Home Improvement(s)

We have been in the new house for just shy of three months now. Our modest initial plans for this home centered mostly around a few interior updates. When a couple of those interior jobs turned into more difficult projects than we originally anticipated (looking at you weird beam in our great room), we decided to do a mini-makeover to the exterior while we waited on a handyman to take over inside.

Plus, the warm weather arrived and we began spending so much time outdoors that I could no longer ignore the possibilities – so many possibilities – for a simple, updated, fresh exterior that was more our style. Also, I cannot leave anything alone. Ever.

Here’s what we started with after clearing the porch of what the previous owner left behind:


The front door was in need of a more welcoming paint color. With the tan siding, proposed new black shutters and gray fieldstone-faced front porch, I thought a yellow would be perfect.

Now, in case you’re wondering, Bob and I have a super precise method of picking paint colors that goes something like this: (1.) take three small children to Home Depot on a Saturday precariously close to lunchtime; (2.) look for desired shade amongst thousands of offerings in the paint department by giving your spouse only a vague description of a yellow “that’s, you know, warm;” (3.) ask rowdy, hungry children to settle down; (4.) get huffy with spouse when he picks several colors that aren’t “warm” enough; (5.) threaten misbehaving children with consequences they know you will never follow through on; (6.) find every possible yellow swatch but the one you really want; (7.) realize that one child has pooped in her pants; (8.) grab whatever yellow is in closest proximity, pronounce it perfect and place the order.

Here’s what we ended up with:

IMG_2726I finished putting the first coat of paint on the front door just hours before Bob suffered his stroke. And, during the lengthy hospital stay that followed, I became determined to finish it for his homecoming. It took my mind off circumstances and afforded me an opportunity to be in control of something.

I replaced the kick plate and tried to do the same with the door knocker, which was engraved with the last name of the previous occupants. However, I could absolutely not find a door knocker available with the same center hole dimensions as the one I wanted to replace. Since I wasn’t too excited about drilling another hole in the front door (I have no idea how to even do that), I removed the engraved last name from the existing door knocker with some high-grit sandpaper and roughed up the rest of it in a like manner before covering it all in some red spray paint I had stashed in the basement. It turned out to be a satisfying short-term fix, even if I did feel a little weird about erasing their last name.


The porch is actually a great size and there is a seating area at the bottom of the steps which means we didn’t need a spot for a bench or chairs. So, some potted plants were in order. Everything on the front porch, with the exception of the plants, came from the old house. Bob loathes the hiking sticks in the corner but we use them all the time and they are very handy right there and proper storage and organization is MY thing so, therefore, I win.


Switching out the shutters took a bit more expertise. The previous shutters were a rust color and showing signs of wear. I suppose I could have painted them but that seemed like a lot of work and with the sun hitting this side of the house with intensity, I wasn’t sure if the effort would be worth it. Plus, did I mention they were rust-colored?


Now, they’re black and look super crisp and fresh. The hardest part about replacing the shutters was finding versions that were the exact same dimensions as what was previously there. I wanted this to be a simple swap so keeping the same size made for easy re-hanging (says the person that totally didn’t re-hang them). My dad had the new shutters in place in a matter of hours though so, mission accomplished.


If you saw the rest of the yard, you might cringe so I won’t pan out too far in the photos. We inherited a huge variety of plants in varying degrees of health so next week a crew is coming to remove everything so we can start from scratch. (Too much for Stroke Bob to take on and too much possibility of snake encounters and/or poison ivy for me.) I’m so excited to have a fresh slate with the landscaping though and until that’s all in place, I’ll just have to focus on everything we have managed to accomplish in the past three months. Most notably, the fact that I’ve kept the flowers alive.


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