy. It's really low maintenance. I also agree about putting in some kind of different columns at the entrance - a simple Doric or Tuscan - to play up the classical elements. And I love gray (or gray-green) shutters (which I have), pulling in the color from the slate. Just make sure they're operable like the original, which can be painted if they're still in good condition. Great suggestions, Joni!

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  23. Oh dear there are so many lovely homes everywhere. Stunning. My favorite was the last white one. I have a tendency to love white homes with black shutters. So lovely. Joni have you ever blogged about Mary Carol Garrity's home in Atchison Kansas. I went there for her house tour. It is so lovely. YOu know who she is right? She owns the Nell Hills stores in Kansas City and Atchison. So lovely. See her blog. I also blogged about her home when I went. I loved it.
    Also Carolyne Roehms home is one of my favorites. I visited twice. Absolutely lovely but on a much grander scale. Mary Carol's is beautiful but smaller.
    Thanks for such a lovely blog you have. You teach us so much.
    Lisa

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    1. yes! plus i saw you visited on your blog. i love her style and carolyn's too. i would love to visit their houses!!!

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  24. I'm so sorry you had to move but I you have a very lovely fixer-upper. The first thing I thought of when your home was revealed was that you had the same elevation as the house from the movie, Father of the Bride! Of course your home is brick but the structure is generally the same. I agree with matching the two railings. I think it would add cohesion. My first thought was to install the patterned square railing in the photos(diagonals etc). But if you prefer the iron railing for less maintenence, I would recommend something more decorative than straight lines. I also love the idea of painting the brick gray/taupe/white/cream with black shutters. I think it would lighten the structure and make it stand out nicely. Best of luck to you!

    Here's a link to the Father of the Bride house so you can refer to it. http://hookedonhouses.net/2011/06/19/the-father-of-the-bride-house-is-for-sale-sorta/

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  25. Last year one of my neighbours painted her red brick house white. Actually, to be more precise, it's a creamy white.
    Made an unbelievable difference. All the green trees and the creamy white house. Beautiful.
    And I adore Gwyneth's new kitchen!!

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  26. What wonderful advise, Joni. I too noticed the the pierced balcony on the front that looks like it was added-they couldn't match the brick...Paint the Brick or smear mortar ow whitewash ! Simpler railings. Did anyone else notice the screen porch(or what looks like a screen porch off the living room! Grand home to live in forever. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  27. I am almost positive the house is in Augusta, Georgia

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    1. Yes, it is in Augusta, GA. My grandparents live there and I recognize this house as it is just down the street from them.

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  28. I'm too lazy to paint brick that isn't some horrible, 70s shade of yellow. Save on the maintenance of painting your whole house and just have a railing to paint :) I think the white painted railing is SO much better than the iron. Look at that first house posted with 2 different railings....that chippendale pattern is awesome. While mixing isn't terrible, the iron is in a prominent location and we've all seen bad ironwork on old-ish brick houses and it doesn't really conjur the French Quarter aesthetic the 1950s owner thought they were buying. It will look more "money" with two white.

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  29. Joni, Great advice and love that you provide examples. Would love to see a follow-up once the homeowner decides what to do. I totally agree that painting the brick would be my first step but then I'm in Texas where creamy white is popular and advantageous in not reflecting the heat as badly on the foundation plants.

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  30. Jennifer's house is lovely. Joni offered a comprehensive list of ideas...much inspiration there. I agree with a light painted brick, softer shutters and railing painted to match. I would keep the railings the same. A definite "yes" to closing in the square posts at the front door, perhaps with raised panel inserts and a pair of large lanterns or, better yet, see about removing that apparently newer structure around the door that may have been added for protection against the weather. I would also take out the large shrubs and replace them with a row of boxwood or something you can keep low so as to not hide the face of the house. Best of luck, Jennifer.
    I was so disappointed Gwyneth bought Windsor's house. Had I only know it was for sale, I would have bought it just for the kitchen.
    Best...Victoria

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  31. I'm torn. The painted brick houses that you show are lovely, truly, but it seems wrong, somehow, to paint the brick on this house. As I understand it, once you paint a brick house, you can't ever "unpaint" it. I don't think I would do it. I guess it depends where the house is, and how old it is.

