Curb Appeal Progress and Plans

Friday, July 13, 2012

I've been wanting to write this post for, oh, the last month. However I couldn't very well take a picture of the house exterior with Christmas lights still up. (Hanging head in shame. With bedhead to boot.) That's right, folks. It's mid-July and we just got those darn lights down yesterday. Ahem.

What can I say though? We had a baby and bought another house. It's been uhhhhhhh, kinda busy around here.

I thought I'd share some of the curb appeal projects we've tackled so far as well as the ones planned for the (hopefully not too far off) future. 

It's always fun to see before pictures so I'll share a good before and after comparison at the end of this post. :)

Here are the first six projects that we tackled:

1. Alex, with the help of some family and friends, re-shingled the roof with some cute, two-toned grey and black shingles. Apparently roofs are important. I wanted to spend the money on other, cuter things. I lost that battle.

2. We replaced the tiny light fixture beside the door with a larger, lantern-style light. I brought a photo from a Country Living decorating book to our local lighting store and asked the worker to find the closest match. He did a good job 'cause I just love that light! We chose the "medium" size although I would have loved the larger one. The electrical box was too close to the door though. Wah wah.

3. Alex made a window box to span the width of our wide, sunroom windows. I painted it in Cloud White by Benjamin Moore exterior paint. I fill it up with shade-loving annuals every year but man those are expensive! (See window box posts here and here.)

4. I bought some large ceramic planters to flank the bottom of the stairs. (I hate those cement stairs, btw.) I also fill them up with shade-loving annuals. (See post here.)

5. We ripped out all of the existing plants at the front of the house (this might have involved chains and my dad's truck driving on our front lawn). Instead I planted ten, yes ten, Annabelle hydrangea shrubs. This was inspired by picture from a Country Living magazine years and years ago. I've since lost the picture but I still have the image clear and crisp in my decorating-loving brain (where important information is supposed to go instead). (See post here.)

6. Alex built a fence in the sideyard/backyard to contain the Roar-man and to give us some privacy. I originally wanted to make the tops of every board rounded but eventually settled for pointy tops when I realized how long it would take for Alex to make the round ones.

Here are the rest of the projects:

7. We installed a cement curb to divide the gravel driveway from the grass (not shown). This project sucked with a capital S but was worth it in the end. (See original post here.)

8. I bought a large barn star as well as an iron trellis to fill up the empty brick wall on the other side of the door. I found that the house looked unbalanced with all of the windows on one side. Both the star and the trellis were purchased at a local home decor store. Climbing up the trellis (and the extension cord from the Christmas lights, haha) is some purple clematis.

9. I gave the old front door a little spruce-up by giving it a fresh coat of exterior paint (Nature Lover by Benjamin Moore) and spray painting the hardware black (to go with the black railings).

10. I freshened up the front door trim with some sanding, primer, and crisp white paint (the same colour as the window box: Cloud White by Benjamin Moore).

11. We ordered a custom slate house-number plaque from Home Depot. It has our street name and address. It fits perfectly in that little spot above the front door. It's my faaaaavourite.

12. For my birthday two years ago, Alex and I spent the day building some board-and-batten shutters to add some interest to the second story windows. I wanted shutters for SO LONG and was so proud when we finished this project. (See original posts here and here.)

13. And last, I've given the lawn some major TLC with lots of fertilizing, aerating, de-thatching, grass-seed planting, and watering. When we cut our grass we always leave it fairly long so that it doesn't dry out in the sun. That's why our grass is always green and our neighbour's lawns are always brown. Muhahahahaha!


So that's where we're at with the curb appeal so far. There's a few more projects that I'd like to complete sometime soon (don't tell Alex because he's been working like a dog at The Fixer Upper).

Future Curb Appeal Projects:

#1 on my list is to ditch that horrid screen/storm door as well as the old wooden door (that half-moon window is my nemesis) and replace them both with a new wooden door. I just love this style (but painted of course):

You can see a similar door in the next photo (from the inside):

#2 is to give those ooogly metal railings a fresh coat of paint. Eventually I would love to get rid of those cement stairs and metal railings altogether and replace them with something nicer. But that's waaaaay far in the future right now.

#3 is to replace the white, aluminum siding with some fresh new material (ideas anyone!?!?!). I'm in all kinds of love with grey cedar shakes but alas I will be prob'ly be stuck with orange brick and siding forever. Wah wah wah.

