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Finishing Touches on The Front, Part 1 of 2

Happy Thursday everyone!  Today’s post shows half of the changes we made to the front of the house in early 2010.  Here’s where we left off on the last post:

Landscaping out; house painted; gutters up; and new roof.

The first accessories were two rain barrels (one in front and one in back).  We made them from wine barrels (bought off craigslist) using these instructions, but made our own slight modifications.   Again, sorry there’s no step-by-step pictures as I didn’t anticipate having a blog, but you’re all creative people who can visualize, right?  😉  I placed painters tape around the hoops while I primed and painted the wood.  I then peeled the tape off and painted the hoops using this Rust-oleum product:

Once the paint dried, it was conversion time!  The instructions called for plastic parts, but we decided to go galvanized for a more attractive look (if you can call galvanized attractive).  Instead of RTV sealer, we used a clear waterproof silicone sealer.

I’m pretty sure the instructions don’t mention how to plug the original wine bunghole.  We asked the very knowledgeable staff of a locally owned home improvement store what to use and they came up with this expandable plug:

The instructions also had us using a standard downspout.  Instead, we went with a rain chain, again, for a more visually interesting look.  To keep the rain chain and screen in place, we screwed in two L brackets.

It’s been two years and the barrels still look great and are serving their purpose.  The total cost to convert 1 barrel: $75

This includes the cost of the barrel, paint, conversion parts, and the rain chain.  We already had the brick lying around to make the base.  Tip:  If you build your barrel platform high enough, you’ll be able to cut the rain chain length in half to use it for two barrels.

If you don’t quite have $75 in your budget for this pretty rain barrel, here’s an alternative.  It’s a pretty elaborate system that’ll provide tons of water for your garden.  I found similar looking food grade barrels on craigslist for free!!

Next on the list, we locally bought these low voltage landscape lights, this surface light for the address numbers, and a few flood lights for the trees.  Installation was relatively simple and only took a few hours.  On a side note, the paint finish on the low voltage landscape lights wasn’t the best.  After about 6 months the copper finish faded to the silver metal.  Luckily, we had some of the Rust-oleum paint left from the rain barrel project so we were able to make the lights look brand spankin’ new again in under an hour!

Continuing on with lights, I’m obsessed with our garage & porch lights.  They took months to get here, but were well worth the wait!  We often receive compliments and I’ve seen these popping up in more and more places. (The’ve had a couple of years to tarnish in these pics.)

I’d love to hear what you think of the changes so far.  Come back tomorrow as I wrap up the finishing touches on the front of the house!

Happy creating!


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Servane Demol - I love the lights, great job on the remodeling and thanks for sharing all the tips. So useful!

You’re Painting Your House Yourself?

That was the common question we’d get as neighbors drove by chuckling at our fervor and determination to complete the project ourselves.  To give you a little background, we bought our 1954 ranch style house in July 2009 from the original owner, and boy, was it o-riginal! We were able to look past the interior aesthetics and knew this was a house with great bones, that with some work, we could make our home.  We also knew one of the first projects we’d have to tackle was painting the house as it was looking more shabby than chic.

Now as you get to know me better, you’ll discover I’m a research queen.  After seeking four different quotes ranging from $3,500 – $15,000, I thought we can paint this ourselves and for less money!  So, after hours and hours of reading how to properly prep and paint a house, I put together a list of guidelines specific to our house needs.  If you’re thinking about painting your house, this may provide a few helpful tips: House Painting Info.  However, I would highly recommend reading everything you can about the process, anywhere you can, prior to diving in.  Anyway, to say the least, I felt like we were over prepared for this adventure!  Plus, previously owning a two story arts & crafts home with intricate exterior details made this one story simple ranch look like a stroll in the park!  Famous last words, right?

