Adding Curb Appeal

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Curb appeal before and after

I have hesitated to post this transformation, only because I feel like it is still a process and there is so much I still want to do. But I am going to go ahead and share what we have done so far in adding curb appeal to the home we are renting.

Here’s the story: Nearly 2 years ago, we wanted a larger home because our third child was about to be born, and we wanted a yard for our kids to play in. Our condo didn’t provide that, but we couldn’t sell due to the economy. About the same time, the rental home my parents own (in the same city), became vacant and they were looking for new renters. We decided to rent our condo out and in turn rent from my parents. And yes, it has been a good experience for us renting from family- hopefully it has been for them too.

The house we live in has good bones, but it has been a rental for several years and it was starting to see some wear and tear, not to mention the fact that rentals usually just don’t exude the same TLC that owner-occupied homes often do. So, because I love it when my surroundings are beautiful, and because we wanted to help my parents by leaving the house better than we found it, we have been making repairs, improvements, and doing many things to increase the value and curb appeal of our home.

To give you an idea of how it looked before, here are some pictures that show the unfinished porch.

House before

This was before we moved in, when there were other people living there.

You can see in the pictures above and below that the wood is unfinished, and actually has multi-colored paint splatters on the steps.  The door is scraped up and sad looking. :(

kids on porch

Two Easters ago. My boys and niece (notice the matching ties and flower sash that we made that year!)

On the inside, there are two sidelight windows that I love because they do let a lot of light in, but they didn’t allow for any privacy (like hiding from sales people… just sayin’) and I hated them at night because you could see right in from the street.

windows before

So the windows were the very first project I tackled, since that seemed like a priority, and wasn’t too overwhelming. After quite a bit of research,  the best solution for me was to use these sidelight magnetic window curtain rods (the length is adjustable, and they also have an adhesive, which might work if your surface isn’t magnetic) which I ordered online. In my fabric stash, I had some very looooong scraps of sheer white material with some texture, and I decided that would allow light in perfectly while still obscuring the view into the house from outside.

windows covered

I am still happy with how that project turned out over a year later.

Side door window treatments

The view from outside: improved by the fabric panels and a wreath, but still going to need some TLC.

Back outside, the grass was pretty dead because the house had been vacant for a while and the water had been turned off, so dead lawn and weeds were the story.

sad lawn

We started doing lawn aeration, Weed and Feed, and putting seed down in the spring and fall. This is still a work in progress, and I’ll show pictures further down.

Next, the porch was in desperate need of staining. We sanded with a coarse grit paper and power sander because there was so much bleaching, splintering, and weather staining. We also prepped the wood with a special cleaner/ wood stripper.

Sanding the porch

We taped off the edges and began staining the wood using a semi-transparent, weather proofing stain by Behr (the color is called “Padre Brown”) which allowed the grain of the wood to show through but hid some of the imperfections- it was the perfect solution to meet our particular needs.  Luckily, as I was 9 months pregnant at the time, we didn’t have to do it all alone. We had kind family members and neighbors who were kind enough to pitch in a help.

lots of help

After we applied two coats of stain to the wood, we were left with a much more attractive looking porch.

after staining

Now it was time to move on to the doors. We had three external doors that were all in dire need of help. The back doors especially, since they were in full afternoon sun each day.

door before

I started this project when family was in town, so I had help from my sister Anna in scraping off the peeling paint. We used putty knives because the paint was bubbled and in some areas, hanging off in sheets.

DSC_7695

After scraping the worst of the old paint off, we sanded the wood trim smooth. The doors are metal, so we didn’t sand those, just cleaned them thoroughly.

Power Sanding

Anna makes safety glasses and filter masks look good!

Next we taped around the door frame and the door hardware. I bought exterior, semi- gloss paint (suitable for wood and metal both) from Home Depot in Forest Green. I’ve been asked for the details on the specific color a few times, so here’s a picture with the details:

Exterior door paint

I used a medium sized brush on the trim, and a low-nap roller on the door.

