First House | House Tour

House Tour: The Exterior

November 24, 2012

I’m wondering if the areas outside a house are always in a constant state of updating, or if that’s just us. Either way, the exterior of our home seemed like the never-ending project.

We purchased our first home in 2009, but we ignored the outside areas for about a year. There were just too many things inside that were necessary to deal with first. Our house wasn’t deemed “livable” by the bank when we purchased it, so the inside was priority no. 1. After that first year, though, the outside was begging for attention. It actually continued to do so the rest of the three years we called this place home.

I don’t have any before photos of the exterior of our house, but I can list a rundown of some of the outdoor projects we tackled during our last three years here.

  • Spray painted the shutters black. The shutters were originally a dull shade of blue. They weren’t too bad, but I needed more contrast for our tan house. I don’t remember what brand of spray paint I used, but whatever it was has held up remarkably well. In fact, you’d never guess they were once blue.
  • Replaced the front door. The original front door was a solid, boring blue. We purchased a door with a glass insert from a salvage store and painted it black. It brings in a lot of light into our living room, but it doesn’t take away much privacy since the door doesn’t lead directly into our living room. (The photo below was taken standing just outside the front door.)

  • Added landscaping to the beds around the front of the house. The original landscaping was completely overgrown in some spots and nonexistent in others. The first thing we did was cut down an ugly, overgrown pine tree that was blocking our bedroom window. It took us a year to get the stump out of the ground. Literally. Then we trimmed down what could be saved, added a lot of new plants, some much, a stone border and landscaping lights. Whew!
  • Added a landscaping bed around mailbox and trees to redirect water. We live on a hill, and water flowing down near the road was washing a lot of our ground away. Last year, my genius husband built up the area near the road with landscaping timbers to correct the water-flow issues. We added a stone border around the backside of the trees and mailbox to make a landscaped area. This new bed solved not only the water flow issue, but it also covered up a place in the yard that won’t grow grass because of trees overhead. (The iPhone picture below hopefully provides a better explanation than I could ever hope to write. Travis built up the area with the landscaping timbers creating a ditch between the landscaped area and the road to direct water.)
  • Completed the fencing in the backyard. This may have actually happened about six months, or so, after we moved in. The fencing was only partially done. I have no idea why. We finished the remainder of the fence and added a gate. We used leftover fence from a relative and purchased a damaged gate (it was easily repaired) to cut costs.
  • Added a raised bed garden. My mother and stepfather came to my house in May 2010 while I was away at work one day and created the raised garden bed and planted my first crops for my birthday. I’ve enjoyed having a garden ever since. (The iPhone photo below is my garden this year just after planting.)
  • Added a fire pit. In May 2011, my father and stepmother bought me a fire pit for my birthday. They helped us dry-fit the stone surround, and then we all enjoyed our first fire well into the night. You’ll notice in the photo below that the fire pit sits just to the right of my garden, which was looking much fuller when this photo was taken back in July. (The photo below was actually used on the MLS listing for our house.)
  • Stained the deck. This project took us a year to complete. I wish I was kidding. One spring we pressure washed the entire deck, sanded the rails and added one coat of stain. Then we lost our momentum. I blame a wicked migraine given to me from the stain fumes. We didn’t add the second coat of stain until earlier this year when we decided to sell our house. You can read more about the initial stages of staining the deck here. (The photo below was also used on the online MLS listing for our house.)
  • Painted the front porch. This is actually one of my favorite projects and probably one of the few that I’ve completed entirely on my own. Last year I painted the railing white and the porch floor a beautiful blue. This year, I only had to touch up the stair treads. I love my blue porch. To learn more about painting the front porch and staining the deck click here.
  • Added a tree to the front yard. Earlier this year I purchased a weeping yaupon tree from a nursery that was going out of business. We used some leftover stone edging and made it its very own landscaped bed. Then, it went into shock and all of its leaves fell off. I’m happy to report that it’s doing much better now. It’s actually sporting quite a bit of green toward the bottom of the plant. 
  • Pressure washed everything. We’ve been pressure washing for the past two years. We’ve pressure washed the entire house, the front porch, the deck, the concrete pad under the deck, the retaining walls, etc. I really hope the new owner appreciates the squeaky-clean exterior.
  • Built a retaining wall. Living on a hill also affected our backyard. Whenever it rained, large portions of the higher-elevated yard, mostly rocks, washed into the grassy area of the yard making mowing a huge challenge. We spent years trying to figure this one out. Eventually, we decided a cinderblock retaining wall would do the trick. We wanted to cover up the cinderblock with steps leading into the yard, but we decided to sell the house before we could come up with a plan. The iPhone photo below was taken just after the wall was built. Dirt has been added to the top of the wall and grass has covered the dirt, but not much else has changed.
  • Added a new roof. We’ve had quite a bit of foul weather in Chattanooga these past few years. Earlier this year, a particularly bad storm damaged our roof badly enough to warrant replacing the entire roof. Luckily, our insurance agreed to cover the cost, so we were only out the down payment, which we later got back a portion of when we got a referral bonus from some friends of ours using the same company.

We didn’t hire out for any of these projects (with the exception of the roof), so it’s pretty crazy to look back at all we accomplished in three, short years. I think we’re both pretty proud of how our house looks now. We definitely have the prettiest house on our street. (I know this for a fact because it was often mentioned during showings. Sometimes this was a good thing; sometimes not.)

The exterior of our home concludes the tour of our first home. If you’ve missed any of the fun along the way, click here to see what you missed.

p.s. Writing this post was a little bittersweet knowing that it’s the last stop on the tour. While we’re very excited about the home in our future, we’re also pretty sad to say goodbye to this place. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing our house as much as I’ve enjoyed showing it to you. 

All comments are encouraged and appreciated!