#4 is to create a little mini-roof/overhang over the front door. In this photo from the blog 65th Avenue, Londen did the same thing to update her cute bungalow.

I know you've got a fresh set of eyes. Is there anything else you think we should do to add some more curb appeal to this place? Let me know in the comments, k?

Have you tackled any curb appeal projects lately? Whadja do? Whadja do?!? :)  


  1. Wow! You've really done A LOT, and it shows! I am in love with your window box, as that is an element that I just cannot resist. We had them at our old house, and I miss them (especially since the new owners don't even FILL them!!). But, it's a detail I'm hoping to add sometime.

    I'm green with envy (no pun intended) when I see your grass. Despite watering regularly, our yard looks like we have deserted our house or that it's going into foreclosure. It. looks. terrible. I'm hoping that aeration and reseeding this fall will help it along. I'm fairly certain we are the thorn in the side of the neighborhood.

    As for other improvements - the front door you're considering is PERFECT! Love the charm and character it brings. And where siding is concerned - you might want to check out Hardiboard siding. From what I gather, it wears well, and has a lot of different looks to choose from. When we considered building, that was what one of the builders suggested, and I *loved* the exteriors of his homes.

  2. WOW Sarah... what awesome changes. Your home is so beautiful and inviting. Cozy Cottage doesn't begin to describe. I have a question for you though... how do you keep your hydrangeas alive. I have two and KILLLED them. That area looks like full sun so that snot my problem (I thought I put my is a overly sunny spot). Do you have a sprinkler system that waters them constantly or is that I bought the wrong kind of hydrangeas. Do I need to get the Annabelles? Help me girl... HELP ME!!! HAHAHA!

  3. Wow! I really love the improvement from the before to the after. You really show how you can apply things you love in magazines and make them in real life.

    We're hoping to buy a house in the next year or so, and I struggle with all the bungalows in Ontario that have NO character whatsoever. You've assured me that there are practical ways that you can fix them up on the outside and give them the character and charm that they deserve! Thank you!

  4. It sure is pretty..lovely cottagey looking home, made with love...enjoy! Sharon

  5. AnonymousJuly 13, 2012

    my goodness, what a difference! You and Alex have done a great job! ~Dawne

  6. You have done a fabulous job. It is really pretty.

    P.S. almost time to put up the Christmas lights ... hahaha
    that is my pet peeve when I walk my neighbourhood ... I always want to leave a little card in the mail box saying "Time to take down the Christmas lights"

  7. Have you considered putting in something like English Ivy in the window boxes? You have to cut them back regularly, but that stuff is hardy and cheap. Since you have lovely hydrangeas, you don't need more flowers right there.

    Your house looks beautiful on the outside. We won't tackle the curb appeal of our house until we've completed our permit-required projects in the bathrooms. In our area, permits and curb appeal trigger re-appraisals by the county, and I want to wait as long as I can before getting a big tax hike!

  8. You've made fantastic changes to your house and it looks great. I totally agree the star and trellis were needed to balance out the windows on the other side. I love the row of hydrangeas along the front. I'm not sure I would have thought to do that, but the simplicity is charming. As for your wish list - I think I'd stick with the vinyl siding as it is pretty classic with the red brick. I would consider extending the front stoop to the left (under the star) when you redo the stairs down the road. If you extended the stoop to the edge of the house there would be room for a chair or bench which always looks pretty.

  9. your home is so cute! i saw something recently where a pergola as in front of a garage and you could do something similar off of your house.... you have the space and it would look cute and even make the house look bigger.

  10. Sarah, it is amazing what you've done already. You took a house and made it a home. J

  11. You have made your home so lovely!! It must be a treat to get home and see how cute it is!! When I saw the before and after pics I thought it has touches of craftsman style...and then to see the door idea and overhang project I thought, yup!!! :) I bet you have the cutest home on the block!!

  12. Your hydrangeas look fabulous! What a difference they make. And I adore the window box. Have you considered
    cement-board siding? We have a lot of hail (in NE) and it is the only thing that will withstand it. I think Cassie's idea of a pergola on your garage could be awesome. I have that on my "someday" list. And to make you feel better, we have a shrub in our yard that has had some Christmas lights on it for two years. And I don't have a new baby. I think we'll have to just cut them off now as it's all grown up around them! Thanks for sharing all you improvements--they have made such a difference on your house.

