Micro Update: Matching the Front Door to the Mailbox

2 min read One of the most fun (and easy) things I did to the house last year was painting the front door. Here’s how I exactly matched the mailbox.

This is one of those curb appeal updates that gets tossed around when thinking resale.  For me, it is just too-long-delayed improvement for every day life.Granted, part of the reason it was so satisfying was that I’d devoted countless hours to fixing up the rest of the exterior, but this felt like the element that tied everything together.  Continue reading “Micro Update: Matching the Front Door to the Mailbox”

The Six Major Elements of (Nearly) Every Entry

4 min read The components elements of an American house entry are fairly consistent, country or city, large or small.  Ranch entries are even more consistent: Door, Lights, Mailbox, House numbers, Wall and Overhang.  If you have your own door (and maybe even if you don’t) you have most of these to play with.

You probably have the ability to fix up each and every one of them (except the overhang) in a weekend project.  Here are a couple overarching ideas to bear in mind when you go to work.  Continue reading “The Six Major Elements of (Nearly) Every Entry”

Progress: Miscellaneous Exterior Painting

2 min read I took advantage of the last few nice days of fall weather to do a few outstanding paint tasks.  

The last of the peeling green paint was hiding out in a small strip of wall between the garage and house roof lines.  It was a little awkward to get to and I never really felt up for climbing around on the roof when no one would be around to call 911 if I took a dive.  Wednesday and Thursday I scraped, then painted and primed the wall and soffit while my folks were around which upped the safety factor of sliding around on a roof slope with a bunch of painting supplies to juggle.  Continue reading “Progress: Miscellaneous Exterior Painting”

Progress: Basement Bedroom Window Well

3 min read We made  big jump forward in basement progress this week with the jump start on the new egress window.  From first thing Monday morning to late Wednesday we made some pretty dramatic changes to the south side of the house!

The basement currently has five small windows just at or below grade.  In the new design, two will be in the unfinished basement – and we’ll just pop in some better insulated replacements, two will be in the den and they will get new deep window sills set in with the vent soffit running around the ceiling edge and then there’s the bedroom window … it needs to be expanded dramatically to allow the required amount of air ventilation, natural light and a safe way to escape the house in an emergency.  Continue reading “Progress: Basement Bedroom Window Well”

Exterior Progress: Nearly done with North and South Gable Ends

6 min read I spent the (spectacularly hot) week of my birthday pushing forward on the painting progress.  Knowing I’d have someone around to spot me, I planned to do the high-up, platform work on the south gable. 

I got started on re-painting the house last fall right after we the sale closed.

The tired green color and peeling paint were about equally unappealing to me and I wanted them gone.  Plus I wanted to get some plantings in to replace the hedge I tore out and I knew that new plants wouldn’t appreciate drop cloths, ladders and the general tramping around that painting a house takes.

I knew it was going to be a tough job, made a little tougher by the lead paint underneath the green – which meant I’d need to follow proper safety procedures when scraping and sanding and the year was getting cold fast so I committed to just doing the front face of the house – the east – for the fall and coming back to the rest this year.

Continue reading “Exterior Progress: Nearly done with North and South Gable Ends”

And now I’m obsessed with concrete and want to use it everywhere

3 min read Because, come on, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve spent the last two weeks struggling through the muggy heat to de-lead and prime the north and south walls of the house and prepping for my upcoming talk at the MREA Energy Fair but when I think about design, I’ve been thinking about concrete and wondering what I can make from it.  Pavers?  Planters? Benches?  The possibilities are endless.   Continue reading “And now I’m obsessed with concrete and want to use it everywhere”

The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding

4 min read Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house is not a job for the faint of heart but with these tools you can get the job done!

Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house (especially if it’s in rather bad shape) is not a job for the faint of heart.  It’s hot, sweaty, dusty work that requires at least SOME ladder work.  If you like pinching pennies and feeling a sense of accomplishment, by all means take it on.  If you are looking for easy, fun DIY that people will admire … maybe choose another project.

For me, painting a beat up wall in an ugly color into a new smooth color of my choosing is about the most fun I can think of, and is well worth the labor.  Stay tuned for my discussion of how high on ladders you have to climb to paint a single story ranch in an upcoming post!

Continue reading “The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding”

Micro Update: DIY Frosted Glass House Numbers

2 min read Sometimes when you can’t decide on either the high, or the low, version of available products, the only option is to DIY.

When I painted last fall, I stripped off the mailbox, lights and house numbers.  I’ve got the new box and lights in place but was having a hard time deciding on the right kind of numbers.  The commercial options were either blah, or a little pricy for my budget.

Here’s how I split the difference and created my own solution.  It highlights the original mid-century front door, enhances privacy, simplifies the entry and glow cheerily at night. Continue reading “Micro Update: DIY Frosted Glass House Numbers”

Featured Ranch: the Jacobs House

3 min read Most experts acknowledge some Wright influence on the development of the ranch. I see some very direct lines from his Usonian experiments and later midcentury mass housing styles.

This, and the other Usonian houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are more like older cousins of the ranch – not in the direct line but still strongly connected from both a design and lifestyle philosophy point of view.

Wright started to design Usonian or USA-onian houses during the depression when he was short of clients and those he did have were equally short of funds.  They were more than cheap knockoffs, however.  Wright designed the Usonian Houses to be a “building system, adaptable to each client with whatever modifications he might need regarding space and site conditions. Continue reading “Featured Ranch: the Jacobs House”

Going Grey, or it’s not easy to Paint outside in the swing seasons

2 min read I wanted to squeak in one quarter of the house painting – the street side – before the weather got too cold for proper curing conditions. Here’s how I gamed the weather to get the job done!

Modern paint technology is pretty miraculously forgiving of weather conditions but there are still limits to the times of day and year that you can effectively get paint to stick to outside surfaces.

Since we wanted to get at least the front of the house painted in the fall, we found ourselves playing with two very important metrics for the paint – temperature and humidity. Continue reading “Going Grey, or it’s not easy to Paint outside in the swing seasons”