Taping

 

 

 

 

This back door was much improved after two coats of paint. I still need to sand and stain the back steps. It’s next on my list. :)

door after

Both doors painted:

both doors

I used the same color on all three doors for cohesiveness. As you can see, we also over the past year and a half have added patio furniture, planters by the door, hanging baskets, a nice doormat, and stair treads with glow in the dark stripes to prevent slips and falls. Oh, and we replaced the vent cover on the second floor so there wasn’t a gaping hole in the front of the house. :)

front porch summer

You can also see that the strategy we have been using to revitalize our lawn is working pretty effectively. It still has weeds, but less so, and fewer dead patches. Like I said, it’s still a work in progress. It is a much more inviting space now, though.

Curb Appeal

Next up: staining the back porch and doing something (not sure what yet) with the backyard. What do you think?

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DIY $1 Mini Chalkboard

I’m obsessed with chalkboards. They are one of my favorite things to decorate my home with. Retail stores will charge an outrageous amount for cute chalkboards, so why not make your own for close to nothing?

chalkboard1

DIY $1 mini chalkboard

This project literally only cost me $1. I already had the supplies needed to create the chalkboard, so all I needed was a “board” to write chalk on. I went to my nearest Dollar Store and purchased this silver tray for only a buck.

chalkboard2

I spray painted the middle with chalkboard paint and used a fun bright blue acrylic paint for the edge. After the paint dried, I hot glued a burlap bow to the back to hang it on the wall in my kitchen. Now I have a fun new inexpensive decor item for my home!!

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Patio Bench Makeover

Our back patio has been needing a little TLC as of late, and since we are trying to selling the house for my mother I thought giving it an easy and inexpensive patio bench makeover would be just the thing for this sad looking patio.

We decided to build an easy brick fire-pit for the middle of the patio and repaint the bench to match the house color better. The fence behind the bench was rusting and I honestly cannot remember the last time someone painted that old thing. Isn’t it amazing what a little paint can do?! Here are the before and after pictures.

patio makeover

patio makeover

Now that is a bench more appealing to sit on! Time to break out the smores and have a party!

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Photo frame makeover


Over the past couple of years, I have accumulated a number of random mismatching picture frames, and I never know where to put them. Even worse, I can’t bring myself to get rid of them, because I KNOW I can use them somehow…and if I get rid of them, I know that I will regret it the next day when I finally come up with a brilliant idea for them…so they have just sat in stacks collecting dust. The other problem is that we only have so many shelves that can accommodate all the picture frames we have. We currently live in an apartment with a landlord who is very picky – she charges us $3 per hole we put in the wall, and so we haven’t been too motivated to hang up many pictures since we have been here. If you are anything like me and have the problems of mismatching picture frames, and/or strict landlords here are a couple of solutions!

Problem #1: Mismatching Picture Frames
Solution: SPRAY PAINT (semigloss). It is magical. Here is why – you can take a whole stack of mismatching picture frames, and spray paint them (I used black), and then all of the sudden, you have a really cool looking collection of frames that match each other!

Problem #2: Hanging pictures puts holes in the wall, which costs $$$
Solution: GROSGRAIN RIBBON. I used black so that it would match my picture frames, but you could really use any contrasting color if you wanted some added flair.
I took four of my frames and spaced them out evenly next to each other, to make a 2×2 cluster. Then I cut two pieces of 1″thick grosgrain ribbon at appropriate lengths to keep the spacing even between the frames. I hot glued the ends of the ribbons to the bottoms and the tops of the frames. Now, you only have to make 2 holes in the wall instead of 4!

Here is my finished product! I kind of like it! :)

Photo Clock Makeover

Remember Marissa’s post about revamping a clock?  Well here is another one… I thought I was pretty clever for thinking of this idea, but it turns out that it has been done before.  And the way it turned out isn’t quite as beautiful as I envisioned it.  Oh well.

