I am a complete sucker for a house with curb appeal.
And sadly, when we bought Vintage Violet Cottage a year and a half ago, it had none.
In fact, the entire house was in such bad condition, that when we first saw it, we said no thanks. But then we got home and couldn't stop thinking about it. The house had potential. It just needed,
- to be gutted to the frame
- new electrical
- all new drywall
- hardwood floors refinished
- all new trim and interior doors
- walls ripped out, and doorways widened into archways
- supporting roofline beam jacked up and supported
- and serious yard work and anything else we could come up with to improve it's "cute factor" from the street.
(This was the kitchen when we bought the house. That is totally unrelated to this post, but I couldn't resist showing you the horror. It actually looks much better in the picture than in real life, but that's another post- or series of posts.)
You know, just a few things. And since we had very little money and even less experience with remodeling, we decided to buy it! Looking back, I'm not sure what we were thinking, but we have some very handy and helpful family members and my husband is just plain smart and hard-working, so I fully believed in his ability to quickly learn how to do things.
The first eight months of living in the house were almost all focused on the inside. Especially since we moved in, and found out one month later that after almost five years of marriage we were going to be parents! Surprise! I think Mr. Vintage Violet immediately took a crowbar to the living room paneling upon hearing the news and when we told my parents, my mom started crying, and my dad turned to my husband and started discussing how to get the house done before baby's arrival. I love the men in my family!
Anyway, by the time Fall rolled around, we had painted the awning and the shutters (on our fifth anniversary! never question the whims of a pregnant woman), and my husband had trimmed the two overgrown holly bushes, but that was all we had accomplished, and the house needed more. I wasn't sure that, short of ripping off the porch and building a new one, the front of the house would ever have the look I desired.
My in-laws came from our of state for a weekend, and my mother-in-law sweetly painted the cement base and rails of our porch. Then, because the woman is fierce at demo, she took out the non-working light post in our front yard. The thing was surrounded by railroad ties and about 13 metal stakes that were driven a good two feet into the ground. All of this in 90 degree heat. She was supposed to have help from me, at least with the painting, but my pregnant ankles were the size of cantaloupes after about an hour, so she had to go it alone from there, and I tried to make it up to everybody by bringing them cold drinks and telling them what a good job they were doing.
Besides all of this, we ripped out several flower beds (because I have a black thumb and almost no interest in improving that), tore out a flag pole, and replaced our front door. Oh, and power-washed the front of the house. It's amazing how much better something looks when it's clean. Even an ugly something.
And amazingly enough, when we stepped back to survey our work, it actually looked pretty good! Even the despised awning had somehow transformed into something I actually found, sort of charming!
The finishing touch was to plant flowers in the flower beds that remained. I am all about light and dark contrast on the exterior of a house. On the inside, I love light and airy, but for some reason, outside, I really like dark siding and white trim. Our home has light yellow vinyl siding and while it's not in perfect condition, it's good enough for now, so I tried to bring in some dark contrast with the things we were changing: a deep red (actually found it with the browns at the paint store) for the shutters and door, olive green for the awning over the porch, and barn red mums in the flower beds.
Oh, and have I mentioned my new front door?
I LUUURRVE this front door! (Sorry, only had a Christmas picture available.) It is the front door of my dreams (what- you don't dream of a specific front door?), and might actually beat out my coffee table Louis, as one of my all-time favorite deals and finds. Maybe I need to do a whole post on my front door, but for now, here she is in all her glory, gracing the front of my house, and making it look a hundred times better than it did before.
Other little things we did to spruce up the front of our house: paint the old mailbox, "borrow" two plastic Adirondack chairs from my parents, cover two old travel pillows with some outdoor fabric that I sewed into pillow covers, five dollar doormat from IKEA, and a lot of ripping out of old plants and flower beds that had rotting beams, and which we knew we wouldn't want to take care of. All in all, I think we did more ripping out than we did fixing up, but that was what this house needed.
Here's the before one more time.
And the after.
It looks so much better! We actually had someone get lost trying to find our house because they didn't recognize it after all the work we did. This project was also pretty inexpensive. Here's the breakdown:
- 3 cans of exterior paint (beige, olive green, and barn red) $120
- New (to us) door from craigslist $75
- Flowers $40
- Fabric for pillows $10
Total = $245!
We would still like to switch out the yucky old light fixture by the door, but are currently paralyzed by indecision and so have not attempted it just yet. We would also like to plant a tree where the flag pole used to be, but we ran out of time and money last year (seriously, you have no idea how expensive trees can be until you go shopping for one!) so hopefully that will happen sometime before winter hits again. I am campaigning for a brick walkway to replace the one made of black top, and I think I will eventually get my way, but Mr. Vintage Violet is dreading that project, so I don't think it will happen anytime soon. But seriously, how cute would that be? I also think we should put some bricks on the top of the steps up to the porch. Just to tie all those red accents together. I'm also on the hunt for a little table that I can put between the chairs on the porch. Just haven't found the right one yet, but I will!
What do you think of our curb appeal now? What has been your experience with adding curb appeal to your home?
I'm linking this post to my very favorite DIY blog, The Lettered Cottage. You know how usually (at least for me), you look at a beautiful home, and you love it, but if it was yours, you'd change this or tweak that? It's definitely the opposite for me when I see Kevin and Layla's beautiful home. I love every. single. thing. I want them to live next door to me so that they can give me their guidance. Or they could just come and take over my house and do whatever they wanted, because I know it would be great. So, if somehow you have not already spent many hours of your life on their blog, check it out!
I'm also linking up to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest!
I'm linking up to Tatertots and Jello.