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. That house is awesome! I really dig the shake shingles and I think it would look nice with a charcoal gray. A lot of homes in our area have those roofs and they paint them a kind of sage-y, or green-ish gray and the trim is the same color as the house. It sounds strange but it looks awesome. It just kind of blends it right into the trees and makes it look very cool temp. wise which might be a plus in sunny Arizona : )

  2. I am a long time reader who lives in Chandler:) is it selfish that my first thought when i heard the news was….hooray if she has a yard sale i can come. I am not even into yard sales, but i would come if you had one:)

  3. I'm just really excited to see what you do with this house. It has great bones. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch how you put your own personal stamp on this place, inside and out!!

  4. It's been a dream of mine lately to paint my house a navy blue with a creamy trim. I wonder if that wouldn't look awesome on your new house?

  5. Can't wait to see the inside.

    What do you call that style of trim above the front door? My mom had similar trim on an armoire and I always wondered what it was called.

  6. Can't wait to see the inside.

    What do you call that style of trim above the front door? My mom had similar trim on an armoire and I always wondered what it was called.

  7. I am so excited to see what you'll do with this. I adore your style, and have been so inspired by you! I wonder if the black trim on top of the charcoal, with the dark shingles would be really dark…maybe the charcoal with a white/creamy trim would lighten/break it up a bit, and then bring the black back into the door? Just an idea :) Excited to see what you come up with! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Gosh Jenny, that's Great news! If the house were a Victorian, fine, but I think it will have a better contemporary feel with the trim removed, which will be nice.

    By the way, that pediment above the door does not go with the trim. But I like it. You should keep the leaded glass door – you can probably figure out how to make one of those pucker curtains to cover the oval.


  9. i'm so thrilled for you guys moving back to the valley! i'm friends with a couple of the spouses who have married your husband's siblings (wow that's a tricky mouthful) and i can only imagine everyone's excitement over this news. i can't wait to see more of this new house/what you do with it! the exterior flip for one will be a huge improvement! and i chuckled quite a bit at the scorpion-lair line :) yes yes and most definitely that's what it is!

  10. Congratulations on your big move, Jenny! So exciting for your family, and although a long one, it's always nice to get closer to home and extended family.

    I am an architect, so it's always fun to mentally strip and redo houses in my head (and on paper). I think this house could channel a classic shingle style house pretty easily, with a modern edge. Square columns, light/medium gray body, white trim, shake roof.

    Good luck!! Can't wait to watch the progress.

  11. I love this house and I was so excited for you the moment I saw it on instagram! I think it is beautiful and has so much character, but I know you will give it much more beauty and character with your tasteful renovations. :)
    I agree that the roof isn't quite right and I kind of hate the faux balcony above the door, like you said.

  12. I think the house looks great!! Nothing you cannot live with while you decide what you want to live with forever. Living close to family is priceless…sounds like a fabulous journey to me :-). Good luck with the move…exciting times ahead!!

  13. Love the grey color scheme, since you have those lovely boxes around the foundation you wont worry about having reddish dirt up the sides of your home!

    Is it a long house? It seems like it is situated on a huge lot! My eye just cant connect the pictures I suppose.

    So excited!

  14. This will be fun to watch along as you make your changes. I love a good renovation blog :) As to the outside, I am not sure where I would start!

  15. The gingerbread trim could actually look really great if painted up in a bright colour. Maybe turquoise?
    But don't remove the existing landscaping for lawn, there's already plenty of grass for running about in, the garden beds are going to be a huge help in imaginative games for your kids. There's rocks and bushes to play around and hide, and those islands of landscaping will make amazing 'stranded on a desert island- the lawn is ocean' games.

  16. Jenny, you are endearingly real, w/such unreal talent. I think your followers would follow you around the world. Cool ideas on the exterior color choices, and keeping the porch railing. I love light to medium grey/greige for the exterior. The black trim makes me curious more than anything, looking forward to seeing it! Good luck in the crazy weeks ahead.

  17. That house is going to be amazing when you are done with it. I love your ideas for exterior color. Beautiful! Yes – get rid of the shake roof. Not a good thing in all that dry heat. Cannot wait to see how beautiful it turns out to be!

  18. Congrats on the house! We are building right now and the worst thing about the whole thing for me was the fact that the builder had already installed tan windows when we wanted white and wouldn't take them out. I noticed your windows look dark (not the trim, the window itself). I feel dumb saying this to you since you are like, the master of making things look good that I never thought would look good; but gray and dark brown windows? Prove me wrong!

  19. My first reaction to the idea of a gray house with black trim was The House of Seven Gables, which is purposefully creepy. I thought you were going to say white trim as that would be my thought to cheer it up some.

    I think you'll find Phoenix so much different from NY that your ideas may change. It's so sunny and hot so much of the year that you may want cooler colors, even a cool gray, to counteract the heat. The front door is spectacular and will remain spectacular no matter what you do with/to it. A bright color would be too much for it, but maybe something more subtle (like a blue gray) or even your black.

    Couldn't agree more on the lawn. Water is at a premium in Phoenix, which may have influenced that gravel plot. If you can afford all lawn, it would host some nice croquet or volleyball games :)

  20. i'm so excited about your move! i live in scottsdale so i too will be looking forward to any yard sales or any item for sale posts! :)

    i am also in the midst of renovating and will be moving into my new home around july 1st.. just in time for some LOVELY moving weather!

    wishing you the best of luck on your move, and can't wait to see the progress on your new home!

  21. I'm SO VERY excited to watch the transformation of your new home. I just know you're going to amaze me. It seems this house has a lot of extra stuff on the exterior. My first instinct is to remove all the extra and simplify/minimize all the planes; remove the 1st floor awning/roofing to the right of the front door, remove faux balcony above front door – if reroofing maybe just remove the gable all together and extend roofline from the right, remove the extra stuff going on above the patio area, maybe remove the gable above the balcony type space? I like the idea of darker colors. You're amazingly talented, I love that you share what you do with us, I'm going to learn tons from you on this adventure. Thanks!

  22. congrats on your big move! What a world of change awaits you! In the last pic the Windows look really dark and i am wondering how you could lighten them up. I can't wait to see you are brilliant work on this new project!

  23. Good luck with te new house and the move. I love your blog wherever it's written from :) third thing I read when I get up in the mornings. We just bought a house that needs some work as well. I'm excited to start working on it. Can't wait to see what you'll do with your new house. It certainly look enormous.

  24. I don't know, Jenny. I kind of love all of that crazy trim! This house is not at all what I think of for AZ architecture but I LOVE it! It's so unique and special! We painted our great big 1875 farm house light gray with charcoal trim last spring. We love it! Best of lucky, Jenny. You can never let us down.

  25. Not paying for a babysitter is the best! I am envious of that for sure. Plus the girls will benefit enormously from living near family- that goes without saying. I can't believe you were hesitant to tell us about the big move. We follow your blog because you do amazing work and we genuinely like you.

    Good Luck with the move. We will get over it if you aren't able to post as regularly for a while. Moving is a very emotional experience- especially for those of us who connect with our surroundings on a more personal level than most. I hope you are able to take this time to enjoy NYC with your family.

  26. Wishing you stamina and energy and everything good for the next few weeks, and so excited to see how you make this house your own (and gorgeous!). I actually grew up with a Mom who was an artist and made her living by flipping houses long before that was a thing (we moved a lot :). Having spent all those years helping and watching, I can really appreciate the special talent it takes to have and execute such vision. You're fantastic and I'm so glad you're a blogger so that we get to come along for the ride. Best wishes!

  27. In my area, the shake shingles are considered such a massive fire hazard that you can't get a house insured with them anymore.

  28. It going to be so much fun following along with you to see the transformation of this house! And congrats on your move! We moved out of NYC to the 'burbs, and I had a few panic attacks about the decision right after we moved, but very soon after that, we settled in, and never looked back. There's nothing like being near family!

  29. So happy for you – when you posted about going home when your grandfather passed away, I was thinking how wonderful it would be for your family to be closer to "home" – though I am going to miss NYC through your posts – (that's the strange world of the internet – I've never been there and am going to miss it!)
    So looking forward to your dreams and schemes for your new home – it will be so nice to have lots of space for your family …The hedges remind me of a bit of Kelly Wearstler photo of some huge, oversized topiaries…faniciful…We're all behind you, Jenny, best wishes with the move!

  30. Congrats on the good news and good luck with the move! What would I do…set those shrubs free for starts as in let them grow back to a natural shape. And painting the brick, yes! A word of caution: Dark paint is a heat magnet: Touch a black door in full AZ sun–it'll be super hot. Black paint on my neighbor's house has failed quickly and I'm told that another neighbor has problems with warping. Also, dark paint shows dust/dirt and requires constant attention to look fresh. So maybe go lighter than you would in the northeast?

  31. How does mentality changes whether you have kids or not… I was thinking that at least the garden was perfect and you want to rip it off! hahahaha!

    Everything sounds amazing and I'm sure you will maximize your creativeness to create wonderful outdoors and indoors, now that landlords and leases are not an issue!

  32. Congrats on your move home! I've been following your blog for years and I love all of your projects. My family and I moved closer to home a couple years ago and it has made all the difference in the world. I think you love it! My Mom is coming over today to help me with my curtains….it is great! Best wishes over the next few months-love the new house!

  33. I'm pretty excited that the house needs such a shake up so I can see how you plan and totally change the look and feel of it! The gray on the outside sounds great. Congratulations to you!

  34. The new house is big news! I'm just a little confused by the pictures of the Valley House, is it a one story home or two and just long?

  35. I'm so excited to see what you do with this house. It looks like there is a lot of room for you to make changes and add your personal style. I agree with your thoughts about the landscaping, too. Our seller did a lot of landscaping on our lot that is beautiful but not very functional (lots of pretty plants and flowers, but I'd prefer a vegetable garden). So over the next few years I'm planning to slowly transform it. Thanks for sharing this house journey!

    Laura at Rather Square

  36. All that lawn seems totally inefficient for AZ – does the climate there sustain it? Will your water bill be sky-high? That's the least AZ looking house and yard I've ever seen! But seems like it has so much potential. Can't wait to see what you do with it!

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