  13. Have you ever thought of refacing your concrete steps with natural stone. My son Tyler does amazing work. His company is Featherstone Landscaping 416 676 8771 he would be happy to come out and give you some ideas and a quote.

  14. The outside of your home looks amazing!! It screams curb appeal!! Love the door you've picked out!! So cottage-ey! :) Have a great weekend Sarah!

  15. Your house is adorable and the changes you've done have made it so sweet and homey! What if you painted the concrete steps? It would be a very simple way to spruce them up and add a possible pop of color until you're ready to make a more dramatic change.

  16. Woah, the changes are amazing when you see the before and after side by side!!! Great job, you guys! It's so cute and charming:)

  17. Oh my gosh! I love all of it (: My favorite is the shutters and the hydrangeas. Lookin great!

  18. AnonymousJuly 16, 2012

    You have made such wonderful improvements!! They look fabulous!!

  19. Wow! Your house is beautiful, inside and out. I love what you've done, Sarah. Everything looks so fresh and pretty. If you're looking for siding options, Hardiplank is really nice and it comes prepainted too. My husband is currently remodeling a house where he tore all the stucco off and shaked the whole house. So I don't think you can go wrong with that idea either :)

  20. Love all the improvements you guys did to your home :) It's fabulous! Great job :)

  21. I love the hydrangeas! One question will that look in the non-blooming months, and in winter? We have shrubs in front of our brick house, and I would love to switch them out with hydrangeas. I am concerned that in the winter (we live in Michigan), it will look rather sparse though.

  22. I actually love how they look in the winter! I keep the last blooms on them in the fall so that they dry and still add some interest to the bushes. The snow piles on top of them in the winter and also looks pretty! By the spring they need some sprucing up so I try and trim them evenly and clean out all of the old, dead leaves. Hope that helps!!! :)

  23. You've done a TON of work! I love the hydrangeas. And I love the shutters. And you don't have to live with orange brick forever - you can paint it one day. We own a painted brick house right now, and I love it. Kudos to you and your husband on all your hard work!


  24. You've done a ton of work. I love the hydrangeas - favorite plant ever. And I love the shutters. You don't have to live with orange brick forever - especially since it's only on the lower half. You can paint it one day. Kudos to you and your husband on all the improvements and thanks for sharing!


  25. I love what you did with the house. I was recently thinking of planting larger stuff to cover the foundation so that you can't see it all all and I was wondering how that would turn out. Now that I see it I love it!

  26. Love what you did, and I'm a huge fan of Annabelle Hydrangeas! Heirloom quality.

    I would update the storm door to full glass to showcase the new front door.

    Have you considered having a mason install brick over the concrete stoop? Might be a cheaper option, and would definitely add to the character of your home. I like the metal railing, I think it's in line with the character of the home but a painted wooden one would look nice too.

    I usually buy impatiens in flats for my planter boxes every year. They do wonderfully, especially when I add composted manure to the soil.

    I would also plant an ornamental tree at the corner of your house by the downspout (near the side yard, opposite the driveway side) - a Hakuro Nishiki Willow perhaps? Bump out the planting bed there, round it around the corner and plop it in there, and continue the annabelles around the front of the tree.

    Add flagstone stepping stones from the sidewalk/front stoop and continue that around to the side yard gate for an informal walkway.

    One continuous fabric awning would look great over your three windows. The front of my home is shade, but the awnings add great curb appeal.

    Love what you did to the place.

    1. Wow, your ideas are great. Thanks for sharing. :)

      I did try a tree in the exact spot you mentioned but it didn't do very well. Maybe I will try a different variety.

      I like your idea of the re-facing of the concrete. I'd have to do some research locally to see if anyone would even do that.

      The eventual plan is to have a cute walkway instead of that boring concrete one and as soon as we get a new front door we are going to lose the storm door altogether!


  27. I plant Annabelles along my foundation, and small boxwood shrubs in front of them. Love the look in the winter with the dried flowers, and the evergreen boxwoods add a nice contrast.

    1. I love boxwoods! I've been thinking about putting some in planters at both the front and side entries!


  28. WoW and WoW!!! Those changes have really added up to gorgeous! I started reading about your hydrangeas and then, I saw your curb appeal posts and couldn't stop reading! Will you be doing a backyard change, too? Whatever your next project is, I'm sure I'll want to see it.


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