    I live in a brick house, but very different from this house. My house is a late Victorian, and it is all curvy, with turrets and a big wrap-around porch. The mortar is colored red to match the brick. I have a slate roof, and a turret. I don't think even the paint-the-brick advocates would think to paint my brick, but I wonder.

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  32. I grew up on the Essex?Suffolk border in the English countryside where there are lots of red brick period houses. No one would EVER dream of painting a Georgian house, indeed they would probably not be allowed to since most are listed as of historical interest and owners are encouraged to maintain their authenticity. Red brick never dates or goes out of fashion. Once you paint a period house you take away it's identity, with too much redevelopment it will start to look like all the modern houses in the neighbourhood! Most paints could interfere with the fabric of the building, even cause damp! Farrow & Ball period paints could soften the look of the woodwork/railings together with clever landscaping/planting. The very reason old houses are beautiful is because you can see their age and patina x

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    1. I grew up in Suffolk also. The
      Difference is those were real historic georgian homes. And no, I doubt anyone would hv been allowed to paint, this home while lovely is not on any historic register, it is only Georgian in style.

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  33. Y'all are awesome!!! Joni, MANY, MANY thanks for your input and creative eye and to all of your readers for their great ideas. You've all given us SO much to think about and consider.

    Regarding the location of the home...Georgia! Didn't mean to leave that out!

    Per your suggestions, we are setting up a consultation with a local architect whose firm specializes in homes in our area. I'd never considered that the pierced brick was added at a later time, but I do believer you're all correct. The left side of the house was also an addition - it's not just a shadow, the bricks are different.

    At one time the house had been painted white. Some of the paint is still visible here and there and behind shutters. At first we'd wanted to white wash the house, but I do believe y'all might have talked us into painting it! We'll have to go with new shutters...eventually...as those on the house are rotten and several have actually fallen off. (EVERY window - all the way around the home - has shutters, so we may be able to play switch and get the front looking good as a temporary fix...but new are definitely in the plans as we want the shutters to be the correct width.)

    We are in total agreement that the entrance needs some oomph! Not sure what that will look like, but no doubt an architect can give us guidance.

    We also plan to redo the landscaping (and to move the ac unit to the rear of the house) eventually...

    Again, a BIG thank you to Joni for taking the time to write about and share her thoughts on our home and a HUGE thank you to each and every one of her readers for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. We value all of your input! Please, y'all keep it coming!!!

    ~Jennifer

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    1. Georgia? well, you are north of me! haha. you can't get more southern than Georgia. is it Augusta like that commenter said?

      Glad you are talking to an architect. and talk about the front entry. maybe you should take down that addition and add a simple porch like this: http://www.peterweldon.co.uk/range/porch/porch.htm
      something to think about in the future.

      when you are done= send in a picture!!!! for sure!!!!

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    2. you don't really mean it?! a typical english chinoiserie style porch for that house?

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    3. I am not a design professional, but I grew up in the park cities in Dallas, where there are many beautiful traditional homes. And I love when the painted drink is wearing off a bit and gives a rose colored glow.

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  34. Joni-another great post from your series. You're so generous to share your terrific advice with your readers (both those inquiring and those "playing along"). I would have guessed this home to be in the southeast (??) even though painted and unpainted homes co-exist most everywhere. Your recommendations are sound. Whenever starting such a costly project, especially one with permanent consequences, it's always wise to consult an architect. For my two cents, I would add the following:
    -build a flat-roof portico with columns at the entrance, with a single hanging latern,
    -repeat the columns on the right-side porch
    -use simple wrought iron railings on both balconies
    -repeat railings at the front steps in front of the portico
    -remove the current shrubs and start with some box and planters
    -grow a climbing ivy on the left side of the home, if it was in fact an addition with mis-matching brick
    I'm guessing the homeowners don't mind the red brick. However, a limewashed brick or a painted version is hard to beat. But then again, I'm from the sunny south. Picturing this home snow-covered doesn't translate as well without the red brick.

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  35. People who paint brick houses have money to burn....... and if this is a fixer upper .... they probably would like to spend the $$$$ elsewhere. Paint the shutters, the columns, the landscaping but leave the brick alone - it can't be "undone" ..... or better yet go buy a house with siding - that way you HAVE to paint every few years to protect the materials.

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    1. actually - you can remove paint apparently. that house WAS painted before and I've read articles about it.
      painting brick is so easy. she and her husband could do it themselves in a few days. my neighbor did it - it was really easy. i don't think they have money to burn, but i can imagine they must have some - that house doesn't look cheap!! I wish it were mine!

