There was a time when outbuildings were designed and built with as much forethought as the house they sat next to. More recently it seems very hard to find outbuildings that have the same sensible scale and detailing of those from the past.
Take this simple but pleasing garage as an example of how to do things properly, its scale doesn't overwhelm the house (which btw is one of my favourite Stratford homes), its ornamentation and design is logical to the era of the house, and its lovely to look at.
This garage is quite the opposite. Although the scale is reasonable, the details are sadly, poorly conceived. The "half brick half siding" look is not rooted in tradition (its a common tract builder detail) and this garage would look much better in just the board and batten siding (or even simple clapboards). The half wall of brick connecting the garage to the house is simply bizarre. A properly designed wooden or iron fence with gate would look much better, and be more appropriate and sympathetic to the house.
Ironically, right around the corner from the garage noted above is this simple barn or carriage house. Would that the neighbours had taken their cues from this structure, the neighbourhood would be the better for it. Simple details, properly executed and maintained always look better than the "let's throw everything at it even though we don't know what we're doing" approach.
And lastly here is an example of how not to design an outbuilding. We will keep an eye on this as it "progresses". The original form of a gambrel barn is ruined by the addition of a shed roof added to the side - it could have been much better if the shed roof had been pushed back from the front of the barn - it would have read as less of a tumour on the side.
Contrast this to the barn noted above it, which has an addition on the side, but the rooflines are kept separated by the upper side fascia line. Even a simple break such as that appears to the eye to be logical. It's an addition that doesn't ruin the original form. This barn never had a chance!
Rory McDonnell is a General Contractor, Licensed Carpenter and Architectural Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom homes and renovations.
I am a licensed carpenter,