1987 Fixer Upper: Home Exterior Before and After

Whew!  When I look back at 2017, all I can see is a blur of craziness…which has everything to do with our cross country house hunt, move and remodel of our 1987 Fixer Upper.  You can read about the process for finding this house here and a mid construction progress update on the exterior here.   There are still a few things to finish up, but it’s time to get started with these before and after reveals! It has been almost cathartic to putt his post together to really see just how far we’ve come in the last 6 months.  Sometimes it has felt like time was going in slow-motion, and yet, here we are, six months from moving and basically living in a brand new house.  Crazy.  In each post I’ll try to give you a little history, my thought process in choosing the design, the hiccups we encountered, costs and surprises to expect, how long it took, the materials we chose and why we chose them, and most importantly the things I learned.  Living and breathing this process for a year was the best education I could have received on renovating/flipping a house.  Hold on to your hats!  Here we go, starting with the home exterior before and after.

A Little History:

I was drawn to this house for a number of reasons, but mainly because I was looking for something that matched the following criteria:

  1. Had good bones, a floor plan that was great to start with and easy to fix the quirks it may have
  2. A great neighborhood (good schools, close to shopping etc.)
  3. Something that was priced right so I could make the necessary changes and then turn around and sell it in relatively short order (and hopefully make a profit) if needs be.

It became clear after months of searching in a crazy housing market that a fixer upper was going to be really the only thing that fit those criteria.  Every house I looked at I simply looked for those three things…I paid little attention to what the house actually looked like aside from the floor plan.  I knew that whatever I bought was going to need work and become the biggest project I would probably ever take on.  I also knew that the price was critically important!  I had met with several contractors and the rates they were quoting me for fixing up some of the houses I had looked out were insanely high. There is a major worker/housing shortage in this state which happens to be the fastest growing state in the country right now. It is also the #1 state for business in the country so people and businesses are flocking here and therefore, contractors, construction materials etc.are outrageous right now!  I had trouble even getting people to call me back because they just didn’t need/want the work.  Crazy! So, I imported my uncle. ;). He is a contractor in San Diego and after some convincing, was willing to commute and take on this crazy project with me.  Thank goodness because I couldn’t have done it without him!!  The first time I saw this house online I knew it was the one.  We made an offer sight unseen and then I flew up to see it.  I already had an idea in my mind of what I wanted to change just from seeing the pictures online, and once I visited the house a few days later I knew exactly what we were going to do.  I sketched this in the hotel room the night I visited the house…

Exterior sketch

The next day I tweaked the entry just a bit…

1980's home remodel

It is kind of wild for me to look back at those initial sketches that were literally done in a few minutes after seeing the house once and to see how it looks now.  It’s crazy to see something I sketched out on a piece of notebook paper come to life!

Exterior done 16

So are you ready for the onslaught of images?  I’ll cover all the nitty gritty at the bottom of the post, but for those of you that are just here for some fun before and after pictures, here you go…enjoy!

Exterior transformation before and after collage with text 1

Entry way

Back exterior transformation

Exterior back 2

We had to change all of the windows in the house because they were 30 year old aluminum windows that were very inefficient.  I added several windows to the house at that time as well since we were already making a mess! ;). I love as much natural light as absolutely possible.  This house faces north/south, which is great for snow melt, not so great for good natural light in the back of the house where the main living spaces are, so I added this window on the east side of the house to help bring in some light from another direction.  My uncle has a little too much fun with spray paint. 😉

Exterior window add

When I reconfigured the floor plan I added a bunch of windows on the upper west side of the house too, which used to have no windows.

Exterior done 13 with text 2

The entry way had white aluminum on the ceiling covering the porch.  I wanted something warmer and more inviting so we switched it to a stained cedar and I love it!

Entry way ceiling

I searched high and low for ideas for the exterior of this house.  This was the inspiration I used for the two story bay windows in the front of the house.  We matched the bay in the back to these as well.

Exterior inspiration

Exterior b and a 29

Exterior done 17

home exterior before and after pictures

Exterior done 13

Exterior done 11

I am so happy with this gray wash treatment that allows you to still see the character of the original brick underneath.  I know the painters thought I was crazy and I drove them nuts making them create tons of samples for me and explain their process a million times to make sure they were going to get it right and that we were on the same page, but it worked and I love it!

Exterior done 9

1987 fixer upper home exterior before and after

The pillars that used to hold lights still need to be dealt with, but those will be part of phase 2…the landscaping.  They will get new tops and become planters.  Yay!

Exterior done 2

The black gutters were something I really wanted, but was a little afraid to commit to.  I am SO glad I did!  The second they started going up I was in love. With such a light house, we needed some serious contrast with the black in spots to make it come to life.  The shutters were another inexpensive, yet powerful pop of color/black that really brought the house to life. and they were very inexpensive.  A lot of bang for our buck!  Easy to install too!

Exterior done 3

You can get a better idea of where that white aluminum ceiling in the porch area used to be.  New cedar for the win!

