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Our Tree House Exterior Reveal!

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.

In the last update on our Tree House exterior project, we moved a literal ton of outcropping stone and got the front yard’s landscaping one step closer to completion! Prior to that, the painting, trim and lighting portion of the project was completed. It’s been a long journey, but we’ve made it! The project is complete! Before we jump into the details and the big reveal, let’s remind ourselves of where we started:

Tree House Exterior | Before

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

When we purchased it, our little house featured dark brown trim and tan vinyl siding We knew we’d need to make a change to help us fall in love with the exterior, but where could we draw the line? How far was too far? After much deliberation (and your helpful feedback!), we decided on a handful of ‘happy medium’ projects that would be hugely impactful without completely breaking the bank. Our hope was to provide better access to the big front lawn and make the front of the home as welcoming as the revamped back yard. By making a bunch of small changes, the overall impact is HUGE.

Tree House Exterior | Progress

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Here’s the long list of things that we changed!

First and Foremost, Paint!/Lighting/Trim/Storm Door

Perhaps the biggest visual change in this portion of the project came from the crisp white paint on all of the formerly brown trim. We used Sherwin Williams Pure White exterior grade HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams Everlast paint on the trim, doors and windows. Prior to paint, we added trim where there was none – like around the front window. Our wish was that the white trim would help us like the tan vinyl siding just a wee bit better, and although the tan is still not our first choice, we are so, so happy with how the bright trim changed the whole look of our home. Dare I say, the color of the house has changed?! It’s a chameleon of a color either way, but she’s looking so much better, don’t you think?

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget
Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Lighting Upgrades and a New Storm Door

All of the half-broken exterior lights were swapped out to these black allen + roth Birchwood Dark Sky LED lights, which cast a warm light downwards. They’re classic and modern, and we like that they play off of our black front door. I’d be amiss not to mention that they’re an amazing value, too!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget
Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

We also removed the original rusty screen door in favor of the full view Larson Tradewinds door in black with a matching matte black handleset. Fun fact: We love this storm door so much that we’ve purchased an identical one for our Chicago home!

We Have a Front Porch Now. We Have a Front Porch Now!

Prior to this project getting underway, there was an obstructive wall separating the existing deck from the entire front of the house. In order to give us a front porch, that wall had to come down. Once it was gone, the small lower portion of the deck that had felt dark and cramped now felt open and bright! We feel like we gained livable space where there was none before – and that’s all prior to the additional 200+ sq. ft. of deck surface that was constructed. The massive piles of pressure-treated lumber from Lowe’s was just the ticket! You can see where the new decking meets the old, below:

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget
Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Speaking of the new deck extension, how perfect are these black Polywood Presidential rocking chairs? We found and fell in love with the chairs prior to finalizing the layout of the deck and they actually informed the size and shape of the structure. Like, we literally designed this deck for these chairs, ha!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Through this whole project, we’ve always envisioned us relaxing on the deck in rocking chairs, sipping coffee or cocktails while Lucy and her friends run circles around the front yard. Now, we have two in the front, and we tucked too more next to the French doors of our master bedroom!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget
Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

40+ Feet of Built-In Benches

At its highest point, the deck surface is only around 20″ from the ground, so in lieu of a ‘proper’ railing, we chose to have many portions of the existing deck – as well as the entire new deck – bordered by built-in bench seating. We scoured the web for inspiration images that fit our desire for clean lines and a solid look and settled on the design you see here. Between the benches that were added to the existing deck and the new deck, we added 40+ feet of bench seating!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget
Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Staircases That Welcome Us In

Of course, we couldn’t add to the deck and make all of these improvements without remedying the sad state of the staircases that provide access to the deck. Prior to having one of Tree House’s namesake tree removed, there were two small staircases at the rear of the deck that led to house’s front side main door. With the tree removed, we were able to extend and combine the two crumbling staircases into one big flowing set of stairs that unites the deck and yard spaces. Our goal for Tree House has always been to maximize the flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The low decking surface and wide, welcoming staircases help us do just that!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

At the front of the house, we added a wide staircase that draws you up onto the deck and begs you to have a look around (or take a seat, whichever you prefer, really):

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Landscaping for Softness

While we’re huge fans of clean, geometric lines, we needed to do some work to soften the sharp angles at the front of the new deck. On our long, lazy walks around our Michigan town, we’d been making mental notes about the style of landscaping and greenery we’d like to add. When we made it to the Lowe’s garden center, we had a pretty good idea of the style of plants we were looking for. We narrowed down the varieties and pulled plants in and out of a grouping in until we were happy with the overall look.

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

The planting and back-filling of the soil took only a couple of hours and we’re thrilled with the results! Shifting colors and blooms of Dwarf Maiden Grass, Elderberries, Sweetspires and a compact Rhododendron will keep this corner of the yard colorful and cheery all year long. We can’t wait to see these shrubs mature and take shape over the next few years!

