Our Exterior Reveal + Before and Afters (and the cost)!

May 26, 2021

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Two years ago (almost to the day!), I took the before photos of the exterior of our home and today, I’m excited to share the very last reveal post of our Modern Cottage–the exterior. It was really finished sometime in the winter, but we wanted to wait for things to green up a bit.

This is a very photo heavy post, so I’m going to keep the words to a minimum here. The entire project took nearly a year and cost us about $250K (this doesn’t include the roofing or stone material that was sent to us in exchange for features.) It was a very expensive project and I wanted to be up front about the costs so that you could be prepared if you wanted to tackle something similar on your home! We’re so in love with how the house turned out and really feel like it works with the beautiful property so much better now. If you missed any part of the exterior, you can see the details below as well as the sources!


Studio McGee’s Design Plan
“What’s up with the mold?”
8 Options We’re Deciding Between
12 Dark Paint Colors We’re Loving
Exterior Video Tour
Backyard Firepit
Gas Lanterns



Paint Color – Graphite by Benjamin Moore (matte on siding, satin on panel trim)
Windows – Pella Architect Series
Siding – LP SmartSide in smooth 6in
Roof – Brava Roof Tile in Weathered Cedar Shake
Stone – Creative Mines Craft Orchard Limestone in Timberwolf (white mortar)
Garage Doors – Cambek
Garage Copper Sconces
Bevolo Gas Lanterns (Wall Sconces, Hanging Lanterns)
Back Wall Lanterns
Patio Furniture
Adirondack Chairs
Faux Boxwoods






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What do you think?

  1. Becky Walter says:

    It is nice work ad represents a great vision to modernize a very dated home.
    That said, there is absolutely no way this (250K) is the actual cost. This type of misinformation is what misguides many homeowners into having some extremely unrealistic expectation about what things actually cost. Working as a builder, architect and designer we have the unfortunate job of serving as ‘dream wrecker’ to client’s who come in with such misinformation and expectation built on false information. Certainly costs have climbed since this job was done – but a realistic estimate of this job is more than 3X what you have listed. Posting a full-project finished cost (even that is subject to credibility) but it would be helpful for clients.

    • Selena S. Osteen says:

      Did you catch where she explained that quote did not include the big ticket items she received for free in exchange for promotion of the item? That definitely helps social media influencers accomplish what they do and I have always noticed they seem upfront about it. I think it was just an oversight on your part.


    So much better!!!

  3. Ashley says:

    Stunning job, Chris and Julia! It looks beautiful! I’m a little sad for you that you didn’t get to enjoy your balcony off your bedroom a little more! Safe travels to North Carolina and thanks for taking us along on the adventure!

  4. Absolutely stunning — and you’ve proven that you two are really very, very talented designers. This was a massive step up from your previous (lovely!) homes. You had a vision with “Modern Cottage” and nailed it! Can’t wait to see you put your thumbprints on the house in Raleigh!

  5. Marce says:

    Chris and Julia…Beautiful transformation! And thank you for being so honest and upfront about the cost. It is rare when one discloses the actual renovation costs, purchase amount, and sale amount. You did so with integrity and that’s why we all love you guys and follow you through all your projects! Congratulations on the sale of this property and the purchase of your beautiful new home! the layout is divine, especially that separate “office suite”! You guys nailed it!

  6. Callie says:

    It. Is. STUNNING! Great great job, y’all!

  7. Andrea says:

    What an amazing transformation. You are so inspiring to watch. The speed at which you decorate always amazes me. But you make me feel better about just going for it in my own home. Thanks for all the great content.

  8. Malissa says:

    Unbelievable transformation! Well done!

  9. Andrea says:

    So amazing, it actually takes my breath away. Thanks for sharing the costs too. I think it’s helpful to keep your followers realistic about what they can afford to renovate.

  10. Teri says:

    Well done! Just one question, are the round boxwoods in your urns real or faux? I’m guessing faux as they are so perfect. could you source them for me?

  11. Eli says:

    Gorgeous!! Do you have any idea how much it would have cost if you had eliminated the “wants” and just focused on the needs (like mold remediation)? I’m sure even just that would be non trivial.

  12. Vicki says:

    You turned a lovely house that was in poor health into a healthy and beautifully stunning one! Bravo!

  13. Chelsea C. says:

    Just spectacular!! Every detail is so thought out and agonized over and it turned out so great. You are such a trendsetter and I can’t wait to see the interior transformation of the colonial!!! So excited and geez, the family that bought this house I’m sure is counting their lucky stars right about now!

  14. Aimee says:

    Absolutely incredible transformation!

  15. Erin says:

    I think if she could speak she would say “Thank you”.

  16. Cc says:

    LOVE it all except the (heavy ) all one color across the front. Such an amazing transformation of the back and sides. Worth it.

    • AA says:

      I agree. The garage area and the back are just stunning. Something about the front just doesn’t seem to match the rest of the exterior? But its obviously still a lovely reno, and a lot better looking than my exterior LOL. I especially love the balcony in back.

  17. Coleen says:

    Such a spectacular estate! It’s no wonder you had people driving by to just stare at it! The cost of the exterior was necessary to match the changes you made on the inside. You should have been featured on Dream Home Makeover! A house like that would have been double the price in the Boise area. Now you need to throw one last party with the dining doors open and flowing between your outdoor living space and indoor dining! Enjoy these last weeks….on to greater things!

  18. Julie says:

    The improvements you made are jaw dropping. I totally love what you did for the house. Do any of your team make design suggestions, or is that all you and Chris that do that?
    I wonder if the new owners are going to repaint or anything like that. It would be interesting to find out!

