Front Exterior & Front Yard

Curb Appeal DIY Projects I Plan To Tackle This Spring/Summer

Matt and I have been in our house now for two years and four months, and all of that time I’ve neglected the exterior of the house (as I discussed on Monday’s post). For the most part, I really want to continue focusing on the interior for now, but I don’t want another spring and summer to go by without spending at least some time working on outdoor projects and trying to get the front exterior of my house a little more presentable. So there are a few projects I know I want to tackle this spring and summer.

A New Mailbox

As strange as it sounds, I think mailboxes can really make a statement. And I’m not quite sure that this is the statement I want to continue making…

It’s time for me to replace it, and I have my heart set on a white mailbox post (that I’ll build myself, I’m sure) and probably a black mailbox. Interestingly, I found the look I want on the Walmart website via Pinterest, although I doubt I’ll buy this one.

black mailbox with white post, from Walmartvia WalMart

That particular one is plastic, and I’d rather build something myself out of wood. I really love the planter box, but quite honestly, I’m not sure if I could be trusted with a planter box like that one that would drain quickly and need to be watered probably daily in the heat of the Texas summer.

So I might just keep it simple, like this one…

black mailbox on white post, via Seattle Luxevia Seattle Luxe

Bulk Up The Front Porch Columns

I think one major thing that makes the front of our house look so dull and neglected is the look of the front porch columns.

 

I remembered that Young House Love turned their curvy columns into square columns, so I’ll be doing something similar to turn my dinky columns into something a bit bulkier.

porch columns rebuilt, from curvy to boxy, from Young House Lovevia Young House Love

White, White and More White

Another thing (and probably THE main thing) that makes my house look so dull is that there’s absolutely ZERO white anywhere. It’s all just a sea of beige. So I want to give the trim a good coat (or three) of white paint. Of course, much more work went into this makeover than I plan to put into mine, but I do think this demonstrates the beauty of white trim.

painted house exterior with white trim, from Normandy Remodelingvia Normandy Remodeling

Cover Or Paint The Porch

Gray concrete just really isn’t my thing, so I’d love to coat or cover it with something. I debated back and forth about this, because when we do our major front exterior remodel, I actually want a stained wood front porch for a more traditional look. So I’ve actually considered creating that look for now by building a “floating” wood porch over the existing concrete. I know it’s possible with composite decking like the stuff that was used over this concrete porch…

front porch clad in composite decking, from Chris Kauffmanvia Chris Kauffman

But since mine will be more temporary, I don’t know that composite decking will be in my budget. So if I can’t figure out a way to make real wood work (drainage is a issue since it’s over concrete slab), then I might have to settle for sprucing up with paint or a similar coating.

painted concrete front porch, from East Coast Creativevia East Coast Creative

There are so many inspiring ideas for painting or staining concrete porches on Pinterest — everything from a simple coat of paint, to stenciled designs, stripes, faux brick, and much more. Since that will be so much cheaper, that’s probably the direction I’ll head.

Give It A Good Power Washing

The exterior of my house is just filthy, and since it’s a light color (underneath all of that dirt) it shows even more. I know you can rent power washers, but I’d love to buy one to just have on hand. I love power washers, and I can probably come up with lots of reasons to use it. 🙂 I think that a good washing will go a long way, but what I’d really love to do is…

Paint Everything!

Okay, I know we’re getting into not-so-budget-friendly territory here. Painting the entire exterior of my house would be time-consuming and expensive. But it sure would make me happy to have everything a uniform color. Right now, the Austin stone (which was painted long before we bought the house) is kind of a taupe color, and the vinyl siding (which I can’t WAIT to replace!!) has way more yellow in it, like a creamy beige color. AND, to make things more irritating, I don’t think that the siding on the front porch matches the siding on the front of the breakfast room and the garage. The color is ever-so-slightly different, and just enough to irritate me.

Anyway, like I said, I know I’m getting into costly and time-consuming territory here, so painting the exterior of the house probably won’t fit into this spring and summer’s schedule or budget. But a girl can dream, right? 🙂

And by the way, in case you weren’t aware, you CAN paint vinyl siding. I’ve been reading up on it, and I’ve even found that Sherwin Williams carries a paint (or maybe a paint additive, I’m kind of unclear) specifically for painting vinyl siding.

