It’s hard to believe that we’ve owned out little Michigan Tree House for two years! Over the last 24 months, we’ve largely focused on gettting the interior of the home just right. The exterior has received some HUGE improvements, but much of the work has been getting the yard and deck spaces to a managable blank slate. Well, it’s finally time for all of that to change!
In a dream world, time and finances would allow for us to remove all of the tan vinyl siding. Truth be told, the lack of curb appeal was one of the reasons that we passed on touring the home the first few times our agent suggested it! Underneath the siding, we’d hope to find beautifully preserved clapboard, which we’d then restore and paint. (There’s a chance, based on this old photo!) If the clapboard turned out to be in irreparable condition, we’d install a modern solution like LP Smartside or Hardieboard in a color that we love. We’d then paint all of the trim a crisp white and be done with the exterior of the house for the next 30 years or so.
Easy, right? Ha!
The siding has the potential to be a slippery slope that we’re not quite prepared for (yet), and because the vinyl siding is relatively new and has a TON of life left in it, we’re switching gears. The color is certainly not our first choice, but we think we might grow to like it for a while longer if we can find a way to eliminate all. that. brown. trim. So we’ll take a few steps now to work with what we have and start saving for the changes we really want. Here’s what we’re thinking for the first wave of exterior upgrades!
Upgrading the Exterior Lighting
First things first, the rusted, broken, crooked exterior lighting must go! These lights are among the first things we see when we arrive to the house and they make us sad. Bye forever! This will be a simple upgrade that will set the tone nicely for the rest of the updates.
Replacing the Storm Door
The current storm door functions as a storm door should. It provides additional protection to the main door and the interior of the home – but it sure doesn’t look great doing it! It’s rusty, the handle is crooked and the door hinge is bent. We’ll replace this door with a shiny new one, likely with a full length screen to allow for additional ventilation as well as a better view of that original door we worked so hard on!
Working With What We’ve Got
One small challenge we’ll be dealing with is this somewhat awkward step down toward the front of the house. From what we can tell, our master bedroom (where the French doors are, below) was converted from a screen room at some point. The deck was added on later, hence the ‘step.’ We’ll allow this feature to dictate the use of the space to a small extent, and we’ll create a dining area on the ‘upper’ portion of the deck, especially because the kitchen can easily be accessed from the front – um, side – door. Also, there’s another rusty light at the front corner of the house. (Did I mention we’re excited to get those replaced?)
We’ll Be Repairing the Existing Deck …
After many years of being kept shaded and damp by the massive silver maple that we begrudgingly removed, a handful of the deck boards have seen better days. We plan to replace any damaged boards with new pressure treated lumber. After a quick pressure wash last fall, the deck completely changed colors and turned out to be in fairly decent shape overall!
… And Adding a Front Porch!
Yessss! This will be one of the biggest changes of all. The plan is to remove the half wall that encloses the front portion of the deck, line the existing row of boxwoods with built in benches, and…
… build a relaxing front deck! Since our house is set back onto the back portion of property, the front yard is almost twice the size of the backyard! We absoluetly have not taken advantage of this fact. Unfortunately, the half wall makes it necessary to walk all the way around the boxwood row and past our parked car(s) to get to the front yard, which is honestly just ridiculous.
We’re looking forward to the much more open feel this new addition will give outside of the home. We envision lazy afternoons with adults relaxing in rocking chairs – cocktails in hand, of course! – while all the kiddos burn off energy chasing each other around the nearly-quarter acre lawn. The planned front porch/deck addition will measure 8′-10′ deep and almost 25′ wide, and instead of a typical railing, we’ll continue the row of bench seating around the perimeter. Finally, we’ll integrate a gently sloped staircase at the front right corner, near where the half wall terminates currently.
Prior to the construction of the deck, we’ll have our trusty landscape contractor remove the current bed of ground cover / weeds / poison ivy (so much poison ivy!). After the vegetation is removed, we’ll have the team install weed screen and a layer of gravel to ensure that nothing grows back under the soon-to-be front porch.
Finding a Solution for the Stairs
Okay, let me take you back to the rear of the house, where we’ll need to address the current staircase(s) as well:
Once upon a time, the deck was built around that big silver maple. You may remember that the tree had to come down last summer, so we’ll remove the bed of mulch that the tree left behind and expand the staircases so they join together to form one large angled set of stairs. While we initially tossed around the idea of squaring this off or reconfiguring the shape, we realized that the angle actually works in our favor! Keeping the angle will help with the flow between the front and backyards and unify the space.
Painting All the Trim, Doors and Windows
Okay, let’s officially address the vinyl siding. I mean, the siding color is completely inoffensive. It’s fine. And although it wouldn’t have been our first choice, it does blend nicely into the wooded vibe of our property. (We’ll give it that much.) The brown trim, however, is another story! Since replacing the perfectly good siding seems a bit wasteful, we’ll paint all of the existing trim white. This includes door and window trim, gutters, eaves and soffits. Basically everything but the siding will get a fresh coat of crisp white paint.
In addition to the fresh white paint on all of the trim, we’ll repair the few areas where the existing siding is damaged. We think it’ll give the house a whole new life!
Who knows, maybe we’ll grow to
love like the vinyl siding color? Maybe we’ll want to spend time enjoying our yard during the daylight hours? Maybe Lucy will run through the front yard with her toddler friends without fear of a miserable poison ivy rash? Only time will tell, but we sure can’t wait to find out.
May this be the season of Tree House Exterior upgrades!