Our Cape Exterior Renovation Plans

Our first major reno project of this house is tackling the exterior – and for once we are hiring the big jobs out (hallelujah)! Here’s our starting point – already drastically improved because we ripped out the front bed of overgrown rhododendron and pachysandra. It was a legitimate jungle! Now the grass seed is starting to sprout, and it looks a million times better already. I’m sure this area will evolve as I plan some beds, but for now I’m happy.

I refer to our house as  “Santa’s Workshop” thanks to the candy-cane-esque window boxes and red and white palette:

I’ve always loved the timeless charm of a classic white house. Though not super exciting, exteriors are EXPENSIVE and I would hate to harbor any regret a few years down the road (because that’s totally something I would do.) When I went looking for inspiration, I had to laugh at myself because 99% of my old exterior pinterest boards are none other than classic white.

Black Band Design


Brandon Architects via Studio McGee


Urban Electric Co.

It’s a great jumping off point to play with color in the forms of the gardens, shutters, and front door. I was 100% certain of my decision, that was until this photo from Coastal Living’s May issue had me second guessing myself:


It’s dramatic, yet classic. A little bold. More fun than all white for sure. The stone work, the gardens. The stunning windows with chunky trim. Yep, I’ll take it!

Then, all I could see were gorgeous dark homes done so well. It’s kind of like when you’re pregnant and suddenly pregnant women are all you see. Everywhere, everyone is pregnant. I was torn again.

But then I realized 1. we are not rich and 2. the cost it would take to get the look I wanted in a dark exterior was WAY out our price range and what we are willing to maintain.

I loved the dark hue, but only on painted clapboard or cedar shake siding (or a really good and therefore expensive alternative). You can see the slight color variation and grain coming through in the photo above.

And then the roof – that’s not a typical shingle roof. That’s an authentic cedar shake roof. It’s gorgeous. It’s expensive. It’s not low maintenance.

SO. Once I came back down to reality, I felt much better about the choice to go all white.

We have a lot going on and big plans in mind! In an effort to spare you from my lack of photoshop skills, I just labeled everything we have planned:

The red aluminum siding will be replaced with white vinyl 5″ siding. Nothing fancy here, but it will be clean. We will be changing up the texture on the small dormers and using a cedar impressions product for a little variety.

Since there’s so much visible roof, that will break up the white. We’re going with a dark gray/brown here.

Our existing scrawny porch posts will be wrapped in cedar, and Vito is building a small garage pergola/trellis that will have a climbing flowering vine to bring in some color.

At Home in Arkansas

Via Pinterest

The current windows will be swapped out for a taller alternative, which will be a more appropriate scale for the house overall.

Inside the porch we currently have painted brick as the siding, and we’re going to attempt to strip it. I’m going for a german smear look as seen below, which again will break up the white and add more interest.

Via Houzz

Finally, we’ll add shutters in the front and paint the front door. We decided to go with dark bronze gutters instead of the typical white.

Urban Electric Co.

To say I’m excited is a HUGE understatement. We have a ton going on but I’m confident it will come together nicely and be far from boring. Landscaping and hardscaping are separate posts, likely down the road!

The back needs help too, and we’re slowly planning what we’d like for it to look like.

Immediately, we’re adding the doors to the dining room and mudroom (currently windows), and the deck. The patio will come into play in the next few years, as well as establishing a real landscaping plan. Then eventually, we’re hoping to replicate something like this down by the water.


Some day!

What do you think of our plan? My goal is to create a unique exterior scheme all while using conventional, attainable products. Fingers crossed for a smooth process! I’ll share the progress as soon as we get started.

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