I think part of my problem is that I am not loving the bright turquoise in my kitchen, but I guess I will keep it there for the time being.  It would go better in another room in my home, but I need a clock in the kitchen!  So for now it stays.  I do think it is an improvement on what I had before…

Yep, it looks better now.  How did the transformation take place?  Some masking tape and a grocery bag…
A can of spray paint…
A wedding photo and Inkscape…
Some experimenting with pretty fonts and a sheet of card stock…

And finally some mod podge and matching ribbon and white tape for the clock hands.

I think I would like to try this kind of thing again, just with a photo inside.  The text on the outside was pretty hard to get right, at least with the programs I currently have available to me.  The rest of it was fun though and I would say it was a good learning experience!  
Any other clock makeovers out there?  I’m still in the market for ideas.

(Dorm Room Decorating) Decorative Organization: Part 1

I love a good recycling project, and I also love cheese.  They are both so satisfying!  Lucky for me, the two went hand in hand for this quick project. 

I started out with four of these little round cardboard cheese boxes.  It didn’t take as long as you might think for me to eat through all the cheese in those.  Haha.  All the same, my husband wanted to know why I was hording “garbage” for so long.  I had to assure him that it is not garbage if it can reasonably be used.  And a very reasonable use I had in mind for these cute little boxes!  It took a reasonable amount of time too; I was done before naptime was up yesterday.  Okay, first I pulled all the labels off.  Top, bottom, and side labels. 

Then I stacked them and hot glued them one on top of the other.

I took the bottom piece off, laid it upside down next to the big piece and spray painted the whole thing black.

During the 20 minutes or so that the boxes were drying outside, I cut out 5 circles from contrasting papers, using one of the labels as a guide.  I also found some pink and yellow ribbon from my stash to be used a little later…

Then I glued a little piece of the yellow grosgrain ribbon to the top piece of my now dry boxes to be a handle.

One of my paper circles did a lovely job covering up the place I glued the ribbon on.  The other circles were glued inside each little compartment.

I covered up the ugly texture of the sides with 8 thin pink satin ribbons, also hot glued on.

Here a few of the inside compartments are peeking out.  You don’t have to add the paper inside, but it adds a nice little touch.  And the whole thing will match its yellow and pink dorm room nicely.

I decided to add a little ribbon and bow to the side to help keep the whole thing together a little better.  Cute, huh?

Use this little organizer for earrings, other jewelery, paper clips, office supplies, crafting or scrap booking supplies, sewing notions, etc.

Start to finish: less than an hour, including drying time.  Now that is satisfying.  Like cheese.

On a spray paint mission

I have been working on updating my “master suite” for a few months, a little at a time.  I am fairly pleased with the progress, but there is still a lot for me to do to have it exactly the way I want it.  In an effort to make the decor in my master bedroom & bathroom more cohesive (i.e. not be horribly mismatched) I took a few things that were already in place and gave them a new color.  Amazing how changing just color on a few key items can give a room a much more polished look.

This glass vase used to match the color scheme in my bedroom, but after I upgraded the bedding and added curtains, it just didn’t fit in (kind of a Junior High kind of a situation, if ya know what I mean).  

The solution was easy enough; several (and by several I actually mean like 8 or 9!) coats of Rust-oleum’s “Canyon Black” did the trick.

I used Krylon’s “Leather Brown” spray paint on these icky brassy frames in the bathroom.  I love how they now match the brown of the towels and shower curtain.

I learned a thing or two from painting the frames.  This may come as a surprise, but it is not a good idea to set the thing you want to paint on a plastic bag, outdoors on a windy day.  I was able to repair most of the damage, but there is a reason I didn’t zoom in too closely.  Not the result I was hoping for, but still better than the brassiness from before.

This was a very cute and functional basket (also sentimental) but very clashy.  I used the same brown paint to make it match and switched out the green ribbon for perfectly matching red grosgrain ribbon (from the Dollar Tree, amazingly enough!).

Sigh.  The perfect finishing touches for my bathroom (the room I have made the most progress on).  I told my husband this morning that our master bathroom might currently be my favorite room in the house. 

I guess I will get back to working more on my bedroom, since that’s a more practical place to hang out than the bathroom. Ha.