The Small Stuff

I also plan to paint my front door (which I started and never finished…yikes!), and hopefully do a few planting beds around the house, the mailbox, and maybe even the big oak tree.

What other quick, low-cost curb appeal projects do you suggest?



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78 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sue
    February 17, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Check at your local small engine/lawn mower repair places for a power washer. My husband got ours at one for an excellent price.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kasey
    February 17, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I would definitely suggest some light landscaping next to your house. I would make some nice mulch beds around the front porch and under the window to the left of the door. I know you eventually want to bump out your porch, but you can grab some cheap azaleas or bushes to plant there. I think that would make it look really polished and add some much-needed color to the front of the house.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Mitzi
      February 17, 2016 at 10:28 am

      That was going to be my suggestion as well. It doesn’t have to be much, and I would suggest some draught tolerant plants that would add some color and texture to the front without a lot of maintenance. When you get around to the major remodeling to the exterior, those plants can be moved to another location, so they wouldn’t be wasted, and might come in handy to camouflage your AC unit!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Golda
    February 17, 2016 at 9:38 am

    When we bought our house, the front yard was covered with landscape fabric and gravel – grass would come up through the fabric and had to be pulled – we don’t like a gravel yard (we feel it is too hot – sun hits gravel and reflects into the house) so we decided to just give it a bit of water and see how much grass comes up – Amazing things happened. Grass came up all over the front yard. We had to mow – the next year we had more come up – thicker – love it – I think if you would just water your front yard occasionally, your grass will come back. Makes a world of difference in curb appeal.

    Love what you do every time. I really love that green kitchen

    We are also in Texas and just try to keep the grass alive during drought time.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Vivian Foster
    February 17, 2016 at 9:45 am

    You could always try staining the concrete porch … it doesn’t have to last forever, just until you build your new one. My friends did a brick pattern and it really looked great. I think the white trim and wrapping the posts will make a world of difference. Some strategically Texas-friendly shrubs across the front would make all the difference in the world. I love the Austin Stone …. if the siding were a little more contrasting, I think it would look stunning. Tough to grow grass with those big trees … maybe do a large circle bed around the base of each tree. Will be fun to watch! I will settle for replacing the 3 shrubs that didn’t survive winter … lol

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Denise
    February 17, 2016 at 9:49 am

    A seating group on your porch would be nice (and you could even put a rug underneath to cover the concrete). You could pick something that would go with the future style you have planned for your house.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    KG
    February 17, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Oh yeah, this is exciting! I think you’ll be so pleased with the results. I live power washers too, they make everything so clean and shiny 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    DAF
    February 17, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Build some planter boxes and put out some plants. Later you can put those in the ground or move them around at will.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Bev
    February 17, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I searched wood over concrete porch on Pintrest and low and behold the ideas. Check it out!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla
    February 17, 2016 at 9:58 am

    You could paint a pretty rug on the concrete. There are some great native plants you could use around the front that won’t require a lot of work on your part. It’s amazing what a little bit outside can do to make a place look more cared for.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    CathyR
    February 17, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I think you’ve hit the big ones…paint, beefier posts, mailbox. All things I’ve done or want to do to my cape cod. My front porch is spalling at the edge and looks terrible; I love the idea of a floating wood deck over it! But I also love the look of Naturestone–too pricey for my home tho. Careful with porch paint— might end up slippery when wet!!
    I would rent a power washer for now and see how you like it. You might be able to ” test drive” a couple of brands that way.
    My fella repainted his ranch w/SW exterior paint that was $$$ and he is a one-man ad for them now!!! He rarely spends that kind of $$ on paint and is so glad he did.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Judy Steppacher
    February 17, 2016 at 10:00 am

    We painted our siding, its a pale blue/gray and it was damaged when we bought the house.
    We also painted the trim white, plus black shutters. I would like to send you a picture of it if possible?
    We just painted the living/dining room, still need to do the ceiling and trim but I am tired out.
    I love your blog 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheri
    February 17, 2016 at 10:00 am

    A couple of ideas to cover up some of the color you don’t like: shutters, or lattice with vines.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Susan
      February 17, 2016 at 11:01 am

