Looking for before and after home exterior decorating ideas? Here’s what we did to transform our 100-year-old home with simple projects and updates.

before and after exterior decorating ideas planter

When I was researching through all the posts to find back content for the house tour

…I found one picture that stopped me in my tracks.

It popped onto the screen and I stood there frozen for a minute with my hand over my mouth.


(total aside: if you have been following me for more than a minute you know what a rarity this is.)

It was a picture I snapped with my cell phone the day we bought back the house.

A picture of the front of the house.


I think that’s the thing with projects. You work on them. You start one and finish another. You always have your eye on the next project and you think you are making small changes along the way. But sometimes? Those changes all add up to SUCH A DIFFERENCE.

So today, on this beautiful sunny Monday with a slight chill in the air and hostas and elephant ears poking their heads up out of the soil, I thought it might be fun to take a trip back to where it all started and show you the step by step projects along the way with before and after home exterior decorating ideas.



Here’s where it all began.

Here’s the picture I found.

Can you even remember this house?

This was what the house looked like the day we walked back through those doors six years after my mother sold it. I remember standing here and dancing and hugging my husband and trying to do handstands in the yard and telling random people that walked by that we just bought the house back.

And then?

The projects started.

before and after exterior decorating ideas front of house

Before and After Home Exterior Decorating Ideas

1. Paint the exterior

When looking for before and after home exterior decorating ideas, start with paint. The first thing that we did was paint the house.

Remember how you all helped me pick the color?

It was such a challenging decision.

We ended up choosing Rushing River SW 7746.

before and after exterior decorating ideas painting ideas

2. Paint the trim

We painted the trim Extra White SW 7006.

All the trim and gutters were painted the exact same color.

The Extra White popped out the Rushing River and brought out the gray undertones.

(total aside: I know you are thinking we need to paint that brick. More on that later.)

front steps before and after exterior decorating ideas

3. Paint the front door and fix the storm door

Next, we painted the front door Tricorn Black SW 6258.

The storm door was original to the house and we had it repaired and installed new hardware.

It needed to be completely reconstructed and rehinged.

before and after exterior decorating ideas door knocker

4. Install door knocker

This was my grandfather’s door knocker.

I brought it home from Cape Cod and repaired it and hung it up on the front door.

You can see the before and after here.

before and after exterior decorating ideas front exterior

5. Add landscaping

This was our first round of landscaping.

We kept the original hedges that my father put in, but we cleared everything else out and adding the metal green edging to define the matching beds on either side of the house.

On each corner of the house, we have a Crepe Myrtle.

One was there before and one we added.

We could just afford to add in shrubberies this year, so we added boxwoods and hollys and a couple of yew on the side.

painted brick before and after exterior decorating ideas

6. We painted the brick

I should have added this in all capitals.


It’s been one of my favorite before and after home exterior decorating ideas.

Just between us, I was so nervous to do it, but I am SO HAPPY with it every single day.

You can see how we painted the brick here.

Also, right about this time, we painted the back concrete porch, too. You can see that transformation here.

7. Looking for before and after home exterior decorating ideas? Add planters

I forgot to mention that we added lighting on each side of the door (you can see in the very first picture that there was only a light on the right side). When we removed the plaque on the left side, we found an old junction box that we had rewired to have symmetrical lights on either side of the door.

I moved the location of the mailbox right next to the front door (it was originally on one of the columns) and then we added these planters.

Looking for before and after home exterior decorating ideas? Add planters.

My husband built them and then we added these monograms.

You can see how we made them here.

8. Add exterior lighting

Last fall we added exterior lighting to the front and sides of the house.

It’s a combination of spotlights and smaller lights that helps define the exterior of the house.

They are all set on timers and turn themselves off and on.

We are going to add landscape lighting to the back of the house this year.

9. added house number letters

We just finished this project recently where we spelled out the address on the front of the house.

It was one of the simplest before and after exterior decorating ideas that had the biggest impact.

You can see how we changed it up here.

Looking for more before and after home exterior decorating ideas?

We also brought this birdhouse home and added a fence.

And painted a plastic garden shed to match the house.

And added a fountain to the back yard.

