gravelld

"Softening" a rendered monolith

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gravelld    21

As part of our EWI renovation work we need to choose how EWI is applied and then how the covering goes on.

 

The current house is all rendered - it's alright, but a bit stark and a bit of a boxy monolith in the rural setting.

 

We initially liked the idea of cladding the first floor to soften the look. The trouble is, cladding systems for EWI are much more expensive (installed cost) than sticky EPS and render systems.

 

Any other ways to "soften" the look of a rendered house? Planting? Trouble is, the planting would have to extend high, and I don't want to compromise the walls and add a maintenance burden.

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vivienz    29

The other difficulty with planting is that unless you choose an evergreen climber such as ivy, it would only be an effective cover from April - October.  Lots of tall conifers can be grown successfully in large pots - perhaps some of these along the base of the wall would work?  Albeit that the 'softening' look would be at the bottom rather than the top, but it would still break up the monolith look and not interfere with the fabric of the building in any way.  Also a lot cheaper than cladding if you start with modest sized plants.

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Ferdinand    413

Freestanding but alongside pergola or walkway or even a carport?

 

 

Edited by Ferdinand
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gravelld    21

Great thinking, thanks.

 

The idea of a pergola is interesting because I'm aiming for a high standard and was also considering how I will deal with overheating. I was already considering a "stub" free standing pergola projecting out from a large sliding door, for example.

 

On some modern medium rise builds you see vertical metal wires being installed with plants grown up them. Is there a name for this? I would imagine these need structural consideration because once the plant gets large, wind forces may be pretty significant?

 

Thinking about it (sorry for unstructured post) am I just handing myself a big maintenance burden, trimming the plants each year?

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Ferdinand    413

You could go the other way and go for carefully coiffeured planting to emphasise the sharpness eg box pyramids and so on, and formal larger trees over time eg monkey puzzle or yew etc.

 

Depending on the climber maintenance might be every few years.

 

F

Edited by Ferdinand

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The render may not be the problem? Our place didn't really respond to the local vernacular having a kind of eastern bloc chic thing going on in south lakeland. We have sorted some window apertures and painted it white - looks much more in keeping with the area.  

01af187fc80c2dbcd4c7804f50f6f2cc2cd173c9de.jpg

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gravelld    21

In our case, the house is more toward the top of a hill, so there's either daylight behind it or fields/trees depending on which side you're looking from.

 

The worst perspective is across fields towards the back of the house, viewed from a footpath. The backdrop is some distant trees and sky. A protruding gable sticks out, and this gable is all rendered, so maybe that's the issue - there's a high wall:roof ratio. I feel it does stand out a lot. It was the top half (and all along the house) that I had planned on cladding.

 

Ok I've attached a terrible photo but the only one I can find at short notice. Note the dormer to the right is actually an outbuilding - a garage with a room above. The sun is shining on the gable I mentioned which gives it a lighter colour; it's really a greeny grey.

 

Interestingly @Lesgrandepotato the current colour is a greeny grey, not a million miles from your original colour.

 

The "vernacular" is ironstone.

IMG_20160212_141911791.jpg

Edited by gravelld

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My initial reaction looking at that is firstly, it looks much much better that my starting point! Secondly that in my minds eye it wants to be a sort of yellowy hue on the dormered elevation and the elevation below the PV. Then the rest in a whiter tone make it more of a collection of elevations than one big one. 

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gravelld    21

The dormered elevation isn't actually part of the house, it's a separate garage with room above.

Edited by gravelld

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vivienz    29

Excuse the lack of technical terms here, but how about timber cladding just on the gable parts above the windows?  That would dramatically reduce the vertical line that they eye runs up and down and horizontal lines of cladding would possibly counteract that strong vertical effect even more.

 

Are you concerned about how others perceive the house, or you want to change it for yourself as well?  Do you own any of the land between the location where the photo was taken and the house?  If so, planting a hedge closer to the footpath would obscure more of the view for passing walkers/users than something really close to the house, but I'm not sure if it would also obscure views that you want to retain.

 

Regarding other planting ideas, I've seen a great idea for gardens where ivy is grown up and around free-standing pillars.  A series of these was done with different species of ivy ranging from small to large leaf sizes and gold/green leaves to almost blue/green.  It was really effective and beautiful and doesn't have as high a risk of being taken down by wind as a large screen of ivy/plants would.

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gravelld    21

Thanks for this very considered help.

 

I want to take the opportunity for renovations to change the appearance of the house how we'd like. I'm quite conflicted in my mind on this. On one hand, I believe in design and art and pushing the boundaries and not putting up, mindlessly, with the vernacular. On the other hand, this is a renovation, not a new build, and I don't want to tack something on without it looking harmonious. The village in which this is situated actually has a mix of styles which I think allows a bit more free reign.

 

I don't own the land and I don't really care whether people can see the house, hardly anyone walks along the footpath anyway.

