New Home Tour: The Exterior

As most of you know, back in December we moved into our new home(if you consider a home built in 1941 to be new!) We typically refer to it as a fixer upper, not because it is falling down and in shambles(as most HGTV shows want you to believe Fixer Upper’s are) but because we have an endless list of projects and updates that we want to do around the place.

Don’t get me wrong, we love love LOVE our house and are more than happy to take our time plugging along on it. In fact, that was one of the biggest selling factors for us about this home. It was 100% beautiful and perfectly livable as is, it just wasn’t completely “us”. So, that’s mostly what we have been working on! The month’s of April and May have brought us lots of sunshine, rain, and fresh air, so this spring has been a season of exterior improvements!

This area has mostly been Jim’s domain. As with most projects, I simply plan it and he executes it. So all of the glory goes to that guy. Because he is amazing.

I’m so excited to share the progress we have made so far, because it is really awesome! And, if you are just here for the photos, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for an amazing exterior before and after shot!

Welcome to our home!

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I took to my Instagram and Facebook pages asking for advice on what I should choose for our shutters and front door. The feedback I got was amazing! So many color combinations and suggestions. Basically, I discovered, I couldn’t go wrong! Any color option was on the table.

Deep down I knew I really wanted to attempt to restore the original door if we could. It was absolutely caked with layers and layers of paint, but the door itself was in excellent condition and so beautiful. So that’s where I started.

Then, while I was at Benjamin Moore getting tons of paint swatches for the shutters(red, black, green, blue, yellow, aqua…on and on) I spotted this small catalog they had for exterior paints and this green was on it. I knew the second I spotted it that it was the paint color I wanted to use. I grabbed swatches just to verify and searched it extensively via google and pinterest, but I didn’t have to. I knew it was the one!
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A few people suggested that we pull out the giant hedges in the front of the house. And, as much as I hated to do it, I knew that they were right. One of them had died and they had just gotten too large and imposing for the front of the house. They had grown up and were above the window sill! So the next task we(and when I say we, obviously I mean, Jim) took on was pulling out all of those shrubs.
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After the shrubs were out, Jim took on the task of building an all new flower bed for the space. He came up with the design all himself and built it on his own. I love the look that he came up with and think it fits just perfectly!

Someday soon we plan to also build shadow boxes to put flowers in under the two windows. I can’t wait for that!
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A brief caveat to mention that this downspout here was the source of all of our troubles when it came to inspections/repairs/delayed moving in. Before we bought the house, the additional piece of downspout wasn’t there.

For years, the gutter had just been pouring water straight down into the foundation of the house, completely rotting the bottom corner, and causing the house to start to shift. (Fun stuff, am I right?) We asked our seller to repair it, which she agreed to- but then apparently didn’t realize what she had agreed to- and so it turned into a whole thing.

Long story short, a repairman came and replaced all of the rotted wood below and we added the extra downspout to keep water running away from the house- giving us some time before we have to do mega repairs, but at some point, we will have to have someone come out and redo the brick work and fix this corner of the house.
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We have a detached garage, which has been a pretty big change for me! Jim grew up with a garage just like this, so it isn’t anything new to him, but I’ve only ever lived in homes with attached garages, so I was worried that I might absolutely hate it…and then be stuck with it.

But, fortunately, it hasn’t been too big of a deal. So far so good on that front!
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Okay, so this front door. What a saga! Jim logged so many hours on stripping this thing. He may have said, “next time, we’re buying a new door.”

Basically there was 75 years worth of paint on this bad boy, eventually turning to lead paint which had to be removed via wet sanding and wearing a respirator and all sorts of complicated stuff like that. The detail work around the windows and in the grooves was an absolute nightmare and took an insane amount of time to remove.

So, everyone take a second to give Jim a wild round of applause for sticking it out and giving me the door I really wanted!

He stained it with Dark Walnut Minwax and sealed it with a few coats of poly. I spray painted the door knocker and handle with black satin spray paint- though I still need to paint the lock.

I wanted to get a new door knocker since the current one gives me a total Mickey’s Christmas Carol Jacob Marley vibe, but Jim is seriously in love with it. Like, we had a whole thing over it. So, the compromise was that I could paint it so that it was at least not shiny gold anymore.

Now I just have to convince him to let me hang my magnolia wreath back up!
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And now we come to the side and back of the house! This door is our main entrance/exit. It leads straight into our kitchen and is the door that our mail is delivered through(I know, how quaint!)
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All we’ve done so far is change out the light fixture, but I would love to make this area more up to date and inviting at some point. I’m still rolling ideas around in my head though!
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And this is our deck! (You’ll get to see it in action for Mabel’s Fiesta post next week!) Those big windows belong to our sun room, which is Abigail’s art room, which is why there is stuff hanging all over the windows.
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This deck was previously a faded reddish color, and, like the failure of a DIY blogger that I am, I don’t think I really have any before pictures of it. But, it was in major need of some TLC. So, Jim stripped it and stained it right before Mabel’s party and it is insane how much better it looks now.

I also grabbed some new pillows and cushions at Target last week. I am loving the bright orange!
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Fun story: When we moved into this house, we did not know that we had this retaining wall. It was December, the house had been vacant for months and months and the massive amount of leaves that had fallen in the backyard completely covered it.

When we walked through the backyard we thought maybe it was an old foundation or something. Then, a whileย after we bought it and Jim cleared out all of the leaves, what do you know!

