Thanks to those of you that have been following along with our summer / early fall house projects. Most updates have been shared via Instastories, so you might be in the dark if you’re not on IG. Today we took the final load of crap to the dump and we no longer look like a construction zone from the street.
About 20% of the time we’ve lived here (almost two years now) our driveway has looked something like this. I won’t promise my neighbors that those days are over. 😉
If you’re just joining me for this update, I wrote this post back in July sharing my overall plan for the house and a projected completion date. To quickly recap, the long term plan for the exterior, which is now partially done is a white-on-white house, cedar accents, clean + modern lines, blue and white awnings, brass hardware and fixtures, and simple landscaping that is mostly evergreen. At the time of the post, we were hoping for a completion date near the end of August. Unfortunately, things went drastically wrong with our window and door order and we didn’t start demo on the windows until the end of August.
Long story short, do not buy windows or doors or anything that might be time/weather sensitive at Home Depot.
Long story long: the window manufacturer (Jeldwen) had questions about the accuracy of our order. They called Home Depot for clarification since they were the ones that took our order. Home Depot acknowledges that they were contacted by the Jeldwen, but failed to do anything with that information so Jeldwen cancelled the order and Home Depot kept our money. This all came to light when I waited the max amount of time that we were given for delivery … and never heard from the delivery agent. Once we got things moving again, we had to wait the full manufacturing time again because Home Depot, a HUGE, national corporation that does more business with Jeldwen than anyone else (allegedly, according to HD) has absolutely NO pull or ability to call Jeldwen and ask them to move our order to the front of the line due their mistake. Totally impossible. In no universe can such a request be met. Ever. End of story. #customerservicefail
So that’s what happened. Yes, we could have bailed and gone with a boutique window shop, but we were on a time crunch and we didn’t think placing the order anywhere else would change anything in terms of getting the windows to us faster than our new, delayed time frame. When the order was placed again, we had to babysit Home Depot to make sure our order was proceeding on schedule. Windows finally arrived at end of August and doors came in mid-September. We had the windows installed pretty quickly – about a week to rough them all in. Alongside the window project, we replaced rotted siding on the south side of our home that desperately needed to be replaced. Those two parts of the project took about 2 weeks +/- , then we paused and had our paint contractor do his thing. Benjamin Moore “White Dove” was the winning white for our white-on-white color scheme. I love love LOVE it. You cannot go wrong with this white. It is perfect.
Professional house painters are amazing. You know how it takes me about a year to paint one piece of furniture, right? Well our painter painted the house in three days. THREE DAYS! Pressure washing took about 5 hours and happened the week prior to paint. And then he did a bit of prep on a Saturday (caulking, scraping, etc) but the taping, spraying (2 coats) took three days. I was very impressed and I’d like to apprentice for him!
Last week, our main contractor came back and installed doors and finished up all the interior millwork. In total, we replaced 13 windows, converted 1 door to a window, and replaced 3 doors. The old side of the house now has new windows and doors throughout. Our side has newer, double pane casement style windows so we are not replacing any at this time.
Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane to see where we started. These are listing photos:
The windows in the dormer are awful.
And these are from move-in day (12/21/15) or….. the morning after our caravan of cars and the moving truck pulled up to the property. Remember how the previous owner forgot to move out? All that stuff is his junk.
And the back of the house – this photo was taken on inspection day back in November 2015. Large portions of the house were unpainted in different areas.
This is the South side – the side where all the siding came down and was replaced with Hardie plank.
A close up so you can see how bad it was. And those windows. Yuck.
Before the team got to work, we pulled out all of the poorly placed landscaping, including my only lilac tree :(.
We filled in the Dutch door with a casement window. I was really sad to have to do this, but the door wasn’t in a usable place and it, like everything we replaced, was majorly inefficient for conserving energy during the colder months. Same goes for the large, original farmhouse window that was in the cottage dining room. Don’t worry, all of these original windows and the doors found new homes via my local Buy Nothing group.
The cottage kitchen window was the window in the worst condition
Let’s start moving on toward the happy “after” photos, shall we?
West (back side of house):
We have a long list of extended plans for this part of the house that include rebuilding our deck and terracing down so there’s not a need for a guardrail. Ryan wants to add a hot tub, but I think that is a complete waste of money and a safety hazard with little kids. Replacing the roof overhang on our lower deck is a priority for me – it’s ugly, poorly done, and just screams that it was someone’s “DIY project” … not in a good way. I envision it with a retractable awning. On the balcony, we need to replace the white pillars with cedar 6×6 posts and swap the guardrail for glass or wire. It’s a major safety issue with huge gaps that my kids can just walk through. The slider that accesses the balcony has three different locks to keep kids off of it! Finally, replacing the lattice skirt on my parent’s porch … we are working on that now. Next summer, I want to put the outdoor dining room back together on the covered back porch – it’s the best spot in the house for hosting family for dinner.