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  36. Joni - LOVE this series (Dear Miss CDT). Even though I don't have the exact issues, I love reading about all these problems and seeing how you'd fix them. Keep 'em coming please!

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  37. ok, the left side IS an addition - the brick doesn't match at all. plus there is no roof - they should raise the roof and put a pitch on it to balance out the house. and take off that added on porch. http://www.peterweldon.co.uk/range/porch/porch.htm

    something like this would be stunning!!!!!

    since the brick doesn't match - they should def. paint, imo.

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  38. We painted our brick 2 years ago and what a huge difference it made! It was very easy. We are seeing more homes with painted brick in our area (Mississippi). Loved your ideas and good luck to the homeowner with the renovation.

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  39. I like Lulu's ideas. I think the lime wash or painted is the way to go. I personally love the gaudy wrought iron railing that is there currently and would try to match it on the right side porch. I love the ideas about addressing the entry way and the single lantern hanging in the front. I am from the south also and once painted a red brick home. It made such a difference and I loved it.

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  40. Joni,
    I always look forward to your Dear Miss CDT, this one was great. I agree with what you suggested. I wouldn't have thought to paint the brick but the examples you showed us convinced me. I hope you can report later what Jennifer and her husband decide to do.

    That house that Gwenyth and he husband bought is spectacular. Isn't it located in Los Angeles?

    Have a great week.
    Karen

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  41. Super smart. Love the painted brick...always have!!!

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  42. To me it is not a matter of to paint the brick or not, however the color choices. Here in Kansas City our Historical (and new subdivisions) have beautiful natural brick exteriors and I adore them on the grand estates. Many of the painted brick homes actually look dated and I think it is the color choices. What I would steer away from is painted iron railings; this from experience is a pain to keep up, in our extreme weather changes and humidity, peeling is a problem.

    Xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena
    Artist Series 2012

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  43. french design on the Texas coast......

    the french would NEVER paint brick nor would they throw away such a good (as it seems) old iron railing!!!!
    Please be more careful french.

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    1. "NEVER" seems like an unnecessarily broad characterization of what all people in France might do.

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  44. Yes, painting the brick would be beautiful and allow the new homeowner (congratulations homeowner!) to unify the railings with a coordinating paint. It is important to know where the home is located, as paint traps moisture in the brick. Trapped moisture + Repeated freeze/thaw cycles = crumbling bricks & mortar. It would look beautiful down south, but up here in the north you might need a different solution for your railings. I'm curious to know if those shutters have the original shutter dogs? Some of them look operable. So jealous.

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  45. I live in the Northeast and I do love painted brick houses but near me almost nobody does it. The reasoning is, why use brick if you are just going to paint it and then it doesn't look like brick? I think this house would look great with painted brick because it almost looks as if they have different type brick already. Easy fro me to say I have a stone house.
    As for Windsor Smith/Paltrow Martin house, I would sell my soul for that place.

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  46. I love the look of painted brick but you don't see it where I live (NE) I'm guessing because it would be a huge maintenance issue. We invested in brick when we built our house and are so glad we did because unlike our neighbors we are not replacing or repainting!

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  47. joni you are good, very very good.

    my profession is the design of exteriors; landscapes and 'architectural stylizing', just what you did with jennifers house. as i began to read this post i am saying to myself "yes" joni, "yes". you also threw in some ideas i would not have thought of, and to great effect. BRAVO!
    your attention to detail is over the top.
    cheers!
    debra

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  48. Jennifer, I love your house. When I saw it on Ask Miss Cote this morning, I just knew that I had seen it before. I first saw it in 2010 when I visited my wife's grandmother. I liked it so much that I took a few pictures of it from her driveway as we were leaving. I look forward to seeing what you do with it. Best of luck with your home. It will surely be grand after you add some life to it.

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  49. I'm all for painting things, but not this house! NOOOOOO! I love red brick houses. They are so traditional and timeless. It's very trendy to paint house. BUT I'm afraid that's what it is. A trend... It's a permanent decision. Like a tattoo...

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    1. finally somebody with ability to judge. The decision is permanent as you say, but not the paint! They will get their "blue wonder" (i.e. nasty surprise) after some years.