      I was thinking shutters myself. I call them the eyelashes of a house. I think they would make a big statement with not too much of a cost, especially if you just put them on the three front windows.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        DeMi
        February 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm

        Shutters could definitely bring your style and love of color to the front of your house:)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheila F.
    February 17, 2016 at 10:04 am

    You could let you designing heart go wild with paint on the concrete porch! Perhaps, after washing the siding and getting a good idea of the true color of the stone and vinyl siding, you could paint the gable in the center a contrasting color…. Plants can be an inexpensive color boost also. No rugs because of Matts chair, but you could paint a rug! And I think putting some money in hardscape g under the trees and a bit of grass seed directly in front and to the side of the house would give you some green lawn that you crave.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mad Margaret
    February 17, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Once again you have inspired me. The mailbox. I’ve wanted to paint mine red for so long, and my front door, too. I’m going to do the mailbox. Have just the paint for the box. Also, my poor little front porch is so dismal. Think I’m going to work on something to make it attractive instead of sad. Thanks. Mad Margaret

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG
    February 17, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Painting might not be as costly as you think. We purchased a sprayer from Lowes last summer and painted our own. I waited until the paint came on sale 2 for 1 and we used about 10 gallons to paint our whole house. It was a huge improvement and we had people stopping all the time to tell us how great the changes looked. I would definitely look into that.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Becky
    February 17, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Stain your concrete porch to look like wood. Here’s just one DIY video:

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Beth
      February 18, 2016 at 11:47 am

      That was my first thought since drainage is an issue with real wood.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    angela
    February 17, 2016 at 10:14 am

    get a power washers and power wash the house. just paint the front door. do the mailbox. how much time are you going to be out there if not much (like in the car coming or going) then I would not do much until you are ready to do it all but if you are going to be out there sitting an enjoying the outdoors then I would do a little more. I all so would not add plants or flower unless you have time to water them (for the first year it is important for the roots to set in).

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Regi
    February 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I think besides a little landscaping, maybe add some shutters to the two windows off to the left. Nothing major or expensive, but I’m sure you could probably slap something together to give a little more visual interest. Just a thought. I’ve really been enjoying watching you update your house. Gives me a little inspiration for a few projects of my own! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laurie
    February 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I actually have a mailbox post similar to the first one without the planter. I used to have a wooden post and got tired of painting it every spring (NE winters are hard on painted wood). Now I just hose it off and it goes well with my white trim on the house. I ended up spending the money on a heavy-duty black box too after several Home Depot cheapies got dented by plows, damaged by kids (who played with the flag while waiting for the school bus in front of my house). The new one is extra heavy, thick-walled painted aluminum so it won’t rust and won’t dent.

    I also used to have a solid white house with cedar shakes, black shutters and no trim. A few years after we bought it, we re-sided it in light gray vinyl with lots of custom white trim and dark blue shutters. It looks like a different house.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann
    February 17, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Be prepared for wood rot if you use regular wood on your mailbox or porch columns. We learned the hard way and had to replace the wood with PVC. But the good news is that once you paint it, it looks great and lasts forever!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gaye
    February 17, 2016 at 10:30 am

    You know there are kids looking for a summer project and some $$. Why not hire them to paint your house, plant some beds and get your lawn back in shape…there many out there looking for some daily work. You will be blessing another you will be free to continue your indoor projects.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Judy
    February 17, 2016 at 10:31 am

    First, I enjoy reading your blog and I always try to take a moment and have a cup of coffee while I read it slowly. Your ideas are wonderful. One of the things that seems out of character with your sensibilities and your plans is that straight walk. I live in a small home and have added berms with flowers in the spring/summer that adds some interest and height to a small boring yard. Also the walkway has a nice curve, which adds a little interest. I was going to add a picture, but was unable to do so. duh.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Treasia
    February 17, 2016 at 10:33 am

    If this were my house and I was looking for some spruce ups the first thing I would do is stain my front porch and steps to look like a hardwood floor. You can find lots of these tutorials online and they look fairly simple, I have no doubt you could do this. I would also paint my front door an eye popping curb appeal color. hang some window boxes under each window in front. and plant a few plants around the porch for more color. That could be done in pots as well with mulch placed around them. That way you could move the pots as needed to change things or the look around some. I would definitely plant some flowers around the large trees in the front with the same plants as my pots around the porch.

