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Exterior Facelift

When I first drove by this house it just looked, well, tired. The bones were in good shape – none of the trim had been altered which is a rehab miracle, and most of the cedar shake shingles had held up really well over the years. The house had sat vacant for a while after the last owner passed away so the typical yard maintenance was needed. But before anything else began, the back yard had to be addressed.

See why? It was a jungle. On the very day that I closed on the house, I had the fence guys tearing out that old chain length fence (hidden under the vines). I have two dogs – one who can actually climb fences and another who when motivated, can find a way out. So the broken down chain length fence had to go and a new 6-foot wood fence was installed. They cleared out a lot of the overgrowth simply out of necessity along with the random chain length fence that ran along the edge of my property. I seriously cannot understand fences along the front or side of properties that serve no purpose – that keep nothing in or out. If I had it my way I’d tear them all out!

So after the fence was completed, the three – yes three – sheds were addressed. It’s already a small back yard and who really needs three sheds to begin with, right? Just kidding. I probably could fill three up. The plan was to keep the tiny one and the medium-sized one nearest to the back of the property line. However, when some of the construction team fell through the two larger sheds while trying to clean them out, it was clear that they were damaged beyond repair. Tear drop. This was something I had not budgeted for – demo and haul off plus a new shed – but with all of the tools I own and with slight hoarder tendencies, I really didn’t have a choice. I bought a shed kit and convinced my dad to help one of the guys put it together while I was in India. He’s a keeper. Later on I was able to add doors to the small shed and keep all of my lawn and garden tools in there. The rest of the back yard is still a work in progress. I’m always trying to get the grass to grow which isn’t an easy task with two large dogs, but have been able to set up a little outdoor entertaining space and built a small little deck with cool horizontal railings – something I came up with at the last minute. And now, the back yard is pretty much my favorite place to be in the spring and fall

Next up, the rest of the house. As I mentioned, the cedar shake shingles had stood up really well for the most part. One side of the house that faces the sun all day long, however, needed some TLC. So in preparation for “paint day”, I had to remove a good many of the shingles and replace them with new ones. If you live in the Spartanburg area, Ken, Inc. is a great place to get reasonably priced ones. I got the lower grade bundles which are much, much cheaper. It’s hit or miss though. Some of the bundles I could use every single piece while others only about 50% were good. But, at the cost I paid for them, I still ended up paying much less than if I had special ordered the higher grade ones. I had to be careful removing the damaged ones from the house. It’s kind of like you have to decide how far you’re willing to go because it’s easy to keep pulling them off. I used my best judgment and replaced about 30% of the lower ones using the new ones and some that I was able to salvage from some interior demo that I’ll tell you about later. Once again, my dad helped me out. After spending an entire day trying to get that side of the house done before painting, he and my mom stopped by and just felt sorry for me I’m pretty sure. So they showed up the next morning like always, ready to help me out. I have great parents.

I actually have a great big family and have to brag on my brother-in-law, Seth, for a minute. I’m not sure exactly how I’ve convinced him to help me paint my houses – three times now – but he’s pretty much a boss with the sprayer so I trade out keeping their boys in exchange for his help. Not really a fair trade, I know.  I knew from day one this house was going to be navy blue. I can’t really explain it but it’s kind of masculine and I just knew that the navy blue with white trim was the way to go. I learned the last time around that if your shingles are already stained, don’t paint over them. I found a navy blue solid color stain at Home Depot that worked perfectly. I’d love to tell you about how we taped off everything and did all of this prep work but what really happened was that I held up cardboard along the trim while Seth sprayed. That worked relatively well until my arms got tired, or I got bored, and then I said just go for it. I was planning to touch up the white trim anyway and I did….about six months later.

Other exterior updates were a new roof, repoint and paint the brick foundation, touch up the white trim, and to remove the rotten bulky handrails with a more age appropriate galvanized one. And this is actually very simple to do. You can just buy the materials at Lowe’s or Home Depot and put them together like a puzzle. Oh, and I did need to get permission from the City to change this out since we’re in an historic district. I finished up by painting the front door red, reusing the existing screen door that needed a lot of TLC, new house numbers, painted porch floor and then added my porch furniture. Everything was a wrap once I did a little landscaping and I just love the results. I think that every homeowner should smile when they drive up to their house and that’s what I do every day!