I had finally landed on a French Country house plan that I felt I could work with to create the home of our dreams (Read about Picking a French Country House plan here). Abberley Lane by John Tee had the elements of French Country charm with the general layout I was envisioning.But several things I immediately set out to change.
The first thing I changed was the placement of the garage. I did not like that the garage became part of one’s initial impression, subconsciously highlighted by it’s proximity and depth. My hope was to draw the eye first to the front door through architectural detailing and let the visual landscape flow from there.
The first thing I did was to move the garage to the back of the house, and bump that section of the home forward just slightly. I still wanted to highlight the “main house” and keep what would become the “owner’s suite” and the library, slightly recessed.
I knew I wanted the overall appearance to resonate as French Provincial, but one of my greatest design challenges was the front porch – a large, columned front porch is not an innately French feature. Gardens, terraces, and patios are the typical outdoor extension of French Country living spaces. You will be hard pressed to find an organically French home with a large front porch. That being said, it was my mental star for many years, and therefore, a must.
How could I incorporate the porch of my dreams, still highlight a gorgeous double door entrance, and keep an overall appearance of the French Provincial style? I sketched and re-sketched the exterior (I will not even attempt to recreate these as I am capable of making stick figures look ridiculous), but what I saw in my head looked awesome let me tell you.
Ultimately, this French Provincial makeover featured in Better Homes and Gardens encapsulated the conclusion of my sketches. My plan was to extend a front porch across the main section of the house and arch the roof line just above the double front doors. I love the way this highlights the entrance and accentuates the quintessential French arch that would also tie in to my tall arched windows.
Speaking of windows, I also wanted to incorporate the frequently seen French dormer on the second story which helps to visually lower the roof line and soften the otherwise stately appearance.
With moving the garage to the back, I changed this entire wing of the house and termed it the “owner’s suite” to include master bed and bath connected by open walk-in closet, exercise room, my office (laundry/craft room), and mud hall. More details to come!