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Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

by | Feb 3, 2016 | Curb Appeal, Decorating Inspiration, My Seattle House, My Side Yard

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal
inspiration from Better Homes and Gardens

Greetings! I meant to post yesterday, but time got away from me. Projects and ideas are happening so fast around here, I have tons to share so I need to keep up or you’ll get behind!

If you are just catching up or new around these parts (did you know that 60% of my readers are new to the blog?), I’ve already shared several of our vision posts for the interior rooms in our new house (scroll through the previous posts here), as well as inspiration for new gates in our side yard, located just outside the kitchen. While I’m really excited about working on the inside, the outside of our house is going to get a little facelift, too. In fact, a few of our projects are already underway!

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

This is the humble little exterior of our 1950s house, in a photo taken shortly before we moved in. It’s a small one story brick ranch style home with a basement, a pretty common type of house (although we do have a great mix of styles in our area from quality new construction and remodeled homes from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s). This particular style of house is not one I’d normally pick out of a neighborhood as my favorite, but because it’s such a good solid house and sits on a nice sized lot (for Seattle) with a beautiful view (among other reasons we like it!), we knew we could make this house our home.

My goal for the exterior is to give her some curb appeal. The cute house from Better Homes & Gardens at the top of this post has inspired me with what she could become! As you might remember, we had to start most of our bigger projects on the exterior of our home because (besides her 1950s facade that is just begging for a new fresh look) she had a 1950s sewer that had holes in it, so it was high time for a repair.

Many of the best home remodeling stories seem to start with something rather unfortunate, don’t they? Ours certainly does.

It all started with the sewer …

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Our sewer line runs under our driveway, which meant our cement had to be dug out in order to do the updating of the sewer. Since our driveway was pretty cracked anyway I didn’t feel too bad about repaving it. Besides, the garage door wasn’t able to fully shut because the drain system for the steep driveway was previously located inside the garage. And since the garage door was always open a crack to accommodate drainage, it was like a WELCOME HOME SIGN to any neighborhood rodents looking for a warm dry place to curl up for the night.

Y’all know that arrangement didn’t make me happy one bit. I worried and fretted about that possibility for the past few months while we were making arrangements to replace the sewer. As my luck would have it, we indeed had a furry rodent in the garage a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was going to CRAWL OUT OF MY SKIN when my husband told me he caught a giant rat in his trap. My dad and sister thought it was hilarious and texted me photos of disgusting rodents 24/7. I wasn’t amused.

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Driveway before

If you look close at the above before photo of our driveway, you’ll see our lame attempt under the garage door to keep the rodent out…clearly bubble wrap isn’t a deterrent.

Anyway, the rat is a goner now and I’m happy to say our new drain and repaved driveway have been installed and the garage door is now closed off to future rodents. They also were able to make the driveway a little less steep, so all in all it was a worthwhile project!

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Here are some photos of the driveway in progress this week! It’s not anything super fancy, but it has laid a nice foundation for us to move on to the prettier details.

There is little that is more thrilling to me as a home-lover than the sound of home improvement! As always, one project leads to the next, so as long as we had a contractor available with the machines and tools to rip out the driveway (conveniently, our contractor is also building a house next door so the home improvement bug is definitely spreading far and wide), it was a good time to rip out the crazy cement blocks in our side yard, too. The blocks were an accident-waiting-to-happen. If you missed my post about that space, catch up here! I’ll share our entire design vision for the side yard, and the latest progress on that project this week, too.

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

But besides catching you up on our driveway project, I wanted to start talking about our visions of curb appeal for the exterior of our house. While it would be really fun to be able to do something more significant right now, our makeover to the exterior (besides the new driveway and side yard) will be mostly easy cosmetic updates.

I’ll be sharing many more posts with our ideas, inspiration photos and dreams of possibilities, but today we can at least get our creativity flowing by talking about some of the easiest ways to update a house that could use a little curb appeal.

The most significant update we are planning on in the (hopefully) near future is that we will be painting or lime washing the brick exterior. I know that idea might upset some of you purists, and others of you will be elated and relieved to see this home transformed. I have nothing against brick houses, I have seen some really lovely brick homes that I wouldn’t choose to paint. I know painting brick can be a divisive topic, but no matter what side you are on, the important thing is that our house and her family will be very happy with her new look!

I’ll gather up inspiration photos of painted brick houses and charming cottages to share with you in an upcoming post. But for now, below, imagine if our house was painted!

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

I have visions of paint, shutters, window boxes, a trellis above the garage, a new porch, refreshed landscaping, updated lighting and other charming details.

