This Old House: Dressing Up the Exterior


To set the scene, I must replay the story of this home purchase. We were happily living in our first home. We had not quite outgrown it yet, but were keeping an eye out for something with more land- something that is scarce within the city limits. I came across the listing for this house and we were wowed by the pictures, spend all of 20 min looking at the home and immediately submitted a bid.  I am not the least bit impulsive.  In fact, the Libra in me usually has me agonizing over even the smallest of decisions. My husband is the impulsive one, and usually I consider it my duty to interject with some sound reasoning lest we act too hastily. This is the one time I went along with one of his spontaneous plans, and I think it is because I was impressed by the possibilities of this house.  I didn’t have the big vision. That is all Dean. But I could immediately tell you what I liked and did not like. And I can tell you that upon moving in, we both had a little buyer’s remorse because one of the things we did not like was the look of the house itself.

Upon closer inspection, you can see why:


First of all, the house itself is limestone, which I like, but laid out in brick rather than flagstone style, which is not as charming. Worse, the gutters and trim were printed red and the fascia burnt orange. True, we are home to the UT Longhorns, but I see no reason to drag your house into it. The existing limestone walkway was showing its age and the hedges had long become unmanageable.


Probably our least favorite part was these massive stone columns, which obscured a good part of the front windows.

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The trees provided a lot of charm, but the landscaping left a lot to be desired, and there was an awful lot of grass beyond that to mow and water.


We decided that we wanted to tackle the landscaping in the fall.  We had some experience transforming a blank canvas in our previous home, but had never attempted such a large project. We decided we would seek help with the landscape design and implement it ourselves over time. What really happened is that we fell in love with the design and wanted to see it come to fruition a little sooner than we could manage. I love gardening so it killed me not to get my hands dirty doing it myself, but in the end, we decided to have Sagebrush Landscaping implement their design and boy are we glad we did.

At the same time, Dean was adamant that we needed to do something about the orange and the unsightly columns. We came across this house on one of our weekend rides in the TX Hill Country , and he became convinced we could achieve a similar look. In fact, that is how we found Debbie of Sagebrush. She did the landscaping for this house also. Notice all the texture she creates by mixing mulch, gravel and decomposed granite beds with the grass providing a pop of color in between.

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First up, our trusty mason Juan of CM Masonry took down the original columns and replaced them with more eye-pleasing tapered columns with stacked stone. Our carpenter, Jonathan, gave us a nice vaulted cedar ceiling and rustic cedar shudders. When the original stone came down, we discovered the house was held up by twigs (I’m exaggerating but not my much), so we were glad to know something more structurally sound took its place. The results far exceeded my expectations. As Dean says, “I don’t know why you ever doubt me.” Good eye, Dean. Good eye.

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I may have forgotten to mention, that we have an orange roof made more orange by the burnt orange fascia. I actually took a shingle over to Sanders at Roosters Paint and Decor on South Congress. He came up with a list of his top five brown paints that would downplay my roof and we ended up going with Benjamin Moore 1232 Fresh Brew, which is a chocolate with red undertones that looks great with the white limestone. Love that Sanders.


Benjamin Moore Fresh Brew



Debbie was no slack herself. Her crew worked its magic over the period of a week creating a front yard oasis, all while working around our septic tank and leach fields (with which I was a bit obsessed not wanting to end up with poop backed up in the front yard and all).

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We now love the rustic charm of our updated house and hope to enjoy it for many years to come!



One thought on “This Old House: Dressing Up the Exterior

  1. Pingback: This Old House: Dressing Up The Exterior Part II | While Everyone Else Is Sleeping

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