    I love you idea of the mailbox that is really pretty and a great idea.

    Oh I would also put a couple rockers or a bench seat on the porch and paint my door color. Put a couple of throw pillows on there also. with a small table between the rockers as well. or next to the bench.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Michele
    February 17, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I think you are definitely on the right track for low budget/big impact improvements. Definitely make a mailbox, paint the trim and replace the porch posts. I like the idea of painting the concrete porch surface, too. I notice those huge trees are preventing any grass from growing. Having lived in houses with heavily shaded ‘lawns’ that never grew we gave up and created freeform areas with rocks and groundcover. I know you don’t want to install anything thirsty in Texas. I would also think about some striking planters for either side of the steps on the porch. A grouping of various height planters could give some much needed color in pottery and plants but be portable for the time that will come when you add the gables and a different porch configuration.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    debbie
    February 17, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I also think you may consider shutters on at least the window that is on the section of house that protrudes forward. You could get something different that isn’t typical shutters from a salvage yard or antique shop. Or you could make some with wood slats and some metal hardware to enhance them.

    The first thing that came to my mind as I saw your walkway was Lavender along the sides…colorful, wispy, and fragrant. If you live in an area where there are homes with gardens you may want to just ask if they have any beds they need thinned out. If you were in my neck of the woods I would be able to give you grasses, ground covers, and lots of perennials…I have often thought about doing a “flower exchange” like a cookie exchange because after 25 years in the same home, I have a lot of gorgeous flowers that multiply every year and if you have no one to give them to it is such a shame.

    Can’t wait to see what you do!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sue
    February 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

    When I saw that photo of your home yesterday I was thinking that you could spruce up your exterior a bit and not spend too much money. I like your ideas but I would recommend using a composite for your mailbox because of the harsh elements. It will last longer than wood, even treated wood.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary Anne Looby
    February 17, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Nothing says welcome at the curb like a nice mailbox. I will tell you, that if you want something that is going to last for years and years, you should get one made out of resin. They may call it plastic, but believe me, it will hold up forever. When we built in 1991 I bought one similar to the one you are looking at, minus the planter, it is now 2016 and it still looks as good as it did when installed. I had the builder dig a hole, as per instructions, put in a treated post, add cement to fill the hole and slide the white one over the post. It is very simple to do. My husband added the mail box, which is black. About a year ago or two, I found, by googling, a company that makes self sticking stencils in various designs. I ordered on for the mail box and it looks hand painted. I also found last year, a solar lantern that could be attached to the top of the post. It looks great. I think the stencil cost about ten dollars and the light was about 30 at HD.
    Nothing makes a home look more charming than a front porch. No matter how big or small, those touches around the front door really say a lot. You concrete slab is so small you could stencil it with a brick or stone pattern. I did our front porch in the brick pattern, because we could not afford a brick porch. We do have a soldier course of bricks around the porch and our steps and walls are brick. We also have real wood columns which we replaced about 5 years ago, since we had carpenter ants. This time we had pressure treated lumber put inside and the post, which came from a fabricator in the south, were painted and sealed on the inside and then painted with marine grade paint on the outsided. You learn a lot the longer you have a home. I would put a cute chair on your porch with a seasonal flowering plant. It is easy to open the front door and dump a can of water on one plant~ Some lanterns in various sizes with auto on solar times would be really welcoming.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lynn
    February 17, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Sherwin Williams does make a paint called ‘super’ paint. I used it on my old house to spruce up the 8′ wide covered porch that ran the length of the front of the house. Sherwin Williams matched it to the existing siding and no one could tell it had been painted. Also check out Beneath My Heart blog. She painted the cement on her previous’ house patio and it looked great.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    JoAnne
    February 17, 2016 at 11:25 am

    You received some very good ideas! In addition, you could hang a wreath on the door.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan
    February 17, 2016 at 11:31 am

    My neighbor put silk red Geraniums in her window boxes! The looked beautiful and no watering needed.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Debra
    February 17, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Love your column idea. i rather like these also:

    http://www.hgtv.com/shows/fixer-upper/fixer-upper-midcentury-asian-ranch-goes-french-country-pictures

    And that mailbox is perfect!
    Can’t wait to see it finished!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alice
    February 17, 2016 at 11:43 am

    You might look into Daich Coatings http://www.daichcoatings.com/daich-diy-homepage.html for ugly concrete cover-ups. For a small porch like yours, it wouldn’t be all that expensive and it’s a DIY project.

