Originally posted August 3, 2008

Here is a photo of the front of my house. (The bushes are being removed next week. Yay, the big one on the right of the stairs basically smells like cat pee and is the home of about 100 flies.)

As can probably be seen from the photo, the front stairs are falling apart. There’s a big chunk on the left side of the fourth stair up from the bottom that’s just sitting there. It “fell” off last winter when I shoveled the stairs. Also note lots of stuff missing from the second to top stair. My next project will be rebuilding the stairs because they’re a hazard. (The railings are also loose.)

Now, I need to decided how to replace them. My original thought was to just replace what was there. But after talking to Mickey, he thinks wood stairs would be nicer. (Not real wood, but some engineered “wood” that won’t require too much maintenance.) I wasn’t sure that wood stairs would go with the brick house, but now I’m thinking they will. So, now I just need to come up with a design.

I’ve done some research and finally figured out that my house is “Italianate” style. You can tell from the tall, skinny windows with the rounded top parts (I can’t remember what those header parts are called.) and because of the eaves (the part of the roof sticking out over the front of the house). This style of house should have a small porch. So, if I were to add a porch, it shouldn’t be very wide, but it can be rather deep.

I also found a porch design webpage and got these hints. Make the pitch of the awning the same as the pitch of the roof. End the railings at the same height as the window sill.

Now, I looked for some photos of Italianate-style houses and I think it would be best if I just got rid of the awning on the porch. I like this idea for two reasons, it’ll let more light in the house, especially after I put in a new window over the door. And the rounded header over the door will be visible.

I also think that I’ll make the porch maybe a foot or two deeper than it is now. Both of my neighbors’ porches go closer to the street than mine, so I don’t think my house would stick out if I made it deeper. Then, I’ll also be able to make the stairs be less steep. They are currently too steep for my liking.

Then, I think I’ll do something under the porch to make it a little room where I could put a plug and store my lawn mower. It would be really cool if I could make the sides of the porch out of brick that matched the house, though that would probably be pretty difficult. Especially since I don’t know what the brick looks like underneath the paint.

Which brings me to another item I’d like to fix, removing the paint from the brick. All the brick on the front of the house looks to be in good condition, so I think I should be able to remove the paint. Almost certainly, this paint is going to have lead in it. The safest way to remove it, is to use a paint stripper and then cover it with cloth. When the paint comes loose, it can be peeled off with the cloth. I have to test this idea this week to see if it really works. If the brick looks good on a test area, I’ll definitely do that to the front of the house.