Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Plain House - Outside Touches

Southern Shadows 2 by Kimberly Hudson from Lovely Whatevers

The gingerbread brackets for the corners of the overhang or porch roof are not expensive anymore, and sometimes you can get them at craft and fabric stores, made of metal and other products that withstand the weather. You can now get picket fence sections that stick into the ground, which add interest to plain houses. Corner brackets can also be used on the inside of the house in areas that separate rooms, such as the dining room opening or kitchen entrance.
Coquina Coast 2 by Kimberly Hudson, from Lovely Whatevers

Most of the shutters on the sides of the windows are merely decorative, but outside shutters that actually open and shut are now becoming more available. A plain house can be made interesting from the outside by painting these shutters a contrasting color.

Southern Shadows 1 by Kimberly Hudson from Lovely Whatevers

If you live in a plain house, do not agonize over it. Look carefully at any house, and the bare bones of it is always a box shape anyway. It is the addition of columns, fences, cornices, lamp posts, fences, railings and plants that give it shape.
You can make a sign to hang on the outside, with a number or a message, that will add a bright spot to the outside. If in the end you find you cannot afford to add embellishments like this, a nice curtain in the window and a plant will still give a look to a plain house that says someone lives there who cares.

Coquina House 1 by Kimberly Hudson from Lovely Whatevers
Houses of the past often bore special names chosen by their owners. Rooms inside were also given names associated with the character or memories of those special spaces. It seems like any plain house could be made more interesting with a good name.


Katrinka said...

I'm enjoying this series on improving the appearance of a rather plain home. I've always had a soft spot for old homes that are vacant, like in a farmng community. I drive by and see the old curtains flapping at the windows and see rusty clothesline posts in the back yard, and I think of the days when the mother scrubbed and waxed her kitchen floor and starched her curtains with pride. Then she baked some cookies and stepped to the door and called her children in from play. And now the home stands empty with roof falling in. I've dreamed of some day travelling around when I grow older, as a hobby, and taking photos of these old homes before they are torn down for good. I also want to do the same with chicken houses! Not far from us stood an old farmhouse where a young family lived a short time ago. It was pretty run down, but very homey and attractive in an old victorian way. She planted bedding plants in an old tractor tire and they had a swingset and some kittens in the yard. About six months ago it went vacant and just two weeks ago they took down the garage. In the process, they crushed an old car and placed it on top of the back wing of the house (what would normally be the kitchen/back porch). They left it that way for a week. They apparently thought it was amusing, but it saddened me greatly whenever I drove by. I understand the need to take the house down, but then just take it down! It seemed a mockery to see the car on the roof. It stood there for another week, groaning under the weight of the car, until they finally demolished the house and took away the debris. It seemed undignified to me and disrespectful of all the years of service the home had given and the love it had contained. I rarely get so emotional about things, but this really bothered me. My husband sympathized with me so nicely, and was so kind to me about it. I know a house is just wood and bricks and not to be worshipped, but it stood so bravely holding up that old car. I almost see a picture of a faithful Christian in it all. I wish now that I had photographed it, and am thinking of a few old homes that I may take photos of and start my collection. Your articles of reverence and showing appreciation for our homes by cherishing them is an encouragement to me. Our homes ought to be an oasis and a retreat, and I really think that the older I get and the older our daughter gets the more I realize that truth. Thank you for your efforts!

Lydia said...

We had a discussion about this a few months ago. There is a trend going on of destroying houses, either by neglect or deliberate damage. When someone buys the place, they strip it of anything of worth, then sell it. Someone else buys it and takes it down even further. Soon there is no house there. I don't know what is going on but I've seen it happen so often lately that I am wondering if it is a deliberate plan for gain of some sort. But what would anyone gain by destroying a house? Years ago people did the same thing to the old Victorian houses, until the Historical Society was formed to protect them.

I would be interested in knowing the names people have for their houses. Does anyone do that anymore?

Anonymous said...

Whenever we drive to a near-by little town we would drive past an old but still in good shape farmhouse. One day a couple months ago, just out of the blue, my 9 year old son announced that he was going to save his money and buy that place. He said, "I want to fix her up." A couple weeks after he made that announcement, we went by and saw some heavy equipment in the yard but we didn't think anything about it. Then another couple weeks went by, and as we drove by, you could almost hear the heart of a 9 year old break as he tearfully asked, "Why?" You see, they were taking her down, respectfully, but to him...his dream was gone. I told him to hang onto that dream...of his old fix-er up farmhouse, that God always listens. And I added, maybe there is a wife and some children of your own to go with that other one, he smiled and asked, "Do you think?" Yeap son...I do think!

Yesterday, we drove down a different old backroad coming home. Since the "big highway" came through, hardly anoyone travels it now. Well, would you believe we found another "old girl" for my darling to dream of one day calling "home".

PS I often refer to our home as the "Little Cottage on the Swamp" *smile*

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I don't comment often at all, but I come visit nearly every day. Your blog is my most favorite of all! You don't know how much you have blessed my famiy and I by your writings. Your writings of late on being frugal and making do with what you have on hand have effected me greatly for the better.

Our home is called Hidden Pines. The house is nestled in many acres of woods. Our former home was Rose Cottage.


