Some of the homes Roth is rehabbing are 100 years old. “I’m modernizing them and putting low-maintenance materials on to minimize callbacks while trying to keep the character of the house in the original state,” he says. Like Seifert, Roth also favors vinyl materials for ease of maintenance. “I’ve been getting away from wood,” he says. “The cost of vinyl is worth it to me to have the low maintenance.”
Roth has seen a resurgence in color. “The market has brought on darker colors that match the original style of a home,” he says. “You’re going to have to buy a color anyway, so if you can be selective in choosing the right colors other than white, along with complementary architectural trim, that will create a lot of curb appeal.”
Flavoring the Vanilla
“Most of us live in vanilla boxes. They’re pretty much all the same,” says Vicky Payne, Charlotte, N.C.-based host of “For Your Home,” a nationally syndicated television show focused on home remodeling. “If you really look at American architecture in houses, we went through a period in the ’50s, ’70s and ’90s where everything was built like track homes. You had your choice of four or five styles and your house was like your neighbor’s. When you go in and start to remodel these houses, the first thing you want to do is figure out a way to distinguish it from the neighbor’s. I think the best way you can do that is by adding architectural elements.”
Payne says columns in the front or a more interesting railing around the front porch can make a big difference in curb appeal, as can shutters or even changing the moulding. “There are always ways you can make the house distinguish itself among the rest in the neighborhood by adding more detail to the structure,” she asserts.
It’s important to keep elements to the correct scale and style of the house, she says. “If you listen, a house will tell you,” Payne says. “Your house has certain characteristics about it so you can’t make a ranch look like a Tudor but you can make the ranch more interesting. If you really listen and pay attention to the house and the lines of that house you can find exactly the type of element you need and bring it new life.”
Payne often references a book, American Field Guide to Houses, for inspiration. “Some people like to sit and read recipes; I like to sit and read through this book and look at the style of houses,” she says. “When you’re stuck and feel like you’re doing the same thing you did for the last client, it’s a good thing to get in there and refresh yourself and get reenergized about how to make a house different.”
Payne has studied homes from the 1920s and ’30s, which feature a lot of work with plaster and mouldings that was very labor intensive. Today, extruded products and modern manufacturing techniques make it easier to recreate ornate looks. “It allows the designers to recreate what we loved in the past or to look into the future and use elements in a different and unique way,” she says.
Payne is beginning remodeling work on her home now. She is downsizing from a 7,000-square-foot, 3-story home to a 3,000-square-foot ranch that was built 29 years ago and has had little work done since. She encourages her viewers to take labels off of the rooms and repurpose them to how the house best will work for a family and what is most functional. Payne follows her own advice. For example, the kitchen in Payne’s ranch is at the front of the house; she is moving it to the back to be near the patio and outdoor living area.
She also is incorporating details, such as mouldings. “We’ll be doing a lot of moulding detail in the living room, where the ceilings are 11-feet high and adding a lot of detail around the fireplace,” she says. “We’ll do a coffered ceiling and add a spiral staircase up to the attic, which will add dimensional look to the space yet be very functional. We’re taking a plain, tall, rectangular box and dressing it up with a lot of moulding to make it much more interesting.”