Help me dress up the front of this house.

70 Replies

Getting ready to list one of my long time rentals. Please give some tips on freshening up the front without going crazy on the budget. Here is what I am thinking but thoughts appreciated...

  1. Replace flower post near front door with a more modern wooden one.
  2. Landscaping of course
  3. Painting the front door - I have seen houses with this color and a funky medium orange door. Thoughts?
  4. New address numbers and nicer light above front door.
  5. Not sure about repainting the house body - we came up with this color 4 years ago which was difficult due to the brick and roof and I dont hate it?

I think all of your ideas make sense. My first inclination, though, is to paint the front door black along with the shutters. The white looks a bit dated. And yes to replacing the front porch post and adding some landscaping, hopefully with some flowers included and trimming the shrub by the garage. The house color looks fine to me as well. I don’t think you have much to do to spruce it up!

Red mulch would look great and be relatively inexpensive and would give some color to the soil in front of the house.

Honestly other than that I wouldn't bother painting anything. House looks nice. It's just the winter time that darkens it a little.

Originally posted by @Jen R. :

I think all of your ideas make sense. My first inclination, though, is to paint the front door black along with the shutters. The white looks a bit dated. And yes to replacing the front porch post and adding some landscaping, hopefully with some flowers included and trimming the shrub by the garage. The house color looks fine to me as well. I don’t think you have much to do to spruce it up!

 I agree shutters are bad I am going to buy new. Black shutters black door seems like a safer color then orange door. Thanks!

If it was my house, I would:

1) paint the brick as well so the house doesn't look broken up and it gives it a more up to date look.  

2) Replace door and single sidelight with nice larger wooden exterior door -- stained..(no storm door) to give the entrance a bit more elegance.  

3) Yes, on the new post

4) I would do shutters on all the windows.  Probably would do some simple wood shutters stained the same color as door to pull it all together.

All good ideas.  If the house was painted 4 years ago, leave it...then again blue is my favourite colour, so I might be biased.

Not sure I'd go for an orange door.  It won't stand out as much with the brick and will make the brick look oranger.  You could go with blue, but several shades darker than the house colour.  I believe there are some apps where you can upload a photo and see how it looks with different paint colours.

A planter pot in the space to the left of your door on the corner of the slab would add some colour though it looks like the small garden runs along the side of the path, so you could also put a plant there-something like a variegated hosta if those grow where you are.

I think the above posts pretty much cover it, plus getting springtime photos should help.

HI Adam,

If it were mine, I'd:

  1. Replace the blue color with a trendy (light) avocado-ish green (the lawn is green and the bricks look good with that).
  2. Replace the all of the white including the garage door with a darker color to contrast (or blend) with the green (experiment a little).
  3. Move the house numbers down one board to make the house seem bigger.
  4. (budget ?) Add shutters to all windows to accentuate the horizontal-ness of the home.
  5. Paint all shutters black, which will probably go well the darker bricks in the brick blend.
  6. Paint the two small white utility boxes on the front to match the brick, or move them to the side of the house.
  7. Replace the porch column with a rather plain square one.
  8. Get rid of the shrub in front of the column.
  9. Trim that bush near the driveway to about 1/3 the height of the bricks or get rid of it.

Good Luck with your choices!

@Adam Craig You see a lot of flips that age with painted brick. The pro flippers do it here. There isn’t that much brick and it looks modern...go at least a couple of shades darker but you do nit want a pronounced contrast. Trim over the wrought iron porch support with wood. Again, more modern. They are using big river rocks as mulch, fist size. Sometimes just at the edge and graduated to smaller rocks or to wood mulch towards the interior of the garden. I like the look.
@Marian Smith They also use huge concrete pavers like stepping stones as walkways. There is a term for them but I cannot recall it. It looks very modern, kind of retro mcm modern.

@Adam Craig  After five comments in a row saying to paint the brick I have to provide a...

Public Service Announcement: Brick is not meant to be painted! 

I know we see it all the time, especially on fancy design blogs and HGTV flipping shows and such, but painting brick is a no-no. Brick is porous and allows the building to breath by design. Left alone it’s the ultimate maintenance-free surface. A little bit of repointing will be needed here and there where mortar has eroded away over time, but that’s it. Brick will last for literally generations, centuries even, without ever having to mess with siding or painting. That’s a huge financial benefit! Hence the term built like a brick house. Such a nice surface for a building. 

Painting brick is like wrapping the building in plastic. Moisture is trapped in the wall which can create mildew/mold issues inside plus it decomposes the brick itself, and rather quickly too. Painting brick can actually cause it to crumble and create structural damage within just a few years. Painted brick typically bubbles, peels and looks awful in short order anyway. 

There are a few cases where painting brick makes sense but just to make the wall a different color is not one of them. The only cases I can think of off-hand is if the brick is already painted (so sad), or if it’s a special kind of brick that is meant to be painted (very rare), or if the brick work is damaged and the repair looks so bad that covering it with paint is the best option. For an entirely interior feature like a fireplace surround I guess it’s okay. White wash made specifically for brick is okay too. If you must paint brick, use a special breathable paint or wash. But again, you’ll lose the main benefit which is breathability and natural durability without having to ever mess with paint or siding. 

