Evolution of the Fence

To say our house needed a little bit of a facelift when we bought it is kind of the understatement of the century…

Curb Appeal – Day 1


Where do I start… Let’s see, if you focus your attention on the left side of the garage notice exhibit A – missing address numbers. Speaking of the garage, do you see the massive dent between the first and second panel…Exhibit B – wrought iron gate – rusted, chipped, corroded and just plane ugly! Exhibit C – The monstrosity we assume was meant to be an enclosed patio – we are pretty sure someone was squatting up there with the hornet’s nest and green shag carpet.

First things first, we decided Exhibit C was not only the ugliest thing we had ever seen but posed major safety risks. I could spend a week writing about the countless trips to the city, engineering of a new balcony, ripping down Exhibit C and finally installing new railing…but I will save those put you to sleep details for another day. Long story short, it had to come down and we needed to replace it with a new balcony railing that met the 42″ height requirement for residential deck railing.

Next we thought it would be nice to provide friends and family with a ledgible and complete address. This served two purposes – One, we no longer recieved the “where the heck is your house, I am standing in front of a place that can’t be it, but the GPS says we are here?” phone calls? Second we were able to avoid the awkward pause when we told them, ” No, the GPS is right, come on in!”

After about two months we achieved the first two goals and the house looked a little like this.

Curb Appeal - Day 60-90

Can I just take a moment to highlight Andy’s much loved truck in this picture. Yes, much to my dismay the “Beast” is in a few shots. The 89′ Range Rover with 2005 Chevy block is the loudest truck I never wanted to be associated with. I have grown with time to appreciate the “Beast’s” many qualities and admit that I drive it occasionaly (usually a lot of kicking, screaming, and you owe me a litter box cleaning is associated with this task). Oh and when we are feeling particularly fond of him we skip the moniker Beast and call him “Sue” ( Yes  – A Boy Named Sue!).

Enough about the Beast and back to the house… You can see in this picture we had already ripped down the “patio cover”, recycled the wrought iron gate and painted the exterior of the house a nice tan color (Dunn Edwards Desert Grey). The balcony railing is made of steel tubes with stained douglas firs planks running between posts. I am lucky enough to have a welder for a dad so I turned the railing fabrication and installation into a father daughter bonding experience. Never to old to enjoy time with Dad! We even have our new citrus trees peaking over the block wall in the picture.

Once we finished up the balcony railing we altogether stopped working on the exterior of the house. We knew the minute we moved in that the lack of privacy was not going to work. This tiny little front/side yard of ours was the only outdoor space we had and anyone walking or driving down the street could stare right into our yard and family room windows.

Front Yard Looking towards the street

 So we decided a new fence was in order. Initially I wanted to knock down the ugly block wall and replace it with a new tall fence. After doing a little research I realized that the block wall currently sits on our property line and is “grandfathered” in the way it stands. What that means is that If I were to knock it down and build a new fence then I would have to abide by the current building code and build it at least 7′  from the property line. That would be almost 2o0 SF of lost yard… No Way! The other thing I found out by doing a little research is that the maximum fence height is 6 feet tall. Anything higher and you risk the fire department forcing you to tear it down.

If you are ever going to fence in your property, make sure to check local rules regarding fence height and setback requirements before investing any time or money.

Back to our fence…the decision was made! We couldn’t wait to get started! Excitement deflated like a popped balloon when we realized how much outdoor wood like teak and Ipe cost! We could practically buy a small used car for the cost of fencing in our yard :( This option was not acceptable, so we came up with a low budget approach. We decided to buy Home Depot cedar fence boards ( $1.72 a board). We then used an inspiration picture to come up with a horizontal fencing that would compliment the roof deck railing and still look modern and provide privacy. What we ended up with was something that looked like this: 

Front of House with new Fence

What I love about this picture is that there is the single unstained wood deck railing plank screaming to be finished. Oh and yes, the “turkish bazaar” lights really area precariously hanging off of metal rods that are attached to the wood fence! May I take this moment to state that this is a “Progress” photo… Overall we were quite happy with the new fence and added privacy. For an overall cost under $300 we felt that it really made an impact without breaking the bank. We both agreed that it would really feel complete if we could add planter boxes one day… Much to my excitment I arrived home one night from work to find Andy building these:

Planter Box

So I decided to help!

By the end of the night it looked like this…

Planter Boxes

There is still much to be done to give this house the facelift it deserves, but we definitely feel it has come a long way from an ugly duckling to a B list (okay, C list) actor.

For now we need to buy up a bunch of low maintenance succulents to fill the planter boxes, build a front gate that matches the fence and figure out if there is any way to hide the old stained block wall. If anyone out there has ideas how I might rehabilitate the old wall or turn this place into at least a B list actor I would love to hear it!

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4 Responses to Evolution of the Fence

  1. Odyssey says:

    Although Sue (love the name! And song too) is beautiful she pales in comparison to your new planters! Beautiful. Can’t wait to see them full of succulents.

  2. I really like the way this turned out – totally goes with the style of your home and I love the addition of the flower boxes. We need to treat our fence now that it’s a year old. I’m thinking a semi-transparent white, but am open to suggestions.

    I’m insanely jealous of your lemon tree. We had a kumquat tree when we lived in FL, but no such luck getting citrus to grow in VA or ME. At least not outside!

    • Rocky says:

      Thank You! We debated about the horizontal fencing for a long time, I’m quite happy it turned out as it did…you never know ;)
      My husband Andy has been working on a few concoctions to patina the cedar, I haven’t really liked one yet. We have a bowl, of who knows what, aging in the garage for his next test run. He tried to scrub the boards with steel wool (size 001) and 1/2 a liter of white vinegar to force a grey patina. It wasn’t bad, but it looked a little to green. I’m holding out now that it is spring/summer to decide on how we should proceed. Staining and sealing sounds like a nightmare since we attached the fence to a masonry block wall.
      Would a semi transparent white give an aged white washed look? That seems like it would look great with the white greyish paneling of the downstairs entry portion of your house. What kind of wood is your fence made of? I’m a little obsessed with the “reclaimed/raw” wood look. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’m also curious about your experience with hiring out the basement work to be completed by others.

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