Our Biggest Mess: A little curb appeal

We’ve been working on the house a ton lately. Thomas has a big engineering project that should come through at the beginning of the new year, so we feel the pressure to get as much done as we can before then.
The weather here in Utah was uncharacteristically mild until yesterday (we just got around 10 inches of snow in one day!). The days were warm and the nights didn’t even drop below freezing for much of December. Thomas took advantage of the nice weather to get some big projects done outside.
There are two small bedrooms downstairs in a partial basement. The windows in those two rooms were at ground level and were long and narrow. They weren’t up to code for fire safety (they were too small, too high off the bedroom floor, and didn’t even open), but because of the age of the house we were “grandfathered in” and didn’t have to meet the safety code. We didn’t feel great about the unsafe windows, so we went through a lot of effort to change them and bring them up to code. The bigger windows also make the two small rooms so much brighter and happier, a big selling point we hope.
A pit for a window well was dug and then we cut a hole in the foundation to accommodate a taller window. This makes it sound so easy… it was not! There was a gigantic stinky loud concrete saw involved, pouring new concrete because the new windows weren’t as long as the originals, tearing out the drywall from the rooms downstairs which meant moving the kids and everything in the rooms upstairs. Wow, it was a mess. And having 5 people sleeping all in one bedroom is hard too, but that’s a post for another day.
Here are the men-folk sawing out the old foundation.
cutting holes in foundation, new basement windows

Then: back of the house before they replaced the bottom windows:

back of house "before" picture, remodeling before pictures
installing window wells to basement, safety codes for basement
how to fix a foundation with plaster

safe window wells for basement

The foundation of the house that pokes out of the ground (below the siding) was in yucky shape. The rock foundation was covered with a thin layer of plaster which was painted. The actual rock foundation is in great shape, but the plaster and paint are cracked, peeling, chipping, and just looked bad in general. Also, both sets of steps into the house were covered with yucky outdoor carpet. Change was needed.
Thomas discovered this cool product called foundation plaster that does just what the name says… he spent 7 days (in the middle of December no less) making the outside of the house sparkle. It was hard, wet, and cold work which actually rubbed the skin of his fingertips clean off (sick, I know, it’s still healing). But the end product is so very pretty. No pain, no gain.
Here he is working his magic. The front steps have the carpet pulled off of them here but haven’t been covered yet.
foundation plaster, how to replace outdoor carpet on stairs


Side of the house:

Here are some better pictures of what the foundation looked like. The cracks are just the outer plaster but it makes you think the house will fall over.

The corner of death as I like to call it. Generally yucky and well, just plain yucky.

The back carpet-covered stairs and cold Holly cat.

how to replace outdoor carpet, fix stairs with outdoor carpet

After: Ta-da! The wonder of before and after pictures is amazing isn’t it! He replaced bits of the siding that were missing too which helped a ton.

how to fix stairs with plaster

We have a beautiful new door to go here, we’ll paint the hand rails, and replace some more siding and it will be as good as new. By getting this done, along with putting on the new roof in November, the house has seen some major curb appeal improvements lately. HGTV would be so proud!

It was totally worth Thomas’ loss of fingertips for this upgrade, no? I mean, who needs fingertips anyways?

Thanks for checking out our crazy remodel,
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I jus stumbled across your blog, while finding tips for digging window wells and putting new windows. This is awesome!! We too are looking to change our windows out in the basement so it is safe to put a bedroom down there. Did you guys rent your saw from somewhere? We are wondering what you estimated you costs to be?


We also have yucky carpeted front stairs and I want them gone, gone, gone!! How difficult was it to remove your carpet and what exactly did you do to them? They look great!


looks great! I’ve been waiting to see some more remodeling pics! Can’t wait to see more inside remodeling. I love your blog! I will have to post some pics of our house (built 1900) sometime on my blog..we still have a lot of remodeling to do- first main thing will be to replace the roof.

Bobi Jensen
Bobi Jensen

Wow…hard, hard work. But makes the house look so much better. Good work!


That looks lovely. 🙂 I love the new windows! I’m big on natural light, even in basements. 🙂

And yes… 5 in one room is FUN. We’ve been living in the living room, kitchen, and bathroom since we moved in. I’m so done and it’s only been a month or so!


I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one suffering at the hands of a remodel… will yours end soon?!


Phase 1… yes. We hope. 🙂 The walls are up and mud is drying. Now comes paint and putting the carpet back. 🙂 Then begins phase 2 when I lose my kitchen…


Fingertips are overrated in general. Thomas is a trouper! It looks crazy wonderful!


Wow! It looks so great!

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.