We Painted the Brick!

Painting the brick exterior of our home has been on my wish list since we bought our house.  Unfortunately, it was not on any list of  Mr. DB’s and since there were other priorities I didn’t push it.  Every now and then when we drove past a pretty painted brick house I would point it out to him.  His response usually mentioned “maintenance issues”.   There’s always maintenance I’d say, as if we just had to accept it as the cost of being homeowners.   Adding to my painted brick houses board on Pinterest only fueled my belief that our house would look so good if it were painted.

Here we have a picture from those early days.  The landscaping consisted solely of English ivy from one end to the other, giving the property a somewhat sinister, deserted look.  While we were getting used to having a mortgage, we had little money for major improvements.  But we could pull out the ivy ourselves, and we did.   Little by little we added new plantings – it’s still a work in progress.

You know that expression lipstick on a pig?  I guess I thought  I could disguise ugly brick with landscaping and black shutters.  Didn’t work.

In another attempt at improving the curb appeal we had a tree cut down in the front yard.  We hate to cut down trees.  But I knew it would make a difference in the landscaping.  I wrote about that here.

Now we have more lush plantings that give us the perfect setting to display the American flag.

These half-measures did not make me stop wanting to paint the house. In fact, I became more and more convinced that we really needed to do it and now. I had painters at the house on another job and while they were here I got an estimate for painting the house. Hmm, less than I thought.  The maintenance will not be a big issue.  I was able to reassure Tom and he started really noticing some other painted brick homes in our neighborhood.  Gradually, he came around.

The brick color is Gateway Gray and the trim is Snowbound, both by Sherwin Williams from their HGTV home collection.  Interestingly, getting Tom to agree to paint the house was the hard part.  We quickly came to agreement when we found this color.  I bought many samples and we painted them on the side of the house.  Once we saw Gateway Gray we both knew it was the one, not too dark, not too light, just right.

The painters fixed the facing around the front door and removed an old intercom from beside the door.

Full disclosure, Tom isn’t the only one who hesitates on unnecessary home improvements.  I have to talk myself into spending money on projects that are purely cosmetic.   Shouldn’t we put that money in our retirement fund, or, if I’m going to be frivolous,  maybe toward a trip to Paris?

There are no regrets here.  We love the way it turned out.  It was just the fix the house needed.

How do you feel about painting brick?

Front Yard makeover progress

We have owned our home for 17 years and the curb appeal of the house has always been an issue.  Within the first few years we updated our walkway to a more attractive flagstone.  We removed ivy that I swore was going to come in the windows and strangle us.  We added some landscaping.  Then the oldest child went to college followed by her 2 brothers and landscaping was no longer top priority.  Until now.
We have a small, narrow front yard which gets a lot of shade from surrounding trees.
This side of the yard is so small and it slopes toward the driveway.  Trying to make this area look landscaped was so frustrating.  The only planting that always looks great is the oakleaf hydrangea to the left there. 
I’m sure you are looking at those scraggly bushes under the windows.  No matter what I plant here (and it has been plenty) nothing will flourish.

This tree is a 40 foot Sweet Gum tree, towering over our one story ranch house.  The proportions are all wrong and I have wanted to cut it down for years.
Finally, last summer I talked Mr. Bee into getting it cut down.

The tree company did a good job of taking away all of the debris and grinding the stump, spreading fill dirt and sprinkling grass seed.  I filled in with plants from my back yard and deck and bought a few.  Since this was late summer, it wasn’t a good time to run out and buy a ton of plants.  Plus, I wanted to be deliberate and have a plan. 

Here is how it looks today, a stark and desolate patch of ground.

But that is about to change.  April is a good time to plant shrubs and perennials around here. In preparation I have been studying pictures of small front gardens to get some ideas on how I would like for this area to look.
This is what I am thinking.
I really love the full, but tidy way the plants are arranged in these photos, although I wouldn’t go for the topiaries.  Of course landscaping is always complicated by considerations of weather and sunlight requirements.  Even though the tree is gone, the area is shaded by another tree in the middle of the yard and by the house at certain times of the day.
And it would be nice to have the majority of the plants be evergreen.  I hate the desolate look during the winter.  There’s a lot to consider but I am excited to finally be able to create a more welcoming landscape in front of the house.
With list in hand I will soon be headed to the garden center.

Do you have plans for your garden this spring and summer?