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The house’s exterior has long been a challenge for me. It’s something that is perpetually on my to do list, but it just never feels as satisfying to get it done like it does for me to do something indoors. Perhaps that’s why it takes me so long. Can you relate?

house front before
House’s exterior – 2009

Sure, I’m getting it done little by little. Repairing siding. Figuring out what to do with the garden beds or the air conditioning unit off to the side. Making sure squirrels don’t ruin it all.

Sometimes, just for idea’s sake, I like to wander around my neighborhood with Charlie and see how other people have decorated the exteriors of their homes — the colors they use, the flowers that seem to grow well in their yards, etc. I think of it as a real life mood board. And since my neighborhood is one of those kinds of subdivisions where they used a random mix of five or so different plans when the whole thing went up, I can easily find a few that have my exact same layout.

For the sake of privacy, any license plates or house numbers have been blurred out in these photos.

example with shutters

Why Your Neighborhood Stroll is Just as Important as Pinterest

1. It gives you realistic goals.

While lots of my neighborhood is still in its revamp phase (some houses are clearly owned and loved and getting made over; some are still in the same state of disrepair as this one was when I moved in), these two houses pictured are the go-tos for comparison. The one above is one of the first that gave me the idea of making the trim pop with more white. And since this house is exactly the same as mine in terms of windows, shape, etc., I have a much easier time visualizing it than comparing to a McMansion I found on Pinterest. And in terms of a budget, the comparison helps me to make better decisions on whether I’m going overboard on an upgrade (such as tech improvements that won’t really help me attract a new buyer when I inevitably sell).

2. It gives you color scheme ideas.

Since my roof has a reddish tone and not a gray one, I couldn’t use the color schemes pictured, but the updated trim does make the house look more crisp. Winner, winner… breakfast for dinner (I know the real phrase; this one’s just more my style).

3. It lets you see some ideas you hate… and avoid doing them.

I’m not crazy about boxy hedges — it’s like the house just got a flat top haircut. Which is why I don’t have them in front of my place, but that’s just my style, and it’s okay that they like what they like (I’m sure it’s also really easy to maintain). I love the the addition of their shutters, though. And sometimes when I really struggle with picking out plants that will grow well in my yard, it’s awesome to see when someone’s more mature plants are thriving (saving me the time and expense of being wrong).

The house below has more trees to contend with, so I like that they draw a little more attention to the house with some exterior decor. Its placement is something I never would have even thought of, so I like it for being unexpected. I don’t think I’ll be adding one to the front of mine, but I do think something on the stone accent on the porch area would be neat.

example with star

4. It reminds you to keep going.

I keep telling myself that baby steps are fine. Go simple, do one thing at a time. Especially since there’s never a shortage around here of something that needs to be fixed, needs to be updated, needs to be trimmed, needs to be weeded. And since that list is always growing, I can at least appreciate that since these homes are just a short walk away. If I ever feel like I’m making no headway at all, someone else at least has a clue. And it’s doable.

Back at it with progress this week (one or two new things started; one or two things getting finished up!), and I’ll have some pics to share of the new kitchen bar all oiled down. It looks just as good as I first imagined! What are your goals for this week?

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  1. I’ve always thought your house would look great in a steely blue color (to contrast with the brown stone on the porch) with a metal roof. Looks like your neighbors had the same idea! At least I think I see a metal roof in that second example photo. It’s AMAZING the impact that a new exterior paint job will have on your whole outlook. I did mine a few years ago (after having a tree fall on my house and having to put on a new roof – I splurged on a metal one – and having to repair all sorts of damage in the process that needed to be painted) and I still can’t believe the overall impact that change had on the entire look.

  2. Such a simple, yet brilliant idea! Thanks for the inspiration. I will definitely have to keep this in mind for my own house.

  3. We did this when deciding what color to paint our house. We found a neighbor’s that we liked, and I got the guts up to knock on their door and find out who did their siding! We were able to call the company and get a sample of the siding, which we color matched at the paint store, and used that paint color to update our exterior color. Lesson learned: some neighbors will appreciate the compliment of you asking them about their house because you believe they are doing a great job maintaining it!

  4. Great advice, creating a dream home is a process and there’s no need to do it all at once. Such a good point about getting a realistic idea of what’s possible, I always tend to turn to the internet for ideas, but different climates, plants and materials can work out completely differently in your home town than where the pictures were taken. Glad I stumbled upon your blog, I’ll be coming back here for more tips in the future!

  5. ” NEIGHBORHOOD STROLL IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS PINTEREST”. This is definitely true. My wife and I used to do this when we moved into our new home and it really helped us decide on what to do. The first thing we did was to resurface our driveway. We envied our neighbor who owns a beautiful stamped concrete driveway! :)