 

I was actually thinking vertical cladding originally as I thought horizontal made the house look more 'squat'.

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Ferdinand    413

@gravelld

 

How much land have you got?

 

Given the openness of the aspect, a traditional or informal "shelter belt" of trees might break it up - even a small number. Perhaps a mix of evergeens and deciduous - say including things like Scots' Pine to go tall, and Whitebeam, Hazel, Birch and so on for a rapid effect in a few years. Also, does it perhaps need something like that for more privacy?

 

You could also use different colours of paint to break up the slab-effect outline.I am reminded of that Grand Designs villa near Malaga which was conceived like a small hilltop village, and used local earthy colours, sky blue, and white. Totally different but shows what colours can do.

 

My feel is that a vertical emphasis could be appropriate. I think that making the gables a rustic colour without softening the 1st floor bright white may give a stacked impression which would not work.

 

But the piccie you have posted is ideal for us to experiment with colours on.

 

aug-04-063_edited1.jpg

 

700_0331.jpg

 

(Credit: Livin Spaces: https://www.livinspaces.net/)

 

Ferdinand

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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gravelld    21
16 hours ago, Ferdinand said:

@gravelld

 

How much land have you got?

 

Given the openness of the aspect, a traditional or informal "shelter belt" of trees might break it up - even a small number. Perhaps a mix of evergeens and deciduous - say including things like Scots' Pine to go tall, and Whitebeam, Hazel, Birch and so on for a rapid effect in a few years. Also, does it perhaps need something like that for more privacy?

 

The plot overall is about an acre, but the house isn't perfectly in the middle. It's closest to the edge where that gable is, with about 10m of garden before the fence and then open fields.

 

I don't want to sound like I'm putting obstacles up - I greatly appreciate your suggestions. Two troubles with this type of planting may be the shading - first there are overhead high voltage power lines running parallel to that fence, just inside the field. Second is that I'm trying to optimise for solar gain so they would need careful positioning.

 

16 hours ago, Ferdinand said:

You could also use different colours of paint to break up the slab-effect outline.I am reminded of that Grand Designs villa near Malaga which was conceived like a small hilltop village, and used local earthy colours, sky blue, and white. Totally different but shows what colours can do.

 

My feel is that a vertical emphasis could be appropriate. I think that making the gables a rustic colour without softening the 1st floor bright white may give a stacked impression which would not work.

 

 

Yeah, the use of colour is an interesting one there. Might be beyond my own abilities!

 

Can you explain what you mean by "making the gables a rustic colour without softening the 1st floor bright white" - do you mean the 1st floor of the gable, not of the gable, or what? Making the gable a more rustic colour while having the other walls bright white?

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Ferdinand    413
37 minutes ago, gravelld said:

 

Can you explain what you mean by "making the gables a rustic colour without softening the 1st floor bright white" - do you mean the 1st floor of the gable, not of the gable, or what? Making the gable a more rustic colour while having the other walls bright white?

 

@gravelld

 

What I meant was that if you painted just the big central gable, and left the rest bright, it would give a "horizontal slices" feel to the facade. Roof above white above fence and ground. 

 

I didn't think that would look OK. My original post included the phrase "like a liquorice allsort" which I edited for the sake of delicacy :-).

 

I think that, if your aim is to blend into the landscape a little more, then @Lesgrandepotato may have pretty much nailed it ... make the garage one end and the part below the solar panels at the other a colour which has tones of trees and landscape in it, while making the central part less bright than now, which would still make it more prominent that the ends. That will have the effect of making the house seem broken up and smaller - more like a farmhouse plus outbuildings.

 

An example of shades could be yellow ochre or ironstone colour for the ends, and a pale yellow or cream or another pastel for the centre. Yellow or cream with a bit of red or blue in it might be good.

 

If you wanted to be bolder then I can see a slate grey or similar, or even red or green, working for the two ends. Take a colour from local painted barns, perhaps? 

 

In the Lake District you would get away with Bright Pink as the vernacular, to contrast with the winter gloom and the mirky colours of a rained on landscape. But pink also blends into the European sky surprisingly well - it was even used (along with duck-egg green) as a camouflage colour for high-flying photo reconnaissance Spitfires in the war. Another place where there are wonderful earthy colours are on some birds' eggs.

 

The one thing I am doubtful about is how similar a colour could be to the roof tiles. I cannot tell if that would work, but a google search for ironstone villages seems to say it is used in that situation.

 

Perhaps an artist friend would be a good adviser who knows the colour ranges used locally in detail?

 

Another option might be to add a boardwalk with roof to the side in the picture for eating outside etc. See what Americans do in the South. Might it be permitted development?

 

Just my thoughts and prejudices.

 

Ferdinand

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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gravelld    21

Great thoughts, thanks. Something to chew on and experiment with. Not sure about the mirrors though ;-) 

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