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Painted, guttered ‘n shuttered

If asked, I could sit down right this second and come up with a list of a thousand things that we need/want to do to our house. Any renovation project, particularly one done over time, becomes a question of priorities. Would we rather be sinking our hard-earned dough into the new kitchen? You betcha. But an ugly, failing paint job and gutters that were rusting through made it clear that our first projects needed to address these more urgent, if decidedly unsexy issues.  Fortunately, the roof is only a few years old, so that portion of the exterior envelope is sound. And come spring, we’ll need to cap and repoint the chimneys. But the siding and gutters were at a point that any further neglect would have compounded our exterior issues, resulting in more expensive problems down the line.

The happy side effect of all this work is that (at least from the outside) the house no longer looks like it’s succumbing to its age. Instead, it wears it proudly, imperfections and all. The colors make it look dignified, formal, like it’s put on a well-tailored suit. I’m not going to lie: being located across the street from the offices of the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough and the Vistor’s Center adds some pressure to get the place looking good. After all, our house is staring every visitor in the face as soon as they walk out the front door over there.

I’ll address the specifics of these projects in more detail in later posts. But for now, a couple of before and afters can do the talking:

front before

front after

I’m still not sure what to do about that camellia tree.  It’s beautiful in bloom, provides shade and privacy for the porch in summer, but blocks a full third of the front facade.  Suggestions, anybody?

side before

side after

If you’re wondering what contractors we used for these projects, I’ve started a new page on the blog called “Highl[e]y recommended” where I’ll list succinct and forthright reviews of everyone we hire that does a reasonably good job.  As an architect and advanced DIY-er, I can be a demanding and critical customer, so I can confidently say that a good review here is a strong endorsement for their services.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. She is looking so much more stately guys thanks to your taking charge. As my Daddy planted that camellia “tree!”-I would love to see her given a good hair cut and trimmed starting at the top and sides. Better to cut away slowly. She is beautiful when she blooms.

    Zacki Murphy

    January 27, 2013
    • jrh #

      Zacki – Your dad sure picked the right spot for that tree to thrive! I think a slow pruning might be the ticket. I trimmed the tree up a bit this fall, but I think another round of cuts is in order this spring.

      January 28, 2013
  2. Jan Irwin #

    Love this post — and the work you’ve done, especially the exterior color and the removal of the barbed wire along the sidewalk! I’ve enjoyed seeing the improvements as I walk and drive by. Before we moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, my husband and I did a minor (compared to yours!) renovation/addition to our house a few blocks from you; so I have a sense of how long your list is and the many decisions that need to be made. Keep up the great work!

    January 28, 2013
    • jrh #

      Thanks, Jan. I’d nearly forgotten about the barbed wire…talk about unwanted first impressions for the visitor’s center!

      January 28, 2013
  3. dana #

    I’ve been feeling your pain about the camellia. I am a garden designer in Hillsborough l live down the st. And work for Ayr Mount part time.
    I know this rough and the powers that be make it hard but I would loose the plant.
    It is over powering and it can be replaced with a mor e petite variety.
    Having said that, I think the pruning you did on it is first class.

    January 29, 2013
    • jrh #

      Dana – In the end you may be right. I’m going to hang with the tree for another year or two before we determine its ultimate fate. You’re on my list of people to call this spring…Carol tells me you’re one of Hillsborough’s green-est thumbs and we could sure use some thoughts on on yard, filled with wonderful plants, but (best I can tell) arranged with no particular plan.

      January 30, 2013

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