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  50. They should try using hydrated lime mixed with water. I had a red brick home and applied this- it is very inexpensive and easy to do. The bricks look antiqued and mostly white and give a lovely aged appearance. You can apply as much or as little as you like to the brick-depending on how white you want it to be.

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    Replies
    1. Would you mind sending me your recipe and tips?

      brannfamily@comcast.net

      Thanks so much!

      Delete
  51. With just a few well-chosen adjustments, this house could be a knock-out. But to answer the questions at hand, I would suggest filling in the openings of the parapet above the entrance and add a brick parapet to replace the iron railing. That projection to the right of the entrance is the most disturbing part of the house, and this would help it. I would white-wash the brick, toning it stone color or buttery if desired (but not celadon!), as the patina effect will be much more forgiving in this situation. Paint the trim to match the wash which will help the lonely pediment and the spindly entrance trim (which I would enrich).

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    1. I am accustomed to speaking in terms of plan, but looking at the photo I am referring to the projection to the left of the entrance, of course.

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    2. i am liking the idea of the limed brick more and more if they dont want to paint. but that addition on the left - the brick is different and the mortar is really strange look - maybe paint would be the better route? so you say a brick wall as opposed to iron rail = is that right?

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    3. Yes, there are too many disparate elements so a brick parapet (like at the entrance but without the pierced openings) would help unify the facade. I still urge considering a paint/lime wash for the bricks as it would be more "forgiving" in the case of this house than would the flatness of an opaque paint. The landscaping is a whole other issue, but a few corrections would make a world of difference.

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  52. I would recommend a couple of columns and much gilding...

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  53. No one has commented on the condition of the gutters. If the roof is slate, I would suggest you go with copper gutters. If not, then replace the gutters and paint the same color as the trim. The gutters seem to be sagging in several places, particularly on the left side facing the house where the flat roof is. It seems odd that the brick over the front entry would be different than that of the rest of the house as it appears in the photograph. Perhaps that's just a lighting issue. The brick gives off an orange cast which would be my only reason for suggesting paint. The owner has a lot to think about and she should work with an architect who will take her through all the necessary steps to make each change in a logical way. There appears to be a lot of work that needs to be done before a final decision on paint or no paint.

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  54. Dear Ms C d T, when you have two different topics like this, please consider two separate posts. I have high speed service, but it is still a problem to load. My friends who are loyal readers also, have the same trouble with your blog. Love it otherwise!

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  55. I would NEVER paint this brick. This house is a classic. Painting is a flash in the pan trend. Do not paint, you will never be able to get it back to the colour/condition if you ever decide it was a mistake. I live in a 130 year old house which has been painted over the years. I would love it if the brick was untouched, it's really unfortunate and will never look as good IMHO.

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  56. Hi Joni!
    To Paint or not to paint that is the question.....There are so many brick homes I don't care for.... The color, texture of the brick, the age...... I live in a brick home, older.... they don't make the brick anymore...Sometimes I am tempted............. Jennifer's home has good bones... I like the iron railing ideas you put forward....I admire her for putting herself out there and asking for the opinions some good some not so good. I wish her and her family the best of luck with it....... Maryanne ;) Don't even get me started on that Windsor smith house..... So Pretty!

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  57. I think it's funny that the homeowner asked nothing about the brick at all yet that's what the reply, advice, inspiration pictures, and most of the comments were centered upon. There were about five pictures of railing yet over 10 that were trying to convince her to paint her brick.

    As for the railing issue, I love pairing the black iron railings with these type of red brick homes. I would follow Jonis suggestion of finding a classic, elegant iron railing and making both of the railings the same. I would also leave it black which to me fits in with the black shutters and front door. A very classic look that never goes out of style.

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  58. Charlotte Des FleursJune 27, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    This reminds me of the woman who goes to the plastic surgeon for a nose job. Instead he tells her that her nose is in perfect proportion to her face. The real problems are with her cheekbones and chin. Sometimes we are too close to a problem and need other perspectives to find the best answer.

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    1. That's assuming you thought there was a problem in the first place which this homeowner did not--at least not in this letter. She didn't indicate any issue with the exterior, proportions, entry, etc. She simply wanted advice about railings which must be replaced due to damage.

      Believe me, I love Joni's creativity and her style. This blog is the ultimate source for eye candy paired with well-researched posts, educated opinions, and more--the complete package. But this isn't the first reader letter where the solution has gotten a bit off track from the original question.