Our Exterior Projects & A Vision for Curb Appeal

Excuse our Photoshop skills, but we had fun giving our house some character and new features, just imagining possibilities! By the way, we didn’t try different landscaping in these mockups, just left it as is and had fun with the house features. Clearly some new landscaping would help, too!

You really can transform the look and feel of a house in big and small ways, with a little reimagining. We may or may not end up with these exact ideas, but it is fun to dream. I’ll have lots more inspirations photos for the exterior, soon. 

We cannot wait to transform our home to a more modern cottage style outside with a touch of farmhouse inside. She’ll still be the same ol’ 1950s girl at heart, just more spunk. 


  1. Andrea M. Schnapp

    Love the painted brick!

  2. Linda Stoll

    nothing like a little photoshopping to help us dream a bit bigger and brighter!


  3. Laurrie

    I love following this series about your new home. You make great use of inspiration photos — not just pretty spaces to look at, but specific examples of how you want to translate that vision. Really helpful! I love your ideas for the outside of your home. But would you consider taking out the two hedges of shaped boxwoods? I find them distracting — it’s what the eye automatically goes to when looking at your house straight on, and they seem to chop up the look. Your thoughts about them? The BHG photo at the top is successful because the eye sweeps up from the obvious focal point (driveway & garage doors) to the front door in a nice slope. You could do the same!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, taking them out is definitely under consideration! They are nice bushes and definitely help block anyone from tipping off the edge into the driveway (ha! safety first!), but they are huge. Changing them would be something to think about for sure!

  4. Jo Jo

    I love the idea of you painting the brick, Melissa! And your photo- shopped ideas are great! .”She” ( your home) is going to love getting all gussied up! Have fun dreaming….Ill be here cheering you on! She’s going to be gorgeous! ?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you, I agree, I think she’s going to be very happy with her updates :).

  5. Jane

    I too love painted brick. The photoshop image is wonderful.
    I am new and think I know why your blog is so popular. You are so real without seemed totally obsessed with the me,me stuff,stuff syndrome.

  6. Grace

    How did you do the photo-shopping? Was it a specific ap? Adorable!

  7. Gail W.

    Yep, I was ‘seeing’ that brick painted even before I read it was part of your plan ! But I wonder if grey is the best color choice in rainy Seattle ?? ( Thats the color it looks like it is in the photoshop image) Depending on landscaping plan, perhaps even a much darker color like navy or charcoal to contrast with new bright green or yellow foliage ? Or go the other way with white or yellow paint color to contrast ? Also, my chain saw would be itching to cut down the (unfortunately very nicely trimmed) hedge along the driveway wall. Unfortunately, imo, it totally divides your front lawn. With the hedge’s removal, I’d plant cascading flowering groundcover such as phlox, if that grows in your zone. I’d also get rid of the tall bush in the center of the front. In the photo that looks like it obstructs too much. I know. Everybody’s got an opinion ! :)

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      We haven’t fully decided on a color yet, I do LOVE white houses so white is a top contender but we are definitely considering the landscape, the colors of the houses already around us and will probably mock up a number of choices. A deep color could work too. Yes, the hedges need some thought! Some cascading plants would be really pretty! I love hearing opinions (when they are informed, respectful and thoughtful! So thank you for yours)! :)

  8. Deanna Rabe

    Yes! I love to see people transform a brick house with paint. I agree that some are great as they are but most really improve! I know yours will be adorable, like that BHG photo! Also I love the garage doors in your photoshop photo! This house is going to be charming and you’ll have that great view, too! All within your budget!

    Thanks for letting us follow along with your projects!

  9. teresa

    Oh Melissa…so happy that you got your driveway fixed! I love the direction you are going with the exterior…it will be stunning…especially like the idea of painting the brick!
    I’m thinking about a lot of the same things you are thinking about…with our build.
    Happy Day…as always thanks so much for your tips, ideas and inspiration!

  10. melinda

    OOO this would be so fun!! I have an idea for your cement wall leading to the garage,how about the faux river rocks you can apply? this would totally be different for sure.Well you sure are going to have a lot of designing to do. how fun:)

  11. Heather

    Great ideas but what would really change the house inside and out would be a new window package and enlarge those typical long and narrow windows.

  12. sandyc

    I absolutely love the last Photoshopped pic with the gorgeous blue “windowed” garage door. The main thing I don’t care for in the pix of your house is the downward sloping driveway. If you scroll down your post and stop halfway down the first pic of your house, it’s becomes just a nondescript little red brick house. If you do the same for your first Photoshop pic, it become a sweet but plain little grey brick house. But when you pull up that last pic, it’s an impressive, imposing and dramatically different two-story appearing home which rivals your BHG home in the dream pic. I say “plan on” (forget “dream about”) that gorgeous blue garage door (with matching Dutch door off the kitchen?). So eager to watch the progress and to see the finished project!

