Bringing the House into the Light

Bringing the House into the Light

Sept 29, 2017 ~ Maybe you remember the blog I wrote last April called Before and After about my new house and the landscaping efforts in the front? Feel free to read the old blog post but to refresh your memory, this is what my house looked when I bought it Oct 2015:

Just after purchase. Can you even find the front door?

The way past-their-prime Ash tree and foundation plantings were removed and a new entry patio and flower beds built in Spring of 2016. I managed to keep my new grass alive and the flower beds filled in. So, by Spring of 2017 it looked like this:

Spring 2017

The freed Crepe Myrtle bloomed a pale pink in June and all the neighbors marveled such a nicely shaped tree was hidden behind the old jungle. The trellis plantings are Superpetunias and Sweet Potato vine.

But the dark brown paint depressed me and was fading fast in all the new sunlight. The time had come to have the house painted.

I started researching colors. I wanted something much lighter, but not all white or cream, which would be boring. I wanted something that emphasized the vertical trim between the brick. And what goes with PINK brick anyway? Did I want to just paint or replace the wood siding with something else? Or did I want to paint the brick as well? The painted brick look is all trendy after Fixer Upper but (1) it defeats the purpose of having low maintenance exterior since it has to be re-painted as often as siding and (2) it can look really really bad if done incorrectly. And then I found out it is against our deed restrictions, so scratch that idea.

I tried a lot of colors with either the Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer or the Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer and finally, just Photoshop:

A few of the color combos I tried. Click to embiggen

I saved photos on my Pinterest boards and Houzz Ideabooks, I Googled "what colors go with pink brick?" and scanned the neighborhoods for interesting color schemes on my morning walks. It was so strange, because I have always had an easy time putting colors together for my wardrobe, or inside my house. Something about deciding for the exterior was ... just intimidating. I couldn't decide on anything. For a while I worked with pink and gray. You know, because gray is so popular now.

Thinking pink and gray

Then a neighbor (Thanks, Donna!) told me about an in-home color consultation Sherwin-Williams offers. I signed up and a great young gal named Jasmine came out one hot Sunday afternoon to help me. We talked a bit about what I did not want (what I had now), how many colors did I want for the exterior (two) and any colors I really disliked (not a fan of blue). She had larger samples (4" x 4") that we stuck next to the brick and next to my light tan vinyl windows. She got so excited when I told her I wanted a bright colored front door, maybe even... purple!

After we found two sets of brownish-gray and cream that seemed to work, we moved from the shady back yard to the front of the house. Light is all important.

final colors.JPG

My final choices were either Felted Wool with Worldly Gray or Keystone Gray with Agreeable Gray. Neither of them look particularly gray but more taupe with green undertones. And the lighter colors look almost white outside.

And the Fabulous Grape looked good with either! I went off to the paint store and got samples of each of the dark colors. And got some large foam board at Michael's Craft store and did my dark samples. I put them outside in the sun, in the shade, next to the brick, next to the siding. And I played with the color combos in Photoshop. Several neighbors voiced opinions.

Some of the color combination plans...

Actually, either of the combinations would look great, but... did I want a light gable or dark? Should the soffits be dark or light? And the garage doors? How much trim did I want to be a contrasting color? Would that cost a lot more? Did I want the entry to be light or dark? One day I wanted one scheme and then by the next day I thought another was better.

Bill was rather exasperated with my indecision. My friend Kate had endless patience looking at mock-ups over Skype. My sister got daily illustrated emails. But, finally I decided what parts I wanted dark and what parts to be light. 

So, then I started getting bids. One was exorbitant for an all brick house, another guy never showed up but the one I felt most comfortable with was Santos Medrano and I will be glad to share his number. His crew was fast and professional; they covered my windows and plants and did an excellent job. He did some minor repairs (rotten wood at a corner under the gutter and one soffit panel on the side) and finished the job on time and on budget.

Completed job with Keystone Gray and Agreeable Gray for the lighter trim

Here is a phone photo the first afternoon. The gray does seem to have a greenish undertone and it makes the brick look great. Green and Red are complimentary colors and create contrast. 

Entry patio

It was a toss up about if the window needed light trim...  and what about the trim around the door? The door was getting replaced so that could be done later if needed. 

New garage and porch light plus two down lights

Next part of the project was having the lighting updated. There was NO light over the garage, plus the porch light was tiny and ineffectual, so I got new fixtures and had these way cool down lights put in the soffits that emphasize the texture of the brick. I found a smart timer that turns them on at dusk and off just after daybreak.

It is so nice when we come home late after a big birding trip to find the house all lit up and welcoming. 

Fabulous Grape front door

Bill and I built the house number planter from an idea I found on Pinterest. I made a mock up out of paper and taped it on the wall before finalizing the design. Those  big house numbers have been on my wish list FOREVAH and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

And, here is the new door in all its purple majesty - which has been a real ordeal. I thought painting would be rather simple, but dark bold colors are really hard y'all. Complicating the matter, I first tried a brighter purple which was a serious disaster. I did a lot of sanding and repainting and worrying. Finally, I just left it a mess for the month of August since it was too hot to paint. At one time the inside of the door was also purple, but I covered that up with primer and white paint. 

Come on in!

And finally, it is all done. I retired the small pots and trellises recently; I loved the look but that Sweet Potato vine against the hot brick meant it had to be watered every single day. Hopefully this variegated Flax Lily will need a bit less attention. I do like the sculptural simplicity and if it doesn't work maybe I will try some kind of desert agave. And the entry patio pavers and gravel have held up really well. During Harvey I noticed one time about an inch of water standing on the surface; the ground was saturated and it was raining so hard. But it did drain away during the next lull. I haven't had a lot of weeds growing in the rocks; I weed what I see and occasionally make a Round-up pass. 

Speaking of drainage, I hope all of you were dry during our deluge, but I know some of you were affected. My old neighborhood just south of Buffalo Bayou was flooded after the storm by the dam releases. Our homes are our biggest investment, both financially and emotionally. Just a hard rain last week was scary and anxiety-provoking. I am thankful every day I have my little house and the resources to make a few changes.

Next project is the garage. I use the door from the garage to the kitchen waaaay more than I use the front door and it is depressing to walk through dirt and disorder. I have my eye on some wall mounted cabinets at Home Depot and thoughts about redoing some of the existing storage. I am drawing and measuring and collecting ideas but I want this to go faster than some of my previous projects. My goal is to have the new project done by Thanksgiving!

Do you spend a lot of time planning projects? Is it hard for you to decide what you want to do and then get started? Or do you just jump in and get it done? Let me know in the comments below!

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