Roof Shape Options For A House

Different roof shapes can change the look of your home, as well as give you different layout options for a room that is built into the roof. There are typically three main roof shapes that are used for different effects on house: gable, hip, and shed. Sometimes flat roofs are used to give a modern or urban look, though flat roofs may not always be allowed in residential neighborhoods, especially those with HOA restrictions or within zoning areas that have architectural guidelines required by the planning department. There are also some more speciality roof types like gambrel, mansard, or barrel that correspond to specific design styles, but for this post, I’m concentrating on the main types that area most commonly used.

To illustrate the different roof shapes, I’ll use my house as an example. I have a gable for the roof over the main body of my house and over my garage, though they are clipped or hipped at the end. My front porch has a hip roof.

My house’s roofs

Gable Roofs
This is what my house would look like with all gables. I actually wouldn’t mind if the main and garage roofs were plain gables instead of clipped. It looks nice and clean. However, I think the front porch looks a little odd as a gable because it has to have such a shallow slope to clear the windows. I think the hip roof for the porch was probably chosen for this reason.

My house if it had all gable roofs

Hip Roofs
Here a version of my house with all hip roofs. There’s not too much difference on the main body of the house. However the roof over the garage has to be raised to still have a bonus roof above (unless a dormer is added, which I looked at below). Without the bonus room built into the roof, it appears as a bigger house because of the added wall space when the roof is raised.

My house if it had all hip roofs

Shed Roofs
I tried putting shed roofs all over my house, and it turned out very different! Shed roofs are typically used for small additions attached to the main house (like sheds, thus the name). It works for the front porch, but in order for the second story and bonus room to still be there, I ended up with a third story! Because shed roofs don’t come back down after reaching a peak in the middle, they cause quite a height difference between the two walls supporting them.

My house if it had all shed roofs

Flat Roofs
My house with all flat roofs was the most dramatic change of them all in my opinion. I don’t know if I like it on a traditional two story house. But it would be nice on a house that wasn’t very wide (like a row home). It would be cool to have a roof deck, though.

My house if it had all flat roofs

Earlier I mentioned dormers as a way to not raise the roof but still have enough space that can be built into the roof for a room. I made all hip roofs but kept the garage roof at the same height. At the end I added dormers with different roof shapes (gable, hip, shed).

My house if it had hip roofs and a gable dormer
My house if it had hip roofs and a hip dormer
My house if it had hip roofs and a shed dormer

Refreshing A Front Porch

There are two things that have always bothered me about the front of my house since I saw it for the first time when my husband and I were looking at homes to purchase.

First is the brown color of the shutters, front door, and railing. It is just too dark for me. I like more color, and my house has a lot of shade due to trees and a long, covered front porch so dark colors look even darker.

The other thing is the brick columns. They always seemed a bit skinny to me. I’m sure they are the right size to support the roof, but I think that masonry materials like brick need to show their stout nature so probably 4 to 8 inches wider would have been what I would have chosen if I had designed them.

Mapletree Existing Front Color
Model view of the front of my house as it was when I purchased it.

So to change out the colors, I started thinking about a bright color for the front door. Something similar to a leaf green would liven up things but not be too overwhelming just on the door. I also think getting a new door with frosted glass would be nice as well. For the shutters, a muted blue would complement the door color.

As for the columns, there is probably a lot of things I could do to change up the look for the front porch. It would be nice to have the porch another foot or two deeper so there is more room for chairs. But I want to keep it simple since I don’t really see too much need to spend a lot of money redoing it. I’m planning on wrapping the brick columns with 1 inch thick white boards to create columns.

We have had some issues with insects eating the wood railing so it would be nice to replace it with a non-wood material, but I would at least like to paint it white as well to match the columns. I would also paint all the wood trim on our house white to match. We eventually need to replace our windows so those becoming white too in the future would make the front of our house not so dreary.

Mapletree Front Porch Reno
Design for my front porch refresh.




How To Make Your Living Area More Open Without Knocking Down A Wall

Though open concept living spaces are very popular today, most older homes were not laid out this way. I recently bought a house built in 1989. There was a solid wall with only a 3 foot wide opening between the kitchen and living room (see below).



My first reaction was that the wall needed to go. However, the previous owner had just put in new flooring through out the house, and in order to fix the floor when the wall and adjacent cabinet were removed I would have probably ended up replacing the entire floor. That seemed like a waste of perfectly good flooring and was not in the budget for the time being.

In order to still connect the spaces and not extend my scope too far, I created a pass thru in the walls between the rooms. I had to remove the upper cabinets around the built-in desk, which helped to make it feel more open. I did have to reduce the size of the opening from my original plan because as luck would have it, I ran into a main waste line running inside that wall. Relocating plumbing was not in the budget either. However, I do still like the proportions of the opening. See below for an in progress shot.


I based the opening size on the existing studs to minimize the framing needed. A 2×4 was added on top and bottom, then drywall and trim were put up. Finally I painted the wall an accent color of red (the adjacent walls are gray). See below for the final look. Now I can have a conversation with someone in the living room while I am in the kitchen!