Valley House

Valley House Tour: The Exterior

Guys, I’m not much for tears, but this week has been a cry-fest for me. So many highs and lows! It’s a weird thing to share (even just parts of) your life with the internet. For a lot of reasons I was nervous to tell you guys the news about our move. I worried I…

Guys, I’m not much for tears, but this week has been a cry-fest for me. So many highs and lows!

It’s a weird thing to share (even just parts of) your life with the internet. For a lot of reasons I was nervous to tell you guys the news about our move. I worried I would let you down or something (probably because a big part of me (the adventurous part) is a little let down that we’re leaving). But, wow. Thank you from the heart of my heart for being so kind and generous and supportive about this decision we’ve made. You’ve lifted an enormous burden off my shoulders and have helped me focus on the “highs” that will come with this move.

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When we found out Michael got this new job, we thought we had until the end of the summer before his start date. We only recently found out that they need him to start much sooner, so July 1 it is! Suddenly an entire summer’s worth of east coast-based work has to be crammed into just a few short weeks. It’s going to get a little hairy over here, balancing all that with preparations for the move. I’m still planning to post every day as usual, but I hope you won’t mind if I have to miss a day or two here and there.

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In the next couple weeks, while we’re packing up our life here, I’d love to show you photos of the house in its “before” state and talk about my plans for renovating after we close. Michael and I have been calling it the Valley house, since it’s situated in a pretty little valley of orange groves (and Phoenix is often called the Valley – especially by my parents, who live three hours north of Phoenix). We probably will just call it “home” from now on, but I thought it would be helpful for tagging purposes on the blog. :)

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A little about the house: It was built in the mid-eighties. Five bedrooms plus an office, four baths. All those eaves and gables make it look bigger than it is probably, but there’s no denying it’s a big house. Probably bigger than we need right now, but every single room has a legit purpose for daily use, which was so important to us. Arizona real estate costs a fraction of what we’ve been saving for here in New York, so when we were house hunting we had to keep ourselves in check a little bit and not get too excited about how comparatively affordable it all was. Plus, I think we could stay in this house for the long haul (says the girl that’s moved five times in six years), so we’re okay with it being a little bigger than we maybe need right this second.

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We were also looking at another house that was so beautiful, you guys. It was, like, perfection. But it was quite a bit more expensive than this house and it really didn’t need too much work. And where’s the fun in that? I love that we can put our stamp on this home and not feel too guilty about undoing what someone else already did (not to mention we’d be double paying for the renovations that way).

Also, we debated where to live in Phoenix a lot, but ultimately we decided one of the biggest reasons we are moving back home is to be near family (hello! never paying for a babysitter again!), so it made sense to live near family. I know some of you know where this house is, and I’d really love it if you didn’t post about the location in the comments, just to help me to continue to feel comfortable about posting photos, etc. Thanks!

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So, let’s talk about the exterior of the house, which is a bit…tricky. Since the house is only thirty years old, I’m not having any internal struggles about removing some of the original gingerbread mouldings, etc.

The shake roof is getting some repair work done by the seller this week, but the inspector thinks the whole thing will need to be replaced in 5-7 years (which we took account of in our offer price). I think we’ll do something other than shake when the time comes. The harsh AZ sun really does a number on those shingles!

But the shake stays for now anyway. I think I’ll like it better when the house gets a paint job. I’m thinking a warm, creamy gray on the body of the house with a wash on the brick face in the same color. Dark charcoal or black on the trim.

All of the gingerbread and those scepter-like finials (?!) will be removed. I actually love the look of this short fence on the porch (just needs new paint), but I want to frame out the turned posts and take off some of the faux balcony situation above the front door.

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Speaking of the front door, I seriously dig the crazy big, weird overhang moulding. The oval leaded glass needs to go, stat, and I’d love it if we could do taller double doors. While I love the look of solid doors, but the light from the current glass panes is nice on the inside. Need to figure that one out a little more.

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Also, the landscaping is getting my side eye. I know the previous owner put a lot of money and thought into it, but it’s not at all my style. I would love to eventually rip it all out and level it for a flat lawn for the kids to run around on with neighborhood friends (of which there are a-plenty! yay!).

