Before & After: Saying So Long to a Stucco Exterior

The exterior of Erin’s home was not only weathered and not particularly stylish, it appeared to be falling apart. They decided to tackle a major exterior overhaul while living in the house, and lived to tell the tell. Five weeks later they had a gorgeous new exterior that pays homage to the historic character of her neighborhood.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

From Erin: Our two bedroom, one bath, ~1,000 square foot row house previously had a stucco front which had been placed over the original brick exterior. Our old stucco front was not working for us for many reasons. We didn’t like how it looked, and we were worried about it structurally as well; it seemed to be bowing out towards the street. So, we took the opportunity to totally upgrade the entire facade. Unfortunately, the original brick was too damaged by the application of the stucco to just expose it, so we had to take down the entire front and totally rebuild the exterior.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

Our plan in revamping the exterior was to capture the original feel of the neighborhood. Many of our design decisions (dentil wood cornice, half round transom window, rounded limestone lintels) were based on what we saw on nearby historic houses. We wanted our home to reflect these classic looks.

First, plywood false walls were built inside the house to protect the rest of the house from the elements during the construction process. Then the entire old facade was removed, including the porch, the stucco and the underlying brick. We had a minor setback when the original brick style we had decided on was not kilned properly, but with the help of our contractor we were able to quickly decide on a replacement brick (which we ended up liking better than our original pick). The facade was built back up, with new limestone being set above and below the windows, and the new door, with an integrated half round transom, being inserted along the way.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

We also added a new historic-style wood cornice with dentil detailing. The new front-oriented steps went on, along with a new light fixture, railing, and mailbox. The final touch was the metallic house numbers within the new transom window.

On the interior, the drywall needed to be redone, and various finishing touches were required due to the door being wider than the previous door, the windows moving their positions, etc. We got nice new deep wood windowsills, which we love, as well. The entire process once everything got started took about five weeks. This was longer than it should have taken, but various circumstances caused delays from time to time.

We lived in the house for the whole process with our dog. She was shockingly tolerant of the whole thing. We lost use of our front bedroom and much of the living room for pretty much the whole process. We’re very happy to have that space back now! Also shockingly, there were no houseplant casualties despite the extended lack of natural light.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

I absolutely love the transom window and the cornice. These were pieces we fought for in designing the new front. With the new door being wider (in accordance with code requirements), the window had to be taller if we wanted it to be a true half round, which meant it would be too tall for the available space if we weren’t open to cutting the door height down (which is what we ended up doing). I am so glad we didn’t compromise on these elements because they are my absolute favorite things about the house.

Erin’s words of wisdom: Be patient. With a big project like this, you get really excited to just get the ball rolling, but there are so many moving parts that you just have to breathe and trust that everything will happen when it needs to.

Resource list:

Thank you, Erin!



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