    Also, you might want to check with a competent nurseryman or landscaper or botanist about planting under a huge oak. As I understand it, the powerful roots suck up most of the nutrients. Also, I seem to recall that oak is a species that includes some kind of chemical that is unfriendly to other plants (competition) If someone who knows more than I do on the subject warns against it, you might consider something with planters. Or maybe there are some compatible species.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Alice
      February 17, 2016 at 11:45 am

      When I wrote “oak is a species that includes some kind of chemical ” I MEANT to write “EXUDES some kind of chemical…”

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Rebecca
        February 17, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        I haven’t heard of oak toxicity but walnut trees (particularly black and butternut) exude juglone which is toxic to some (not all) plants and shrubs.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Andrea B
    February 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    You could still put in beds and mulch and do a flower bed of potted plants. We did that while we waited to paint our house so we could move them and keep them from being trampled. We planted them when we were done but liked the look so much I kept some in pots to add intrest. Nice pots can get pricey though 🙁
    Your plans sound great and little things make auch a big differnce!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Justin
    February 17, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Those are some great ideas! Some of them made me think of a few things…

    1) Behr paint makes a newer set of products specifically made to go over wooden decks or concrete and asphalt, specifically ones not in great shape (split wood, cracks, etc.). I think it’s called “Deck-Over”. It comes in a bunch of colors and ends-up looking like the texture of composite decking. That might be a good option for you.

    2) If you do want to do a floating deck, drainage shouldn’t be a big issue. My back deck was built on a concrete slab and we have no issues. Your existing patio should already be pitched slightly, usually perpendicular to the door. You’d lay pressure-treated “sleepers” (like joists that sit directly on the concrete) in the direction of the pitch, lag-bolt the perpendicular board directly to the house, and then top with whatever decking you want, leaving an appropriate gap for rain to go between the deck boards. Rain would drip below the deck and run in the direction of the sleepers onto the ground. Incidentally, this is also how they do roof-top decks. Still could be expensive (decking isn’t cheap), so I’d make sure it’s going to be there awhile if you choose this option.

    3) This may be a little overboard, but if you don’t intend to keep the stone work on the front of your house later on, what if you trimmed it out with corner pine boards and painted them white? You could use construction adhesive and an inexpensive hammer drill with anchors and screws or one of those gun-like tools with the mini explosives (they sell them at Home Depot) to anchor them directly to the stone work. You could then paint the corner trim white and get closer to the effect in your inspiration photo above. Basically, frame the entire house in white boards…even up under the pitch. Then, paint the stone and the siding all one color. I can’t tell if that’s vinyl, but if it is, they make some primers that should stick…at least until you can do the whole thing over.

    4) A new door. We have a crappy old wood door with no lights in it and I’ve been avoiding replacing it because I assumed the door we want (a 6-light Craftsman with dental work) was out of budget. Turns out you can get the same in a steel door for relatively little money (and I could just paint it brown). Swapping-out a door is no harder than the windows you watched the guys put in. Might be easy enough to do by yourself with a helper.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Robin
    February 17, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Just one other idea- just paint the front of the house if you’re going to reside in the near future – power wash and paint would be an easy DIY –
    Also as someone who lives in Florida – start on the outdoor things really soon – before it gets too hot! I know it stops my outdoor projects. Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Danna
    February 17, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I look at people’s homes that may not have a lot of money or like you that are waiting to do a big remodel and think they can always make a home look nicer with a little sprucing up like you suggested! I would trim the other shrubs by the garage, rake the grass, throw a little grass seed down and put a pot of flowers to the left of your door and maybe a couple of cute chairs for the front porch. I know you will make it great someday, but the sprucing up will make you happy and your neighbors happy.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Leslie
    February 17, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    I wish you could somehow get the Austin stone back to its natural state. I love the texture of the stone, it gives the house a presence. If I remember correctly it is also native to the area. I will keep my fingers crossed that the paint is old and will just peel right off with the pressure washer… yea I know I’m dreaming. Just pressure washing the house, updating the porch and painting the front door will make a huge difference. You may decide that is enough to ‘get you through’ until the big makeover.

