Front Exterior & Front Yard

Exterior Window Progress

Y’all, we’ve officially reached that time of this season when I just can’t feel motivated to do anything. This attitude generally hits me at the end of December with the cold weather, the abundance of cheesy holiday rom-coms to watch, and that end-of-the-year wind down and week off. But I managed to get through December, and even most of January, without feeling that way. But now it has hit me hard.

It’s totally based on the weather. I’m just not a winter kind of person. Even when we don’t have cold weather (which we really haven’t had much of this year), there’s almost always something about winter that zaps my energy and motivation. This year, it’s the gray skies and rain. My goodness, I feel like I’m back in Oregon, and I just don’t function well when I have to go days at a time with rain and no sun.

Anyway, I’ve tried to take advantage of any warm-ish and sunny (or non-rainy and overcast) day we’ve had lately to get my exterior windows finished up. The trim needed to be caulked and painted on the five new windows. In addition, the recently-installed stone in two areas needed to be primed and painted.

Yesterday morning, I was so sure that by the end of the day, I’d be able to finish up the painting, get everything cleaned up, and have shiny new pictures of the front exterior of our house (with the five new finished windows) to show you today. It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day, and I did my best! But unfortunately, I didn’t get finished. And now it doesn’t look like we’ll see the sun again for over a week. There’s nothing but rain and clouds in the forecast, which is so depressing.

But anyway, I thought I’d go ahead and show y’all the part that I’m the most excited about, and which I did actually manage to get finished.

First, let me remind you of what this side of the house looked like after the stone and siding were painted about three years ago, but before the new windows were installed. These original windows were old, no longer opened (and some no longer closed all the way), and had very unattractive storm windows on them. And the front middle bedroom (the one by the front porch) had a window unit air conditioner in it that I was afraid to remove because I wasn’t so sure that the window would actually close.

before new windows on left side of house

So when I redesigned the bedrooms and removed the original closet from that center bedroom, I decided to build some new closets. Since that side window with the air conditioner was in the way of my planned closets, I had it removed and covered over with drywall inside. That left this big hole in the stone on the outside…

window closed up on the exterior

Fortunately, I had stone on hand that could be used to fill in that hole. When we bought the house, the side exterior wall of the living room had stone on it…

I thought that was so strange. There was siding on the front porch, siding on what is now the front of the breakfast room, and siding on the eave of that side wall. But then there was this random wall of stone. So I had that removed…

stone removed from side living room exterior wall

…and replace with siding when we had all of the new siding put on the house…

house exterior painted sherwin williams mindful gray and extra white - closeup of porch and living room windows

So that stone has been piled in the back yard all this time. I just had a feeling that I’d need it for something, so I never got rid of it. And I sure am glad I kept it! I don’t think we would have been able to find any new Austin stone to match the older style of this stone.

I was so nervous about having this filled in, because I was sure that it would be obvious that there used to be a window there. But the guys who did the stone work did a fantastic job on it. And they were so fast! I think it only took them half a day to fill in this area, plus the area under the new master bathroom window. That area needed to be filled in because I had the original window replaced with a shorter window.

Here’s how it looked when they finished the stone work that day…

window filled in with stone

I was very excited about how that looked! They did such a great job at lacing the new and old stone together so that no obvious rectangle where the window used to be could be seen.

I had to wait a few days to let the mortar dry really well, and then when we had breaks in the rain, I pressure washed it, and primed it. So finally, a couple of days ago, I was able to get it painted. Here’s how it looks now…

window removed and filled in with stone

Doesn’t that look so good?! I mean good, as in, I really don’t think anyone would be able to tell that there was ever a window there. I’m so thrilled with how that turned out.

So again, it went from this…

before new windows on left side of house

…to this…

window removed and filled in with stone

Oh, and the side window on the far left of that “before” picture went from this…

before new windows on left side of house

…to this…

large window replaced with smaller window and filled in with stone

They did a great job on that area, too. I don’t think anyone would be able to tell that the original window in that spot was about two feet taller than the current window.

So that’s the current state of things on the front and side exterior of the house. Who knows when I’ll be able to finish it and get new exterior pictures. I was sure hoping that I could get it all done yesterday, but I just ran out of time. That’s another thing that I find so depressing about this time of year — the fact that the sun goes down so early. It’s so discouraging to me when I have to pack up a project at 6:00pm because I ran out of daylight. Oh, how I love those long, sunny, warm days of summer! I guess they’ll be here soon enough. In the meantime, I’ll take advantage of every sunny, rain-free day we have to make more progress out here, but it looks like my next opportunity is still several days away.



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33 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Trisha
    February 18, 2020 at 10:53 am

    That is an absolutely amazing stone job! Wow.
    I appreciate people with that kind of talent who obviously take pride in their work.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Brenda
      February 18, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Thanks for taking the time to update us on your progress. I’ve gotten older now and can’t get out and work like I used to. It does me a lot of good to get to see someone like minded as me getting so much done!

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Christine Whitehead
        February 18, 2020 at 2:06 pm

        Great job, looks like it’s always been there. I used to get Seasonal Affective Disorder when I lived up north. It is so depressing when it’s gloomy a lot and it gets dark so early. I have no problem now in Florida.

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          Maggie
          February 19, 2020 at 10:51 am

          Me too! I’ve been here 20 yrs now and haven’t had one episode of SAD.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ally
    February 18, 2020 at 11:07 am

    I hate winters too. That’s why I always schedule a vacation for this time of year. I’m leaving for on a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas on Friday. I feel guilty about leaving when I have so much work to do but I’m so unmotivated right now that I probably wouldn’t get anything done if I stayed home anyways. When I return in two weeks, hopefully I’ll be rested, restored and motivated to get my living room finished (still need to install & paint crown, 2nd coat of paint on walls, install the new Pergo flooring and install & paint baseboard) and then move on to my hallway bathroom renovation.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Rebecca B
      February 18, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      I think they did a great job too. It is impossible to tell where the old windows were.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lori
    February 18, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Oh my gosh I am right there with ya on the dark gloomy weather and lack of motivation! I don’t ever remember a winter here in North Texas with so many cloudy rainy yucky days! I can’t get anything done and all I want to do is sit on a hot sunny beach and listen to Jimmy Buffett! 😂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gilmer Gal
    February 18, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Definitely a high five to those stonemasons! What a great job. The before and after pics of your house are so different. The work you put into it has definitely paid off. I wonder, have you shown the sellers what the house looks like now?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    CAROL
    February 18, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Kristie, It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. I deal with it every winter and I live in N. California.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chris
    February 18, 2020 at 11:41 am

    We’ve had rain the past two weeks so many times. I can only be thankful that on the weekends when my kids are off from school it has been clear, because we can take advantage of it for adventures, but it sure hasn’t let me accomplish much otherwise when it feels like every weekday is raining or still soaked from the rain.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Trish
    February 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    I live in the midwest with cold and gray skies for months on end. I had the same issue with no energy or desire to do much of anything but lay around and sleep. Turns out my vitamin D level was ridiculously low. I’ve been taking D daily for several years and it has greatly improved my energy level, especially in the winter months. Hope you’re back to you soon. And by the way, the stone work looks fantastic!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Marianne in Mo.
      February 18, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      Trish, I too have low vitamin D, but it doesn’t seem to have improved my energy since I started taking supplements. It’s still a bit low, but before it was almost non existent. Kristi I feel the same as you with the gloomy days. Sometimes I don’t even want to get out of bed. The midwest has been dreary most of the winter. We plan to visit Georgia and S. Carolina in May, but that seems like a long way off. Wouldn’t want to be there now though, with all the rains in the S.E. lately! Anyway, I can’t believe that wall —- looks like it’s always been like that. The stone guys and you did a great job blending it in!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Suzan E Richardson
    February 18, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    You suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I also have trouble in the winter months because of it. I just about shut down during the winter. Love the work you have done in your home.

    Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in winter.[1][2] Common symptoms include sleeping too much, having little to no energy, and overeating.[3] The condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety.[4]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lynda Schneider
    February 18, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    The stone work looks fantastic Kristi! Love it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tracy
    February 18, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Amazing stone work. It’s coming along! Observation: have you thought about painting the bottom slab/ledge of the house a dark color? It would take care of the staining from the dirt and it looks as though the house is growing out of the earth , no separation or anchoring to the ground.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chris
    February 18, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Great job by the stone work guys, the outside is really shaping up. As others commented, it sounds like we, and other readers, suffer from SAD, I find that a 10,000 lux light daily for 20-30 minutes helps out a lot. I’ve got one by Circadian Optics off Amazon that is pretty compact and I think helps a lot. I meditate in the morning and use it during my meditation.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Eileen
      February 19, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Yes!! Me too!! My light box saves my butt every year. Kristi- it gets dark here (western NY) at 4pm for about a month!! Drive zapping rom-com inducing for sure!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Judy
    February 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    I feel ya on the motivation! My powder room is ripped apart, some curtains and valances still in process, and a cast-off coffee table waiting to be cleaned and revamped and styled. And now I have bad head cold. I wish the sun would come out. Guess I’ll go take a nap! LOL

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tammy (Pa)
    February 18, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    The stone work looks FANTASTIC….!!!!!
    For not being in a mood to do anything, I think you have done A LOT.
    Way more then most of us..
    You’ll get your mojo back Kristi, you always do..
    Love what you do…!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    janice dinse
    February 18, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Wow they did a fantastic job. You would never know it was patched at all.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sherre
    February 18, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    We’ve had an especially icky winter in MD, too. We start off each week near 50 – 60 degrees and raining, and by the end of the week, it’s 30 degrees and windy. It was sunny on Sunday, but only around 45. I put on an extra layer and sat on my deck for 30 minutes, just to get some sunshine 🙂 Your funk will pass!

    The house looks beautiful. I agree with other commenters in that it’s wonderful to find contractors who take pride in their work and do things the right way!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    chiflipper
    February 18, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Kudos to your stone guys! It’s so refreshing to see there ARE tradesmen out there who care enough to do the job right. Sherre’s suggestion about getting some direct sun really does help.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Patricia
    February 18, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    I think you would benefit from purchasing a Joove , and if that’s above budget find another light for SAD.
    I live in Colorado and its another snow day so no getting out much . But snow is white and bright and it can be inconvenient but it doesn’t make me sad. Hope you’re feeling better soon . If you and Matt want to get out of Dodge and see some snow you have an open invitation from me !

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenda Pawloski
    February 18, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    I’m so glad you kept that stone! I think it is special. I would have been dancing in the yard over that stone job. It’s so good when someone does an excellent job, even exceeds your expectations, and they see your appreciation and everyone’s happy. I’ve had that happen and cherish the memories. I hope to have more of that in the future.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Joan Hornung
    February 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    What a fantastic job on the stone! It is unbelievable, and obviously you found someone who shows GREAT pride in their work…not always easy these days! But they are out there. I remember those depressing end of winter days – that’s why my husband and I love Florida. Yes, the summers are brutal, but I have learned to leave some inside projects for the AC comfortable summers inside, and the outdoor ones for the fabulous winters we have. Yes, the days are a bit shorter, but on the Gulf Coast the days are at least an hour longer that NY State where we are from. I heard from my son in Chicago today – I can tell winter is getting to him too. ☹ Oh, and feel free to take a trip to Florida for some glorious sunshine too!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    HopeJW
    February 18, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Holy moly, I know exactly how you feel. Since we moved to the north Georgia mountains, I too suffer the biggest case I can not move out of my own way in the winter. The endless days of no sunshine, the endless rain is beyond depressing for me. It is beautiful but horrible in the winter.
    The stone looks fantastic and the windows look so much better.
    As for your parts of the equation, it will happen when it’s time!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Heidi
    February 18, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    I know SAD is a thing, and it’s really no fun, but I had to kind of chuckle to myself when you complained that it already gets dark at 6 because just the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting so excited because the sun isn’t setting up here until almost 6 now! In the darkest part of the winter, it’s completely dark by 5. We also have snow from November to April, and it’s freezing, so I’m so proud of my husband who has been working hard every day he has off to get our basement framed in, cutting lumber in sub-zero temperatures. He’s like 75% done, which is so amazing, because then we can do ductwork and electrical and drywall and ceilings and flooring. Anyway, I got a bit sidetracked there. On the plus side, it doesn’t get dark here until nearly 10 in the summertime! And your house is looking really good!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jeannie
    February 18, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    The weatherman tonight said we have had 1 (ONE!) day not overcast this winter! (eastern Ohio) The sun has peeked through occasionally but not whole days. He said we normally have 9. It is definitely gloomy. I’m so happy when the sun shines!

    Those guys did an amazing job on the stone.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie
    February 19, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Kudos to your stonemasons. I so admire skilled craftsmen. Splendid results.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sue
    February 19, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    You have really good stonemasons. Excellent job!

    Give yourself a break! We all get the winter blues from time and time. Give it time to go away and you’ll feel more renewed and ready to go. Rest.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jennifer
    February 19, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Outstanding job!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kimberly
    February 19, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Kristi, your stone masons are FANTASTIC! They did an incredibly impressive job putting the new Austin stone in where those windows used to be. That is some amazing skill they have — there’s no way to tell, especially after painting, that there were windows there or that those areas didn’t always look like that! You must be so pleased dealing with skilled professionals, especially after the problem you had with those scam-my tree trimmers! You have such amazing skills yourself and know what producing such perfect work is all about, so I’m sure you *really* appreciate that excellent job they did with the Austin stone.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    oah
    February 20, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    My question is how did you mount the shutters? I did read all the stuff from the blog page you mentioned. Did you use blocks under the shutters to give them depth? Did you mount them to the window frame? I keep looking at your photos and just can’t tell.

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