      Delete
  59. I didn't read all of the comments, but I have heard that painted brick can be a lot to maintain. We live in Houston and are building and using brick, but not painting because I was under the impression that you have to paint every 7-10 years. Is that a big deal? Getting a great brick color would seem to be a more maintenance free choice don't you think? Although picking out brick has been SO hard!! We don't want something perfect that looks like it came out of a brick machine, but some of the antique bricks can be a little too multi-color for our French-ish house in Bellaire. Thoughts??? I love reading your blog because it is French style right here in Houston!!

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  60. You will find that you are generally met with many judgements with cheap windows 7 product key regards to buying a surprise for your significant other. That gift very best packages the person.How to Find the correct windows 7 key Present With a large number of present ideas that are offered on the internet, frequently windows 7 activation key.

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    1. SPAM! Delete this nonsensical reply.

      Delete
  61. Sorry Joni but think you missed the mark here. Question was about railings, not brick. Leave the brick alone it is classic. It would be expensive to paint and will require ongoing maintenance and reader states they are on a budget. Do simple matching railings to unify the porches, black is fine if you keep,trim black otherwise match paint color. Agree with those that said to trim/lose the bushes, way too overgrown and hide the house. Upstairs pierced brick porch is fine, may look better when downstairs is cleaned up. Would redo those white columns framing entry, they do not look like they go with house at all.

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  62. Charlotte Des FleursJune 28, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    At the heart of every inquiry to Miss CDT is the question, "What can I do to make this space look better?" Sometimes the letter writer has identified the real issue, sometimes not. As good-hearted, conscientious fellow design advocates, we do no favors if all we suggest are superficial, "lipstick on a pig" solutions. I do not think it is off topic to recommend additional or alternative solutions to a question.

    All of Join's Blog followers seek to add beauty to the world, do we not?

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    Replies
    1. Can't disagree with your points. I do think we beat a dead horse to death, however. Hope we can move on soon to
      either another question of design posts. Otherwise, let's just rebuild the dang house and get it the way we all like it.

      Delete
    2. Meant to say: Hope we can move on soon to either another question or design post.

      There really isn't more to add that already has been repeated and agreed to more than once. Joni basically solved the issues in her answer. She isn't called "eagle eye" for no reason.

      Delete
  63. I would not paint the brick. I would clean up and reinstall the original iron which is ornate and complement that with a new iron railing also in black but with a simpler, more modern design, perhaps the owner's original suggestion or even more streamlined.

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  64. I would paint the brick and put in railings that matched - probably wood. The existing white wood railing on the house is classic to this style of house. I personally like the ivory painted homes with black doors and charcoal accents - each to their own though!

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  65. As an architect, I agree with (and completely appreciate) Joni's suggestion to meet with a local architect about some of the detailing on your home! There's certainly a precedent for the two different types of railings, with the iron railing relating to the masonry detailing, and the wood picket/diagonal cross railing relating to the wood framing of the porch below. There's nothing wrong with keeping these two different styles on your facade, but I would actually suggest removing both and introducing a completely different type: a turned balustrade with a thick top and bottom rail. Using a wood picket above the brick will look a bit dull, while a turned balustrade will work well with both the brick wall and wood porch.

    It would introduce additional classical detailing to the front of the house, making the pediment look less awkward. For a future upgrade, consider removing the flat white trim framing out the entry opening, and instead install two columns where the skinny verticals are now - the pediment will start to make a lot more sense, the detailing on the house will read more consistently, and columns make for a much grander statement at the front door!

    And, I'm in agreement with those who favor keeping the red brick - this brick is certainly not the offensive dingy red others have complained about! The natural brick gives the house a presence it would lack if painted a lighter color. The shutters and doors, however, could be painted a fresher color - cobalt blue (very french, btw!) or a kelly green that would compliment the red brick and make the home's details feel a bit more contemporary and not as heavy as the current black.

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    1. Why should one buy a lovely older home and try to make it feel a bit more contemporary. Would you buy an antique chests and go to your local hardware store and put bright shiny brass on it? Doubtful. I disagree completely about the turned balustrades unless careful attention is paid to scale. In many homes where they have been used to replace other traditional railings they tend to look like enlarged Coke bottles. The best thing this owner can do is ride through other neighborhoods in her city that have homes comparable to her and pay close attention to details. Just because you can change something doesn't mean you always should.