    Did I mention how much I like the Austin store (grin).

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laura H.
    February 17, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Since you don’t want to spend a whole lot but do want to spruce it up temporarily, I would power wash the exterior first, paint the trim and columns white, paint your front door, add some seating and potted and/or hanging plants and plant some native shrubs and maybe a few flowers around the front exterior. If you use native plants, they won’t require as much care and water. The plants and flowers can be transplanted when you come back to remodel the entire exterior. I wouldn’t bother with replacing the columns or changing them at this time – just paint them. These changes would make a huge difference! Also, I think watering the yard regularly might help but it might be that the big trees are shading your type of grass out too much and it won’t grow in the shade. Painting or staining the porch would probably be your best option, too, for doing something temporarily. Whatever you do, I would just keep it simple since it is just temporary.

    Good luck! I’m sure whatever you decide to do will be beautiful!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laniece
    February 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Monkey Grass. I love it. And, it’s almost impossible to kill! (at least in Oklahoma it is) It could be the Crown Moulding to your yard! 😉

    https://www.google.com/search?q=monkey+grass&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=875&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiEq7j03__KAhXj74MKHVovBsgQsAQIGw#tbm=isch&q=monkey+grass+landscaping+ideas

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Melanie
    February 17, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I propose a vegetable garden. I bet Matt would be a big help with that.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Nonna
      February 17, 2016 at 11:33 pm

      Seems like a veg garden would work better in the back yard ..but it know they do things differently..and I’ve seen some that were actually landscaped beautifully.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    laura
    February 17, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    If you do add the white trim, which is a great idea, I think you could take it one step further and place properly sized shutters and hardware. The shadows that are created from using shutter hardware and properly sized shutters will give your house that classic appeal, and with your skills, I know you can build the shutters yourself! Check this out for a fun read on shutters: http://www.oldhouseguy.com/shutters/

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Colette J.
    February 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Paint the foot path. Install some landscape (solar?) lights. Hanging ferns on porch.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Colette J.
    February 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Oh, and add a flag of some kind. The American flag, or a seasonal one. I think they are always very welcoming.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Donna
    February 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Power wash and strip Austin Stone – test a small area to see the color. Even if it has some paint residue it might look good. Use the color, if you like it, for siding color coordination. Our neighbors painted their siding and it looked good and lasted. All of your ideas are great for the exterior.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Staci
    February 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Depending on when you want to do your major front yard project- I would not put too much money into it. It might get torn off- or made over again. Looks like from your list, you have more than you (by yourself) can do this summer. Unless you plan on putting off doing your interior projects for now. Plus, you need to plan on working around your Texas weather. 🙂 no matter what your projects are, they are always stunning!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    katherine
    February 17, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    i love all the ideas. i would add, making large planter boxes for the front porch (before spending money on landscaping). might give thought to that beautiful green from the kitchen. think they would be stunning and detract from the lack of landscaping.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ruth
    February 17, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Safety tip: get a locking mailbox. Seriously. They are out there, and some are even attractive. Everyone, no matter where they live, is vulnerable to identity theft via mail theft. My parents had mail stolen in the middle of the day from the attractive mailbox located right next to the front door, while they were home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Poohla
    February 17, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I recommend you check out Northern Tools for an affordable pressure washer. They often offer many of their products on sale and free shipping. I don’t know if you have a Northern Tools in Waco, we have 2 in San Antonio, but they ship and I have gotten several items from them both in store and shipped and am always pleased with their products. I have a pressure washer from them that is at least 12 years old and it works great. They sell a lot of accessories for the washer as well…ie. hoses, nozzles, wands and sweeper attachments that let you wash sidewalks or driveways or really any flat surface that needs to be pressure washed (you many not need that particular attachment, but it is great for washing porches). It is nice to have a pressure washer, even if you don’t use it but a couple of times a year.

    Best of luck with your curb appeal makeover.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Pamela
    February 17, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I am thinking some beautiful, lush, colorful hanging baskets would be so lovely. And why not add a hanger to hang an American Flag. I can’t think of anything that says WELCOME more than a beautiful flag and some pretty flowers! I know whatever you do it will be spectacular and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen
    February 17, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    My first thought when I saw the exterior photo was, you need a porch light by the front door, or one on either side of the door. The door looks lonely.

