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Curb Appeal for Christine


Dear Christine, this is Christine from Royal Oak, MI. My husband and I are in the process of redoing our ranch-style home and purchasing new windows, new garage door, entry doors (side and front) and possibly a new roof. This is a big deal for us financially, but we are taking the plunge and going for it! We need your help! We cannot decide what we should do with the siding due to our small ranch-style home already having half brick and half siding. I am soooo unhappy with the blah look and the blah curb appeal that my home has to offer.


I'm ready for a CUTE COTTAGE look that catches the eye. Possibly cedar shake, cultured stone, some added wood trim??? I am open to ANYTHING! We have a detached garage that is fully sided (no brick), but the front of the house is the main challenge (half siding/half brick).


We thought possibly cultured stone or cedar shake in the main front, and siding for the side and garage, but I need it to all come together and flow. I want CUTE! We already have/and are again getting the crossbar windows that look cottage cute, but the color of the siding, the front "pop" idea and the flow is the issue. Please give me your honest opinion. Please know that I realize it looks awful right now, this is where I'm praying you will give me ideas and insight. I just found a way to send you pix :)
Please see the other 2 emails following this one which will include add'l views of my home. We will be forever thankful if you would be willing to take on our challenge.


Hi Christine,


How exciting to be making big changes to your home!  I would focus on three things to create a more charming cottage feel.

  1. Larger windows.
  2. Stronger entrance.
  3. Architectural detail.

  This window is all wrong: I know that sometimes I give advice when only seeing the exterior, and it might be completely impossible if I could see the inside.  For example, I would say this window is too small, too short, too awkward.  Maybe it is over an important kitchen counter and can't be any larger, but I would do my best to make it larger.


I know it gets expensive to add a covered porch, but your current roof line is so lacking in character- it's hard to make the house look truly cute and charming without changing it.  I would make your front steps about 5x wider than they are now, and add a little porch off to the left with a pediment over the entry, sidelights adding bulk to the door, and increase the window size on the far right.


I did a little cut and paste to make some changes for you. 


I hope my choppy cut and paste gives your the feel I'm hoping it does. 





Rachel's Before and After

I have slowly been changing my home to follow your advice as money and time allows. I recently followed your advice in this post ( and painted my interior doors Benjamin Moore Dragon's Breath (left the wimpy moldings white). I've attached a new after photo of the doors from the same little corner of my living room you addressed in "The Offputting Offset" a few years ago so you could see the impact your advice has made. The moldings are new since the before picture, sadly wimpy was all I could afford--but better than the nonexistent moldings I started with!
The Christine-ifying the windows is on my summer project list--lining the curtains & adding a bamboo blind layer. Next year I plan to repaint the walls lighter & replace the recliner with a nice desk/chair/lamp.
Thank you for saving my home from my lack of design sense!


Thanks for writing in Rachel!  And thank you for setting those pictures staight! 


Miranda's Fireplace Mantle

Hi Christine,
We have this 1980's oversized mirror in our two story living room. Love the functionality (can see the little ones upstairs) but hate the dated look. What do you suggest?



Hi Miranda,


My first thought is to replace it with a piece of art rather than another mirror.  The mirror is simply reflecting a ceiling fan, not exactly an awesome focal point.  Your scale is good, so I would look for something a similar size.



One example would be the piece below- 70 x 48 in size, Raindrops by Uttermost.


Or- if abstract is not your style, you could do something like this:  Serenity from Uttermost.  I used this in a commercial job once- a salon.  It was even more impressive in person.   I would then lose all of the little accessories on the mantle, and just add one plant or set of vases, on one side.  

The scale of your smaller decor can't support the larger scale of the piece above it, creating a disconnect.  It is currently working as two separate units, the small items sitting on the mantle, and the large mirror above it.  It should operate as one unit, overlapped and tied together.




The Christmas Reveal Part 6 The Final Reveal

Whew!  It's over!  I still don't recommend this craziness to anyone.  The best part is that it made my husband and I have a deadline. Without one, we can be kind of slow.  And by "we" I mean "him".  ;-)  The kids are all happy with their new rooms.  Like I said in my last post, I never found new bedding for the boys, so I bought them new sleeping bags, and put them on the bed, instead of settling for something I wasn't happy with.  When I get the bedding and window treatments in there, I will post a follow up. 