And our son laid a brick path to connect the front to the back.

And now?

This house?

This glorious, wonderful, amazing 110-year-old home looks like the beauty she was meant to be.

And just between us?

It has been an honor and a privilege and a joy beyond measure to get to be able to do this—to add all these before and after home exterior decorating ideas.

And I count my blessings.

Every. Single. Day.

Because truly?

No matter how far you travel? No matter how far you go. No matter where life takes you.

There’s nothing like getting to finally…

…go home.

PS Just in case you were worried that we were done with the projects?

Here’s the current state of the back porch. 🙂


Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

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  1. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Oh wow! I had also forgotten how much love, effort and changes your home has received! Just so amazing. Makes you fall in love all over again!!!

  2. Image for Linda Linda

    Your home looks so very pretty ! Just an idea....if you don't like it .....it's fine. I think everyone should do what they want. After all it's your home where you live. But I think big older bushes dates a house. I know myself if I take out the big shrubs in front of my house and put new smaller ones in....its like the house " smiles ". I love all that you have done inside and out !

  3. Image for Angie Duncan Angie Duncan

    Love love love your house! I'd love to see an aerial view to see the yard layout! Like where your driveway goes and such.

  4. Image for Mary S Mary S

    She's a GRAND OLD LADY!!! Lucky you that you can live in (and love and take care of) this beautiful home!! I love seeing all the changes!! You should feel proud... I know I would.


    AMAZING! Since I have been along for all of these projects-the journey has been wonderful. Your home is stunning! All those individual choices have produced such a gorgeous current picture. I say current as I know you will NEVER be done. It is the way with homes that we love.

  6. Image for Beth Minger Beth Minger

    I would drive by this house and think WOW someone really loves this house and shares it with everyone else in the world!!!😘

    1. Image for Terri Oostendorp Terri Oostendorp

      i agree! some old bushes look terrible, true, but your big boxwoods look full and lush all the way around. i personally think that they "ground" the house! give it balance, etc. and kudos for getting all the work done that you have accomplished! you have a great team of helpers there! it looks beautiful and loved and cared about.

  7. Image for Lyn Lyn

    Just click your heels together and keep saying "there's no place like home, there's no place like home". So bittersweet isn't it? Every time we drive back home to visit the area, we drive past a home in the country that my parents built - I get teary eyed every time. They bought 30 acres, built a home, and a barn, all to make a young girl's dreams of living in the country and owning horses come true. Thoughts of that home with it's riding trails, a log cabin built in the woods for a play house, ponds and pastures keep me going, and I think of them and that home every single day.

  8. Image for Jillian Jillian

    You could be the poster child for outstanding makeovers! Looking good. Nice to hear it is sunny and spring- like somewhere...we are looking at about a foot of snow on our deck...spring in the Rockies! Maybe I should put the Christmas tree back up :)

  9. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    This evolution to the new is stunning, KariAnne! Please tell me that the neighbors nearby (and even “not so nearby”) have been inspired to do some updates as well! I know I would be inspired or perhaps “guilted” into working on my home, too, if someone made such uplifting changes in and for the neighborhood! You are an inspiration for us all ~ as ever! Love your energy ~ and what I call your “intensity”, lady!

  10. Image for Jenn Jenn

    So beautiful! Little changes over time make such a difference! Our home is in need of a facelift. This year we did the roof, I cannot believe how a new roof made the whole house look better!

  11. Image for DeAnna DeAnna

    Because of your article on exterior house paint, I chose 4 different paint colors and slapped them on the side of the house...all four choices all four sides,. One of them was SW Rushing River, because "experts" really do know. ;) Guess what? That's the color we chose. It was a huge project and took all of summer 2019. It's stunning and I love it every time I come home! Thanks for the help!

  12. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    You have done some amazing things with love to make your old home look so happy again, or it seems like it's smiling and i know you are.

  13. Image for Bonnie Bonnie

    I love all of the improvements you have made on your home. I can't wait to see your back porch after the beams are finished & the slate is added. I really hope that you will also include before pictures. I want to have my current metal beams covered with wood & some type of new tile placed over my current concrete that are on my back porch.

