Designed by | Gooyaabi

So it's been a year. Steph, Jack and I moved to Tampa last January and we're loving our experience. Part of that experience has been spent making changes to our house. Yes, it's brand new but it was bear bones stock. Nothing fancy added. We bought it during construction so adding options wasn't actually an option. We probably wouldn't if we could though. Man that stuff's expensive.

We started with four relatively small jobs to help make our house a home and we began with the facade.

exterior shutters, sconce, door paint, address numbers
The exterior when we moved in.

As you can see, our house didn't look bad. In fact, it actually looked fairly nice. Good structure just not a lot of character. But with just a few tweaks we really made it stand out in a neighborhood with strict HOA rules.

First, we got rid of the generic numbers. Who decided that a: these look good and b: they should absolutely be the default numbers of every house in Florida, possibly the country? I'm fairly certain it's just a big prank. And you can feel the care that they took on aligning these babies. We replaced them with numbers that are from a more geometric typeface. I'm sure you've seen these Home Depot numbers before but they're quite nice and it's one of those little, easy to change details that can really have an impact. I used a clear silicone to attach them so that we can change them later without any hole filling.

adress numbers
Old numbers.

address numbers
New numbers.

Our house didn't come with exterior sconces. It didn't come with most lights in fact. It didn't come with lights in any of the bedrooms but did come with lights in the closets. Cost effective, maybe. Logical, not really. Fortunately it was prewired for exterior lights. We found a light that we loved at It's based in Utah but our neighbor from Spanish Fork works there and took care of us. We also added a couple of spotlights that shine on our two palm trees. Yes, we now have palm trees.

exterior sconce
Matte black sconce.

exterior sconce
Use a clear, globular bulb for more stark light and shadows.

At night with sconces and spotlights on.

The third project was the largest of the four and made the biggest impact. New shutters! Say you're a home builder. You decide you need to cut cost. How would you do it? Paint the shutters directly on the house? CHECK! It's like a forest printed on wall paper; seemingly such a great idea but when you get it up you realize it's not actually a real forest. Thanks for the design tip, Floridian Grandma. We needed to cover them up with "real" fake shutters like normal people.

I did some measuring and found the painted shutters to be quite wide. 25 inches actually. And if you've ever shopped for shutters you'll know that 25"x62" is a VERY custom size. Anything over 15 inches wide is hard to find anywhere. At least affordably. I did find some but the cost for each pair was over $200. We needed three pairs.

Our DIY sensibilities kicked in and that monster called "cost" once again demanded that we do it ourselves. And it just so happens that I love building stuff. Win win.

We opted for a board and batten style because they look great and are very simple to build. It's quite easy to see how to put these together. Lay the vertical boards on a flat surface, use construction adhesive between each, clamp it all together, and screw the two horizontal slats in place from the back. Use screws that will hold but not go completely through the front. Now, of course it ends up being harder than this description because laying the horizontal slats under the vertical boards and getting them straight isn't a cake walk but with a little attention to detail and precise measurements/markings it isn't rocket science either.

After assembling a couple shutters, Steph and I both realized that, from a distance, they looked like a sheet of plywood with a couple boards attached. Trailer park shutters. Not ideal. So I used my table saw at 45ยบ to cut the edges of each board to make a nice clean groove between each. This can also be done with a router and appropriate bit or even a circular saw with a guide.

exterior shutters
No grooves. Not ideal.

exterior shutters
Cutting grooves halfway through the boards.

exterior shutters
Post groove-making. Much better.

After a few coats of black I fastened them to the house using cinderblock anchors and filling the holes in the stucco with silicone sealant before attaching the shutters. That's a must-do step.

Lastly, we painted our door. It went from a dark forest green to the most lively color we could choose; a mustard yellow. In fact, it's called Cut The Mustard from Sherwin Williams. It's a fun color and goes great with the Florida weather but we have some new plans for our front door coming in a future post so stay tuned.

Well there you have it. Four pretty simple things that really transformed the look of our exterior. New landscaping is its own beast but that will come with time and will help transform the exterior even more. Numbers, sconces, shutters and a fresh new color on the front door. That's it and the results are pretty remarkable. See the before and after.

exterior before

exterior after
After. (Taken January 8th. I love Florida.)

Watch for our next project as we move indoors.