A House That Inspires

I’m inspired by a lot of homes– homes that work visually when they shouldn’t as well as homes that just repeatedly attract my eye. 

 If I find that I can’t stop looking at a house every time I drive by it, I’m not above pulling over and asking the residents if I can schedule a time to come look around. Anytime I’ve ever done it (only four times since I was 20) the owners just invite me in on the spot no matter what shape the inside of their house is in, which is probably one reason why their homes are so welcoming in the first place.


I drive by this house on 62nd St. here in Indy all the time, and I sort of have it in the back of my mind as I puzzle through our newest house design.  My curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided I would take some pictures of the outside.  Dave was with me and nearly freaked when I pulled into the driveway.  I think he thought I wouldn’t ask first (I did, but I didn’t ask to see inside.)

The owner was very sweet.  Their family has been there since the 1970s, but the house was built in the late 1800s. 

 Why does this house work?  For me:

  • Deep and generous eaves (the part of the roof that sticks out past the house)
  • The contrast between the red window trim and the butter-cream exterior paint (vinyl siding, btw!)
  • Asymmetrical/Symmetrical plan–Provides order and intrigue simultaneously.  Lets me know there are some surprises inside.
  • Generous number but human-scaled windows.  You know that plenty of light gets in, and that the ‘just right’ size of their frames provide picture-like views of the landscape, which is also nice.  Ironically, ranch-style “picture windows”, large pieces of plate glass, are often too big to provide a “frame.” The notion I think is that these larger windows “remove the barrier” between you and nature, which is fine if you live in a national park (or even on a ranch), but that’s not where I see most ranch houses.  Picture windows also look like black voids on a house if they are out of scale with the structure.   (Wow, I’m really coming down hard on plate glass.  Believe it or not, I actually like many ranch houses, and their windows.)
  • I love that you can enter this house from all four sides.  The front entry (see first picture above), with its Greek columns fronting a folk Victorian cottage is a little weird, but I consider that just part of its quirky, long life and personality.  Besides, the scale seems to work, which is where columns most often go wrong.  

 The house is well-loved.  The owner said it has hardly any closets, and she wasn’t thrilled that vinyl siding was put on before they bought it.  Still, every time they think about moving, they change their mind.  I don’t blame them.

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7 Comments on “A House That Inspires”

  1. lmb Says:

    Ohhhh. I couldn’t see it till the last picture, but the butter-cream and red are really lovely. Well said! I loved my old neighborhood, Cottage Home, because homeowners were so creative with exterior color combinations. Some worked better than others, but I loved driving down the street with nary a boring house in sight!

  2. Troy Says:

    Cottage Home is so fun. Lara, do you remember that night at book club when we read Divided Highway: The History of America’s Interestate System? There was a chapter on Levittown, America’s first suburb and all of its same-style houses. As we were talking, our host got this depressed look on her face and said–“Oh my gosh, y’all. I just realized I live in Levittown.”

  3. Citizen D Says:

    I don’t really get excited about houses, but I love your description of this one. It’s great writing.

  4. lmb Says:

    I do remember reading that book! I don’t remember the host’s comment, but maybe it’s an indication that there’s an antidote for McMansionism. Indianapolis is a great city because there are so many historic homes that the average person can live in, so people there seem more aware of the beauty that comes with things like butter-cream-and-red homes with human-scale windows.

    Also, Troy, if you’re not already familiar with this book, you must track it down: Jonathan Hale’s The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic, and How to Get It Back.

  5. Katy Says:

    I really do like the house. Looks like a good design for a warm and friendly home.
    Closets and storage are important and should be a major part of the plan for the new house.
    What I should be doing today is cleaning out the attic and closets so I can utilize the space I do have to my advantage.
    Will you get to take a tour some day??

  6. Troy Says:

    Hmmm…I guess I could ask for a tour. In this case, I think I know enough about what I want the inside of the new house to look like that I may not need one, but would be fun anyway.

  7. potterdad Says:

    As soon as I saw the picture, I knew which house that one was! I have loved that house as long as I can remember. (I thought you were going to tell us that you were buying it. Ah well…) It certainly is charming and I hope you succeed in capturing its spirit with your new home.

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