A retaining wall! lol
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There is this great little potting shed on the backside of the garage where Jim is able to do all sorts of work(like strip and sand front doors) and keep all of his tools and other outside things.
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We seriously love our backyard!
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I included this picture to show you the stump of a GIANT tree we just had to have taken down. It was dead, which was a huge bummer because it was an amazing tree(also, because it is expensive to have done and is about one of the most unfun ways I can think of to spend my house budget money).

It was another massive project for Jim because he didn’t have them haul away the wood and instead chopped it all down and delivered it to family and friends for free- it was a seriously huge job.

Since moving in, here are the things that we have done to the exterior of the house:

Paint Shutters

Strip, Sand, and Stain Door

Paint Door Knocker and Handle

Remove Storm Door

Remove Shrubs

Build Flower Bed

Trim Hedges and Boxwood Shrubs

Replace Side Light Fixture

Strip and Stain Deck

Hang Edison Lights

Update Patio Cushions

Change Upstairs Blinds

Remove Dead Tree

Remove Leaves

Trim Branches

Plant Grass

Still To Do:

Paint Door Lock

Remove Storm Door Hinges

Update House Numbers

Build Shadow Boxes Under Windows

Stain The Wood Around Flower Bed

Replace Front Windows

Paint Columns

Paint Fence/Woodwork Around Deck

Remove Satellite Dish On Garage

Update Side Entrance

Update Chain Link Fence

And just because no post like this is complete with a before & after, here ya go!

Home Exterior Before And After

What do you think? Do you love it as much as I do??

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30 Comments

  1. I just love the charm of your house so much! You & Jim are definitely making this house your own! You & I are the same when it comes to projects. I make the plan & discuss with Luke, then he gets to work & rocks my world with how it ends up. We have some outside projects in the works before my 30th cookout that we are having the first weekend in June. So, yeah, we should probably get on those. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    It looks great, Courtney!

  2. I LOVE what you guys have done already. We love house projects and although they take us 400000 years now (with two kids) they are always worth it!

  3. Girl, with all the changes you have made on both the inside and the outside, you guys have been BUSY! Whew! But everything looks absolutely great – as much as I love a fun colored front door, there is something really special about preserving original things when you can, so I’m glad that you were able to do that with your door. And you were right – we are deck twins! Your deck reminds me so much of ours, and we are LOVING ours! I am already wondering how, in three years when we have to move after B’s residency ends, we will ever find a house with a backyard and deck that I love as much as I love this one. Sigh. Can’t wait to see some deets on Mabel’s first birthday!

    PS: Boo for internet trolls first thing in the morning. Ugh.

  4. The front of you home is so beautiful! I love how it looks with the newly painted shutters. And it’s amazing how different it looks just by removing all the large shrubs!

  5. That deck is amazing!!!! You guys have done such a fabulous job with EVERYTHING (ummm holy busy!). This house has so much charm–both inside and out and I just love your home tours! Nicely done, Courtney and Jim!

  6. Wow, you guys have done a lot! I love the wood front door, but definitely sounds like it was a lot of work. I have to admit I’m with you on the door knocker – it looks better black, but I’m not a fan of the face ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, your backyard and deck look awesome! I love the trees!

  7. It’s amazing what a transformation just the new plants, shutter color and front door did to the front of your house! We are in escrow on a house built in 1939. Like yours, it is totally livable just how it is, but I am already making a list of ideas I want to do to the place and I swear your blog/house gives me so much inspiration for it.

  8. i love it i love it i love it!!! we have so much we need to do to our exterior but we have done juuuust about none. and go jim!!!!! the door seriously looks amazing and i can’t imagine all it took to get through that paint!!

  9. Jared’s about to be upset because you’re lighting a fire under me to really start the little projects I want done around our house! ๐Ÿ™‚ hehe! It looks amazing!!!

  10. Loving the updates! That green trim/shutter paint is so soft and soothing. Have you thought of adding a little awning over your side door entrance? And I totally got the Jacob Marley head knocker vibe! Haha!

  11. Our house in Illinois had a detached garage all growing up, so I am more used to that than one that connects! You get used to it and it’s not really a big deal. Looks great!

  12. The updates look amazing!! Way to go and my favorite line was… “when I say we, obviously I mean, Jim” made me LOL. Love the new landscaping, the paint colors, light fixtures, your gorgeous deck and backyard. Your house is super charming. Our new house has a detached garage, too. I’m hoping it won’t be a big deal because I’m stuck with it ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. omg i seriously love your house. it is amazing. i have never had a garage, i want one for the next house for sure. and that sucks about all the big work you are going to have to do with the foundation or brick work. blah. why can’t everything be perfect with houses lol. our house is a fixer upper in the same sense, lots of projects, definitely not HGTV’s definition lol

  14. You guys have put so much work into this home already but seriously I am in LOVE with it. Did you see the home I snapped a couple of weeks ago? I’ve been DREAMING about buying it or something like it (there are a bunch in that town)… well my husband has a job interview next week for a job there (it’s across the freaking country!!) how crazy is that?!

    Anyway you guys definitely inspire me to go for it and I love seeing your updates! XO

  15. That front door is just gorgeous! Good call on keeping it and restoring it – and great job, Jim! Your house is just so, so pretty.

  16. I love this look. Would you post the paint colors, especially the shutter color? Your house is so charming and you all did a terrific job. Love it!

    1. Hey Kim!

      Thank you so very much! and thank you for asking- I can’t believe I hadn’t included that info in my post. I’ll have to go back and add it!

      The shutter color is Benjamin Moore Tree Moss.

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