Brick isn’t meant to be painted, and painting it is difficult (lots of prep, lots of coats, has a chemical compound that rejects paint). Once brick is painted it’s practically impossible to remove the paint without damaging the brick, and you’ll have to repaint it/whitewash it every 3-5 years from then on. 

Don’t paint brick all you fancy design bloggers and flippers out there! It’s not cool. Especially if the brick is well done with dog toothing/corbels/herringbone/basket weave or other rare classic features. That's a brick mason's art, please don't ruin it! 

End public service announcement. 

@Dutch Langley

@Quincy Lockett

@Ola Dantis

@Marian Smith

@Ryan Proffit

How fun!!!

Well of course and for starters, if your intention is to sell, look to see what sells in your area and think in those terms.

My two cents would be:

#1 The house looks pretty darn good as it is, spending money might not get you anywhere (again a market thing). It is always important to remember a house is what it is, and yours is a 1950-1980 standard tri-level, there are many that look just like this one. It will never be a 1990-2010 house. What people really want is that it is in good order. I'd spend money in those areas before I did anything to the exterior, which there is really nothing terribly wrong with.

#2 I think the color scheme is fine. The thing that pops to me is that white horizontal trim board between the brick and the blue, I might paint that the same blue. Otherwise, the white trim works for me. Your gutters and soffits are white too - what a bother to change all that up. Too many colors gets messy, too few is boring. The colors you have are not offensive and work well-enough together. I would not spend money on this.

#3 I think painting the entry door is a simple way to get some easy curb appeal and make the whole front more interesting. Color choice is a bit harder and will come down to taste, but if you picked the blue to go with the brick, I trust you!!! Maybe a deeper blue? I'm having a hard time seeing a shade of orange working without a big clash, but maybe it could.

#4 The flower post is ok, but it's leaning (some of them lean by design). Probably a good idea to put a nice fresh wood post in there. I would definitely do a square one to match the lines of the house already in play. True a square post will be boring, but you can see with that flowery thing what trying to over-do-it does too. On the other hand, it is not exactly offensive either. Most people will not even notice.

#5 As far as landscaping, I am definitely not a mulch guy (and never red), and prefer clean and green. I would tidy up the bed lines, keep the dirt, and plant flowers. I'd be ok with seeing both bushes go bye-bye. The one by the drive probably scratches the cars. Let the next guy have an open slate to be creative - people like that too!!! Of course clean up the leaves and trim any unruly trees or bushes. The grass will green up soon enough, but if you have any bare patches, now is the time to get that seed down - don't delay.

I would not go as far as you or others have suggested - just no need. Then again and as stated earlier, do what is expected in your market.

Thanks for letting us have some fun with your house!!!

@Steve K.   True that this is can be a no-no especially in cold weather climates.  We however use vapor permeable paints that allow it to breath.  It allows the moisture to release so you don't have the issues that can be caused otherwise.

@Adam Craig   If the current shutters are in good condition, you don't need to buy new ones.  Paint the current ones black if that is the way you decide to go.  With all the white, I'd keep them white to tie in with the windows, garage door, and gutters.

It is a cute house how it is.  Why spend money you don't have to when you are selling it?  You could plant a few flowers on them once the risk of frost has passed to give the garden a bit of life.  Daffodils and hydrangea are easy ones and are currently in stores where I am and the blooms are always nice and add some height.  Primroses are another, but they are shorter.

I think painting brick is stupid. That said, there are some offensive brick colors out there and I have seen people stain them with good results. Not that much out there though really, usually the stuff from the 70's when crazy colors were vogue. My friends just stained their brick on their 70's tri-level that had an outrageous color scheme and it turned out really nice. They went with grey, but I have a feeling that will be out of style soon enough too. The brick on this house is classic and I would not dare paint it. The entire point of brick is a durable, attractive, maintenance free exterior.

I don’t see much difference in painted brick vs painted cement siding as far as a building envelope is concerned.  I have had an inspector with an engineering degree from Texas A&M recommend that I seal soft brick imported from Mexico on one of my houses.  However, I do not have materials science background, so I cannot speak to anything but aesthetics.  Painted brick Is  popular in the Austin area right now, especially older homes with presumably unattractive original brick colors and a modern design aesthetic...and on nice houses in expensive zipcodes.  I have never heard of staining brick.  Brick is porous and if it accepts stain that would be the ideal solution, IMO.  Some people are doing a lime wash and covering all but glimpses of the brick...everyone wants the Joanna Gains white look.  Both sound like you could keep the intended low-maintenance of brick and change to a trendier color.  And thats what sells.  Clean and on trend.

Some people think a red door has good feng shui .

I don't know how many Asian people are in Ohio and care about that.

Otherwise go with the Rolling Stones and paint it black. Maybe.

Personally I think it looks fine as is, as long as the paint is in good shape.

I will tell you two things NOT to do.  Paint the door black with a storm door and painting brick.  Both terrible from a construction / warranty perspective.