When we first bought Casa de Chaos, we had a long list of things that we wanted to do to fix it up. And by long, I mean loooooooooong. We concentrated on first making it livable, and are slowly working our way up to the major improvements. The plan was to work from the inside-out, but since Casa de Chaos really turned out to live up to its name (holy-freaking-cow... not even the smallest, simplest project can be small or simple with this house!), it turned out that we had to get started on the outside before all the inside projects are finished.
For example: last summer we had to move "Backyard Overhaul" up on our list so that we could turn this:
So that Jack could do this:
This October, we found ourselves at a point where it made the most sense to once again rearrange our list and do an outside project ahead of our initial schedule. Project 1: Dave and I decided that it was time to have some energy-efficient windows put in (read:windows that actually work), and we found a place that would do them within our budget (Mark's Windows... if you use them, tell them I sent you!). I was thrilled, because new windows was so high on my list of important improvements, and I've been waiting for them for 4 years!
In addition to replacing our single-paned aluminum windows (that didn't do very much to keep out the heat, the cold, or the noise... and also were not entirely weather-proof, by the way), we also had them cut down the window in the living room to turn it into another sliding door for backyard access, as previously the only way to get to the backyard was through the master bedroom. Makes so much more sense to have the slider off of the living room!
Fabulous difference, no?
Project 2: Since we were clearing things away from the house to get ready for the windows, it made a lot of sense to get the stucco done at the same time. Our stucco was absolutely ridiculous, as you can see from the above Before pic of the windows. One contractor who came out to give us a quote took one look at the stucco and his jaw nearly dropped to the ground. He said "Oh boy, this is really amateur-hour over here!" Yeah, couldn't have said it better myself. I mean, really, who would have looked at this and thought "Job well done!" or even, for that matter "Eh, that's good enough."
So, we found another company to work within our budget and we had them get to work sandblasting and stuccoing our home.
Unfortunately I never got around to taking a Before shot of the front of the house. Fortunately, when we first moved in I had properly documented the original state of Casa de Chaos, and so in my archives was a photo taken the day we moved in! The only changed we had made to the front since this photo was taken was that we had bought a new mailbox and had covered the dirt in the planters with rocks (as a temporary-but-just-as-ugly solution). Notice the rolled carpet in the driveway... the previous owner was a smoker and as soon as I turned the key and we walked into the house, Dave walked over and began ripping out the carpet with his bare hands! Have I ever mentioned how awesome he is? ;)
Step one in the process of stuccoing is sandblasting. If you ever have people sandblast your house, do two things first. Clean out your garage, and plan to be somewhere else that day! I have no words to describe just how freaking loud it was in our house while they were sandblasting outside! Seriously! I've never ever heard anything like it... the only thing I can compare it to is when you walk past a construction site and people are sandblasting, except at least then you're outside and it's not echoing off of every little surface in your home and you're not trapped inside with no escape! I'm surprised that Jack didn't suffer any hearing damage because of it, and I'm hoping that This One wasn't developing any sort of auditory functions that week- if he comes out hearing impaired then I know why!
When they were done sandblasting, Dave and I went outside to see what our house looks like naked. It wasn't a pretty sight. Especially when we opened up the garage and saw that mud and sand had gotten in there and was covering everything that we had stored in there!!! Absolutely ridiculous. I mean, we were prepared for the mess outside and around the home, but inside the garage?! And that is why I won't be recommending that company to anyone. Luckily we were able to salvage the things that were important and valuable, and the things that we weren't able to salvage really weren't important anyway.
So, here are pictures of our naked house!
Check out the crazy layer of sand all around our house! This was the kind of thing we expected... but imagine that inside your garage!
Aaaaand I just realized that I never actually took pictures of the finished stucco! I mean, I have pictures of it, but I don't have any of that specifically. Only as part of pictures of other things, such as in the background of the pictures of Jack painting pumpkins for Halloween. But since it's dark outside and I don't want to wait to post this, I guess you get a sneek peek at an upcoming (hopefully) post!
I know it's hard, but try to look past the adorable two-year-old and concentrate on the stucco!
Project 3: Dave and I also decided that it was a good time to replace our front door! I was especially excited about this part, because not only was I finally going to get the red front door that I'd always wanted, but we were finally going to be able to hang the door-knocker that my mom had given us 6 years ago as a wedding present! Doesn't the door look gorgeous?!
There are still a ton of improvements we want to make in the front of the house, but I am thrilled that we are now three major steps closer to having a house with great Curb Appeal! More importantly, now I can look at my home from the outside and feel like we're starting to make our mark on it- that this is our home, and that it's starting to look like it, too!.