Karen said...

One of the nice things in the novels of L. M. Montgomery is that she named the houses: Green Gables, Ingleside, Windy Poplars, Silver Bush, New Moon, Cloud of Spruce, etc.

Unknown said...


I loved the article which was short and sweet :) Thank you for addressing all the areas of a home in the separate articles. It helps to envision where we can place small touches around our homes in order to make them even more special.

To answer your question, we do have a name for our home. When we first built it, my husband kept calling it "Big Blue" which I didn't care for. He said it jokingly because the banker who worked with us for our financing told him that several people mentioned the house (small town, everyone notices a new home and talks about it) and were overestimating the square footage 3 to 4 times what it actually was. Our banker friend never corrected anyone about the real size because he enjoyed hearing the square footage grow as the story went around town. The house is built up out of the ground with high ceilings and has a very tall turret on one part of the roof, plus the side entry attached garage makes it seem that area is house instead of garage. Those things make the house seem bigger than it truly is, and of course, the house siding is blue.

We tried calling it Blue Lady, then Lady in Blue, which also didn't seem to work.

Now we refer to our home as "Our Blue Heaven" taken from the song My Blue Heaven. I like that name because it encompasses ALL of the parts of the house and the yard and our woods. When I have been away, I really do feel like I am coming to a slice of heaven as soon as I can see my house. I'm always so glad to arrive home.

In town our home is known as the castle house because it has a turret. I did also hear someone else refer to it as "The Gingerbread House" although we actually don't have our gingerbread trims up yet. We do have seemingly endless white turned balusters going along the wrap around porch which might be why she called it that. Shame on me, but I am only just now getting around to adding the gingerbread cut outs to the upper part of the porch even though they were purchased before the house was completed.

As for naming rooms, all are just regularly named rooms except one. I have one small area that I call the hearth room. The main feature is a fireplace. It is off the kitchen and contains only a small loveseat and an overstuffed chair with ottoman and one end table with a lamp. It has an angled bump out with a slider door that has a wonderful southern exposure which eventually will open out onto a deck (also not finished yet) It is my favorite room in the house and my children and guests love to sit in there while I cook dinner. There is an open peninsula between that room and the kitchen with 3 bar height chairs pulled up to the counter. People seem to migrate to that seating if I am working in the kitchen. If I build up a fire in the fireplace, you can be sure everyone in the house will be in that room no matter what the time of day.

I have had to smile when people visit and sit in there and so often will say "I want a Hearthroom, too!" My mother stayed with us recently and wrote me a letter after her visit and said "Since I enjoyed your wonderful Hearthroom, I always picture you sitting in there enjoying the view inside and outside the house."

My next favorite area of the home is the front porch. If there is a comfortable place to sit on a porch it has the feeling of an outdoor room. It is so restful to sit out there and gaze out over the fields in the early morning and in the evening when the air is cool and the wonderful fresh smell of clean country air starts to come in on the breeze. It does me no good to take out handwork or reading because I can never take my eyes away from the view for long.

Will you share if you have any special rooms or areas of your own home? How about your childhood home?

I've so enjoyed the other posts in this thread so far and look forward to reading what the other women will write. I know that there will always be lots of thoughtful comments to your lovely articles and often will peek in a time or two during the day to see what might have been added to the list.



Mrs. N. said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I named our house a while ago. Because we live in the upper midwest(lots of winter) and our lot in town is ringed with pine trees (lots of green) I named our home Wintergreen Lodge.

Elspeth said...

My house is in suburbia. Every 3rd or 4th house looks the same, except in a slightly different color. No external chnages with HOA approval and all that. I am enjoying this series, however. One day we plan to live in a different area and in a more traditional home and I'll have these suggestions in the back of my mind.

Katrinka said...

We call our place 'The Homestead'. We also have an old farmhouse in another state, and we call that 'The Farm'. :)

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

We have named our home "Creekside Cottage." We have a tiny creek on our property which had a poor ranch style house on it. This house had been terribly neglected. When we purchased it 6 years ago, it had holes in walls, and doors, dirty walls, carpets that were thread bare, vinyl flooring in the 2 baths and kitchen had holes in it! Our friends thought we were crazy.

However, God has given my husband and I the ability to see beyond the mess to what it could be. The house was an excellent price because of the shape it was in and it sits on 4 acres! We have been at work on it ever since!

We put down wide plank pine floors through out the whole house, we have painted everything very warm and cheerful colors. My husband has made trim for the doors and windows that we have painted white and looks like the trims from long ago. He also has put in baseboard trim.

We live on a tight budget so I can be home with our children, so we have used things that were given to us, or purchased used. We have gone to construction auctions, where we were able to get our interior doors that are panel doors! We got picket fencing from a friend of my husbands, whose neighbor torn it out of his yard so he could put up something "modern." I had dreamed of picket fencing! God is so good!

We are still working on the house, bit by bit. We have chosen to live without debt, so sometimes it takes awhile to get something new done.

But I am thankful that you are out there using your "voice" to encourage ladies to be creative on a budget. We know first hand that this is possible.

maven said...

I have a little cabin on 17 acres on the top of a mountain in WV. It is called "Lingerlong".