One Year In Our 90’s Abandoned Home | The Exterior

We bought the worst house in the best neighborhood exactly 1 year ago this week. We thought we knew what we were getting into, but this year has proved that a lot can go wrong. Especially in an abandoned home. We’ve come such a long way in making this house feel like a home, all with our own two hands and a super small budget. Come see how much we’ve done in a year!

Exterior updates to our abandoned home

We started the year dead bushes and random landscape edging. Month by month, I removed all the dead shrubs, buried rocks, and rusted metal edging around the yard. We chopped half of our dying Aspen tree too.

We seeded new grass in the yard, replaced all the rock from around the house with mulch, and planted a handful of cottage-style plants in the big front flower beds. (These are really hard to see in this picture!)

They will fill in nicely over the next few years and give our front yard view a big upgrade.

Front lawn with patchy, dying grass with a mint green house.
Lush green front lawn with a mint green house after planting Kentucky Bluegrass from seed

Then, we removed our 90’s porch railing. The front porch is narrow and skinny, and we couldn’t find chairs to fit. Instead, we opted to take down the railing to open up the space. I caused quite a stir with this project, but it feels so much more welcoming and open now.

Teak and white cushioned chairs on a skinny front porch with a white metal table and plant, and mint green house siding behind it

We added these cedar rocking chairs and white ikea table too.

Future Plans For the Exterior

Front Porch: We plan to frame out the porch with natural wood beams to help it look more finished.

Landscaping: In the future we’ll replace our garden bricks with a more organic sloped style landscaping. Something more like this:

front landscaping with large rocks, mulch, and shade plants on a slope

Lighting: I’d love to add sconces on the sides of our garage doors. The walls are exposed in our garage so this would be an easy addition. I plan to swap the light on our front porch for one more our style.

Paint: This week we learned we have hail damage on our siding, moving up our timeline for repainting the house. If you look close at our siding, you’ll notice lots of paint chips, mildew spots, and mismatched touch-up paint. We knew we’d repaint the house sometime soon, but it might be time to start thinking about new colors for our peppermint house! What colors would you pick??

Transforming our Abandoned Home’s Backyard

One of the major reasons we chose this house is because it’s one of the largest land lots on our street. This back yard is huge! For us, at least. You can see why it was cheaper though. It’s taken a lot of work, but we’re seeing the benefits already.

Our backyard was an absolutely mess when we moved in. Full of 4 foot weeds, broken toys and glass, and no grass.

Backyard of an abandoned home with a popped pool, broken swingset, a fallen ladder, and an overgrown and dead lawn.

We couldn’t afford sod, so we spent our first summer here tearing out all the weeds and trash, prepping the soil, and germinating Kentucky Bluegrass from scratch.

The backyard of our abandoned home with lots of dirt

It still has a ways to go, but it’s definitely looking better!

backyard with a 6 foot trench dug in the center

Over the winter, we removed buried rock from the left side of the yard. And had to dig right in the middle of the yard for a foundation repair. We just seeded new grass in these patches, so it should all fill in by the end of the season.

A large backyard with green grass after planting Kentucky Bluegrass at our abandoned home

It takes about 3 years for a newly seeded lawn to mature. I can see why!

Future Plans For the Backyard

Grass: Weeds have been running the show at this abandoned home and we’re still battling getting rid of them. So we’ll be heavily focusing on that for a few years. Oh, and eliminating the random sprouts of mint everywhere, God help us.

Plants: I invested in cottage-style landscaping in our largest flower bed back here. We’ll continue to add more perennials and annuals in our landscape every year. We will plant a handful of trees for some much-needed shade too.

Digital graphic with landscaping plans for a cottage-style flower bed, including: english roses, purple foxglove, lavendar, lamb's ear, phlox, eupatorium, and more

Layout: We plan to add a greenhouse and raised garden beds. And carve out a large area for our fire pit in the back right. I plan to add more flower beds along the fence line each year too.

Deck: Our deck will fall off the house any day now, so we plan to replace it within the next year. We’re considering one with wrap-around steps down into the yard to help it feel more open. Someday we’ll pour a much bigger patio alongside the deck too. We are really excited about this project! I think it will make the biggest difference in the look and feel of our yard right now.

Our experience living in an abandoned home

One year into this wild project has taught us a lot. We didn’t know we were buying an abandoned home at the time, but we knew it would be a fixer upper.

Looking back, I wish we had asked for more seller’s concessions that would have helped us cover the cost of some of these projects (expected and unexpected). We should have anticipated that there would be a lot more work in this home based on the state of things, like the yard.

We’ve made many plumbing, sprinkler, and odd repairs throughout our whole house. There’s so much cosmetic work to be done.

But all of our little projects have improved our home’s functionality after sitting in disrepair for the last few years.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that maintaining your home is essential to it lasting.

And that you can make any house feel like a home.

Catch part 2 of this post series next week. I’ll be sharing about our interior updates from the last year!

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