  13. sandyc

    P.S. I have a thing about trees looking like trees and buss and plant looking natural and I dislike the topiary effect. In the BHG pic, that graceful tree as well as the color an variation in the plants adds so much to the curb appeal. I love your idea for the windowboxes in the last pic, and some reshaping of the big bushes could be an easy and relatively cheap project in the near future. The hedges along the driveway … maybe not right away.

  14. sandyc

    “bushes” and plants – sticky keyboard keys

  15. Nancy

    Love what it will eventually look like…take out those hedges too and put down some sort of dwarf bushes…otherwise, you have a great vision…looking forward to seeing the projects.

  16. Mary

    I also love the photo shop to visualize. But I gotta say, the huge hedge in the middle of the picture looks like a giant thumb sticking up there. With a not so prominent planting there, it would open up the whole house! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out….especially the kitchen remodel!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yeah, we didn’t take out any shrubs in our Photoshop vision (just focused on the house), but I agree those shrubs are large! Especially at that angle. Different landscaping can make such a difference! It’s fun to imagine.

  17. Marilyn

    I see I am not alone in thinking that awful hedge has got to go!!!

    • Audra Hines

      I agree! It is totally dominating the front of the house. With such hard linear lines softer, fluffier landscape would help the cottage look.

  18. Jo @ Let's Face the Music

    Your plans are such an improvement. Can’t wait to see it all happen. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  19. Gretchen

    We left a solid 1950s house. I understand why you chose yours. Woods used in the 50s construction are not available anymore. My dream for it was to paint it a creamy white. We had painted the fireplace area and loved the texture of bricks and got rid of those peachy color bricks that were so popular back then. We even had the built in planter of the 50s…solidly built from the basement up and lined with copper…painted it, too.
    I miss our home. I will enjoy watching you transform yours into the house of your dreams!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It is true, we looked at so many houses that were poorly built or just kind of strange, so we felt like in spite of some missing charm factor, this one overall was the most solid! Thank you Gretchen! :)

  20. Richella Parham

    I find myself now singing “Photoshopping Dreamin'” to the tune of “California Dreamin’.” Just a little Mamas and Papas can make your day!

    Seriously, I think your envisioning changes with Photoshop is genius. What a good idea! Your little 50’s gem is going to be a real charmer. Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

  21. Debbie from MountainMamaOnline

    I adore your inspiration photo and the photo-shopped one as well! Can’t wait to see what you do – I lived in a ranch for years that I made into my little cottage with window boxes, shutters, paint, gardens. It was charming!

  22. Starla Franklin

    Love the inspiration photo! For several years we wanted to paint the brick and cedar on our 1970 home. When we finally did, the transformation was unbelievable. I had strangers messaging me on Facebook telling me how gorgeous our home was. We should have done it in the beginning. You won’t regret it!

  23. Nancy

    I also love your ideas for the exterior of your house. The whole rodent issue would have also freaked me out too. We are planning on a few improvements in the spring as well. Tearing down our old deck and adding a patio will hopefully be done as soon as the possibility of snow subsides here in the northeast.
    Good luck!

  24. Melinda Young

    Love the ideas! It will look great!

  25. Kathy

    I love reading your blog and seeing all of the beautiful transformations that you create. I was showing my husband the exterior photo of your house. We are intrigued because we have never seen that garage placement in any Michigan houses. We were wondering where does the water go when it rains. With your sloping driveway, it seems like the water would always be running toward your house. Also, is it a challenge seeing traffic when backing out of such a steep driveway? Thanks!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      We don’t actually park in our garage (we never have even in our other houses!). I know in areas where it snows a lot that wouldn’t be a good idea to leave a car out, but we have no issues with our car being kept outside. As far as backing out if we parked in the driveway, it’s easy because our street is very wide and a safe, it is not even a through street. There’s no traffic or people!

      As far as rain, the new drive way is angled in towards the new drain in the center to collect any water that could pool there, I think it’s going to work great! Our driveway is at less of a slope that it was before, and the driveway had been that way since the 1950s. Before water would just run into the garage drain, which was right inside the garage door. Now it will collect in the driveway drain first!

      It’s a little unusual but I’ve seen them this way before. We have another plan for our garage and driveway, I’ll share it in a new post soon! :) Thanks for asking about the driveway!

