Rebirth: Our 1960s Ranch House Renovation | Transforming the Front Elevation
Curious about our 1960s ranch house renovation? Well we’ve found that our fellow ground redeemers are … because you’ve asked. We also realized that most of our posts featuring what we’ve done with our outdoor spaces have focused on our back yard … where there’s little evidence of how we’ve renovated our home a 1960s ranch. So we thought it was time for us to share how we transformed our front yard. Hopefully you’ll find this post both helpful and inspirational … particularly if you live in a 1960s ranch and you’d like to freshen up her curb appeal a bit.
Besides showing you some before & after pics, I’ll also share some of the ways that I believe made the biggest impact. But you must realize, this rebirth didn’t happen overnight – but more like a 15 year gestation period! We did a good bit of the literal ground work (i.e., landscaping) and adding lipstick (i.e., painting) over the first 5 years, but the structural changes (e.g., columns, windows, & porch eaves) came later … when budget allowed for a more extensive renovation. In other words, be patient.
Cleaning Things Up & Laying the Ground Work
When Britt first saw our soon-to-be home, you could barely see her from the street. Although the yard was overgrown, we saw a diamond in the rough and felt with the right amount of TLC we could bring her back to life. So after working on the interior (which was in about the same shape!), we went to work on the front yard.
Here are the highlights and some before & after pics peppered in:
- The first thing we did was remove all the overgrown … dying …d ead trees & shrubs.
- We removed the rusted out white wrought iron railing on the front porch (so 1960s ranch!) … never adding a railing back.
- The next project we embarked on … because it was cheap and easy, with a big impact … was painting the white front door and shutters “Charleston black” (which is tinted a dark, dark green).
- The first major project we did was adding a 7′ high retaining wall at the left-hand corner of our home, tapering out and away from the house toward the street. We filled the void with a ton of dirt and added sod. We did all this because the original view from the street was wonky. With the yard dropping off to the left, exposing the basement, the front perspective of our home always felt off-kilter. Adding the retaining wall effectively “righted” that view.
- Eventually (i.e., years later … when we could afford it!) we added plant material at the foundation of our home to not only soften the hard lines, but to break up the linear aspect of the long front facade as well.
The Right Colors Go a Long Way
Regardless of what era a house was built, one of the most common things to do to make a big impact is a nice paint job. Our 1960s ranch house renovation was no exception.
- We painted everthing:
- Painted the red brick grey.
- Trimmed out the front door with chunkier trim and painted it white.
- One of the details that I think made the biggest difference was painting the 3″ trim immediately under the eave of the roof the same color grey as the brick – NOT white, like the rest of the trim. Although seemingly a small deal, this effectively lifted the roof off the walls and windows of our home – allowing us and our house to breathe easier.
- At about the same time we re-roofed our ’60s lady – going from dingy white shingles to dark grey shingles. This not only cleaned things up, it took us out of the ’60s, and visually created a better contrast with the light grey bricks. Another significant change.
- We then decked out the front porch with a black porch swing, black rocking chair, and black wrought iron planters on either side of front door with ferns (in the fall & winter we replace them with boxwoods). We felt that the simple pops of black left our front porch looking clean, classic, & welcoming.
Updating Our 1960s Ranch with a Few Structural Changes
All of the above was done within the first 5 years of living in our home. We then moved out for 6 months and renovated the “public” spaces of our home – which included: doubling the size of our great room, re-flowing our living & dining rooms, adding a mudroom & half-bath, and gutting & raising the ceiling in our kitchen. (Thank you Steve Kemp, friend and architect-extraordinaire of Kemp Hall Studio!)
While all that was going on in the inside, there were other aspects of the renovation that impacted our home’s curb appeal … addressing some of the characteristics typical of 1960s ranch houses that dated our home:
- We replaced the quintessential ’60s windows with a more classic 6-over-6-pane (double-paned) window. This did a lot to make our home look more current (and better insulated!). But it wasn’t cheap – ranches have a ton of windows!
- We also changed the front porch in ways that made a big impact:
- We replaced the lovely tapered round columns with chunky square columns. Goodbye 1963!
- We also cut back the deep overhang (again, very typical of the ’60s) of the porch’s roof about 18″. This both “lifted up” the porch and allowed us to create a “beam” of sorts above the new columns – providing more visual margin under the roof and to the front door.
Directing the Eye & Our Guests with a Simple Stone Path
Lastly…and more recently…we added a path (made of chunky crab orchard stepping stones) from the front porch, through the large landscape bed, towards the street. We did this for 2 reasons:
- Our ‘formal’ sidewalk comes off of our driveway close to our home and essentially travels parallel to our home to the front door. However, many of our guests park on the street – which requires them to walk to and then down our driveway … which is not very welcoming. The new informal path allows a more direct and “romantic” way to get to and from our front door.
- From a design perspective, the path also creates a strong visual line pointing to our front door from the street. Which is where we want people to travel and what we want them to look at as they’re making their way there. The path, being perpendicular to our home, is also a nice contrast to our ranch’s long, strong horizontal lines.
So for those who have asked or are interested in our 1960s ranch house renovation … there you have it – what we did to the front of our 1960s ranch to give her a new lease on life. I hope you’ve been both helped and inspired. Please reach out if you have any questions.
[If you’d like to talk a look at our interior renovations you can check out the first in the serious of posts where we bring you inside to see the transformation.]
PS: Here’s a side-by-side of the before & after for you…
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