Maybe Matilda: Adding Curb Appeal

Friday, June 13, 2014

Adding Curb Appeal

When Jeff and I bought this house (our first ever!), we set a date 3 months after closing when we planned to have all of our renovations completed and throw ourselves a housewarming party.

. . .




If you’ve ever owned a home, especially a fixer-upper, and aren’t particularly great at getting things done in a timely fashion (aherm, hello, this is us), you’ll totally understand just how ludicrous the idea of finishing our house in 3 months was. 2 years later, we finally feel like we’re getting the house close-ish to where we want it to be. We still have so much we’d like to do, but you know . . . something about time, something about money, blahblahblah.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve focused on something that probably should have been a higher priority on our renovation to-do list—sprucing up the exterior. Even though our house isn’t very old (it was an early 90s build), it was in pretty bad shape when we purchased it. It had been rented out for 10 years before we purchased it, and it was painfully obvious that no one—not the tenants, not the landlord, no one at all—loved this house or gave it even the slightest bit of attention or upkeep or care. Poor house. We love you and your weird sloping roofline and your goofy orange stonework and your dumb little itty bitty circular window. Your quirks make you special.

Adding major curb appeal with just a few simple changes!

(sigh of relief) So much better. There’s still quite a bit more that we’d like to do, but I think this is a pretty huge improvement, if I may say so myself.

The yard was an enormous undertaking in itself. It was an absolute jungle. Jeff still, 2 years later, gets a little swear-y if I bring up the first time he tried to mow that monster of a lawn. We also had to pull bushes out (that were far more like trees than bushes), spent 2 years fighting the out-of-control dandelions, and have tried to add a little bit of (tame!) landscaping (like those 3 little lilac bushes right in front of the house—I love lilacs, but these don’t seem to be doing well. I hope they can survive). May this house be a lesson to landlords everywhere—don’t let crappy renters ruin your property. (Or is the lesson don’t be a crappy landlord and let your property go to sh!t? Either way.)

But the rest of the changes were embarrassingly easy to make . . . embarrassing that it took us 2 years to make them, considering how simple and inexpensive they were, but how big of a difference they make in the house’s appearance.

From the start, I knew I wanted to add shutters. It’s a rare house that I don’t think looks better with shutters. But I struggled for a long time deciding what color they (as well as the front door) should be. The orange-y color of the stone made this decision much harder than it deserved to be . . . nothing we pictured (or photoshopped) looked very good, so we spent the better part of 2 years debating what color (if any) would look good next to that stone. In the end, we wimped out and went with black. I like to think it looks classic and timeless.

Adding major curb appeal with just a few simple changes!

The front door (previously a very dingy cream), door trim (almost completely flaked-off white), and handrail (rusty, patchy white) also got spruced up with new coats of paint. Easy, simple, inexpensive updates that really helped it look so much more fresh and inviting.

Adding major curb appeal with just a few simple changes!

Our next project to tackle? Building a big black window box to go beneath those two front windows above—I think this is going to look fantastic, and help tie in the black of the shutters and door. We’ve debated getting new light fixtures, but the current plan is to save that money instead and just see if a new coat of paint will freshen them up enough that we won’t feel the need to replace them. I love the addition of the American flag to the house—it was sent to us by Gettysburg Flag Works (ours is the Worry Free Set) and I love having it on display. Looooove it.  ‘Murica, baby. I feel so patriotic hanging that bad boy out there. (And in case you didn’t realize, tomorrow is Flag Day! I’m pretty thrilled to be able to participate with my own flag hanging on the house.)

These planters were a housewarming gift from our realtor, and I am sorry to say that the poor things spent almost 2 years sitting unloved and ignored in the garage. Before painting the shutters and door, they just looked so dark and weird against the house, and honestly, I even forgot we had them. But once we added some black touches to the house, I happened to remember them in the garage and I think they look fantastic against the house. I don’t have much of a green thumb, so pray for the poor flowers please. They’ll need all the help they can get.

Black planters

And finally, just a little DIY wreath on the door to make it a bit more welcoming. Grapevine wreath. Cheap Walmart flowers. Hot glue gun. Bam bam bam, done and done. It probably took a whopping 7 minutes to make, and I think it looks pretty cute.

Cute and easy DIY wreath!

Here’s our curb appeal price breakdown:

Shutters (Home Depot): $75
Exterior paint (for front door and door trim): $30
Spray paint (for handrail): $5
Wreath materials: $7ish
Planters: gift
Flowers for planters: $35
Flag: gift
Lilac bushes: $45

Total: $197

I think that’s money well spent.


  1. Definitely money well spent :) It looks great!

  2. Definitely well spent! It looks amazing!

  3. What a difference! Looks great! Can't believe you've been in there 2 years.

  4. Man, neither can I--it's gone quickly. Thank you!

  5. Your updates look fantastic!

    Weeds/dandelions are a pain to deal with, especially if you have neighbors who don't take care of their lawn. One neighbor is a renter (ugh) who doesn't care (ugh ugh) and the other side is an empty house (for sale). It is a battle keeping the weeds at bay!

  6. Thank you! *We* were definitely that weed-infested neighbor for a while! Every time we think we have it totally under control, we find a new crop of weeds somewhere. Grrrr.

  7. Looks awesome! And I'm slightly jealous of your lilac bushes. I'd love to plant one (or five) in our yard.

  8. I hope they can stick around--they bloomed nicely the first year but have looked sort of sickly and pathetic ever since!

  9. Totally money well spent! It looks awesome - I love the pop of black in the door and shutters. It's amazing the impact that makes. Great work!

  10. Wow, 2 years already? Your changes look awesome! I love the shutters & the door and I hope *fingers crossed* that your lilac bushes make it. They're one of my favorites too, but we don't have the space to grow them. Not sure how much you guys hate the orange stone, but I'm pretty sure you can use concrete stain to darken it. I'll have to double check that with Dad though. He's a mason, and would know that kinda stuff.

  11. Ooooh, I am interested! Let me know what he says :-)


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