The Cherry On Top

We couldn’t resist adding an outdoor sign that welcomed us, our friends and our family every time we pulled up to Tree House! We used an all-weather powder coated round sign, and Kim designed a logo for a vinyl cut out that we applied to both sides.

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Okay, I can’t resist a few more before and progress photos!

Tree House Exterior | Before

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Tree House Exterior | Progress!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Tree House Exterior | Before

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Tree House Exterior | Progress!

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Tree House | On Closing Day

And let’s throw it all the way back to the day we closed on this house – two summers ago. We had no idea what was ahead of us, but we did know that we were very, very excited to nurture this home back to health. This is the face of two people who couldn’t believe we found this gem, with a blueberry-sized Lucy growing inside Kim:

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Tree House | Today

And here we are today, with an almost-two-year-old! Do you notice how the chimney is gone and the kitchen window (the one on the far left) got larger? What about the trimmed up row of boxwoods and the bright white gutters?

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Exterior Work Never Ends.

While the exterior project is complete for this year, we still have a few finishing touches in mind for next year. Once the pressure treated lumber of the deck has had a chance to season and dry out completely, we’ll get to work doing the following:

  • Pressure wash and stain the entire deck
  • Add solar or plug-in landscape lighting at the front of the house
  • Add discreet solar lights to the undersides of the benches
  • Add outdoor speakers for dining al fresco
  • Add a row of soft ornamental grasses along the front of the porch

We knew from the very beginning that Lowe’s would be the right partner for this multifaceted project. And as the leaves begin to change and sweater weather upon us, you can now find us wrapped up in cozy blankets, rocking on our chairs, and sipping warm drinks – while Lucy chases the dogs around our new outdoor living room.

Exterior upgrades at our Michigan Tree House, in partnership with Lowe's Home Improvement | via Yellow Brick Home | outdoor design and inspiration on a budget

Lowe’s Item Sources:

White paint is Sherwin Williams Pure White mixed to HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams Everlast exterior satin | allen + roth Birchwood Dark Sky LED lights | Larson Tradewinds storm door in black + matte black handleset | Polywood Presidential rocking chairs | all landscaping + lumber is from our local Lowe’s

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  • KWu10.21.19 - 4:47 AM

    Looks awesome! Do you have a source for the little table (stool?) in between the rocking chairs?ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.21.19 - 7:06 AM

      Thank you! We got those from article.ReplyCancel

  • Jen10.21.19 - 8:16 AM

    It’s so great, you guys! Beautiful work!ReplyCancel

  • Alli10.21.19 - 8:20 AM

    It’s so good. Bravo! The little sign is the star. What are your plans for the shed? ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.21.19 - 8:34 AM

      The ultimate goal is to replace it with a garage! It’s rotting at the bottom and the platform is always slippery with moss, so we didn’t see any point of putting a band aid on it. We’ll be saving up to come up with a garage solution… maybe next year?!ReplyCancel

      • Alli10.22.19 - 8:02 AM

        So fun! Can’t wait to see that come to be 😊ReplyCancel

  • Nicole10.21.19 - 8:22 AM

    Beautiful beautiful in every way! Question from a family with a squirrel/mailman stalking dog (ugh)… do you guys have fencing of any sort around the perimeter or are J and C well-behaved enough that they’d never bolt for the street? If so… color me jealous of more than just this incredible renovation. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.21.19 - 8:36 AM

      To be honest, we’ve never even seen a mailman at Tree House!! (We don’t have a mailbox!) That said, they’re only outside when we are, and we do have plans to eventually add a wide gate across the driveway to completely fence in the backyard. When they’re in the front, we have tie-downs for them so that they have freedom to roam, but no more than 20′, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Gumbel10.21.19 - 8:34 AM

    I’m so glad you worked with the siding. It helps the rest of us know that “Pinterest worthy” doesn’t need to break the bank as long as we get creative.ReplyCancel

  • Marti10.21.19 - 8:37 AM

    It looks SO good! So crisp with the white and the black – and I am totally on board with the brown siding. Loving that built-in bench, too. Strong work, Kim and Scott!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.21.19 - 9:22 AM

      Thank you, thank you! Maybe our pug-colored house will grow on us, who knows?ReplyCancel

  • Debra10.21.19 - 9:18 AM

    The first thing I noticed was the sweet little Tree House sign… I love it as well as the rest of the updates.  The bench seating is so clean and clever.ReplyCancel

  • Geen10.21.19 - 9:32 AM

    What sort of stain are you hoping to use?ReplyCancel

    • Scott10.21.19 - 11:31 AM

      We’re leaning toward a ‘pecan’ color, which is a nice medium brown. Not too dark, not too light!ReplyCancel