  19. Jen says:

    Its just stunning. Thank you for sharing and being real about the cost. We are moving cross country, similar to your upcoming adventure, and close geographically, and am getting more and more comfortable with everything happening being so far away, following your journey. I cant wait to see what you do next (so I can copy!)!

  20. Joni says:

    It turned out beautifully!! Thank you for your transparency with costs! You’re honesty is so appreciated!! I may have missed it on another post, but did you work with a hardscape architect? I never noticed the beautiful step up into the dining room from the main patio. I know it’s only two steps!! But it makes such a difference & a gorgeous one at that!!! Kudos for the design of your back patio!!! The transition from it to your dining room is STUNNING!!!

    • Julia says:

      We actually hired a local landscape company to add that, the long landing outside of the dining doors and the fire pit area!

  21. Stacey says:

    I promise this isn’t intended to be snarky even though I feel like it’s going to come off that way, but are you going to change out that white metal railing by the back door/garage area? It was the first thing that my eye went to in those photos and just looks out of place to me with the rest of the exterior renovation being so stunning and modern. Just curious as to why you guys made the choice to not swap that out when it sticks out so much post-reno.

    • Julia says:

      That whole area was going to get a facelift when we did the kitchen because we thought about moving that door. Just one of those things that we didn’t get to.

    • Sherry says:

      HA, my eye did the same thing. I could not think of a non-snarky way to ask about it. Figured there just must be a good reason (like maybe it was a good idea to have white there so people would be sure to see it,) and there was.

  22. Kate says:

    Well done, Julia and Chris! This is such a beautiful transformation and I was so happy to have discovered Brava roof tiles through you. I let them know where we found them as we plan to put a new roof on in the next year or two. I’m curious – I don’t think you mentioned what the design fees were from Studio McGee! Is that something you’re open to sharing?

  23. Desiree says:

    I can’t imagine the mixed feelings about moving. Regardless who lives there you guys created something amazing!

  24. Mary says:

    I love it! Im curious, how much you think you got back in the sale of the house? We all do this work partially for ourselves and partially to improve the value of the home. Could you tell us how much it increased your value?

  25. Krista says:

    Thank you for being upfront with the costs and the fact that certain materials weren’t included in that cost because of features on your site/Instagram (which was a huge benefit to the companies providing materials and they were lucky to get featured!) So many people don’t realize how much any renovation actually costs! My guess is add another 100k-175k for the average homeowner. And that was 2 years ago before materials skyrocketed in price. For any renovation that you’re not DIYing plan to double whatever number you think it should cost and know the final numbers before you purchase any home you’re wanting to make drastic changes to.

    • M-A Russell says:

      Agree. Amazing transformation! I’ve enjoyed watching this from afar and so appreciate the cost honesty. Also need to add the McGee fees and hardscaping amounts to this. The great thing about budgets is that though this is a pile of money, Chris and Julia have budgeted for it all. Their shovel (income) allows for this. Scaling renovations to individual family incomes is key. Lots of planning! Way to go Marcum family! I look forward to following the next chapter on the east coast🙏🏾

  26. Kalle says:

    Hi! Are the gutters natural copper, expected to patina over time? Or will they stay bright and shiny? The house is a stunner!

  27. WORTH. every. penny.

  28. Diana says:

    I think this perfectly illustrates that just because something cost more (or the perceived costs are more), doesn’t mean its better. The original owners clearly wanted more stylized windows and features, but they weren’t done right so they looked cheap. I don’t what the hell that thing with the columns was over the garage doors. That was hideous.

  29. Laura says:

    Do you have a sense of how renovation costs in NC will compare to those in Idaho? We’re wrapping up a renovation of a much smaller house on Long Island, NY and our final cost will be about double yours (and we didn’t use premium products – no marble in the bathrooms or kitchen, asphalt roof, all pretty basic stuff). It’s shocking how much things vary by region. I am happy we’re finishing now and not starting – the contractor says materials have tripled in price in the past couple months and everything is hard to get.

  30. Julia L. says:

    I’m curious – how much of that 250k did you feel like you made back when you sold your home? For example I hear that a redone kitchen gets about an 80% return on investment. You’ve done SO much, that you wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to just the exterior, but could you give an overall ROI? Thank you

    • Julia says:

      I’ll have to do some math but we honestly probably just broke even. Or maybe made a tiny bit. We bought the house for 800k and sold it for 1.4 but we put A LOT into it and definitely aren’t selling it to make a profit. But we’re just so happy to have made it better.

      • Rachel says:

        Jaw dropping transformation. Absolutely stunning! Thank you for sharing the photos and being so upfront with the costs. I’m not familiar with the house market in other states, so I was in shock when reading the numbers. In SoCal I would probably get a 2000sqft home with a patio for 800K. It’s so overpriced here.

      • Sherry says:

        May I ask if you could explain (other than the fact that you were not “flipping”) the comment about not selling to make a profit? Thank you

      • Julia says:

        I just mean that we weren’t selling the house to make a profit on it, we were selling to move to another area for personal reasons. So I think the “not flipping” that you said would be right on with what I was trying to explain. There are probably more ways that we could have improved this space for less money if our sole goal was ROI

  31. Casey says:

    Wow!!! This went from looking like a house (a beautiful one) to looking like a gorgeous estate. It is absolutely incredible. Floored. You are so so talented!

  32. Jenny says:

    It’s all beautiful. My favorite part is the roof! I can’t stop thinking about those Bravo tiles!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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