Terrific Broth

Beijinger in Denver | 北京人在丹佛

Tag: Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal Take III – Replacing the Window Wells

IMG_6065

The first time we showed our parents the picture of the ranch, they offered nothing but support, encouragement and endless joy for us. Of course this was not a beautiful and flawless new construction they wish we had bought, but being house owners themselves, our parents understood the value of a well-built old home. Their eyes were all on the positive features about our ranch (and also because they love us).

But one thing both side of our parents asked (with reasonable amount of the hesitation), was “what are these rusted metal thingy sticking out of the ground? ”

It took us a while to realize that they were asking about the window wells. It made us realize that how quickly we got used to these window wells. The questions from our folks reminded us (very much needed) how these window wells stood out to us when we first laid our eyes on this house, and to other people who see the house for the first time.

IMG_6501

With all the other high-priority to-dos in the store, something cosmetic like window wells just have to take a back seat. But we did not forgot them. These rusty wells are on our minds every task we tackle. We lowered the soil around them when we removed the front flower bed, we demo-ed the sagging front porch in order to replace one of them properly, and we cleared out vegetation during the HVAC installation. Hey, we even replaced one ourselves during the construction of our new back patio!

IMG_7335

IMG_7647

Successfully replaced a window well ourselves really taught us a lot. We are now fully confidence that we could do a good job replacing them ourselves, and we are now sure that the 24″ plastic well and the ridge, plastic cover are perfect fits for our basement windows.

IMG_7643

We also realized that replacing these wells is a task we need to complete before grading around our foundations. Since we need to finish the grading before winter, which can be early as October for Colorado, replacing window wells floats right on top of our to-do list.

Besides the one for basement utility room, which we replaced a few weeks ago, there are six more we need to tackle:

IMG_6590

Above are the two window wells on the northern side of the house. The two windows you are looking at are for the two bedrooms in the basement. We would like to get as much sunlight from these windows as possible, so the goal is to put the wells as low as possible into the ground.

And this was when we realized – these two window wells are not functional! They sat directly ON the soil. All the water came in the well directly flew out of the well from the bottom to the surface of the lawn, which does not make much sense. You know what this means – what if we just do not use window wells on these two windows?

IMG_8577

It sounded scary at the beginning, but after thought it through, we could see no harm done. So Slav removed the wells and we were sooo pleased that how much natural light streamed into these windows! And the best part? The cost of dealing with these two window wells is ZERO!

So on this side of the yard, we went from this:

IMG_7590

to this:

IMG_8213

This left us four more windows to deal with – the one used to be buried in the old flower bed:

IMG_8179

The one used to sit in the old front porch:

IMG_8180

And two at the back of the house:

IMG_8615

Yeah. They look baaaaad…

IMG_8575

The two wells at the back are almost sitting above the soil as well. But the difference between these wells and the ones on the northern side, is that the soil level on the northern side is already near where they should be for adequate drainage, but the soil near the back of the house needs to be built up. So the two back wells cannot be eliminated. However, we can set them a bit lower into the ground, which allows more light into these windows.

Once the plan is set, I went to the Home Depot and got four sets of window wells and covers, and Slav started digging the old ones out:

IMG_8584

IMG_8616

It took him about 4 hours to remove the old wells and dig out these big enough area for the new wells:

IMG_8628

IMG_8629

IMG_8632

So. Rusty!

When we replaced our patio window well last time, the most time consuming part is to drill holes into the concrete foundations. We just do not have the right drill for it and it took forever. So this time, with four wells for installation, we decided to pick up a hammer drill for the job. While Slav was in the store picking up the drill, I cleaned the windows and marked the drill holes with measuring square and levels.

With the new drill, Slav was able to put on all four wells in just an hour:

IMG_8639

Then we back-filled, again, with me supporting the wells from the inside just like last time. It took us a few more hours to level the ground, until it was dark. But the result was well worth it!

IMG_8640

IMG_8644

IMG_8653

It was pretty dusty during our work. Charlie boy was happy to enjoy a drink after the dust had settled:

IMG_8649

These window wells really look good! By burying three out of four wells deeper, the basement bedrooms became so much brighter. The next step is to finish grading around the house perimeters and use pretty gravel to dress up the bare ground around the house. And guess what? Dirt and gravel will be delivered to our door tomorrow morning! Our curb appeal is about to get reaaaaaal-good!

IMG_8659

A New Front – Curb Appeal Take II

IMG_7812

Bang! Painted front door and trims and new storm door and stuff!