Exterior done 1

Dsc 8193

1987 fixer upper home exterior before and after

Exterior done 5

So, there she is!  All put back together and looking a lot different than when we started.  What do you think?  If you want all the details, keep on reading. If you just want more fun before and after pictures, come back next week when we head inside! 😉


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Siding- Sherwin Williams High Reflective White

Front Door- Sherwin Williams Tri-Corn Black


What we changed on the exterior:

-All new windows in the house

-Added 5 new windows to the house and new window trim on the upstairs windows

-Moved the door to the back yard over 2 feet and installed a single French door instead of a steel door

-The arched entry way and arched window over the front door

-The front door

-Trimmed out the bay windows with wood

-The exterior lighting

-The soffit

-The gutters

-The exterior facade from stucco to siding on the upstairs

-The paint colors

 How long did it take?

Exterior changes started the first week of May and were completed by the end of October

What Can I Expect to Pay for Similar Changes?

Ok, so I know this is the big question that everyone wants answered and I will do my best to give you an idea…but obviously it depends on SO many factors!  Where you live, what the home building climate is like (supply and demand), how big the house is, what materials you decide to use, even which contractors you decide to go with.  I am going to lump what I learned about many of these things in with the cost analysis.

The best advice I can give is this…

Do your homework. Check places like Angie’s List where people can give unbiased reviews.  Find those contractors that have an A rating and LOT of positive reviews.  Call 3 of the top people you find and get quotes.  Get to know them a bit and really go over exactly what you want and see how you communicate with them.  The prices can vary widely even between those three.  Cheapest isn’t always the best.  Go with your gut.  It is super important that you can communicate with them and LIKE them.  They are going to be in your house for a long time and you need to feel comfortable with them.  If you want, ask for references and call those people, drive by their houses to get an idea of what the work looks like completed and lived in for awhile. All of this may seem tedious, but when you are spending a bunch of your hard earned money and completing a project that you will live with for a LONG time, it is important!

That being said, here is what I learned and my best cost guide/price ranges found for some of these services in our area for this project:


Windows are expensive.  No question about it.  Single hung vinyl windows are your most cost effective option.  You probably have these in your house right now.  You can get vinyl painted if you want black window frames for an additional cost.  The places we received quotes from painted the frames in the factory and guaranteed the paint for 10 years.  What we ended up paying worked out to about $53 a square foot.  Which means a 3’x5′ window is about $795.  This includes installation.  Changing out your windows is like opening up a BIG can of worms.  In order for windows to be properly installed, you basically have to destroy everything around the window on both the interior and exterior of the house.  Dry wall, stucco, etc.  You may have to change some of the framing if it has deteriorated or doesn’t fit the new windows properly.  You will have to call in a host of other contractors (think insulation, drywall, painters etc.) to fix the mess the installation requires.  It is my understanding that you CAN replace windows without being quite as messy, but it is not the recommended way for the tightest seal and best fit…and it’s still messy.  This is the sole reason we ended up doing so much work to the exterior of the house.  I didn’t love the exterior when we bought it, but I also wasn’t sure it was in the budget to fix it up immediately.  Well, after learning that the stucco had to come off anyway, and in doing so, the soffit and gutters would be damaged and have to come off, we were going to have to replace the old stucco with something so up went the siding, new paint, new soffit, new gutters etc.  If you are going to change your windows, be sure to check with your utility company.  Many times they will offer significant rebates for installing more energy efficient products.  Both the gas company AND the electric company were offering rebates in our area which led to significant savings..like 5-10% of the total cost. YAY!

Have a I scared you yet?  😉


We opted to go with Hardie board which, from everything I read seems to be a great product.  It is more expensive than aluminum, but I definitely prefer the look of it.  Something I learned that surprised me about the siding guys is that they really take care of several things..if you are thinking about switching from stucco or something else to siding, here is what you can usually expect from your siding guys… (at least in my experience from those I received quotes from)

-demo existing exterior facade, soffit and gutters

-install siding

-install new soffit and gutters

-install new window trim

-prep and paint siding

It was nice to not have to hire separate painters, gutter installers etc.

A common look when installing siding is like then shown in this picture…the corners of the house trimmed with a 1×4 to cover up unsightly edges where the joints of the siding meet.  The windows are typically framed in with straight 1x4s or 1x2s with mitered corners.

Exterior inspiration

Well, I don’t love this look.  I wanted a cleaner edge that was much less noticeable.  Flashings are very common, so if you like that look don’t be afraid to ask your contractor about it.  They are a small metal piece that joins the two pieces of siding where they come together.  Once they are painted the same color as the siding they are hardly noticeable. It was a bit of a pain to get the contractor to agree to this, simply because it’s not their usual way of doing things.  But I stuck to my guns and they gave in.  It was a tiny bit more work for them for a great return on the overall look of the place.

I had countless meetings that looked just like this with all the contractors on site.  Me and 3-4 guys trying to map out exactly what I wanted to make sure everyone was clear on the process.  Is it a pain…YES!  But in the end I got the results I wanted and that’s what is important.

