We spent yesterday morning at the Two Flat meeting with our architect, who also plays the role of our general contractor. The project is moving along nicely and we’re staying largely on schedule! We did, however, come up against a pretty substantial design challenge at the front of the house… and we could use your help! To bring you back to the beginning, this is what the front of the house looked like the day we closed:
We had the tree-slash-overgrown-shrub removed a few weeks ago, and today it’s looking… uh, better? Worse? Here, let me just show you what we saw when we drove up to the Two Flat yesterday:
If nothing else, we hope this photo is a strong reminder that eggs must be broken in order to make delicious omelettes. At this point, the big blue tarp and missing siding make it feel as though the entire dozen eggs was dropped carelessly onto the floor and trampled through by Jack and CC, but I digress!
Deciding On a Front Porch Design
On a positive note, the old front porch is down, and now it’s time to decide on how we want it to look when it gets rebuilt. This is truly exciting, but also challenging! The biggest design dilemma we’re facing is the roofline of the front porch and ‘bump-out’. We don’t want it to end up looking boxy and square as it did when we purchased the home, but there are a few factors working against us. For one, the ceilings are high and the windows are large, which is great for natural light, but it also means there isn’t much space between the windows on each level. Let me throw it back to a photo after the tree came down and before the tarp went on:
For historical reference, our home slots somewhere between the Worker Cottage and the Frame Two-Flat (also how cute are those illustrations?). We’d like to remain fairly true to the home’s origins, but we’re not overly concerned with prioritizing the historical style since the home has been renovated multiple times since it was built. To an extent, yes, but again, sometimes you gotta break a few eggs.
So! The question becomes…
Is There A Way To Create a Pitched Roof?
Prior to the old roof coming off the house, our architect did a drive-by drawing and sent us this quick sketch he doodled on his phone:
We thought, yes! That’s it! Simple, interesting and more in line with the style of our home. But then the front porch and flat roof were demoed, and we learned some unfortunate news: the area between the living room triple window and the twin bedroom windows is too narrow to allow for the simple design above. We want the roof to have a visible pitch, but are having trouble squeezing a properly sloped roof between the top of the first floor windows and the bottom of the second floor windows. You can even see in his drawing how his sketch is creeping onto those second story windows.
Does that all make sense?
A New Direction
But then! Our architect had an idea, which is seemingly more common in New England but just might work for out 130-year-old home in Chicago. He suggested that we create a hybrid design in which the overall roofline of the porch will look similar to the photo below – a standard gable with a shallow pitch, but without a hip on the left side of the porch. Basically, it will run straight across the porch and bay window, with a very slight slop upwards where it will meet the siding:
But! In order to achieve the necessary pitch, the roof will continue up past the sill of the bedroom windows. Much like the lower portion of the dormer on the home below (that window on the top left). We think the ‘notched’ roofline will add an interesting architectural detail at the front of the home and solve our spatial problem:
Wait, getting closer! Much like the window above the garage in the photo below, the roofline will cut around the bottom of each window. See how the shingled roofline is cut around the window? Now imagine that x 2 windows, and slightly higher up the window:
The new plan will start to take shape over the next few weeks, and we’re excited! And also really scared. And excited! And scared. It feels like a big design risk, but maybe that’s only because we cannot, for the life of us, find a proper example!
All this to say, maybe you could help point us in the right direction with inspiration images? You’ve been so helpful with this renovation journey so far. We have one chance to get this right, and we want to make sure we knock the curb appeal at the front of the house completely out of the park.
Note: Although our inspiration images are all white or light colored houses, we’re thinking of painting the house something much darker with black shingles, eek!