    But then I thought of something better… you need side lights. And wouldn’t it be cool if they matched the pattern of the door in your music room!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Phyllis E.
    February 17, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Kristi,
    Could you enlighten us what Austin Stone actually is? Is it real stone? Is it a limestone or sandstone? Is it so porous that it needs to be painted in an exterior application? I am not from Texas and I never heard of it before. Just curious. I did a quick google and couldn’t find much info–the first thing that popped up was a church by that name and several people, LOL! The stone does show up under google “images” though, and it looks very pretty in its natural state.
    I’d love to see what you come up with for your exterior beautification project, as I am sure it will be lovely when you are done, judging from your past work! What kind of look are you going for (ya know, as in Country Cottage, French Country, Texas Ranch, Craftsman bungalow, etc.)

    Are you still planning on expanding and completely remodeling your porch eventually? I know that would be quite expensive and not exactly a DIY project, so I imagine it isn’t a top priority right now!

    I think that your existing porch and front elevation (to use architect-speak) could be made very charming if you improve the landscaping and paint scheme and improving or replacing the existing columns (maybe adding some side brackets to the columns, too), and maybe consider adding a column to the left of the door (as you are facing the house), making the door centered between the two columns.(This would only be for “show” and not structural.)

    I think you are so right that the color scheme definitely needs some more contrast! Remember to take the color of the existing shingles into consideration when developing your color scheme as roofs are the most dominant feature of a home. I can’t exactly tell from your photo, but the color of the roof looks like it has some reddish brown in it that doesn’t appear to relate to anything else on the home (almost looks to clash a bit with the yellowish beige everywhere, but I know that photos don’t always show true colors on monitors.)
    Best wishes on your project.
    P.S. Concrete can also be stained for yet another option.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      February 18, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Yes, Austin stone is real stone. 🙂 It’s limestone, and in Texas it’s called Austin stone because it originally came from the quarries in Austin, Texas. It comes in various colors, but the most common around here seems to be the white, which of course, really isn’t bright white, but it’s more of a creamy white color. This is a perfect example of the natural color:

      http://www.houzz.com/photos/1563743/Cater-Hill-Country-Ranch-traditional-exterior-other-metro

      I am still planning on expanding and remodeling the front porch, but Matt wants to wait until we have the house paid off before doing any more big remodels.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Phyllis E
        February 19, 2016 at 10:12 am

        Thanks for the explanation about the stone and the link. (What a pretty house in the link, too! It looks so charmingly “Texas” (at least what I imagine a Texas ranch-country house might look like, LOL.) The darker rustic wood columns “pop” next to the lighter stone. With our Maryland weather, columns wouldn’t hold up too well with just a transparent stain like that! ) I would guess from your other design choices, though, that you are not a “rustic” column kind of girl!

        Probably a smart move to wait on the porch remodel, with the state of the current economy and everything else on your plate! I totally understand.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deniese
    February 17, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    I would definitely put shutters each side of the window underneath the gable and paint the front door put out a couple of chairs and some pots filled with flowers on the front porch. Maybe add some kind of corbels on the post tops and beef up the bottom third of your porch columns. For some curb appeal on our own home, on our garage door I painted the faux windows with the carriage door hardware found at Home Depot ( found the idea on Pinterest ) and everyone comments from the street that it appears that we have a new garage door. It was so easy and inexpensive.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kat
    February 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Two tall planter boxes on either side of the front door! And could you make the vinyl color work with bright white trim and a new color on the front door?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nonna
    February 17, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    When I first glanced I saw the words “new mailbox” and I thought it was the one w flowers painted on it…I thought to myself..that sure doesn’t look like Kristi…but then I scrolled down and what a gorgeous one you really did choose..so elegant and true to your style..