Exterior b and a 17

I also wanted a bit of a more decorative trim on the windows…a small ledge under each window and a small header on the top of each. This is where I learned my first lesson about communication and just how important it is to stay on top of the people you hire.  I gave the installers pictures of exactly what I wanted and explained it to them many times over.  Neither of these requests were difficult, yes, they required a bit more labor (which of course I was willing to pay for) but they were not hard and are fairly standard.   Even with images they installed the window trim incorrectly THREE times. Had I not been there watching the installation process closely, it might not have been fixable, at least not without a giant headache.  YIKES!!  Again, I stress making sure you can communicate with your contractors! ;). This is the look we ended up with that I am very happy with..   Just those little details make such a difference!

Exterior b and a 19

Exterior done 11

As far as cost is concerned, the best estimate I can give you with a round number is for that of about a 2000 sq foot house, not including demo of existing facade since we didn’t have that included in our estimates.  Adjusting the estimates we received for this round 2000 sq feet number, bids would fall somewhere in between $13-15,000 for the siding, gutters, soffit, and paint installation.


We had the coolest 83 year old mason.  Yep…you read that right!  He was amazing and needless to say, had tons of experience. ;). He was incredibly reasonable, which again is part of the reason we decided to just go ahead with adding a window downstairs, moving and changing the back door, and changing the shape of the window over the front door and the arched entry way to a squared off entry.   He also removed the huge outdated fireplace in the family room.  You might be surprised that some of the things you think are going to be prohibitively expensive, end up to be much more affordable than you thought!  Grout is hard to match…especially when it is 30 years old.  You can see a slight difference in some of the areas where the brick was repaired or replaced even after painting, so you should probably expect it.  But it is not enough of a problem to keep me from having the work done.


Again, communication is key!  I wanted the gray wash instead of a glossy, totally coated brick look.  I called my local Sherwin Williams store told them what I was looking for and asked them for recommendations on who they would hire for a job like that and got estimates from them.  I basically interviewed each of the painters I had over, asking them about their process and how they would do everything from cleaning the brick to then painting it and sealing it.  By the time I had talked to three painters I had a pretty good idea of who knew what they were talking bout and who didn’t. ;).  Once I hired my painter I showed him samples that I had made using a few bricks to show him what I wanted.  I then gave him bricks and asked him to make samples for me so we could make sure the mix was right before we painted the whole house.  Once we settled on a sample that looked good, I had him paint the side of the house that people saw the least in case we needed to make any adjustments to the rest of the house. ;). I also had him error on the side of too thin of a mixture, so that if we needed to make it darker we could do two coats.  You can always make it darker…but making it lighter isn’t really an option. ;). For an exterior paint job like this gray wash for a 2000sf house I would expect to pay between $3-4500.  That includes the paint, cleaning the brick and sealing it after paint with a clear coat.


Ours is a very normal sized door (about 8 feet wide total) with double, full side lights and 3 windows across the top, all frosted for privacy.  It was custom made out from a design I drew up and was made out of a clear alder…very good wood, great for painting or staining.   Something similar will most likely run between $2500-3500.  That does not include installation.  Installing a new door will also most likely require some trim work around the inside of the door to clean it up.  Hire a finish carpenters will install and fix the door up for you.  I do not have our front door installation itemized, so I don’t know what to tell you to expect for that cost, I apologize!  Keep in mind that you will also need to hire a painter to paint or stain the door, and you will need new hardware.  The cost of hardware can vary significantly depending on what you are looking for.  You may likely need to hire a hardware installer too for more difficult front door/deadbolt installation.  Typically the hardware installers will sell you the hardware at retail and then installation cost is minimal.  They make their money on the retail mark-up of the product.


Electricians are expensive…there is just no way around it.  Expect to pay between $100-125 an hour for the first truck with one or two guys. If you have a bigger job and need a larger crew, the second truck is usually between $75-90 an hour for an additional 2-3 guys. I love the lights I found for the exterior.  I think they are a perfect transitional fixture between traditional and modern, which is just the touch the exterior needed.   and is the porch light.

Overall, the construction on the exterior (minus the windows) was fairly easy in the sense that it didn’t disrupt normal life.  It is easy to live with exterior work going on…just wait until the party moves inside. 😉

Well, I think that just about does it for the exterior.  What questions do you have for me?  I hope I’ve done a good job of answering most of what you would like to know, but I am an open book on this process, so if there is something I missed…ask away! I’ll be back next week where we’ll move inside and start with the really good stuff. 😉

Until then, happy designing!



Creative Director at Pink Peppermint Design
Tammy Mitchell is the founder and creative director of lifestyle blog pinkpeppermintdesign.com. Along with being a homeschooling mom of two kiddos, she is also an in-demand prop and event stylist, photographer, interior and graphic designer. On Pink Peppermint Design, she shares creative DIY projects, easy entertaining and gift ideas, inspiring interiors and events. She lives in Southern California, with her husband and two children.

Exterior Remodel 1980s house

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