  14. Image for Jerry Stocks Jerry Stocks

    After an absence of 15 years, my new husband moved me back to my hometown of Beaufort. SC. My family home was not for purchase, but I love the people who live there and like all the changes that have been made. I live in the historic district and can walk to the library, downtown, and to the waterfront park. This is paradise to me.

  15. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    I love every. single. thing. you've done "for" her. She's a beauty. Don't you feel blessed to live in a house you love? Mine originally was built by my husband's grandparents. Our farm is a centennial farm and I feel so humbled and blessed to be the "keeper" for the next generation. Hope you had a lovely Easter Day.

  16. Image for Jo Jo

    Wow, love the rehab of your home! From the front porch to the back porch what a transformation. Really enjoyed reading about your journey in making your house your home. Thank you for all the ideas!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Carol, The rustic lanterns on the porch came from a boutique in Kentucky. The black lanterns came from Walmart! I have had them sitting out there for three years and they have gotten a little wet. :) Happy day friend! karianme

  17. Image for Carol Carol

    Karrianne, you've given me hope! Your house is such a beauty. Mine is nothing like that. It's a tiny little cottage, built in the 1970s with no outstanding features on the outside. When we moved in, it was surrounded by big trees (dark interior) and we cut almost all of them down. It's been in a bit of a holding pattern for a while now, or so I thought, until I saw your post. Not only did you remind me of the things we've done in the 2 1/2 years we've lived here, but you gave me hope that it will eventually get done = it just takes time. We have a lot more work on the outside to do, but I need to keep the dream alive that one day, it will look the way I want it to with the shutters and the new front door and steps, and paths, and paving and .... I just need patience. Thank you, once again for your amazing inspiration.

  18. Image for Lori Lori

    I think it's in some of our bloodlines to just create and make things beautiful. Your home was beautiful and it is beautiful. Those projects are gifts to everyone you share them with. Some folks are accountants..some folks are teachers..some folks are lawyers and some are beautifiers. A gift I'd say. You can't get that from hours of lectures.

  19. Image for Peg Peg

    The exterior lighting shot made me gasp! It's the house you frequently drive by at night, and can see in the windows, and it looks so wonderful and full of life, and you just want to stop the car, get out and walk up the front steps, knock on the door and ask if you can please come in!! Or is that just me?!! xoxo

  20. Image for Maria Maria

    Such a transformation one step at a time!!! I love how you have your Grandfather's door knocker...awesome. I think what stands out to me the most is the spelled out numbers:) I look forward to see your next project::)

  21. Image for Trudy Nickelson Trudy Nickelson

    Just absolutely gorgeous! Reading all of this, and reflecting on your journey, I'm in awe of your patience. Patience to have faith in the future among other things. From someone who struggles with that, I'm appreciative of the reminder. In God's time things happen, sometimes in spite of our pushes.

  22. Image for Nancy Brantley Nancy Brantley

    You and your hubby has made a BEAUTIFUL transformation of this home. I know you feel blessed to be back home! This house was waiting for you to come back!!! This is a miracle in my opinion! I would not take out those nice bushes in the front...they look great in front of this house. I really love the outdoor lighting. I have outdoor lighting and always thought it gives a yard/house a classic look. I would certainly love you as my neighbor because some people don't care to have a nice yard/home. I worked all day in my yard today because I love a neat pretty landscaping. You can have the most expensive large mansion, but if yard is ugly you might as well live in the cheapest house!!!!!!

  23. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    You know how I love to take care of things! And love love love to see an old home nurtured and cared for. How beautiful! It's fun how you showed us the progression here, too, Karianne! Thanks for the inspiration!


    KariAnne, your gorgeous old home could hardly wait until you and your dear hubby and family moved in and started "loving" it again. You have done so much and it has been great that you have taken us along on all your wonderful changes. Thanks for sharing your beautiful home, your heart and your life with us! You are so blessed to have such a beautiful home! May God continue to bless you all as you continue to make more great changes!

  25. Image for Gina Gina

    KariAnne, i was watching RHOBH and I think your house looks very similar to Kyle Richards, but she has three dormers. 😊

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