Before & After: The exterior.

I haven't posted about much of the renovation that we've done on our house because, aside from my studio, there isn't much that we've completely finished since moving in almost two years ago. However, just the other day we received a letter in the mail letting us know that we won a Community Improvement Award for the exterior of our house. This means that at least one of our neighbors was awesome enough to nominate us and the city was impressed enough to choose us as a winner. And while I still don't consider the front yard "finished", I figured I'd share the immense amount of progress that we've made.

When we bought the house, it was a bit of an eyesore. The landscaping was nothing but overgrown bushes and thistle. The house paint was peeling and the canopies over the windows had definitely seen better days. Previous owners had made a poor attempt to enclose the side porch with plywood and plexiglass which was rotten and falling apart. Two ugly sconces hung on either side of the door, one completely broken. I could go on, but to sum it up, there was just a lot of ugly and brokenness happening.

After closing on the house the night before, we spent Thanksgiving morning changing out the light fixtures on the front of the house. The rest of that weekend was spent removing bushes and those sad canopies with the help of some family members. Not much else was done to the house until the following spring when the weather was nice again.

Over the following year we opened up the side porch and brought it back to it's original state, battled the overwhelming amount of thistle, tore up the concrete walkway leading to the front door and put in a  new one made of sandstone to match the original steps, planted two trees, had the house repainted, and started on our landscaping plan. When we were digging out our future flower beds, we discovered that there were actually concrete steps buried under the dirt that led up to our porch. Imagine that. 

This past year we finished the construction of our flower beds and new retaining walls (made from the broken concrete we removed from the old walkway). I spent the spring picking out plants and working on the landscaping. By the time summer rolled around the flower beds were really filling out with a mix of perennials and vegetables. We grew more zucchini than we knew what to do with. It was an immense amount of work and we were lucky enough to get occasional help from family and friends for the big projects. 

There's still some landscaping to do next year, beds to add, plants to move and replace. The concrete of the porch floor needs to be refinished and the railings are in bad shape. For right now though, I'm incredibly proud of what we accomplished. 


  1. It looks amazing. By the looks of it the award was well deserved! You have a real eye for "design" and it looks like a lot of hard work has gone into it all. Can you come and sort our front please! :-)

  2. Replies
    1. Because we live in a neighborhood full of historic homes, a lot of our inspiration came from just walking around and seeing what other people have done. There was a lot of deciding what we liked and didn't like and then making a list of what we wanted to do. I made a Pinterest board of garden styles that I liked and my dad worked out a landscape plan for us based on that. The planting this year was a bit of trial and error. I'm going to be moving some of the plants around when the time is right.

  3. you place looks so beautiful! i was trying to find a recent picture of your house (internet creep) after i saw your post about the award on instagram, so how happy am i to see this post, haha. truly lovely. i also spy an itty bitty kitty face in the 'after' photo!

  4. Beautiful restoration. You should be very proud! No wonder why your neighbors are impressed!

  5. Wow!! What a transformation!! :)