Drab Disaster to White Wonder

Keys to the exterior make-over of our 1922 bungalow? Natural wood architectural elements, paint and classic details.

I’ll be honest. I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into with this house. I knew I loved the screened front porch, the interesting roof line and the original windows. But I didn’t know exactly how to bring her beauty back.

Sad paint colors and neglected landscaping made for zero curb appeal.

Wood Architectural Elements

My first instinct was to highlight that amazing and unique roofline. So many houses in my neighborhood have corbels, and I wanted them too! (My husband didn’t even know what a corbel was…did you?). I am blessed with a father who is a woodworker, and he was eager to contribute to my new project. He built us four beautiful corbels that I stained with Olympic Maximum Stain and Sealant.

My dads creation — much bigger in person!
Stained and ready to go up.
See those four beauties on the upper roofline?
They fit the time period and other houses in the neighborhood — it’s almost as though they were always there!

To tie in the wood corbels I also added a wood base for house numbers (I used a piece of cedar and floating black numbers from Lowe’s), a vintage style porch screen door from Menard’s, and had window boxes made for under the porch windows. Didn’t those windows just scream for window boxes? Credit goes to my neighborhood pal Jon for building them for me! I stained all of these items with the same Olympic Stain I used on the corbels to tie all the wood elements together.

Ah memories…this old FB post takes me back to our sloooooow progress 🤣 But you can see the house number and a bit of the screen door.
One of two awesome boxes made by Jon Blake. Just waiting for me to stain and hang them!


Now, to make all of these wood elements really pop. We did debate over paint colors. Dark blue siding with crisp white trim, anyone? But decided to go with a classic — and likely what she was originally — white. I’ve never painted a house before, and because of the age of the house we were concerned about lead paint so we decided to hire an expert. HA! They came and power washed the house and allowed all the lead paint chips to simply fall to the ground. (FYI…that’s NOT how it’s supposed to be done.) They agreed to come back with a shop vac and clean everything up, but then proceeded to start the first painting day by not taping off the windows or corbels and we had to fire them. (In hindsight I definitely shouldn’t have hung the corbels until AFTER we painted. Live and learn!). So guess who got to try a big paint sprayer for the first time? Me! We rented a sprayer from Home Depot and just made it work.

The siding looked so bad after pressure washing. 🤣. We considered vinyl siding, but you will learn I’m a girl who always prefers to keep the OLD.

Let’s get this (paint) party started…
See little old me up there on the porch roof? I’ve jumped out an airplane…twice. How is it possible that I was TERRIFIED? You can’t see my hand shaking in the photo, but I can tell you that a shaking hand doesn’t make for good painting. 😂. I could barely move because I felt like I would literally slide down the roof at any moment. Luckily hubby came home and opened the attic window for me so I didn’t have to go back down that ladder.

Classic Details

Peep those sad (essentially 2 x 4) supports for the side porch roof. We knew this would end up being the main entrance to our home, and it needed a definite upgrade. I’m a creeper who studies homes in my neighborhood, and saw a home with porch supports (aka corbels) that I thought were stunning! Enter my woodworker dad once again (you’ll see him pop up several times over the course of our reno, and I couldn’t be more grateful). I gave him the design and he made it happen. I waffled over staining them or painting them, but decided to go with white paint to match the rest of the house. The door is natural wood and I didn’t want them to compete with that. (And yes, I know the door currently looks like trash. It’s on the LOOOOONG to-do list).

These supports HAD to go.
SUCH an improvement. Thanks, Dad!
I had the pleasure (ha!) of finishing them off. Filling all of the holes, sanding, caulking and painting.
They look prettier in a second…hang on 😉
I just adore them.

Adding them meant we had to move the light that was at the side of the door. I preferred to have a light in the ceiling anyway, so that was an easy choice. Not so easy to accomplish though, and we hired an electrician to handle it. The house has knob and tube wiring, so he had to replace everything related to this light. (More on how I handled that inside with the switch in another post!).

So what do you think? Would love to hear your comments or questions below! My goal was to honor the original house while adding period-appropriate details to really make her feel special. And this is just the tip of the iceberg….

11 thoughts on “Drab Disaster to White Wonder

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