  26. Stephanie

    I can’t wait to see your inspiration pics of lime washing/painting the brick. We live in a horrible reddish/orangey brick ranch and I desperately want to paint our brick. My husband was vehemently opposed but seems to be coming around (a little)… He just says once you do it, there’s no “un-doing” it and that makes him nervous. Is this something you’ll DIY? Or hire someone to do?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Hi Stephanie, my husband was kind of the same way (why paint brick? ha!) but he’s on board now. We are still exploring the various options and trying to decide how we would proceed (whether to do it ourselves or hire help!). I will for sure post the outcome of our decision and the results, we are just gathering some facts and input now so hopefully I’ll have more info to share soon! :)

  27. Angie

    I love painted brick and you are right so many people just don’t understand why I would want to do that and the cost of painting it over the years etc. Love your vision and the blue doors!

  28. Carol Taylor

    I love the trellis over the garage door. The garage doors really add a great touch. Finally…I absolutely love, love, love painted brick. Really enjoying following your thoughts on your new home.

  29. Maggie

    I’m so excited to see all this happening for you. Painting the brick will really transform the outside. The garage doors on the photoshop are so cool. Window boxes, trellises and a new doors would be lovely. I hope your sewer problem was caught in the inspection. That’s the type of thing that is awful to have to pay for. Can’t wait to see the transformation!!

  30. Debbie

    I flip for those garage doors and the color! LOVE window boxes and the stucco (?) is a great update for the brick. But looking at the comment above I must have missed that you are painting it…regardless it will give it a fresh facelift.

    Our neighborhood is in the 26 year old age and some of the first owners had made some unpopular brick color choices. So once new owners came along they simply painted them. One went with gray which was kind of a bold and scary option but it looks very nice. Most go with an off-white and it just cleans it up and lets other features shine like an amazing front door and decorated porch.


    ♥♥♥ your upcoming plans, she is going to SHINE!!!

  32. Elizabeth Pickle

    What darling plans! And yes, that view is such a fringe benefit. You’re going to make another beautiful home out of this sweet house. From your 40%! Love ya!

  33. Maria Stephenson

    I think that your house will look beautiful when your are finished. You could renderer the house first and then paint it. But painting the bricks will be great. Looking forward to seeing your house finished.x

  34. Joanne Taggart

    Hi Melissa! Your attempt at photoshop was a good one! The painted brick will look beautiful. Your home reminds me of my childhood home. Yours is in Seattle and mine is in Pennsylvania. So far from each other but both built in the 1950s. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress.

  35. Ann@farmhouseblues

    I love the cottage vibe you’ve achieved with photoshop! What an amazing transformation that will be. We have a 100+ year old New England home in dire need of curb appeal, shutters and window boxes are on our to do list too. I look forward to following along as you update!

  36. Deborah Raney

    Can’t wait to see the transformation! That final pic took my breath away. LOVE the blue garage doors.

  37. Wanda

    Love the pained brick!!! The turquoise doors look amazing. Just by painting the bricks , it looks so much better!!?

  38. Rachel

    Giant rat? Eek! So glad that’s all taken care of now. :)

  39. Jenn @ Loveland Lodge

    Great post – I love seeing how you can transform your exterior! I admit, that’s where I struggle most with our house (which is why you don’t see many pictures of it). You’ve motivated me to at least get some window boxes hung this spring. Can’t wait to see how your space transforms!

  40. Robyn

    I see ivy growing in the photo shop pic….FYI that is very dangerous for a building and will do extensive damage to the brick and its structural integrity over time. I LOVE the look but also see huge $$$$ mixed in with the ivy. LOL
    Another brick option that I just found out about recently is a german smear. Chip on fixer upper used it in Season 3 episode 9 “A New Home for Newly Weds”. (Available on Amazon Prime) It is a very fun look.

    • liz

      I checked out the German smear technique and I really like the look – softens the brick, but gives an aged look. I would suspect that it would last for a long time and won’t peel like a paint job would eventually.

      Also love the look of the garage doors with the windows and it would increase the light in the garage.

      There is a house in my neighborhood that has a rose cascading over the garage doors and it looks beautiful in the spring and summer.

  41. Orianne

    That photoshop image of your home is so inspiring and illustrates just how much some creative thinking can transform the exterior of a building. I love all the ideas in your mock-up and I think that gal would love how transforming the brick would give her a new dress, but that blue garage door makes all the difference. It does two wonderful things at the same time: it draws attention to itself not because it’s a solid mass but because it’s so charming, adding a pleasing visual interest but at the same time it also doesn’t over power the facade as a heavy focal point and ultimately draws the eye up to the home instead. Yay, for photoshop and your brilliant ideas!

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