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#6: Exterior Face Lift

There's nothing like a first impression. That's why everyone loves a little curb appeal.

When we became accustomed to the idea of a home renovation, we didn't exactly anticipate having to transform the exterior of the home. Maybe some touch up paint and extra plants here and there, but nothing beyond that. However, this historic fixer upper didn't give us much of a choice.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here you go. There's nothing I truly loved (or even liked) about the exterior. We could change and alter a few things, but the overall frame would remain the same. The checklist grew quickly and it didn't take long for us to realize that the exterior transformation would become arguably the biggest headache of them all.

To start, the vinyl siding and vinyl windows had to go. Long story short, vinyl siding and windows in a historic neighborhood is not a good look. If you've read my previous posts, you may recall the siding issue that revealed itself at an early stage. As our contractors began ripping off the vinyl siding, we came across the original cedar siding.

We didn't anticipate that it would be in the best shape, but we assumed that it'd be able to be restored to it's natural glory. After ripping off some of the vinyl, we quickly discovered a few original hidden windows as well as the outline of what the original trim looked like.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long until one of our contractor fell through the side of the house while removing the vinyl siding. In summary, the original cedar siding was so dry-rotted that his ladder punctured a large hole into the side of the house. We hired professionals to assess the status of the remaining siding to see what we could save. It wasn't good news. They reported that the vinyl siding, that was installed over the cedar siding, was installed incorrectly and had incapsulated ongoing moisture for the past 30+ years. This created dry rot and mold. Well, there goes that idea... The original siding had to be replaced (Chapter 2)." Womp Womp.

To our surprise, we learned that the city had additional rules and guidelines on historic homes. In order to replace the siding, we'd need additional permits. A new architect, 20 pages of approved plans, and 5 months later, it was go time.

The list seemed endless. We preserved a few of the remaining original features: The original front deck and stairway windows/trim as well as the front columns. Aside from that, everything else had to be replaced. After meeting with an array of architects and our neighborhood's historic board, we were able to determine the features we'd need to incorporate in order to restore the and bring back the original historic character of the home. Our exterior check list was a bit daunting:

- We installed new cedar siding (3 inch panels and shingles) and custom wood windows.

- We replaced the roof and gutters.

- New trim and molding were installed, matching the original character of the home.

- The deck had to be lifted and rebuilt.

- We installed tongue and groove cedar wood under the soffits.

- We added stairs on to the front of the deck and down to the sidewalk. While building the pathway to the front door, we were surprised to find the old original pathway that existed years ago.

- New landscaping all around the house was a must.

- In the backyard, we also built a large deck that added some much-needed outdoor living space to the home.

Again, paint colors proved to be a challenge. My husband and I knew we wanted a bold color with black windows and a light trim in order to stay true to historic colors. Of course, a bold, dark color can be a bit risky. We tried a few dark grays and blues, but ended up going with Benjamin Moore's Westcott Navy. I held my breath as the navy went up, but quickly fell in love. I went back and forth between painting or staining the shingles. We ultimately decided that it would be best to stain them clear, as we could always paint over them at a later date if we so choose.

Before & Afters:


Front Porch:



A few fun historic facts:

1. The brick pathway in the backyard was made from the bricks from the original fireplace in the home.

2. We took the original claw foot bath tub from the home and converted it into a garden bed in the back yard.

Paint Colors:

Windows: Sherwin Williams- Tricorn Black

Siding: Benjamin Moore- Westcott Navy

Trim, Sidelights, Porch Railing & Columns: Sherwin Williams- Alabaster

That's it! Thanks for visiting. You can subscribe below for updates and notifications on future posts. You're also welcome to reach out if you have additional questions. I'm no expert, but I'm more than happy to help!


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