As you know, we have been working on the exterior of the house a lot since we moved in. Part of the reason is that Colorado winter is harsh, so we want to fix the exterior as much as we could during summer time. We also like to drive up and feel that the house is different – more ours – and exterior upgrades offers a more dramatic change of the feel of the house. Especially to our neighbors, who cannot not see what we have done inside, some exterior upgrades makes them feel that we are taking care of our property.

Since we moved in 7 weeks ago, we have

  1. weeded the front yard and trimmed the tree in the front;
  2. removed the flower bed next to our foundation;
  3. taken off the broken storm door;
  4. replaced the porch light;
  5. relocated mail box and house numbers;
  6. taken off the rusted metal awning; and
  7. demo-ed the sinking front porch.

All these effort surely made our front yard look better. This was the house front when we moved-in:

IMG_6495

And this was the front of the house after our first round of clean-up:

IMG_7134

And this was a few days ago:

IMG_7180

I think we have probably earned 20% curb appeal at this point – am I too generous giving myself credit? I will take 15% for sure.

And today, we finished another big upgrade to our front entrance and I think this one really changed the look of the ranch for better! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new front door!

IMG_7812

To be more precise, these are our new front storm door and our newly painted front door.

IMG_7811

which is a far cry from what we inherited:

IMG_6650

As far as the front doors go, we need both form and function. Unfortunately, the old combo offers neither. Let us talk about form first – the black on white color combination and the prison-like bars really did not speak for our style. Our living room is fairly dark, so we preferred keeping the front door open with the storm door closed when we were at home. And the old storm door made us feel that we are in a cell! It does not help that our neighbor is a cop and his police car parks right outside of our door!

IMG_6622

We also wanted to change the color of the front door to a darker tone. Our brick is beige with orange tones – not something we are crazy about but something we have to deal with. And one way of dealing with it is not to have something white. We would like to use a darker color with cooler tone – something like steel gray or shotgun black – on the our window trims and doors.

The front doors we inherited are also lack of function. For one, the weather stripping was worn and the door threshold was badly cracked (you can see some of the cracks from the photo above). The door frames were also cracked and with tons of old nail holes:

IMG_7413

IMG_7417

IMG_7580

The screen on the storm door was broken, and it did not lock properly anymore.

IMG_6619

We took down the bad storm door shortly after move-in. So the first step for us was to get a new storm door that offers both form and function. Unlike the one in the back, we do not need to have doggy door installed, which gives us the option of a full-view storm door (the ones with a full glass panel). As I said before, our living room is fairly dark, so we would like to keep the front door open when we are at home and let in some light through the storm door. A full panel of glass will surely let in as much as light possible.

And this was our pick:

IMG_6962

This Larson storm door comes with half a dozen colors, which made us scratching our heads a bit. The truth is, we knew that we would be painting the front door darker, but we had not decided on the color yet. We also wanted the storm door to disappear against the front door, which means the trim color of the storm door should be similar to the color of our future front door…you see the problem here!

Fortunately, although they offer six colors, pre-stocked doors in Lowe’s that day offered only two colors – white and smoky black. We knew that we did not want white, so black we went. Honestly, I would describe this color as “shotgun black”. I actually saw this color once on a muscle car in California and I loved it. It was almost black, but has a powdery feeling to it. After talking to the owner of the car, he told me that he had the car custom-painted to a “shotgun black”. And today I saw it on this door!

Now we had a storm door picked, the next step was to  decide which color to paint the front door. We could either go with a bold color, such as red, or color-match the storm door trims and paint it dark. it is always hard for me to imagine in my head, so I went on Pinterest:

This is what bold color with dark storm door look like:

And this is the “black on black” look:

The bold color door was a bit too busy to us. We want the front entrance to look simple, so color-matching we chose. I took a separate trip to Lowe’s with a piece of trim from our new storm door and hope to find a color that is close enough. To my surprise, the staffs there created a can of paint custom for me in the exact color of the storm door trim! I did not know it was possible and now our other paint projects are gonna be so much easier!

I then moved on to decide the color for the trims (I know, so many decisions) – white vs dark. After flipping through Pinterest, I found some looks I liked and listed them side by side:

White trims – 1

White trims – 2

White trims – 3

I think the key to these picture is how the trim color plays with not only the door color, but also the color of the house. All the white door trim pictures I like have darker house color, so by sandwiching in between the dark house and the dark door, the white trim really pops. The trims themselves also have to be beefy and well-finished to pull it off, because they are gonna become the center of attention.

