How we updated the look of our 80’s split entry home on a budget.
It’s been almost five years since we bought our little 80’s split level home in the country. We love living here. But let’s face it… the 80’s were not the best years for architecture. Our split level home really needed some updating, but we didn’t want to spend a fortune doing it. Obviously it would be amazing to get all new siding and change the roof line
or burn the house down and start again. But it just isn’t practical for us to sink that much money into this home, so we went for the best bang-for-your-buck projects instead.
If your home is dated, I’m hoping that by sharing what we did and why, you’ll get inspiration for how you can improve your curb appeal too.
Let’s walk through all of the projects.
Within weeks of moving in, I took down the beat-up brass lights and spray painted them with oil rubbed bronze spray paint. HUGE impact for only a few bucks! Five years later and they still look like the day I painted them. Can I just say it again? I adore spray paint.
In the last month or so I’ve been hunting for new exterior light fixtures to replace them with and I’m not finding anything. Because of the positioning of the mounts so far down on the house and so close to the brick ledge, only a light that points up will work, and who knew, but those are rare. So I guess I’m glad I spray painted the lights because they may never get updated.
Another easy project we did that had a big impact was taking down the dated storm door and painting the front door a bright color.
I used Americana Curb Appeal Paint in the color Cape Cod Mint. Honestly, it still makes me smile every time I drive up to the house. And this was a project that only took an afternoon and about $10.
The biggest project we tackled was replacing the roof. We did it ourselves. Yes, you read that right. My husband and I (and my amazing brother who came to help when a snowstorm was imminent) nailed on every last shingle.
It was a ton of backbreaking, hot, sweaty work and I would only recommend doing it yourself if you have a simple roof shape that’s not very steep. We still have post traumatic remodeling disorder from this one. But it did save us a ton of money. The total cost for our new roof was only about $4,000. We bought these shingles from Home Depot in the color Onyx Black. One thing I will say is that if you install a roof yourself, buy the roofing nailer. Just do it.
Although replacing our old metal windows did make the house look better, we mostly chose to replace them for practical reasons. The old windows were drafty, collected condensation and were hard to open and close. This is the very first job we have ever hired out and it was so nice to watch someone else do the work for a change. The total cost for window replacement and installation was about $4,200.
Since we were replacing the windows, we took the opportunity to switch out the two slot windows on the front entry for one large picture window and I think it really updates the look of the house. We were able to salvage the brick from in between the windows to patch the bottom ledge around the new, bigger window and you can’t even tell that it’s not original. Woot woot!
We added a window box too and I just think everyone needs a window box. I love it so much. You can read more about it here.
New Accent Siding
Oh, how I would love to just tear off all of the siding on the entire house and replace it with something in a dreamy, modern color. But it’s just so darn expensive and the original powder coated aluminum siding is in great shape, so we couldn’t justify it. My husband vetoed painting the existing siding because then we’d be trading a durable, no maintenance material for something we’d have to repaint every few years. Although I get where he’s coming from, I would still PAINT. ALL. THE. THINGS. if I didn’t love him so much. LOL.
Our solution was to only replace the faded brown accent siding in all of the gables. We knew that there was no way to match the existing siding, so we went with a contrasting white vinyl shake shingle instead. We ordered it at the Pro Desk at Home Depot. I love the fresh, crisp feel it adds to the house. It was definitely the right choice to go with something contrasting… both in texture and color.
New Trim Paint
The paint on our metal fascia was peeling, so we painted it using Sherwin-Williams
Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint. I don’t know why I waited so long. It was a quick Saturday morning job and made our house look like nice people live there instead of looking like a haunted house.
I used the same paint on the old wood balcony railing and wow! It made a big difference! I love a good coat of crisp, white paint and this particular paint came very highly recommended. It’s a paint and primer in one, so it went on really well and I’ve heard nothing but praise about how it wears. Paint is one of those things that you get what you pay for, so I knew it was worth splurging on the good paint and I regret nothing.
Garage Door Hardware
One last easy fix to the house was adding decorative hardware to the garage door. I think it ties in nicely with the black roof and dark light fixtures. This set on Amazon is super cheap but has good reviews and is magnetic, so you can just slap it up for instant curb appeal. Boo-yah!
Put all of these projects together, and here’s the difference:
It looks much better, don’t you think? I still have a few small projects (and definitely some more landscaping) I want to do, but no joke, it’s snowing right now, so all our outside projects will probably have to wait for spring.