Here’s the before pictures (Click the first picture to start the lightbox gallery.  My comments can be found at the bottom of each picture):

The front of the house is wood and brick, and the other three sides are stucco which presented its own challenges but nothing we couldn’t handle.  The first challenge was deciding whether or not to paint the brick.  Half of you are now talking to your screen asking how I could be asking that question, right?  I know, I know…. There’s two beliefs when it comes to painting brick.  The first; once you do it, you can’t ever go back so don’t EVER do it.  The second; paint it when it doesn’t work with the decor.  My thought… if it’s a pretty brick, then find a way to work with it.  Our brick… not so much.  The bright red and black wasn’t working for us.  See what I’m talking about?

Aside from the aesthetics of the brick we also took issue with the continuity of the house.  Visually, you see a gray rectangle garage, a brick square, and a gray rectangle with three windows.  It felt too cut up and boxy to us.  We felt if the front were all one color, it would look altogether larger.  Survey says: Paint the brick!

As we were getting under way we had our usual weekly chat with the hubby’s parents.  We told them we were getting ready to paint the house and were getting pretty excited about it.  We thought nothing of that conversation until they called us the next day and said they were flying down to help.  Mind you, they lived in Seattle at the time and were in the process of selling their house and moving to Alaska to retire and be near their daughter and grandson.  And they were going to drop everything to help us paint!  Wow!!  They’re pretty awesome that way.  Props to the in-laws, we have some help!

While we were waiting for them to arrive, the hubby and I got to work!  We took down the original, over 55 year old, steel gutters and pressure washed the house.  Those were relatively easy tasks.  Then, as we started the scraping and sanding on the front of the house  everything came to a screeching halt.  Wow! What a slow, arduous process.  But after everything I read, I knew 90% of our time would be spent prepping.

The in-laws came just in time to finish up sanding, fill the stucco cracks (around the other three sides of the house), caulk, and prime the fascia.

The priming is under way (click the picture to view the lightbox slideshow):

Our helper having fun:

Our tuckered out helper:

Before I show you the after pictures, I have to mention the hubby and his dad made raised panel shutters for two of the windows, sanded and painted the front door, and placed new address #’s on the porch post.  Instructions on how to make the shutters can be found here and here.  We also had new gutters put on that mimic the look of copper.  We actually debated on putting up the gutters ourselves, but in the end let the professionals handle it.  One last thing… you’ll see we have a new roof.  It was put on as a condition of the sale of the house.

Are you saying, “Enough already!  Let’s see the after shots!”  Well, here they are…


Overall, it was a good experience.  We spent about $3,500 on supplies, tools, paint, and also includes the $2,000 spent on gutters.  We learned a lot, gained some muscle, and had only one person fall off a ladder (she wasn’t hurt).  With that said, it took one week and some seriously sore bodies to realize we’d never do it again ourselves.  Maybe if we were ten years younger.  Hmmm… still no.  I’d say to all of you, if you haven’t done it – try it!  It’s worth the adventure and you gain a much greater appreciation for professional painters!

If you’d like more of the laborious details, feel free to read the PDF document House Painting Info.  I’d also like to give a shout out to Loi (the lawn aerator guy) who let us borrow his Graco Magnum paint sprayer and to our neighbors Kyle and Jennifer who let us borrow their pressure washer and table saw (check out their family owned business).  Thanks again!!!

Well, what do you think?  We’re not done yet.  The next post you’ll see it all come together with new landscaping, window boxes, and porch railing.





You're Painting Your House Yourself? » Designed on Sunshine | Devizes Painters And Decorators - […] That was the common question we'd get as neighbors drove by chuckling at our fervor and determination to complete the project ourselves. To give you a little … […]

Shelly Warden - I love watching how you kids have moved this house from the mid ’50s to the 21st century. For little outlay, you have managed to transform the house from just ok to something quite spectacular. You are a fount of creativity and ideas and it makes so much sense you share your gift with everyone via your BLOG. I love being a peripheral part of it!
Mom in Fairbanks

Hubby - The one piece that kept everyone on their toes was about 3 feet high, who really liked to jump.