  • lak10.21.19 - 9:33 AM

    Beautiful work, everything looks so different and good.  But that sign just makes it!  ReplyCancel

    • Scott10.21.19 - 11:32 AM

      Thank you so much! The sign was definitely the exclamation point on a hugely transformative project!ReplyCancel

  • Ellen10.21.19 - 9:36 AM

    Everything looks great! Will you post a picture of the screen door on your Chicago house? ReplyCancel

    • Scott10.21.19 - 11:30 AM

      Yup! We’ve got a little front porch refresh on the horizon very soon. Stay tuned!ReplyCancel

  • Mary V.10.21.19 - 10:11 AM

    Love the direction the new deck and landscaping is taking the tree house. Clean lines and open space for an active family with friends. I do wonder about hand rails. Are they required where you are? We have one step that we are planning to add a hand rail to after our second grandparent fall. Not an attractive addition but needed. ReplyCancel

    • Scott10.21.19 - 11:35 AM

      Thanks for the kind words! We removed a couple of rickety handrails from the old deck and don’t intend to replace them at this point. Our plans were all approved by the township permitting office, so it’s our understanding that they aren’t necessary for a deck this low. If we do ever add handrails, we’ll probably work with the welder that built the updated loft railing and go with something sleek and modern!ReplyCancel

  • Laura10.21.19 - 11:07 AM

    You two are making great progress. Have you thought about burying the electric service lines? It was one of our favorite upgrades at our weekend house – getting rid of all the overhead lines and the conduit pipe coming out of the roof was such a huge visual upgrade, and surprisingly affordable.ReplyCancel

    • Scott10.21.19 - 11:29 AM

      What a great idea! We never even considered that as an option, but now you’ve got us thinking. Maybe we’ll bounce the idea off of our electrician in the spring!ReplyCancel

  • Karen J10.21.19 - 5:50 PM

    Amazing how the tan color no longer has a pinkish cast to it with the white trim!  Love the little sign.  Since you mentioned planting more ornamental grass, check out a Plant Select variety called “Blonde Ambition” . I have lusted after it and plan to plant some next spring.  I think you might like it.  ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer10.21.19 - 7:15 PM

    I love the benches instead of railings. It’s functional, and still gives a sense of enclosure to make it cozy. This little house is so much fun to enjoy vicariously!ReplyCancel

    • Ann10.22.19 - 1:29 PM

      Yes, that is a really nice touch on the expanded decks, and will provide so much seating for gatherings.ReplyCancel

  • Erica10.21.19 - 10:44 PM

    This is sooo good! The white trim makes all the difference and I love the benches that double as railings. ReplyCancel

  • Halle10.22.19 - 9:36 PM

    Great job! It looks amazing!! I noticed the little sign right away and my heart melted – it’s so sweet. I love that you two are making it work with the tan siding. I’ll echo other commenters and say it really helps when blogs do projects that are not necessarily the most glamorous, but are more true to the kinds of projects readers are facing. I really appreciate it! I do have a question: when you two are doing a landscaping project, do you do research or talk with a landscaper or someone at Lowe’s to figure out what will work with your climate, soil, and light? Or do you know these things instinctively? Or do you guess? =]ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.23.19 - 8:06 AM

      A little of both! We’ve had a lot of trial and error over the years, but our front yard is part shade, so even though we REALLY wanted a lot of full sun plants, we don’t even dare try. We stuck mostly to plants that thrive in the shade, and yes, we also made sure we were purchasing from the right section of the plants when we were at Lowe’s!ReplyCancel

  • at home with Ashley10.25.19 - 11:19 AM

    Little by little, a little makes a lot. You guys have done such amazing work in the last two years! You should be really proud :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - The Gold Hive10.25.19 - 12:40 PM

    I love love love this reveal. Who says a makeover needs to be a dramatically different color with a bunch of additions? You’re making treehouse into the perfect version of herself.
    When can I come over?ReplyCancel

  • phyllis10.25.19 - 7:50 PM

    I love it all-especially the color choices. We’ve looked at Polywood online and wonder if you got the smooth finish on the exterior, or the finish that looks like woodgraining. (it’s more expensive) Are they sturdy and comfortable? Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Scott10.26.19 - 1:03 PM

      Ours are the smooth finish. They’re insanely sturdy and comfy. The Polywood Adirondack chairs around our fire pit look as good as the day we unboxed them!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie10.29.19 - 1:01 PM

    Any DIY advice on making benches like that?ReplyCancel

  • Peter11.4.19 - 2:20 PM

    You guys are so goals!  Lucy is sure lucky to have you guys as parents. All the details and work you two put in really shows and I’m just in love with all of it! I don’t normally comment on anything, but you guys deserve it!!! I’m obsessed lol.ReplyCancel

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