Restoring curb appeal

Restoring curb appeal

After months of work, I'm thrilled to finally share photos of the renovated house exterior! Under previous owners, the cottage's exterior fell into disrepair. Repairing it was one of our top priorities. She's starting to look like a grand old lady again, isn't she?

What we started with

Our house was built with narrow planks of old growth redwood siding. Unfortunately, it wasn't maintained by previous owners. There were obvious problems: peeling paint, gaps, rotten boards, and fungus on the eaves. Since the worst case scenario of completely replacing the siding was in our budget, we took a gamble on being able to repair the original redwood siding to its former glory.


We spoke to several contractors about our options. The general consensus was that repairing it would be feasible. Of course, none of the contractors that we got bids from agreed with each other completely. (To make things exciting, one contractor claimed it would be impossible to repair the siding, and another insisted we would regret not replacing it with a modern composite.)

The process

Our paint crew painstakingly sanded, scrubbed, and caulked the siding. They replaced wood that couldn't be repaired with new siding that was milled to match. In parallel, our contractor had his woodwork crew disassemble, sand, caulk, and re-glaze the windows. Once all of this was complete, the house was re-painted. Overall, it took three to four weeks of labor spread out over three and a half months.

Restoring the siding was laborious for the crew and depressing for us. As they made progress, the house looked worse and worse; the repairs left behind multi-colored sections of paint and bare wood. On Halloween, we joked that our house looked more haunted than any of the houses with decorations. The workers covered the windows in plastic for long stretches of time, which made the inside of the house dim and dreary.

I was excited when it was finally time to paint, which marked the end of this project. After debating between a few options, I decided to paint the house white with dark gray accents. Here's my attempt at a Photoshop mock-up:

Megan helped me select the specific paint colors: Benjamin Moore Cloud White for the siding and trim, and Graphite for the doors and windows. 

The finished house

The paint is fresh, the wood is healthy, and our windows no longer are covered in plastic! The siding still doesn't look like new, of course. It's still bumpy and imperfect in the ways you would expect for a 91-year-old house -- but in a charming sort of way. 

Initially, I hated the front door and was planning to replace it. Now, I love it. Amazing what a coat of paint can do! Our neighbors actually thought we got a new front door. The red seems fine, but the dark gray offsets the glasswork more dramatically.

Blue is my favorite color. I originally wanted to paint the windows or entryway bright blue, but the city planner was less than thrilled with the idea of putting bright blue on an historic house. Instead, the ceiling over the entryway is painted with Benjamin Moore Waterdrops. You can't see it from the street, and it's a fun little Easter egg if you know to look up when you're entering the house.

We're thrilled with the way the house looks now. It feels so clean and fresh. Once spring comes around, landscaping will be our next project. We want to replace the grass in the front with a garden. I think the white paint will offset a garden beautifully!

Thanks to Sandra Felt for the photography.

Why construction runs behind

Why construction runs behind

A 1928 time capsule

A 1928 time capsule