With apologies to Joni Mitchell,
I’ve looked at life with both sidings now
Fake stone, fake brick, anyhow
Clapboard slats and fish scale tile
Colored vinyl—go on for miles
Call it what you like—brick collage bricolage or asphalt aspirations, vinyl verité or aluminum assemblage. We’re going the refer to the unique phenomena of homes improved in multiple phases with multiple different exterior building materials as mixed-media houses.
However it worked out, there are a lot of Pittsburgh homes—specifically row houses—that ended up with an upstairs/downstairs division in after-market siding. Sometimes, the twofer becomes a fourfer or fivefer when we go around the corner, under the porch, or up to the mansard roof.
The choice of material sometimes seems like a very conscious design decision—let’s do the first floor in blue stucco, she might say, yeah, and we’ll have white aluminum on the second floor, he joins in—but that doesn’t explain everything.
Way too many of these examples seem like accidents of time, as if one set of homeowners made an initial decision and a subsequent owner came along and flipped the script twenty years later. Some just feel like people went with bargain lots on leftovers that couldn’t cover the entire house. We’ll likely never know why things ended up the way the did.
The photos—hopefully—speak for themselves and we don’t have enough puns on exterior cladding or Joni Mitchell in-jokes to warrant too much jibber-jabber. Enjoy.