I love a good curb appeal makeover. As a child, I would drive all over Memphis, TN with my grandfather (a land developer), just looking at houses, talking about what details we loved — from the roof shingles to the landscaping to the choice of pavers on the driveway or walkway. I’ve started doing this with my son as well. He’s five and his dream is to live in a tudor-style home one day.
Sharing my love for stunning curb appeal are Jesse and Stephanie Smith, based in North Central Phoenix, AZ. To find the right house on which to display their aesthetic dreams, they weren’t scared of a fixer-upper when they started their home search. They knew it would need good bones and to hold their family of five, as well as have room to homeschool their three children. Once the family walked into the home, they just knew it was for them, with only a few changes that needed to be made. “We wanted an older home with character and potential,” Jesse shares. “It didn’t need to be the best house on the block. We really desired to be close to friends and a close neighborhood community. We didn’t realize how close it was to our friends Thomas and Emy Porter (designers of our front yard makeover) until we turned on the street to find it was the same neighborhood.”
Jesse and Stephanie began quickly brainstorming on the curb appeal project with Thomas and Emy, owners of local salvage wood company Porter Barn Wood. “We wanted a modern farmhouse feel for our front yard,” Stephanie notes. “The only true inspiration Jesse had was ‘X’ fencing to line the front yard, so the kids could safely play in the front. That was all the instruction Thomas and Emy needed for the project.” Once Thomas had a sketch for the yard, they got to work. After demo they painted the house white, then created the long black “X” fence lining the front yard. Next came the reclaimed brick pavers — circa 1903, from Columbus, OH — on the side for communal eating and gathering. Faux shutters, made from Kentucky horse fencing using the Japanese technique Shou Sugi Ban (preserving with fire) replaced the existing shutters. Porter Barn Wood also made a custom Dutch door from reclaimed oak threshing floor, painting it Stephanie’s favorite color.
The porch continues the “X” theme with planter boxes to bring in bright pops of color. Thomas, Emy, their children Teak (11) and Pepper (8), along with Stephanie, Jesse and their children worked to complete this project in just eight days. Jesse shares, “The most special aspects of the curb appeal project are the reclaimed brick pavers from my father’s home state, the handmade Dutch door which is reminiscent of Stephanie’s Mennonite and Amish heritage, the handmade light fixture using Eisenglass mica, and to top it off, the most special thing of all is [that] it’s all handmade from our close friends Thomas and Emy Porter of Porter Barn Wood.”
This is a home that would stop my grandfather and me on one of our drives, taking in the congruency of the home and the bright and cheerful colors. Not to mention, I’m a sucker for a Dutch door. —Erin
Image above: The completed Smith home, with a charming facelift, new side patio, flower boxes and quaint new fence.