Posted by: jeb1 | June 7, 2012

Make Your Horizontal Home More Vertical

Jeb Breithaupt, owner/president of JEB Design/Build, now has a column in the Shreveport Times!  Get useful tips and ideas EVERY THURSDAY from the Living Column.  

 Make Your Horizontal Home More Vertical

Shreveport Times

May 31, 2012  
   Does your house resemble this one: Built in the 1950s, it’s got a long, low look, with horizontal brick-maybe as wide as 12 inches-and side-sliding windows that sit so high on the wall you can barely see out of them? Is the family-room ceiling about eight feet high under a roof that’s gently sloped and covers both the garage and the house?   The home that was just described is an example of a contractor-modern style home and northwest Louisiana is full of them.  In fact, more than a million of these homes sprouted up around the country from 1948 to 1955.    So many contractor-modern homeowners tell me they just wish they could get out of those outdated houses.  Yet it’s not a great time to sell a house. So why not change the style of your contractor-modern

home instead so it looks and feels a bit more unique and somewhat less horizontal?

Before Remodeling


Here’s how to start:

1. Replace the windows and doors. You don’t have to tear down your house to change its style. In fact, if you just replace the windows and doors, the place will look like you invested in a lot more work than you did.

            Stand on your front lawn and take a look at your house. Think of the windows as its eyes and the front door as the nose. Does it need a facelift?

            The typical contractor-modern front door is a made from a smooth slab with one or two plain, vertical windows-called sidelights-on each side. Consider replacing it with a paneled door and subtle, decorative sidelights.

            Changing out the windows is a bigger job. You’ll need to make some serious wall modifications if your existing windows are 60 inches off the floor and you would like to lower them. Creating bigger openings also will allow you to change the shape of the windows from horizontal to vertical so they’re taller than wide, and make them larger or smaller. And while you’re breaking through walls anyway, consider adding extra windows. Builders in the ’50s weren’t too concerned about cross-ventilating a home because air conditioning was becoming popular, so your contractor-modern home might not have as much light as you’d like.

           2. Add some vertical elements. Extend the roof of the garage so it juts out from the rest of the house and then add a couple of columns underneath to hold it up. Other ideas: Modify your boxy-looking chimney to give it a peak, so it looks

After Remodeling

like it’s pointing upward. You could add faux dormers on the roof or install vented dormers, which gives the impression of a second story and can help cool your house off during the summer by letting air into the attic or crawl space under the roof.

             3. Keep the roof. It’s a major, costly project to replace the low-sloped roof of a contractor-modern home, so you might want to keep it; even if you convert your house to a new architectural style. The solution: Switch to a style that is different but compatible with your 50s-era abode-like Prairie style. The architecture of both kinds of homes is relatively horizontal and features low-sloped roofs, so you can add touches from the other style that won’t clash with what you’ve got.

            If you want a higher pitch, talk to your contractor about adding a second roof on top of the one you already have. But before you go that route, work with the doors and windows. That might be enough.  One caution as you add some vertical touches to your horizontal home: Avoid mixing too many diverse styles; that can make your home look thrown together. Examples: Shutters don’t “go” with a contactor-modern home, even if you add vertical windows. And a French Colonial door with panels on the bottom and a big window divided by grilles on top could look out of place if the rest of the structure features clean, horizontal lines.

 Jeb Breithaupt, B.Arch.,MBA- has been president of Jeb Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: