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Sixth House - The Exterior

Greetings! In my last post I finished the interior renovation plans with the basement. At the end of the post I said we would be moving on to the decorating plans for the interior - the "pretty stuff". Not yet it seems. Over the weekend I thought I should probably talk about the plans for the exterior first as this is something we are hoping to make some progress on this year. It is a real struggle right now to lock people in to work on your house, which some of you, if not all of you, are no doubt quite aware of, and as of now it looks like renovation on the interior of our house will not begin until 2022 - yikes - so fingers crossed we will have better luck with the outside. We are awaiting estimates and I am trying not to obsess over the fact we should have heard back last week and have not heard anything yet. I've put in one request for an update and haven't heard back on that yet either so I am really starting to wonder what is wrong with me?!? So many plans, so little progress (thus far).

John cares a lot more about the appearance of the outside currently and although I too care a lot about the curb appeal, I thought I would be fine waiting until the interior work is done. Now I'm hoping we get something done period. Our house is twenty-five years old and I don't think the landscaping has been changed since the house was built and I do not think it has been maintained for some years now.

To kick us off, here are the listing photos of the exterior:

This may come as a shock to you, there are a lot of things I want to change about the outside. Before we get to that list, the listing photos make the yard and trees look green and lush (they also make the interior look bright and sunny), neither were/are exactly accurate. Soon after we moved in a large tree in the backyard came down in a storm and the tree service that came to remove the debris evaluated all of our trees and told us most of them were quite unhealthy, the largest one having a hollow trunk that was a disaster waiting to happen. There were also a number of trees that were touching the house and making the house feel like nighttime on a sunny day. John doesn't like trees touching the house, we both like a lot of natural light inside, and the unhealthy trees needed to go. All that to say, we have taken down seven to ten trees since we moved in. So, our poorly maintained landscape took a real gut punch.

This is what we are hoping to do in total to the exterior. Some of it now, some of it over time.

  1. Paint the house*

  2. Replace/remove the shutters where it makes sense (it is a personal pet peeve of mine that if there are shutters on a window they need to be the right size to actually shutter the window)*

  3. Replace the garage doors*

  4. Replace the gutters with faux copper gutters*

  5. Re-do the deck

  6. Add a patio with a fire pit

  7. Add a front porch

  8. Re-do the driveway (I think we will wait on this until the interior is done)

  9. Re-do the side entrance stairs

  10. Add a shed

  11. Completely re-landscape the yard

  12. Add a sprinkler system

  13. New roof (the roof is original and will need to be done eventually, knock on wood it is still in great working order)

*I think we should wait until the interior is done since we're planning to add a window and change out some doors, John wants to do these now

It's daunting. I have some inspiration photos to share with you and some graph plans of mine with deck, patio, porch and shed placements as well as landscaping ideas.

Our house is mostly stucco with some brick on the front facade and on the chimney in the back. I want to smooth out the stucco a bit and paint the house - the brick and the stucco - all one color: a creamy white is the plan. The windows are aluminum and pre-finished in a "greigey" color. We are planning to keep the windows so I think it makes sense to work with the current window color rather than paint it - this should require less maintenance down the road. Therefore, where we end up having shutters I want them to be a complimentary color to the window trim, not try for an exact match. This is what the builders/original owners tried to do when the house was built and it is just too brown for my taste. For the front, side and garage doors, I want them to be wood (tone).

Here are some inspiration photos for this color scheme:

The stucco on our house is very rough. Here is a picture of it close up. It looks angry to me.

I want our stucco to be much smoother. I took great comfort and inspiration on our trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida this spring. Most of the houses there are partially or all a smooth stucco and a lot of the houses have the same color scheme we will follow because of our windows.

This is an inspiration house for smoothing out our stucco, not completely smooth like new construction in Florida, much kinder though:

You may recall that our house in Baltimore was also stucco, much smoother as well and here is a picture I took of one of the many inspiring houses from Rosemary Beach for the color scheme and the smooth stucco. There is hope for our angry stucco!

As you may remember from the entry post, we want to push our front door out to be flush with the front of the house and have French doors rather than a single door. I want to have a front porch that spans from the garage to the front door. I tried to draw where it would be on the listing photo and it is tough, very tough for me. Hopefully this gives you the general idea:

I really like the idea of the porch looking a lot like this photo below. Since we have windows at slightly different heights and the garage roof though, I'm not sure if we will be able to do one exactly like this, if we need a slight pitch, we would have a metal roof instead.

We want to have our landscaping "feel" like this. A mix of hydrangea, boxwoods, lavender, flowing grasses, and shrub roses.

We want to replace our deck with a larger one without all of the angles. Shocker that the deck is full of angles too! I would like to have the deck railing horizontal like this:

A few steps down from the new deck we want to have a semi-circle bluestone patio with a fire pit in the middle. This would be right behind the chimney basically.

At the end of the driveway, which is currently pavers that are very sunken, uneven and weedy, that someday John wants to be cement, we want a shed with a side door that has a direct path to the side door of the house and double doors that open to the driveway for the snow blower, bikes, etc. If we end up with a metal roof on the front porch, we could have a metal roof on the shed too to tie them both in. We want the side entrance stairs, which are falling off of the house, to be re-done to match our deck with horizontal railings. Ideally, I would love a breezeway over a bluestone pathway to the shed, at a minimum I would like a covered entrance for the side door which will lead into our new mudroom. Here are some inspiration photos for a breezeway, covered entrance and shed:

Source Not nearly this elaborate though.

Source Another way to tie in a metal roof if need be.

Source This is how the shed would look when pulling into the driveway with a side door on the left.

Here is a graph drawing with the placement of the deck, patio, shed, and front porch. There are also notes about plantings. The back of the house is at the top of the photo and the front is at the bottom.

Wow, a lot of pieces to the backyard puzzle, I hope this all made sense. I also hope that we have some progress shots to show you by the fall!

Next time I think I may start giving you a tour of what it is like in our house right now. I think I will have a tough time talking about the decorating without showing you what it's like now since we will be using our existing furniture. I'm still hesitant (read as embarrassed), nonetheless that's probably what's coming your way next. I hope you come back to check it out.

Thank you so much for coming by today,





Hi, I’m Kerry, a true lover of all things home design.  Thank you for stopping by to check in on the journey.  Please feel free to reach out to me, I love to talk design!

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