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Also. There’s a wishing well. No words there. Other than maybe “scorpion lair”?

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Obviously (and this goes for all my plans for the house) we’re going to take our time with the big decisions/projects. I usually do approach the expensive undertakings in two phases (phase 1 usually involves painting it to make it livable and phase 2 is a little more invasive. There’s going to be a but more of the phase 2 happening in this house from the get go, but as always, there will be plenty of the “make it work” phase 1 mentality.) It doesn’t hurt to plan and dream in the meantime, right?

So now, what would you do with this exterior?

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Join the Conversation

82 thoughts on “Valley House Tour: The Exterior

  1. In response to Beth (looks like there isn't a way to reply directly to comments?) that shape is called a broken pediment, and this specific one is a scroll pediment.

    Also I'm still laughing at "scorpion lair."

  2. Congratulations! I canNOT wait to see what magic you work on this place. I have zero advice for the exterior, since I have no doubt you will do something amazing, but I would suggest that the landscape (myself being a Southern Californian) revolve around incorporating native and drought tolerant plants. Arizona is such a beautiful place with gorgeous indigenous flora, and too few residents take advantage of it. I can hardly fathom the amount of water it takes to keep a large Phoenix lawn pristine (much less all hundreds of thousands of them in the PHX area), so it'll be a nice break for your wallet as well as the environment in general. Very best of luck in your move!

  3. I'm really loving that roof and think changing it would lose a lot character. With care and repair those roofs can last quite a long time. It's like getting anew hairstyle or colour. It can completely ruin one's looks. I don't hate all the gingerbread, but agree that the current color is not the best for the current brick. A white wash might be nice on the latter, it just depends how much time and money you want to spend on upkeep. I'm not digging the kidney-shaped island in the center of the lawn as it doesn't relate to anything else and cuts up the lawn visually, but there's probably no rush on that.
    Congratulations on your move. I'm still nostalgic for Montreal, but sometimes other things take precedence. At laest you seemed to be nearing the end of projects in your current abode.

  4. I really cannot wait to see what you do with it! I love your style and think we have pretty similar taste so it's almost like living vicariously, haha! Good luck with the move!

  5. A whole bunch of paint is going to make all the difference! But i just have one comment about the landscaping. . .is most of the shrubbery boxwood? It's hard to tell in the pictures on my little phone screen, but whatever it is, i think you should think twice before ripping all of it out! Those little islands of random shrubs on the lawn aren't my style either, but the hedges bordering the walkway to the front door are gorgeous perfection! I think it brings a little of the east coast/hamptons aesthetic to the southwest, and man. . .i mean, you said it already, but truly, that shrubbery translates to cash, lots of it. If you do rip out everything else, consider leaving the border along the walkway. It's so beautiful!

  6. I was a bit shocked when I saw this was the house you picked out. Not because it's not great, but it doesn't seem like it's your style. But I'm loving the idea of you redoing it. Because I love everything you do!

    Just painted my 1950s mid-century ranch home charcoal gray, with mustard yellow trim. It's pretty incredible. Also, fun house numbers change everything. I had mine custom cast in a font I chose and then had them baked with enamel in a red/orange color. Best exterior decision ever. And we have a teal door. Sounds cuckoo in writing, but the front of the house is so plain that these colors make it awesome.

    In terms of landscaping, I'd consider native grasses that are drought tolerant. There are some amazing grasses that we just redid our front sidewalk strip in and put small gravel all around them. We live in Provo, so we have water issues too. They are perennials and look amazing. Wow! Such a long comment from a forever reader/lurker. I'm so excited to see it all take place.

  7. Ditto what Bluebird said about native plantings. I know everybody loves a lush green lawn to frolic in, but they require a whole lot of a very precious resource – water, especially when you live in a desert. Not to mention the loads of chemicals they require to stay so lush and green. Plus, there's some really neat native plants that support critically imperiled pollinators like butterflies, bees, and bats. All totally harmless unlike the family of scorpions in the wishing well!
    Genuinely not trying to be TOO pushy :) Just giving you yet another something to think about and file away under the Phase 2 category.

