After a eight-month renovation to our new home, we were looking forward to a little downtime. We planned a summer of projects we could DIY. And with our house structurally where we want it, and we were excited to get our hands dirty making all of the inspiration we’ve gathered into a reality.
And then our contractor found mold in, essentially, all of our exterior walls. There were outdated materials (Styrofoam under stucco) and causing a host of issues. The runoff on the roof was causing extra mold to gather in the corners under the stucco. The garage overhang is moldy. We thought we had time to plan for and budget for our exterior, but it just rose to the top of our list. This affects our health, so it’s priority one.
You might be asking, “Why didn’t you discover this in our home inspection?” Because it’s not something that we ordered. (You can!) When we had our home inspected, there were no signs of mold, so we didn’t order an additional testing of the walls or exterior. We live in a very dry climate, too, so it’s usually not an issue. But in retrospect, I wish we had the stucco tested.
Our contractor is currently removing all of the mold and is applying house wrap while we decide what to do next. We’re nervous because we’ve never done an exterior before. A little overwhelmed because we still have a heap of decision fatigue from the last eight months of our interior renovation. And truthfully, we didn’t even know what an exterior would cost. We have a budget, and we’ve considered the possibility of doing this in stages: replace the stucco… and then the stone… and then the roof. It started to feel like a Frankenhouse.
So, for the first time — we decided to hire a designer. We know we’re fish out of water on this one. We know we can’t afford to redo it if we don’t get it right the first time. We know we’re experiencing major decision fatigue after the renovation we’ve undergone. Also — this is the outside of our house! Way more people will see the outside than the inside! In addition to making sure that it’s safe and designed correctly, we want for it to look really nice (of course).
We gave them our budget, showed them current photos of the house and these inspiration photos I collected on a Pinterest board here:
We also told them that we love the look of stone, but we want something dark and moody. We told them we’re planning a balcony outside of our bedroom, above the new dining room. We like the front porch, but we’re not married to anything really. We told them we needed help getting our home to place where it’s safe, and can look its best for the money we have right now. We asked: Is this even realistic with our budget?
This is what they said:
“Do you plan to keep the existing ledge stone?” Katie Hackworth asked. “I love the look of stone right now, but yours looks too manufactured. (Please excuse my bluntness!)” (Totally excused, and we completely agree.)
“Shutters only work if they match the windows they are paired with,” Katie said. “Either remove completely or create new ones that mimic the window openings. They would make a statement!” We’re not super into shutters, so we’re fine to forgo this line item on the budget.
“Do you plan to keep the existing composite roof material?” she asked. “A cedar shingle (more streamlined than a shake) would be gorgeous. Might break the bank though. Maybe down the line.” A roof feels like something we should budget for. We want to invest in quality materials and do this right.
“There’s a lot wrong with it,” Jeffrey said. (gulp) “I would suggest taking off any soffits at the eaves and doing cut rafter tails like the images you sent me. It would be a tricky bit of framing, but it would help a lot and made easier if you rip the roofing off (and you should).” Well that settles that.
“The house has really good bones,” Studio McGee said. (Whew!) “And the landscaping is dreamy! You are onto something with the new windows and I can totally see this being something very special!”
In the end, it came down to budget, our location, and their availability (We needed it done ASAP before it gets cold again). We’re excited to announce that we’re working with Studio McGee to design our exterior! We’re grateful to Katie Hackworth and Jeffrey Dungan for lending their expertise and will continue to admire their work. (We’ve been in talks with Katie for the last year because we initially hired her to help us rebuild the cabin, but we decided not to rebuild after all).
So, this is where we are in the process. We’ve had two design calls with Studio McGee and they sent over a mood board at the end of last week. (I know. Pinch me):
After we approved this, they are now working on a design board with actual materials and finishes for the exterior. They let us know it would take four to six weeks of design work, and they would work with our contractors and recommend the right vendors for the job. They let us know that they’re the ones who get the labor lined out. What a relief!
We’re brand new to this process, so we’re taking lots of notes, and we’ll take you along for the ride. We have lots of questions, and we know you do, too.
For starters: Would we have bought this house if we knew about this mold? Yes, actually. However, we would have negotiated this project into the price of our home, and we would have prioritized this crucial construction first, had we known.
Do we wish we would have scrapped the whole thing and started building? Still no. We like to renovate. We like to see a home’s potential realized. Reduce, reuse, recycle… and renovate. We’re in it for the long haul.
Since we decided to hire a designer, I have felt a weight lifted a bit. I know it will still be stressful time, as all renovations are, especially right now. But we feel like we’re in very good hands. Happy to answer any questions in the comments!
We designed the Charly line of sofas, chairs, and ottomans with perfect proportions for comfort — with wide arms, a loungey depth, and stylish and practical lumbar pillows. Available in 70 kid-friendly, pet-friendly fabrics, this line was created with families in mind.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop.
Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.
In case you missed the announcement in our Love Letter, the wallpaper is officially installed in the laundry room, and I could not be ANY MORE IN LOVE! My ultimate goal for the laundry room was to create a space that is fresh, clean, bright, and a little utilitarian (the straight-laid tile floors definitely bring that). With […]
Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!
Make yourself right at home