Check out the new baseboards.  That is really what took so long, but without good trim, the room would never have looked really good.  You need to start with a great foundation.  Ideally, I would have had hardwood floors put in too...   I realized I don't have a great shot of the area rug, but one of my sons said it was his favorite part.  It's a great little rugby striped hooked wool rug. 


I replaced their standard size pillows with king size, which really is perfect for a twin size bed.  Standard is good for two pillows on a full size bed, that's about it.  Almost every other scenario is better off with king size pillows.  I got the navy cases from Garnet Hill.  The sheets are from Pottery Barn Kids.  They are old, from their previous bedroom. I'll get new ones in there when I come across ones I like better than these.  The hooked dog pillow is from PBK also, the penguin pillow is my favorite- it was from  The mural is from York.  I am a York dealer, so anyone interested can purchase it through me


The girls were super happy with their room.  They have even kept it clean for a little over 24 hours.  Shocking.  The boys have too.  I hope it lasts.  A lot of their surplus junk disappeared in the process, which will hopefully help them to maintain the clean look. 


The sheets were from Garnet Hill.  I found the chevron blankets at Home Goods.  The white pin tuck duvets and shams were from West Elm.  I got the fur pillows from Target, and the small pillows with the sayings from Francesca's. 


The light fixture was from IKEA, and the furry butterfly chair is from Pottery Barn Teen.  The drapes were Pottery Barn. 


The room needed crown moulding and a larger window sill, preferably framed out windows, but that would have sent Steve and I into marriage counseling, so I didn't push it. 


Did I mention that Steve (my husband) made the beds?  They weren't new, for this project, he had made them before.  He used these terrific heavy duty accuride glides, and the storage is amazing, allowing me to not be cramming dressers into these not-huge bedrooms.  The headboards I added, they are from Padma's Plantation. 


The Christmas BedroomReveal Part 5

Well, it's Christmas Eve.  Am I done?  A picture tells a thousand words right?  OK- here are some shots I just took of the boys' room:


still a mess....



Stephen is currently hanging a ceiling fan while the rest of the world is eating Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies.  Not sure I recommend this...but having a deadline is good in that at least it gets things done.  Well- mostly done.  I ordered a pre-made Roman shade for the boys' room.  It was terrible, I'm sending it back, and I'll order something nice, which of course, will not be here on time.   The boys' will just wake up with the sun for a little while.  I also haven't found bedding for the boys' bedrooms.  Little boys are smelly.  (Plus our dog sleeps in here) I wash their bedding a LOT.  I want something that  washes well, has the perfect colors, not too sophisticated, not too list of demands was too long.  However, January is the month for bedding, not December.  With all of the "white sales" will also come new inventory, and I'm sure I'll find something soon.  I really liked this duvet cover from Garnet Hill, but with the frequency that I'm washing, I really didn't want a duvet, especially one that might need ironing.  It seems like a hassle.  I loved this one, from Serena and Lilly, but was hoping to find something less expensive. 


If anyone sees something like the quilt above, for less $, let me know.  That one was close to $200 each.  It really is perfect though...


My girls' room is close to done- much closer than the boys'. 


A friend of moved into a house once, where the previous owner had, in her son's room, vinyl decals that looked like gang vandalism.  Some of the decals were made to look like bullet holes.  What parent would do that?  I am going for the opposite.  I want their bedroom decor to make them better people.  I want it to inspire them, make them feel safe and happy, good about themselves. 


Can you read it?  Love one another, don't forget to be aawesome, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Others say:  some days you have to create your own sunshine, happy girls are the prettiest, be realistic: plan for a miracle, you're kind of a big deal. 


Hopefully it will "work" and my kids will become perfect, well adjusted happy members of society, who love God and are kind to others.   I wonder how the boy with the graffiti bullet wallpaper is doing...  ?



I'd better stop blogging and get busy!