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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

How to update the exterior of a house

Searching for how to update the exterior of a house?  We explain the process we went through in making exterior updates to our home. 

If you recall yesterday I promised I would share with you how we made some exterior changes to our home and how we made some of the decisions.  When we purchased our home, we knew there was work to do here.  I can honestly say, I really had no idea what we were getting into until once we were elbow deep in repairs.  

When purchasing an older home, is anyone really fully prepared for what crops up?  If you are prepared, then hats off to you.... I had no idea!  Call me na├»ve, but I thought ok, we will get rid of wallpaper, paint, have the kitchen remodeled, get rid of the carpet in the bathrooms, and don't forget the windows... and then our home will be complete.  Hardy, har, har... not so.  There has been so much more... more... and more!

When we purchased our home, there were many windows that had cracked panes, window glazing needed to happen too, it had cracked and chunks were missing!  We knew the windows needed replaced... and me being me, thought ok, you call a company and they come and tell you how much, and then you pay them and they get changed out, done!  Oh no, it is so much more than that, always more!  So many decisions, what color, mullions or not, casement, or double hung... the list went on.

So first, I started on my journey of following home rehabbers like Nicole Curtis and decided I wanted to keep our home to the period.  Now she would not have replaced the windows, but we wanted to make sure they were air tight amongst other things.  When we first walked up that curved path, I thought oh, a cottage with diamond shaped windows... how cute! Yep, that is what I want, that is what we are going to have, done... and then you know things change as they always do.

Then I started thinking and listening, lots of listening happened and I decided I wanted to honor our home by keeping its original design.  I've made mistakes here which we will have to live with for a while or maybe forever.   Who knows.  I mentioned yesterday the first window company we called who replaced two windows for us.

We had an experience with a remodeling company we did not care to repeat and decided we would begin with just two windows to see how the company worked, and how their product was before we replaced any more windows.  I am so glad we took this approach, it saved us from making an even more costly mistakes on down the road.

We can hear everything outside those two windows and vice versa.  I wasn't very happy, do you want your neighbors hearing you while in your own home?  No, I do not think so.  

As I mentioned yesterday, we were super happy with the second company and have received nothing but excellent customer service.  They have been here twice, and we will be calling them for the third and final time very soon for the last 5 windows to be replaced.

Now, comes the good stuff... how did we decide colors and what made us pick what we ended up with?  I started by searching stone cottages on Google.  I looked at so many cottages, then I decided to query stone English cottages since this accurately describes our home. I went to the grocery and flipped through magazines, we drove through older neighborhoods looking at older homes, and even looked to Zillow for homes that were for sale.  I looked at homes in England... I left no stone unturned.  I wanted to make an informed decision, little did I know how upset I would be a little later on...   

I looked high and low at homes, I was torn, did I stay with the brown which I kind of felt caused our home to look a bit dreary, or did I flip the switch and go with white?  It was a big decision for us to make!  I was so nervous.  We had the two windows replaced first and went with white.  Our home is stone on 3 sides and then siding on the back.  The white was not a huge impact on the siding side so I was not prepared for the major change it would make on the stone front.

Now where the big changes began was when we decided to change out the fascia, gutters, downspouts, and soffits.  After so much debating, and nail biting, and going back and forth, and sleepless nights, and worrying if I was making the right decision, I threw in the towel and said, white it is!  We found a gentleman who is Amish to change out our gutters, downspouts, soffits, and fascia board.  We decided to go with white, but the product also has a wood grain in it so it appears to look like painted wood.

After the work was completed, I went outside, turned right back around, went back inside, sat down and had a good cry.  I called my BFF, and I blurted out, well, I completely screwed up our house!  I made the worst decision ever, I went with white... and I messed up so big... she had to talk me down from the ledge, because I jumped!  I was a mess... I kept kicking myself thinking what did I do?  I was disgusted with the way it looked!  I called my mother and told her the same.  Even Mr. Vintage was like what did we do?   

At this point, we had white trim, gutters, soffits, and downspouts with brown windows.  It did not look pretty.  Do you know I do not have any photos of the in between.  I was embarrassed and could not believe I did it!  I was upset for days, then I decided suck it up, you made this decision, it will come together, you have a vision, do not doubt yourself.  You did the research, you looked at actual homes in England, you know you did it all right.  It will be okay, calm down.  Talk about a pep talk with myself that went on for several days... 

Then we called the local window company and they came and replaced 6 windows, which was all of the windows we had left on the second story and the two front facing windows on the lower level.  Once those windows were replaced, I said to myself, see Cara, you do not need to doubt yourself, you got this.  Our home was looking for more put together, thank goodness!

Do you also know when the steel casements came out, I noticed there was a white paint left behind where the brown paint had peeled... I do believe white was original and the brown happened somewhere along the way.  The gutters in the rear of our home were galvanized which had peeling brown paint and were worse for wear.  The window panes on the garage have white paint on them as well.  So, in the end, I believe we actually brought her back to her original colors.  I have nothing concrete to support this logic, but what we found supports this line of thought anyway.

We did not change the design, we had the mullions put in place to look identical to the original windows.  Now, we did have transoms above the casements, which we were not able to replicate.  We went with a single casement window to allow for full window real estate, or that is what we call it.  When we looked at the show room, we were sold on how much of a view we could see out of the window.  With double casements, you lose visualization where the windows close together in the middle, and double hung loses a full view in the center of the window.  We felt the single casement was the best option for viewing.      

When I went out on Sunday to take pictures, I thought wow, our home has changed so much since we purchased her.  I like to think we have completed so much, but we still have a ways to go.  I am happy with the decision to go white despite my meltdown in the midst of everything, and melt down it was... one I do not care to repeat. We keep trying to get her perfect so she can fully shine again.

This photo shows the last time we had flowers in our front yard too, it is when we made changes to the landscape.  It was overgrown and we had to have stumps ground out.  Who plants large trees up against a foundation?  Apparently someone did... I was worried about foundation issues if they did not come out.  Luckily, once they were removed, we found things were fine.

We also looked into copper gutters, but found they were out of our price range at $12,000!  That quote was for gutters only, no soffits or fascia included.  I about fell over when we received that estimate.  We looked into the copper penny gutters to give the appearance of copper gutters, but the patina is what was most desirable to me.  The copper penny would look new forever so that got crossed off the list too.  White ended up being the best option for this English lady.  

When Mr. Vintage and I were talking about the changes here this past weekend, we laughed about how we were so disappointed in the white, but now feel like it was the best decision.  We also had the gutters moved from the front of our home to the side.  The gutters used to frame the window, and now?  They are on the sides of where our living room juts out from the rest of our home.      

We are happy with the changes now, finally!  It took a while to get used to, and we feel like our home has really brightened up.  All that worry, research, looking at homes, and tears ended with a happy ending for this cozy cottage. 


Are you wanting to make updates to the exterior of your home?  The best advice I can give is to do your research.  Look at homes online with similar lines, structure, and feel as the exterior of your home to get a good idea of how your updates will look.  I queried cottages, stone cottages, English cottages, stone cottage exteriors, cozy cottage exterior, stone homes with English gardens, stone English homes, purchased many magazines, had samples of gutter colors and held them up to our stone to see how they would look.  I looked at cottages for sale in England to see what the exterior of their homes looked like.  I wanted to make sure we did right by her.  I like to think we did our due diligence and made the right decisions.  Would you agree?  I hope so.  

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