As Americans become stationary, is a new trend for homeowners a changing look to their home by adding a new facade?
If this recession is resulting in more homeowners staying put, we may see a growth in the home remodeling industry. Remaking our homes, using existing structures, has not been the desire of most homeowners. We want to build something new, so we either tear down what is there, or we move further out to find space for a home. Most of us consider adding space to our homes by stretching into our backyards, yet to make our home feel new, we may consider adding onto the front of our homes.
I like looking at building facades. When I was in downtown Houston this past weekend, I spent time looking at the wonderful ornamentation on the older buildings. My personal taste is towards the cleaner modern designs, but complex ornamentation holds my eye. Since a flat face was put forward towards the street, older buildings relied on adding carvings to trim at the fascia and windows. There would even be work done to indicate the division of the interior. On older homes, we can see creativity often expressed in brick work. Patterns were worked into the field; bricks were carefully placed at edges in a decorative manner; and we can find different types of bricks would be used. Window trim and fascia/soffit decoration seemed more prominent on homes from the Victorian era, but this ornamentation did go on into the mid twentieth century. After World War II, builders raced to develop subdivisions for the growing population. In order to have many homes built at once, designs became more streamlined. Ornamentation was out.
I find the regularity of neighborhoods built in the last ten to fifteen years disheartening. With a society on the move, we did not much care; we would only be in the home a few years anyway. There may even be neighborhoods that insist on this monotony through deed restrictions. We do have choices. You need to understand that when you look at your home, you are seeing an exterior wall covering. The brick or wood is not meant to carry any weight (now it might be effected by weight in some way; that is how you get cracks). This covering can be removed or changed if you wish. You do need to ensure that the new covering is attached to your home well, and that water cannot penetrate it.
What if you wished to dramatically change you home’s appearance? I am not writing about changing the covering for a new look. I mean changing the design. After my weekend time downtown, I was driving through a neighborhood when I found the house in the picture below. This new entrance makes a grand statement which separates it from its neighbors. Originally, this home would have had a gable roof over the front door, like other homes on the block. What this homeowner created is a new entrance hall with a dramatically different facade. I think maybe they should have better tied this design into the rest of the house. To me this new entrance looks slapped onto the front of the older home. By using similar materials to the existing home or extending the reference to the new materials on the other portions of the home could help. This is actually where an architect can be a benefit. Adding this feature to the front of the home helped change the profile from the other homes.
This kind of change to the facade could be a trend. I am not a fan of deed restrictions, because homeowner associations do go wild with their authority. However, I do think that we have to consider neighborhood character. Tract home subdivisions do gain character over time. Although, bringing in more architectural styles can give a neighborhood flare. Somehow we have to find balance.