      Delete
    2. Kelly Green shutters? Good thing you're an architect and not a designer.

      Delete
    3. I live in a lovely older home and bought it for that exact reason. But arguing that it shouldn't be updated with more contemporary colors or details makes little sense, especially since the question was posted by someone about to dig into upgrading and updating their home. Houses aren't antiques - and shouldn't be approached like they are - unless it's housing a period-specific museum or is, in fact, a seminal example of a particular architectural style. You're absolutely correct about using the correct scale of turned balustrades that respect the scale of the existing house - which goes back to my initial comment about discussing the details of the home with a local architect - something an architect could help a homeowner determine before investing a lot of time and money in updates.

      Living in Arlington, VA, at least two-thirds of the homes in my neighborhood are red brick colonials built in the early 1940s. It's a wonderful case study in how you can use color on a brick facade - most of the homes have been altered with additions, or the brick has been painted, but a good number are still the original red brick. The red brick houses with colorful shutters and porches are much more expressive simply because black, grey and darker taupe tones hide architectural detail and obscure shadow lines - two things that should be highlighted on primarily brick facades. As for your distaste for kelly green - my neighbor's house is lovely with kelly green shutters that compliment the color of her porch trim and coordinate with their outdoor furniture. And another house down the block has sunny yellow shutters and a slightly darker door - not colors I would have ever thought appropriate if just looking at swatches - but it works because they compliment the pots, window boxes, and landscaping around the house! My initial color suggestions were to point out that bright, fresher colors can liven up a heavy brick without having to paint the entire facade.

      And in response to the snarky tone - don't worry, I love being an architect! I "design" the proportion of facades, the massing of spaces, and architectural details all day (and often all night) long. Any architect or interior designer worth her salt will agree that without a great space it's significantly harder to "design" a great room, and a great space can be ruined by an awful interior design. Mutual respect goes a long way to reaching success.

      Delete
  66. My home is located in the south east and is painted brick. We certainly do not have money to burn as one poster suggested. The dark red brick house was built in 1925. 25 years ago we hired a good architect and added three rooms on the first floor. We matched the size and shape of the new bricks to the old ones and painted the entire body of the house a soft greige. The house was beautifully transformed. The trim has been painted since then, but not the brick. Yes that's right- 25 years. No peeling paint, no bubbling, no frequent brick painting. We were warned by all the naysayers about high $ maintenance issues and flash in the pan trends- they were wrong. If I had to do it over again, I'd repaint the brick in a heartbeat.

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  67. How about a white chinoiserie fretwork for the two railings, like Jefferson put on the Lawn at the University of Virginia, Monticello, etc, and leave the redbrick the color it is? It would look wonderful, and coordinate with the architecture and french furniture equally.

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  68. Jennifer is my friend...and I just wanted to tell you that it meant soooo much to her that you took the time to answer her query so thoroughly. Thank you for being so sweet to her! I love your suggestions! I know Jen and her Engineer will make their new home amazingly beautiful!

    Blessings to you!
    Camille

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  69. Great ideas. You could add a trellis/vine or ivy to cover the area where the brick transitions colors. It would make it less obvious. Also, DON'T rip out the shrubs until you try to rejuvenate them first. A FREE solution that can be done immediately. http://www.sunset.com/garden/garden-basics/salvaging-old-shrubs-00400000013868/

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  70. Thank you, Joni! As soon as I saw Jennifer's house, I thought, "Paint the brick." I'm not a fan of natural brick houses, mainly because there are very few colors of brick which look nice (ugly red, yellow or brown). As to the comment someone made about painted brick being high maintenance; not so. My mother painted her brick house and 20 years later it still looked great. She hadn't repainted it at all (it had been a hideous yellow brick and the previous owners had painted the trim red. Gaaah!). Newly painted brick lasts a loooong time, especially with some of the new paints they've got. When my mom sold her house, the new owners about 10 years later painted it a slightly different color, but not because the paint job was bad. They just wanted a different color. Excellent post, as always. Love your style, Joni!

    Erin

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  71. hello
    i read this post this is great A few days ago I was researching about stainless steel Home Design etc. i find an online site steel balustrade home I visited this site I liked the site

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  72. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces.

    Wood columns

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  73. It is not recommanded to paint brick because the bricks must breath...

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