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Our 80s House Project | Exterior Before & After (So Far!)

Hello friends! I hope all is well in your world today!

With so many losing their homes in the recent hurricanes and wildfires, I have been feeling especially grateful and tenderhearted towards this 80s fixer upper of ours that I frequently grow impatient with. We had grand plans to make more dramatic changes to it these last few years, but life took a detour as it so often does, and our progress is more akin to maple sap trickling out of a tree into a waiting bucket than to a rushing river. While it would have been SUPER FUN to do the entire house over all at once, there is something to be said for taking your time. We have a deeper appreciation for every little improvement in a way that might have been lost had we done it all at once (at least, that’s what I tell myself 🙂 ).

In the early summer we had TONS of rotted trim replaced, the exterior painted and new shutters installed on this 32 year old house. Along with the new windows we replaced a few years ago, we feel like we have a whole new abode! From the outside anyway.

I thought I’d share a bit of how this house has evolved over the past 7 years.


BEFORE  – The Front

Our house is a “standard” colonial, and it literally is as standard as they come – and identical to thousands of houses all over New England. It’s not unique in any way (except for the kooks that live here!) but it has a lot of natural light, is on a flat lot on a quiet country road, and we have exceptionally awesome next door neighbors! We also have a TON of trees as you can see.

An 80s colonial in New England slowly gets a facelift.

With mixed emotions we had a few of those big pines removed so we could have a yard with grass instead of pine needles. You can see in the back even after a couple big ones came down, we still had trees all the way up to the house.

A New England colonial gets a facelift.

I painted the front door and garage doors black, and spray painted the front lights from rust-colored to black (they’ve held up great through the years and season by the way!)

A standard colonial in New England.

The former owners loved gardening so we have tons of beautiful plantings that just needed to be tamed a bit!

A standard colonial in New England is renovated.

As I mentioned, this year we had the house painted and added shutters.

I actually really liked the last color (BM Cromwell Grey) but we were ready for a change and always love a classic white & black color scheme.

You can see more of our fall front steps here.

It’s looking a little nekkid without shrubs, but we’re happy with the direction it’s going!


I’ve shown this photo many times before but if you’re new here, our backyard was basically a forest, and half of it was fenced in for the former owner’s dogs.

I wasn’t kidding when I said the trees came right up to the house!

A backyard makeover

The trees overhanging the deck and back of the house had caused some rot and basically the whole back yard was just a mess. See more of the before and after of our deck from a few years ago.

The backyard of an 80s-era house that is slowly getting renovated.

For our family with three kids and a very big dog, it made more sense to have a yard than a forest, so we cleared a bunch of trees,

brought in mountains of loam to have the yard leveled, and planted grass. (I miss that sweet slobbery pup! He loved working in the yard with me 🙂 )

The grass was a HUGE improvement, and then last year I added the pea stone patio and built the stone veneered fire pit.

Our landscaping around the patio is starting to fill in….the ornamental grasses have grown really tall and full, and hopefully the pink-flowering spirea will fill out more over time.

An 80s-era colonial in Massachusetts in renovated one project at a time.

Our backyard is such a functional space now, we love it.



As with any home, I don’t think we’ll ever run out of projects! Next up….

Re-setting the path.

We’re thrilled to have some beautiful, thick blue stones to work with. They all have to be removed and scrubbed clean, a new foundation of crushed stone and stone dust installed, and the stones re-set. We’ll set the new path a foot or so out into the yard next time to give the shrubs and trees a little more room.

And……new steps.

Oh the sad state of affairs with our front steps! Rusted railing holes and crumbling concrete, pretty!! HA. These are the original steps and a gap has developed between them and the house. At some point we’ll have them rebuilt a bit wider, and clad in bluestone like the walk.

Baby “steps”!

If you are on the slow and steady path to renovating a house too, take heart! It’ll all get done eventually. We’ll do it together and have some fun along the way!

Have a great day friends and thanks for taking a few moments out of your day to stop by!


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Shelley | Crazy Wonderful

Monday 23rd of October 2017

Lisa!!! So blown away by all the work you guys have done! The black and white paint is stunning on your home!


Tuesday 24th of October 2017

Aww thanks so much my friend! It's coming along slowly but surely!

Melanie Brown

Friday 20th of October 2017

Oh how beautiful! This gives me hope for my 80's home. I love what you have done!


Friday 20th of October 2017

Oh you're so sweet Melanie! YOUR house gives ME hope for this 80s home!! :)


Thursday 19th of October 2017

Just loved your article and the mention of taking your time. I too am trying to do a million projects and some times drive myself batty! We’ve been here just over a year and if I sit back and think about it we’ve done a lot. Everything takes time and money ......lots of it! Having little ones at home needing lots of attention....some projects just need to take a back burner!! I plan on being here for years so I just need to slow down and enjoy the ride and the few projects at a time!


Monday 23rd of October 2017

Brenda, you'll get there eventually! We're ticking things off our list oh so slowly, but they're starting to add up a bit at a time!

Debbie - Mountain Mama

Thursday 19th of October 2017

Your home is gorgeous, Lisa! I have a list a mile long of things I want to do to my house....when time and budget allow. One thing that I hope to do before the snow flies is paint the doors - the previous owner painted them black and very sloppily! I am so on the fence as far as color, but I just need to make a decision and get it done.


Thursday 19th of October 2017

Debbie have you ever painted doors with a paint sprayer? I did our garage doors and the front door a few years ago and it went so quickly, plus the finish came out beautifully!! I highly recommend it! Just tape newspaper all around the doors and use tin foil on your handles and hardware - the prep takes more time than the actual painting! Good luck. You'll be glad when you've crossed that off your list!


Thursday 19th of October 2017

I love the changes you have made. The classic white and black is lovely.


Thursday 19th of October 2017

Thank you Joan! The white with black shutters was a very last minute decision and I'm glad I went with it!