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    diane
    February 18, 2016 at 2:30 am

    Love the mailbox. Love beefing up the columns. Pressure washing is about the best fun ever to me. It makes old concrete look new and vinyl siding will look new as well. I spray the siding with a dilute mixture of tsp, bleach and water. I just use a sponge mop to brush it on the siding. The high areas we spray. Then power wash away. You may need to paint the trim since you have new windows and a great color for the door might be just enough. Get a great pot by the door and fill it with dirt and add some great artificial flowers. (No one can tell from the street view and no maintenance!) Hang that cool hanging planter you made a couple of years ago and have matching flowers in it. Don’t bother painting the siding – it is a big job and your big porch is just a few projects away. As far as the concrete, we used a rustoleum product to make surfaces non slippery. It was an epoxy and can be tinted just about any color.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lindia
    February 18, 2016 at 4:18 am

    All of these are great ideas… Landscape lighting is always nice. Of course you don’t want to install a whole lighting plan until you figure out your landscaping but Costco sells some nice solar lights that you can put right in front of the house and/or along your walkway. Also, think about a railing on the porch- it looks unfinished without one. With your wicked skills it would be an easy project for you. Large planters can get expensive and once filled with dirt, become very heavy. I pinned a DIY planter idea made from garbage cans and filled with empty water bottles (at least it keeps them out of the landfill, lol). Anyway, look on Pinterest for it but basically you take a rectangular garbage can, spray paint it whatever color you want, fill the can with something lightweight and place a regular hanging planter on top (so the plants cascade down over the rim of the can). The garbage cans are flimsy enough that they will conform to the shape of the planter but won’t collapse under the weight. Easy and cheap project. At one point you were talking about installing a screen door on his game room/ office door. Are you still planning on that?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      February 18, 2016 at 11:39 pm

      I actually want a screen door on the front door. I thought that I might be satisfied with just opening up all of my (new) windows, and while they do let in a nice breeze, there’s just something so wonderful about having the front door open. So I definitely want a screen door.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Lindia
        February 19, 2016 at 4:01 am

        I totally agree re screen doors but I know a lot of people think they block the front door too much. I really don’t think it’s a big deal if you don’t have a gorgeous hand carved wooden door, lol.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Lindia
      February 19, 2016 at 4:09 am

      Here’s the link to the DIY planter
      http://www.thespottedlamb.com/blog/diy-large-outdoor-planters-for-15

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Moray
    February 18, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I never thought of putting decking over a concrete porch. So smart!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    LORRAINE
    February 18, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    LOVE your current mailbox..!! If you are going to replace it I would be happy to take it off your hands… and pay shipping costs.

    Pressure washing the dirt off and painting would make a huge difference. Painting the front door, squaring up the columns and painting the trims white, painting the veranda and adding pots with low maintenance plants/flowers would make a world of difference… until you do your major make-over.

    Love your work and looking forward to your completion of the dining/lounge rooms.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly
    February 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Kristi, I hope you have great fun and success with your outdoor plans–it all sounds great. I did want to point out, though, that planting beds around such established trees is not a good idea. If you dry to dig and loosen the existing soil you risk damaging the tree roots. If you build new elevated beds around the trees, you will smother the tree roots. I think those trees are treasures and I know you won’t want to damage them. You can tidy up the look by laying a 1-2″ layer of mulch, but I wouldn’t do anything more than that.

    Have fun with all of it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    jenny peickert
    February 21, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    http://renovationdesigngroup.com/portfolio/08.asp

    ***I saw a home similar to yours with white trim & a simple porch with columns & unusual shutters on the front. This home had shrubs to cover the foundation. I like what others suggested, drought tolerant plants & possibly circular plantings around your 2 main trees. I also noticed a railing on the porch, very sleek and black iron.**In the mean time, power washing, painting the porch with a nonskid type paint (prevent slipping) & having someone limb the trees is start, & THEN decorate! This step would hold you until you can save some $ to do the major renovation of the exterior(= Blessings, jenny

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Snowmanluv
    February 28, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Go Southern. Hostas/ferns since your house looks like in the trees. Small 2×4 bench under window flanked by flowers in pots or ferns (also love the shade. Make porch from a single walk up single square to a half circle /semi circle brick and round which always looks great. Definitely make pillars bigger. appeal. Drop boxes of flowers under windows. Paints shutters. Blue blending in needs pop. Could paint porch as well. Go big. You want to draw people in. Could had water feature under middle window or place in separate made circle in yard with water flowers. Also don’t see any lighting. Add solar power unde each window and line sidewalk. Expand each side of sidewalk by a foot then plant some easy growing perrinials.

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