  8. I've been a fan of yours for quite a while now although this is the first comment I've ever left on any blog. As a fellow-Southwest US dweller (New Mexico actually), your comment about the yard caught my attention and I feel so strongly that I need to comment. The drought in the Southwest is so so severe–many years now and no hope in the near future for relief. Please please I beg you to reconsider any kind of landscaping other than drought-tolerant, xeric-scaping. Originally from Ohio, I still miss the lush green-ness…but water is such a huge issue out here. You might look at it as a new challenge and one that you've not had the opportunity to tackle back East–that is, how to achieve a lush xeric yard but still keep it xeric & drought-tolerant!! Best wishes with your move, and I look forward to the house re-do.

  9. I'm a tiny bit sad that we won't see the full potential of your BK house realized (although what you've done is amazing – uncovering that entryway alone was a huge upgrade) but I'm thrilled for you and your kids to be with family and I'm really looking forward to the upcoming Valley House posts! Best of luck with your busy summer!

  10. "scorpion lair" – i literally laughed out loud. :) ripping down all that fluff moulding and a paint job will do wonders! i can't wait to see it! you're right, that molding over the door is quite good. hoping you can save it somehow!

  11. Can't wait to see what you do with your new home! Such fun! I'm with the others on a full lawn in AZ being wasteful though. As my AZ native grandpa used to say, "Wanna see the sun all year round, move to Arizona. Wanna big grass lawn, move to Michigan!"

  12. I cannot wait to see how you transform this gem of a house – and I'm even more excited to see what it looks like inside!

  13. I have to say that I like the roof, I woul keep it as it is. However, I would sure paint the windows white, it's too dark the way it is, right?
    The garden needs more flowers! Maybe you could put a nice table in this island in the middle of the garden, and use it for weekend breakfasts outside!
    Good luck! I am sure it will look awesome!

  14. I have to say that I like the roof, I woul keep it as it is. However, I would sure paint the windows white, it's too dark the way it is, right?
    The garden needs more flowers! Maybe you could put a nice table in this island in the middle of the garden, and use it for weekend breakfasts outside!
    Good luck! I am sure it will look awesome!

  15. Interesting house! Not very Arizona but that might be a good thing. My parents like in Tucson. I like the quiet but I could never move back…too many Republicans. Good luck!

  16. I'm excited for you and your family. Always a fan. I am also excited because those of us that have bigger than an NY sq footage homes will get inspired. It's not always easy to translate small space design into big space, and now we don't have to!!

  17. that house is just bursting with potential & is perfectly respectable as is. but, i know that you will make it great!

    if it were my home i would definately paint (love your color ideas)& replace the windows with good, true divided light, wood windows. or go a little more modern with good steel (painted black)windows and french doors in the front entrance.

  18. My kids would spend hours playing in those bushes…building fairy homes, playing hide n' seek, pirates and hot lava. Trees and bushes are great fun and better than a yard on your water bill. Can't wait to see what you do.

  19. Congratulations on your news! The house looks really awesome and as always I look forward to seeing your inner and outer transformations. I love planning posts like this one as much as a good before and after.

  20. What a fun project and a great home to work on!! It has charm. You're ideas are grand and your color choices will make a huge difference.. if you havent already thought of this consider removing/ replacing the window mouldings.. give it a clean updated look before you paint, then the siding can take on a more modern look with such a traditional (unique to PHX) home.


  21. Exciting news! So good to hear, you'll be practically my neighboor.
    I live in Gilbert!! I love your creative DIY's.
    Can't wait to see transformation in your new home!!

  22. I adore Phoenix. Congrats! It sounds like you're going Cape Cod meets Industrial Chic? I'd also bag the gingerbread trim. Paint that gorgeous overhead molding by the front door white and fill the front door with black iron/glass door with an enclosure you shut at night. (Cote De Texas showed this on one of the West University home tours). Pack those boxes and don't look back!

  23. I think a nice modern take on French doors for the front door would be a good addition. I personally LOVE gingerbread houses, however it seems a little out of place for this house. WHatever you do, it will look just amazing as always!!!

  24. Welcome to Phoenix! We just moved here about 10 months ago ourselves and are currently house hunting. Looks like you found a winner! It looks SO different from most of the homes around here.
    Can't wait to see what you do with it!

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