South (closest to curb)
This part of the house was most important to me in terms of making it attractive because it’s what people see. Our road is private and we don’t have through traffic, but I want the neighbors and visitors to like what the see as they drive by. After we tore out landscaping, we needed to add something for color and visual interest to break up the white. We found a local craftsman that made these custom cedar planters for us. We stained them the same color as our fence. Eventually we will fill with boxwood – three under each window. The upstairs window will have an awning – bold navy blue and white stripes. Longer term, we are going to replace the driveway. If money were no object, I would opt for brick pavers that tie into the brick pattern that runs along the colonnade, but I don’t think that is realistic. Gravel or stamped concrete is more likely.
East (front of house).
This part of the house is also visible to passerbys, but somewhat protected due to the large apple tree out front and other trees closer to the street (that need to come down). One of the biggest eyesores from a distance were the old dormer windows. The panes on the new windows are a nod to the house’s original farmhouse design, but with a modern, minimalistic twist. They add dimension and interest and keep the windows from looking like black holes from a distance. The new doors look great, although I don’t love the fact that I didn’t have time to paint with Fine Paints of Europe glossy paint. Instead, I opted for a semi gloss exterior that was easy to apply. Due to the delayed delivery, I didn’t have time to work with high maintenance paint. I am super happy with the style we chose even though I was on the fence about it after I blindly ordered the doors. The longer terms plans for this side of the house include new satin brass door hardware, an awning over the garage window, and cleaning up the landscaping.
I know it’s hard to see the changes from a distance, so here are a few close ups:
New cedar flower boxes under the bathroom windows. Those windows were replaced right away when we moved in so they are not brand new.
Here’s the cottage’s new door, roughed in. That old door was so bad. There was a 2 in gap at the bottom and all the warm air produced by the furnace exited there along with hundreds of dollars per year.
I love having glass on my door – I can keep track of the kids (sort of) without letting the bugs in during the summer or the cold air during the winter.
North (back side)
This side of the house faces our neighbor’s property. There’s nothing over there other than gravel and a few storage lean-tos. It was the dirtiest side of the house and the fresh white paint looks clean and bright….hard to tell from photo, I know. We don’t have any plans for changes on this side of the house other than possibly replacing some windows many years down the road. The angled one upstairs looks so 90s.
Overall, we are very happy with the results of this Summer’s project list. We feel like the house is ready to safely weather another long rainy season and we hope to save noticeable amounts of money on our energy bills. Going forward, we think we can reasonably tackle one big project each year. We have about 8 big projects on our to-do list. Right now, the two things we’re weighing for 2018 are a kitchen renovation on our side of the house or the previously mentioned deck/fence/awning project. I’m leaning toward the outdoor projects, but Ryan is leaning toward the kitchen – you think it would be the other way around since he doesn’t cook and I live in the kitchen. The budget would be about $15k for either project.
Here’s the current kitchen:
Okay, it’s never this clutter free because all of my handy appliance live on the counter. BUT, it’s not awful and I don’t hate it by any means. Pinterest would totally hate this image though. If it doesn’t have white cabinets and open upper shelves, it’s not Pinterest worthy. Eyeroll. My main reason for tackling the kitchen would be added prep space and a peninsula to provide an eat-in area for the kids. We only have one cabinet for all plates/cups/bowls etc, so more upper cabinets that are designed for dishes would be nice too. Other than that, we replaced all the appliances when moved in so….it could be worse, right?
A new kitchen would probably look very similar to the Pinterest worthy kitchen we designed at the old house. I would prefer honed marble and some wood accents, but I love everything we did for that project. If we were selling again, the kitchen would be my top priority, but we’re not. moving. ever. again. Unless we get annexed to neighboring Lynnwood. Then I’m out.
By the way, we spent $17k remodeling the old house’s kitchen and sold it for $150,000 more than it was appraised for just 12 months before. If you are going to sell and want to make your money back ten fold…REMODEL THE KITCHEN. I can send you all my sources for renovating on a tight budget in the greater Seattle area.
Here’s another angle of the deck that we’d like to expand and clean up if we choose that project next. You can see how it looks busy; the posts are off center, the safety hazards…etc. If we expand and terrace it, the posts and guardrail would go and it would wrap around in front of the bay window.
In addition to the deck, we’d wrap the fence around the entire West side of the property which is currently 1/2 open to the neighbor’s yard. In exchange, our neighbor has agreed to let us heavily trim back the branches of their hemlock trees that enshroud our property in shade from October – April. Here’s the sun this past June when it’s in its northernmost position. We love the Spring and Summer when we can see the setting sun each night.
Any thoughts? What would you do and why?