Original Front Facade
Many of the houses in the neighborhood are Mediterranean or Spanish style homes. So our original front facade was pretty common in the area. However, during the inspection, the inspector had pointed out there was termite damage around the bottom and sides of the front facade.
So we thought… since we were renovating the interior of the house to a more modern and contemporary design. Why not update the exterior so it could match the interior space? This way, it would get rid of the termite damage as well.
Redwood in Contemporary Homes
The look we were going for was inspired by the redwood element found in contemporary homes. Usually redwood planks(or cedar is also a popular option) is used as the exterior walls instead of just stucco finish (in our case). Here are some examples (notice that the houses are mostly “boxy”):
We didn’t hire an architect for the exterior design because we thought it would be a small change. We didn’t plan on re-designing the whole exterior and landscaping, just one wall. Our contractor did not warn us and seemed so confident that they had ripped out the front facade before the city approved the exterior design.
The front facade looked like this for a long while:
So we thought the design would pass, until we submitted it to city planning for a design review..
Our Initial Design
For the city to make sure that the homeowners get their unique look. But still look like it belonged in the neighborhood, there are guidelines (if interested read here: Sunnyvale Single Family Design Techniques) that city planning follows.
This was our initial design:
We just wanted to add redwood siding to the front facade above the garage and change the exterior paint color. Nothing else was changed in the design. But since we didn’t know about the guidelines beforehand. Needless to say, we did not get approved with our first design.
Front Facade Redesigns
These were some of the feedback we got:
- The gable roof, arch and other elements made the house look too traditional, having one modern element (redwood siding) was not aesthetically pleasing.
- The redwood siding made the house look top heavy and suggestions were to add rocks to the bottom half.
- Front door entrance was no longer the focal point, which did not agree with the guidelines.
- We could not add redwood siding just to the front facade, there had to be a balance. Possibly need to add the redwood element throughout the exterior and other modern elements as well.
So we took these suggestions and short of implementing a new roof. We came up with several new designs:
- Added white paint color to walls, instead of all slate grey.
- Adding glass panels to the gable, which I really hoped was not needed.
- Adding redwood siding on top of the front door to extend the entrance.
- Adding a wall with the redwood siding and black trim. To balance the redwood siding on top of the garage.
- Changing the garage door window shape to rectangles.
These new designs were on the right track and we had better feedback. The design review committee liked the direction that the design was going. Having a fence with redwood siding, and adding white paint.
Final Approve Design!
Eventually the design we agreed on was this one:
I think we did pretty good with the final design! It might take a while until we get to finish it up. But at least we were able to go ahead and incorporate the redwood siding to the front facade. The whole process was a great learning experience. Now we know there are guidelines for changing the exterior design. Next time we decide to change the exterior design, we will know better. Can’t wait to see the final product!