On the other hand, the dark trim pictures I liked all have lighter exterior walls. In this way, the trims look like part of the front door, and it is easier to hide imperfections if there is any. It also make the front door look bigger/taller.

Black trims – 1

Black trims – 2

Black trims – 3

Black trim – 4, with storm doors!

And just like the last photo shows, thinner and plain trims would also work, because all the attention now is on the contrast between the door combination and the house.

Here are a couple examples of light color houses with white trim and dark doors. I felt that doing so only makes the front door look smaller.

Our brick color is almost the same as that in the last picture, and our trim is thin and aged.  You can see that why white trim would not work for us.

Once we made the decision to paint both the front door and trims dark, it was work time! First, I chipped off the loose paint and old silicone around the door frame, and gave it a good TSP wash:

IMG_7584

IMG_7580

Slav put in some screws to hold the broken frame, and I patched the holes:

IMG_7585

IMG_7632

I then took the door bell and hardware off, and gave our front door a good wipe with TSP to prepare it for painting:

IMG_7634

Our front door has a glass panel on the top, which cannot be taken off. But the frame of it could be removed easily.

IMG_7635

We decided to keep the inside of the door white to match our interior walls. I put on one coat of primer and two coats of paint on the front:

IMG_7640

Then I painted the frame of the glass panel:

IMG_7641

Slav applied new silicone around the door before I painted the trims dark. It took us almost a day but it was well worth it!

IMG_7651

Slav then installed new door threshold and the storm door:

IMG_7684

IMG_7779

IMG_7782

I was attacked by this vicious pitbull when I took this pictures…

IMG_7780

We paired this handle with our new storm door:

IMG_7805

Annnnnd…all done!

IMG_7811

No more prison-like bars:

IMG_6622

IMG_7804

And so much more light! It is almost like there were no storm door there!

The dogs absolutely adore the new storm door. They have been glued to this spot people/dog watching. Lots of neighbors walk their dogs on our street in the mornings and evenings. Roxie and Charlie’s tails are getting tired wagging!

IMG_7807

What do you think NOW? Our neighbors loved it and a few of them stopped by and complimented on how much we have improved the front – do we deserve a 30% on our curb appeal? Give me a score!

Building Curb Appeal From Ground Zero

Curb appeal is hard.

Especially when your home came with zero of it.

IMG_6495

I admit that we made it worse  – the trash can, ladder and old carpet were totally our mess. But these metal porch covers were not so hot by themselves to begin with!

We have nothing against porch awnings. In fact, they are popular in Poland with stone houses, especially the retractable ones. But ours is old, rusty, and…red.

IMG_6509

But we cannot remove it yet, because our front porch has sunk and is currently sloping TOWARDS the house. So removing the porch cover will cause rain water to flow to the foundation.

IMG_6059

We do want to open up the porch as much as we can. So one afternoon, after the old carpet went away, Slav took his grinder to the horizontal railing.

IMG_6647

Much more open without it!

Then, inevitably, our eyes landed on other imperfections – the horribly rusted window well cover, the ugly house numbers, the stadium-style flood light, and do not get me started on that black storm door on top of white front door thing…

02

It amazes me that none of the stuff hung here is straight – in a very negative way.

Since we have started, we might as well finish it. We started tackling other things:

1. Getting rid of the black mail collector

We have a legit mailbox next to the curb, so this mail collector is just getting filled with ads and religious flyers. It was off right away.

2. Taking the rotten house number off

We might put up something modern once our front fence after it is built, but for now, stick-on numbers on the mailbox satisfies the building code.

The dirty and rotten house number plate

IMG_6801

3. Taking down down the storm door

We need a storm door for Colorado winter. But for now, we can get away from not having one while we search for a storm door we both like.

4. Porch lighting!

During a trip to habitat for humanity, we found two porch lighting for merely 8 bucks each.

01

I disassembled them to for a good scrubbing. With new LED light bulbs, they looked almost new!

04

We went from this:

03

to this:

IMG_7221

The other light we bought replaced the old brass fixture on top of the basement stairs. It has a motion sensor on it, so we no longer need to turn the stair light on and off. It made me so happy to see yellow lights down and black ones up!

05

And our front porch now looks like this:

IMG_7222

I think we have 5% of the curb appeal now. What do you think? Will you give me a more generous score?

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén