Thinking Spring: Curb Appeal Projects On Our Roster
The outside of our house and surrounding property is in need of some love. I mentioned some curb appeal ideas last week that I was kind of loving, and lately we have had the “bug” to start planning our outdoor projects for the warmer months. In addition to the typical landscaping projects — removing dead stuff, planting new bushes, and generally cleaning things up, we’ve got a few larger-scale projects we’d like to tackle this year.
The biggest and most important project on our list is an overhaul of the driveway and retaining wall. At some point in its history, this driveway was poured asphalt, but nowadays it’s more like a crumbly mud pit.
(The plywood pieces are there to cover deep pits and holes in the asphalt so that we can still drive over them. Classy.)
The condition of the driveway was one of the reasons we were able to get such a good price on the house (since the sellers sold it “as-is”), but now it means that the task of fixing it falls to us. We’ve been researching different options, and comparing solid surfaces (like poured concrete or asphalt) to paver surfaces (like cobblestone or brick), and we’re leaning towards a paver style. They look much more custom and high-end, and they’re DIY-able. Plus, those materials aren’t damaged by salt in the winter like asphalt and concrete are, so snow removal wouldn’t be nearly as annoying as it is now.
We’ll bring in the pros to dig out the old driveway, but we plan to lay the new driveway ourselves. We are hoping to start this in the spring so we don’t have to deal with the extreme heat and humidity of June/July/August, so for now we’re researching prices and how-tos.
Before we re-lay the driveway, we’ll have to have the retaining wall at the back repaired.
Our back”yard” is really just a steep downhill slope with trees, and our driveway is held up at the back by a railroad tie retaining wall. That wall has seen better days. Rebuilding it would not be a small undertaking, and also our city’s permit laws require that a licensed professional build any retaining wall over 3′ high, so this is not a project we will be taking on on our own. I’m happy to let the pros do this one, so we will be spending some time gathering ideas for materials and getting quotes from contractors.
In the front of the house, I would really love to add a proper front landing and portico, like this:
The portico may not happen until next summer, but this year we would like to at least rip up our existing front walkway and lay a new one in its place, leveling it properly an adding steps up from the driveway instead of just sloping it like it is now. It may not look it, but the slope at the end of the walkway is pretty steep, and is the perfect angle to make you slip when it’s covered in snow and ice.
We will probably use the same style of pavers as we use for the driveway for this. That way we have a seamless look, and can do the same care and maintenance on all of it.
I’d also really love to paint the shutters and front door. Our house has a few too many colors going on as it is now, with its blue shutters and purplish-red door. I’ve been playing around with this in Photoshop, and I’m set on black shutters and a medium slate blue door with a knocker added.
It looks so much more classic this way, and less “color vomit”. I’m also thinking that I want to change the door hardware to a dark oil rubbed bronze, but we’ll see for sure once the painting step is done.
So those are our big to-dos once the weather warms up and the snow melts a bit. Here’s hoping we have a mild spring (yeah right), so we can get started on all this sooner rather than later and avoid working through the sweltering summer months!
Anyone else have any big outdoor projects brewing (or currently in the works, if you’re lucky enough to live in a warmer climate)?