our wee home

musings by michelle

Curb appeal, stage 2

Stage 2 will likely be the last stage for curb appeal in 2013.  With baby #2 arriving sometime this summer, our attention and money will be going elsewhere for a while.  But there were a few things that I just couldn’t live with any longer… so without further ado:

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The old storm door was NOT our style, and it kept breaking.  While we originally wanted to replace it with a new one, we finally realized that we really didn’t think we would use a storm door (even a new one).  At our old house, the storm door came in handy for two reasons: (1) the retractable screen was great for airflow, and (2) it provided a spot for the Luci (the pooch) to look out the front of the house.  But this house has a nice big front window that already does both of those things.  So once we decided we didn’t need to wait to save up for a new screen door, we could just paint the front door and get rid of the old storm door.  It took one day.

I followed the tips shared on Young House Love for painting a front door, though we’re not really sure that the deglosser really did anything.  We used Behr Marquee exterior paint in “Deep Blue Sea.”  It was one of those colors that gives you a panic attack when you’re staring at it from a foot away while you’re painting it on.  But once we stepped back, we love it.

We also finally got some flowers planted in the planters up front.  Two of the three plants in each planter are actually perennials, so we’ll transplant them to the yard at the end of the season.

But I think my favorite part of this “stage” was updating the house number plaque!

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Now that dated light fixture is screaming to be replaced, too…. but that’ll have to wait until we find something new that we love.

Isn’t that a cute little mandarin tree by the front door?  Matt got it for me for Valentine’s Day this year.

Most of the updates to the house were simply paint: black paint on the shutters and mailbox, blue paint on the door, and touching up the white trim around the door with paint and caulk.  It was free to remove the old storm door (we put it on the curb and it was picked up within 10 minutes by a passerby — we didn’t even have to post it on craigslist!).  The house numbers were $25 at Home Depot, and we made the plaque with some wood that we had (and left-over paint from the shutters).

Ah, this was one of those instant-gratification house projects that gives serious satisfaction.  We think these little changes made a dramatic change to the personality of the house, and it’s definitely more “us.”

May 29, 2013 Posted by | DIY, Home Improvements, On the cheap, The Outdoors | Leave a comment

Curb appeal, stage 1

Since we moved into our house in September, I’ve been aching to give some love to the front of our house and the front yard.  It looks dated, unloved, and so PLAIN.  There are so many things to do, it’s hard to figure out where to start.  Here’s my very long to-do list (mentioned before) to help with our curb appeal:

  • Paint the shutters.
  • Plant some xeric perennials in the area between the driveway and sidewalk.
  • Remove the yucky bushes by the front door and put in some planters.
  • Create a mulched or rock area up against the house (on the right) with some shrubs, ornamental grasses, and other flowering plants.
  • Replace all the cement (driveway and entry steps).
  • Paint the front door, and get new hardware (lever instead of knob).
  • Replace the storm door with an all-glass version.
  • Get a new mailbox, house numbers, and porch light.

So this weekend, we managed to tackle a couple of those things (before & after):

photo

I learned that I’m not very good a guestimating how much materials we’ll need for projects.  I guessed we’d need 10 bags of mulch; we needed 16.  I guessed we’d need 3 cans of black spray paint for the shutters; we needed 6.  I had originally gotten regular paint for the shutters, but it took me all of 10 seconds to realize that painting them with a brush was going to take hours and end up with a dripping, goopy mess.  Spray paint was definitely the way to go — the paint went on smoothly and quickly!  It took 4 light coats for good coverage and they only took a few minutes to dry between coats; I could easily paint all 6 and then start again at the beginning.  I did get spray-paint-can-trigger-finger, though.  Beware.

Now it is just screaming, “I NEED SOME COLOR!!!”  We planted around 100 bulbs in the mulched area last fall, and a few are started to peek out — can’t wait to see more of them!  My hope is that some greening trees, some flowers (both in the flower bed & the barrel planters), and a brightly-colored front door will help.  That’ll be stage 2…

April 15, 2013 Posted by | Home Improvements, On the cheap, The Outdoors | , , , | 1 Comment

Is it spring yet?!

The trees are starting to bud, and we’re supposed to get snow tomorrow.  Yep, it’s definitely spring in Denver!

With our basement out of commission (due to the flood, and lack of progress while we wait on insurance checks to be endorsed by our mortgage company…), our new (bigger) house is starting to feel small.  I think Matt and I always start hating our house this time of year, because we’re itching to GET OUTSIDE!

So I’ve started daydreaming and planning for some outdoor improvements on our house.  Our first project will be rototilling and putting down grass seed in the backyard.  The backyard is currently a big patch of dirt.  Now that Norah is so close to walking, I desperately want a backyard that she can safely play in.  But our curb appeal right now is horrendous.  We won’t have a lot of funds to work with for a while, so I’m dreaming up cheap improvements for the front yard.  Here’s a photo of the house from before we bought it last fall.  Since then we have replaced the garage door, and obviously the for-sale sign is no longer in the front yard.  =)

Exterior, August 2012

Here’s my to-do list for this year:

  • Either remove or paint the shutters.  Matt wants to remove them, but I’m a bit leery because they are not only screwed into the brick, there is also some adhesive or glue behind them that does not look like it would be easy to remove from the brick.  I figure we can paint them now, and if we figure out how to remove them later, we can do that.
  • Remove the decrepit (and ugly) storm door.  Eventually we want to get a replacement (same as I put on the last house), but not sure we want to spend those 300+ beans this summer.
  • Paint the front door.  I’m a little hesitant here, because it’s a beautiful wood door… but still.
  • Plant flowers (water-wise perennials), add mulch & rock to the area between the driveway and the entry sidewalk.  We already planted a bunch of bulbs there last fall (hopefully they survived our dry winter!).
  • Remove the two shrubs by the front steps.  I have two wooden half-barrels that I plan to put there and plant flowers in.
  • Get a new mailbox.
  • Get new, modern, house numbers.
  • Update or replace the outdoor light fixture.  We’ll probably want to save up for something we really like, so I may just update the existing one with some brushed nickel spray paint.
  • Over-seed the lawn with grass seed, just to make it healthier and thicker.

Here’s my feeble attempt at a sketch using google docs to give a vague idea of what I’m envisioning:

Copy of house

Curb Appeal update?

What do you think?  Do-able?  Any suggestions or ideas?

March 22, 2013 Posted by | DIY, Green living, Home Improvements, On the cheap, The Outdoors | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment