Dining Kitchen

Episode #184: Decorating the Exterior of Your House

This week, we are talking about how to make the outside of your home look and feel as cozy as the inside of your home. Plus, we have a listener question about how to handle a contractor who isn’t doing the job right.

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Show Notes:


Front Door: 


Porch Ideas:

  • Wraparound porch
  • Get a swing or daybed swing 
  • Put out a little table and chairs
  • Use string lights
  • Put in a fireplace
  • Add a TV



  • See what blooms your first year
  • Do a little bit at a time

Back patio:



  • Have it fit the personality of your home
  • Check out Emma’s mailbox magnet


  • Plan ahead
  • Permanent Christmas lights
  • Print out a picture of the exterior of your house and draw out your plans

Listener Question:

What are your tips, tricks, experiences, and ideas for dealing with contractor issues, especially as women? 

  • Read Elsie’s blog about Tips for Hiring a Contractor
  • Keep bothering them
  • Give yourself a pep talk afterward
  • Ask your family and friends for their opinions

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Episode 184 Transcript:

Elsie: You’re listening to The Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. This week we’re talking about how to make the outside of your home look and feel as cozy as the inside of your home. Plus, we have a listener question about how to handle a contractor who isn’t doing their job right. My favorite subject. Okay, so someone DMed me and they said, this is so cute. I can’t stop thinking about it. So at our new house in Missouri, they said that they used to live kind of next door to it or something. And that at one point in the 1990s, they saw a huge wedding hosted there in the yard. It was right after our Father of the Bride episode came out. And they just wanted to tell me and they said it was really magical. It had lights, it had tents, it had all the things and I wish I could see it. I love the idea of still throwing some kind of, it doesn’t have to be a wedding, but some kind of giant party there. Maybe a wedding, maybe something else someday, but it made my heart feel so many things.

Emma: That is so cute. That is the sweetest DM ever. You also haven’t shown the house very much so I totally believe that they did live next door cuz in order for them to be able to like, recognize it from what you have shared they must really know this house. 

Elsie: Yeah. The neighborhood, everyone kind of knows when I was walking around the neighborhood last time, I was there, Every single person that talked to me was like, so you’re moving into that house?

Emma: It’s a close-knit area. 

Elsie: Yeah. So anyway, this episode is all about decorating the exterior of your home. I am so excited to do ours. So I like the way that exterior looks, but I think it has a lot more potential that can be unlocked. And I definitely think yours as well. So Emma’s house, she’s currently doing her exteriors, like painting, renovation, and stuff. And she has a huge backyard that she’s saving for later, so I can’t wait to see what you jump into that eventually, like what you do of it. 

Emma: Yeah, so we can talk about paint because actually as we’re recording this, we were supposed to get our brick lime washed this week, but it didn’t work out because they have to have three days of no rain so that the paint can cure properly. And this week it was kind of on and off in the forecast of a little bit of rain. So we’re hoping for next week, but this time of year it rains on and off fairly frequently, so it could even be another month, who knows? But I’m very excited when it does happen because we have a mostly white, house, but then we have a little bit of brick, and so we’re gonna get that lime washed. So lime wash, it can mean a lot of different things. So for us, what we’re wanting is where you kind of see the brick a little bit. You still see that there’s red brick under there. It’s almost kind of like a cloudy look. It’s very cottage core, shabby chic, it’s kind of that kind of thing. And for us, we don’t have tons of brick. It’s not the whole house, so it’s kind of gonna be an accent. So I feel like it’s gonna be a nice juxtaposition with the white siding we have, which looks pretty plain and boring, just being honest. It’s like pretty boring. So I feel like this will give it kind of something. At the moment, it’s just like very red brick and it’s just a little too much visual contrast for my eyes, and also tell you it just doesn’t really seem to have any style. So I’m very excited for this lime washing. But again, could have happened this week, didn’t happen because of the weather. We’ll see. I’m hoping for next week. Could even be a month though. Who knows? 

Elsie: So painting brick, it’s definitely a regional thing. So where I grew up in Missouri, I think people are kind of starting to do it now a little bit more, but people used to really villainize and it’s definitely a hot and cold topic, but there’s a lot of people who think that it’s like really bad to paint a brick home.

But when I moved to Nashville, I was seeing it everywhere. Just everyone paints their brick homes here, it’s very extremely common. So that was what gave me the courage to do it for the first time. And then after that, I never turned back, I paint a brick home all the time now. On my first two houses, I painted them with conventional latex paint. In the last house that we painted, we used Roman bio paint, which is a non-toxic, environmentally friendly mineral paint. And the thing that’s cool about it is that a lot of people will say you shouldn’t paint houses because then the brick can’t breathe, and with this paint, it’s like painting brick with a layer of white brick. So it’s the same material and your house can still breathe. So it lasts longer, it’s more sustainable. The thing that’s tough about it though, is it’s harder to find a painter who wants to use that material because it’s not as common. So anyway, I will link that in the blog, if anyone’s curious. But yeah, I think that painting a house is one of the best things you can do for curb appeal, I recommend it. So the pink house is a wood house, maybe it’s wood siding, I’m not sure, and then our new home is like a clapboard house, so it’s wood. So they’re both painted already and a part of owning these houses is that you have to keep them painted and keep up with it. It’s an important part of the maintenance of owning a woodhouse. So with our pink house, we decided to do a statement color because first of all, it fits into the neighborhood. There were already a lot of houses in the neighborhood that had a little bit of color. It’s not like Charleston, but it’s definitely a lot more than any other neighborhood in our hometown. Just like houses with a little bit of color, a little bit more risk-taking is the right word, but just a little bit more of an open-minded vibe. People always ask me if the neighbors hated it. I never heard of anyone who hated it, but I’m sure someone probably didn’t like it. I don’t know because it’s pink. It’s a pink house, but it’s not the only pink house, I don’t think, is it? 

Emma: I don’t think it is. No. It’s the only one of that particular pink, but no, I can think of one other that’s like a pink house and it is the one that’s in heavy disrepair anyway. Anyway, there’s at least one other pink one that I could think of. 

Elsie: And also pink is a historic home color. It’s a more common home color from the days of old, that’s also why I wanted to do it. So anyway, I thought it was fun. It was just an opportunity because it’s very small. What do you call it? Like a bungalow-style house. So it just kind of made sense. It fit like it felt good for our new home since it is the clapboard and it’s already white, I really just can’t imagine it any other color. So I think that I’m pretty sure it that will always keep it white. But who knows? Never say never. But an opportunity for painting on the exterior is definitely the porch at the moment. The porch needs to be repainted really badly. It is around the front steps area, when you first walk up, it’s like really chipping off. So I know that’s one of our first projects that we need to do. So I found this main color called Dorian Gray, so I was thinking about using that. You know, I have my Dorian Gray thing. If I wanna do a neutral color, or I could do a little more of a fun color, I don’t know.

Emma: Yeah. Didn’t you say a lot of people told you to paint it blue, to tell the ghost to go away? 

Elsie: Okay. So it is, it’s a Southern thing that if you paint your porch ceiling blue. So when you look on Pinterest at porches, wraparound porches, and porch decorations, you’ll see lots of porches with a painted blue ceiling, and now I kind of know why. I don’t know if that’s the only reason, or if some people maybe just see it and they’re like, oh, that’s a cute color, I’ll do mine that way too. Yeah, but I first of all don’t really want a blue ceiling. But second of all, I’m not really afraid of ghosts. So if you see me painting my porch ceiling blue though, now you’ll know that something really weird happened. You’d be like, we need to send her some flowers. 

Emma: She’d be like, it was between this and an exorcism. So I’m painting it blue. 

Elsie: Yeah. Our sun porch was actually, the ceiling was painted a teal blue when we moved in. But we painted over it white just to, I don’t know, I just wanted it to be all white. I just didn’t wanna have a statement ceiling in there. Yeah. Anyway, let’s stay focused on the exterior cause that’s what this episode is about. 

Emma: Yeah. Well, alongside painting exteriors, let’s talk about another important exterior thing that you paint sometimes, front doors. 

Elsie: Okay. So the statement front door is such a fun topic, and I’m excited to talk about this. So, first of all, I love statement front doors, I’ve had them in almost all of my homes. I think on my first home we did a classic black front door. And then after that, I was like we had a pink door and then we had a blue door, and then now we have another pink door and then we had a green door. So I love the statement front door. I think it’s very fun. I just think it’s nice. But the one thing I will say is there’s this one house in our neighborhood right now where when I always try to fight, I’m like, oh, the statement door does not match the house though. You know what I mean? So you do have to blend it with what your house already is. If you’re not gonna paint the whole house, you do have to kind of accept your house for what it is and pick a color that is cohesive with that, I think. 

Emma: That’s what I think too. I will say if it’s your house and you have no HOA on your back, do whatever you want. If it makes you happy to paint it, that one teal that you really love, even though it doesn’t go with the rest of the house, that’s fine. Go for it. Yeah, to me it’s like kind of a missed opportunity when I see one that just doesn’t, because I’m like, there’s so many colors that would work and you picked the one that doesn’t really fit. So it feels like this door doesn’t belong to this house, which is fine. It’s your house, whatever. But I’m gonna go on my walk and I’m gonna judge your front door. So just know that’s happening.

Elsie: In our new house, we have a screen door, so I might paint the front door, but I feel like it won’t really be as much of a thing to look at from the outside because of the, it’s like a wood screen door, it’s like a very classic, like a southern door. I love it, I think it’s practical because it’s like mosquito land and stuff. I’m thinking about painting the inside of the front door. But yeah, I think if I wanna have like a fun statement door, I might do like our little pottery shed in the backyard. I might do a side door, I might do something else, I think.

Emma: Yeah, and we’ve had painted front doors in the past too. Probably my favorite was we had this yellow door on the first home that Tray and I lived in together. And I painted it with my friends one day and it was really fun. So currently we just have this kind of modern wood door that has frosted panels and we just got it from Lowe’s. It’s not really anything all that special, to be honest, but it looks really nice. Our door before had a huge crack in it, the door that came with the house and we just weren’t really in love with the style of it anyway. And like I said, the window was super cracked so we replaced it with that. And I’m having them, whenever they do the exterior of the house, we’re kind of matching the wood. We’re adding panels of wood under some of the windows. Almost like a planter box, but it’s not actually a planter box cuz I have no green thumb whatsoever. And I will never put plants in them because they will just die because I don’t know what I’m doing. So it’s just like a piece of wood, but visually I think it will read kind of like a planter box without flowers and it just matches the front door. Because of that, I have no plan to paint our front door ever. I just plan to keep it the wood that it is and it looks really pretty. It’s like a really nice wood and it’s been sealed so you can really see all the wood grain and it’s really pretty. 

Elsie: But yeah, just for the record, we are pro-statement door. Do pick something that likes vibes with your house, but I think it’s magical. I think it’s one of those fun moments in life like one of the things that homeowners get to do that’s really special.

Emma: Yeah. And if you’re a seasonal wreath person, which I am, then you do have to think of your front door as the backdrop for all your seasonal wreaths. So I would think that through. So make sure that it’s gonna go well with your Halloween wreath and your Christmas wreath. Maybe you don’t care, but I do. 

Elsie: That’s how I make all of my home decisions. I never make a decision without thinking of how it will look during Halloween and Christmas because it’s so important to me and I stretch them out for at least an extra month each. Okay, the other thing I love for front doors is choosing a vintage knocker, I’ve talked about this before. I chose one for my new house already. I choose one for every home, and they’re all kind of not funny, but they have a personality to them because there are vintage brass, knockers. There are so many different ones you can find. I think our first one was a pineapple and then we had a butterfly at one of our BMBs and I remember at Casey’s house I did a horseshoe and at my new house, I’m doing the bat. I’m doing a brass bat, it’s magical. It’s kind of a fun tradition that I love to do like picking the door knocker. 

Emma: Yeah, at my Harry Potter house in Florida, which we no longer own, but there is an owl brass knocker because you know, Harry Potter. 

Elsie: Okay, so for windows, first of all, do you like shutters? Are you a shutter person? 

Emma: I love shutters. We don’t have them and I don’t really want them, but I love looking at them. 

Elsie: A lot of people have asked me if I would add shutters to our new house because it kind of looks like the movie houses that I always put, that it kind of looks like both have black shutters. But I actually think our house is not meant to have shutters the size of the windows is I think it’s bigger than you think. So from what I’ve read, the only way to do shutters is to have them be like real shutters that could really close and they have proper hardware and they’re not like just a decoration, they’re a real working thing. In order to do that, they would be huge. So I just don’t think that our house needs it or wants it. So at this time, I’m no one shutters, but I do love how they look and all around our neighborhood, there are so many houses with pretty shutters and I think it’s magical.

Emma: And you feel they have to be real because you would want to use them like you would want to pull them closed sometimes. 

Elsie: I mean, you know, I love my End of the World books, so yes. But also I think it’s just sort of like an authenticity thing for like people who like old houses, it’s like you wanna do it the way it would’ve been done in that era.

Emma: Yeah, I get that. Well, up to you. 

Elsie: I could tell you it’s stupid. 

Emma: Yeah, I do. I don’t need to say it, but of note at the holiday house, the shutters on the front of the house, and on the front porch were definitely not real. They were definitely just nailed in place and I thought they looked pretty good.

Elsie: I’m just saying if I were gonna do them I would wanna make them real functioning shutters. 

Emma: Okay. Well, that’s up to you but I do think they would look pretty cool. So if the only way to do it was fake ones, I’m voting against you, but it’s your house. So obviously do whatever you want. 

Elsie: Look at it one more time in a picture, because on the front window in the center to the top, there’s an oddly shaped window and I’m just not sure how it would work, like if you just wouldn’t put the shutters on all the windows or it just kind of feels like it would be a little bit, I don’t know.

Emma: I’m thinking of it more as purely an aesthetic thing and not you’re going to use them at all. That’s so we’re probably just not thinking like we’re not on the same page because you like want to use them. So that’s very different because it’s like then they might have to be like huge or oddly shaped depending on your windows and yeah, that sounds probably a lot more expensive and potentially problematic, but I’m just thinking like cool ones that maybe have like moons carved in ’em or something. I don’t know. Or just black wines. 

Elsie: So you think I should put shutters on the front of the house? 

Emma: Yeah, I do, fake ones. 

Elsie: Next time I talk to someone about the exterior I’ll ask some questions, I’m curious now. All right, let’s talk about porches. Porches are everything to me. So I’ve already talked about this like 85 times, but I promise you it’s gonna be 85 more. At our new house, my dream is to make a porch that you can walk all the way around. A literal, all-the-way walk around the porch. What do you call it, wraparound porch and you can actually walk all the way around it, some of it will have doors, some of it won’t and some of it will be sunrooms. One of it’s gonna be like an art room, some of it will be porches. It’s so magical to me. So, yeah I love porches. In our first Nashville house, we had a sunroom and it was definitely one of the most beautiful rooms in the house. It was very photogenic and it was very fun to decorate. But since it was a three seasons room and you couldn’t use it in the winter, it was kind of a bummer some of the years. So I learned from that experience that I would rather have just like all the way a porch, just a porch as you go out there, you sit in the fresh air, or if it’s a sunroom that’s closed in with windows, I want it to be like heated and cooled and be like a part of the home. So that’s a big priority for me now. Fun things about porches, so you can do swings, you can do a little table and chairs. You can do the daybed swing. What are some of your favorite decorations for porches? 

Emma: Yeah. I love a swing. I love a daybed swing. Our porch is kind of strange in a way. It is a proper porch but it’s a lot of poured cement with a couple of bushes, like space where the tree is growing out. It’s like a bonsai tree or something, I don’t really know. And there’s not really a place to put a swing, but we used to always sit and swing with Oscar when he was a baby at our last house. So I kind of miss it, but I don’t even know if he would enjoy it anymore. Now he wants to be walking, we have his little bike out on the front porch, it’s tucked underneath the awning. And this little cozy coop car, he likes to get in that and stuff. So I don’t know if we’re gonna do a lot more to our front porch just because there isn’t really, it’s not a lot of it is covered. There’s just a small space that’s covered and it’s kind of taken up by Oscar’s car and bike right now. But we sit out there a lot right now and eat dinner, Oscar loves being outside generally. And so we’ll make dinner and take it all outside after daycare and just sit out there and eat and he’ll watch cars go by. And he likes to point out if it’s a car or a truck or whatever. One day a trash truck honked at us because he was waving and that was, I think, the most thrilling moment of his life, he was so into it. 

Elsie: Oh my gosh, how cute. Yeah. I love porches. So in the neighborhood, we’re moving in Springfield, there are a lot of porches that have string lights and I think that’s really charming. It’s not like Christmas lights, it’s all year round. When you walk around at night, there’s just a lot of porches that are lit up with string lights and so I thought that was really sweet. If you have a chance to put a fireplace on your porch, I think that’s epic. Truly a porch with a fireplace it’s epic, it’s amazing. I would love to do like a dining table porch eventually. I think that’s really exciting for like the back of the house.

Emma: What do you think about, well-designed and placing TVs on porches? What are your thoughts? 

Elsie: I am pro TV on a porch because I just think if it makes you use it more, then it’s good. And I think that there might have been a time in my life when I was snobby about TVs, but it is not now.

Emma: Yeah, I pretty much agree. We have no place for one, but I would totally put one just to watch an episode of something and eat breakfast on our porch or something. Really in the evening, in the summer it can be kind of mosquito land, so then you have to really figure out your plan for that. But during the day, in the morning, it tends to be pretty good. 

Elsie: I think it’s a good idea actually. If this space calls for it and it works, maybe it would make you use your porch more. I think that’s the most important thing because I’ve had porches that we use constantly, and I’ve had ones that we never used at all. And so I think just creating routines that make you consistently use it is really important. Especially right when you first move in. So the next part is walkways. So I think if you have a chance to update walkways, driveways, things like that, that can be a huge upgrade. Lately, it’s springtime right now, so as I’ve been driving around, I’ve seen so many people pouring driveways and I’m like, oh, good for you, it’s so cute. So my dream is to have a brick pathway, for the pathway that goes up to the house and then the pathways that sort of lead around in the back. I just think that brick pathways are so cute.

Emma: Oh yeah. A brick pathway is a very magical, very secret garden. So we have a few walkways, I guess I have two things. One is basically we have these really big, lovely lavender bushes on our back, in between how you enter our backyard and where the garage is, and last year they were not totally blooming yet, but last year they smelled amazing. We didn’t live in the house yet, but we would come to check it a lot. And yeah, they just smelled amazing, I don’t know if it’s like edible lavender or not, I’m not really sure. I’m sure I could figure that out. But I did notice last year that it had tons of bees and so I’m thinking about that this year. I’m a little unsure if we’re gonna keep them because I do think they smell awesome. But Oscar is just like, that’s a spot he’s at a lot because we go in and out of the backyard all the time because he’ll wanna play in the backyard and then we go in the front yard, and then you know, back and forth quite a bit. So I’m just a little concerned about the number of bees I saw. I don’t know if there’s something I should do for there to be less bees. I think bees are important, so I don’t really want to do anything that necessarily deters them because obviously, they’re just doing what bees do, but I don’t know, so I’m kind of thinking about that. I’m not sure what we’re gonna do this year. They’re just starting to bloom, so we’ll see. But if Oscar and I both get stung a whole bunch, I’ll be like, okay, where you’ve gotta do something.

Elsie: Maybe there are other plants or I bet our listeners will be able to give you some advice on that. That interesting. 

Emma: Yeah, because I don’t wanna do anything to kill the bees or anything like that. I’m just thinking we would move the bushes. Actually, a contractor we worked with I already mentioned, would totally take them and plant them at his house if we wanted. So I was like, okay, I already have someone, they wouldn’t go to waste, but I’m like, well, I don’t know, we’ll see. Another thing I wanted to mention, this is somewhat related, but it’s just an exterior thing, are we got a little free library put in, we had a dead tree in our front yard and when we got it cut down, we told them to leave like a four-foot stump and because you can get them to cut it way down and even grind the stump and I said, no, leave it four foot because I’m gonna put a little free library on top of it. So we have a little free library and I’ve noticed that people in the neighborhood are using it quite a bit. I’ve gotten a number of books out of there for Oscar. Every time I put in books, I always notice how quickly they go and it’s always the romance novels that go the quickest and I love it. And I have plenty to put in there so heads up neighborhood and right by our little free library we’ve also started to make what I call a fairy garden, but it’s basically little ceramic animals that I find at thrift stores and Oscar and I put them out there and he just likes to play with them when we’re out there and they’re very breakable. He’s broken one before because he threw it onto the sidewalk and it cracked and broke and it’s fine because we’re outside. So it’s not like inside when glass breaks or something, they’re not glass, they’re ceramic. But we have a monkey and a couple of dogs and a cat and a fish and an owl and when he sees the owl he will go, who, who and it’s really cute. So that’s our little fairy garden, I’d really like to make it a lot more aesthetic and cute in the future. But at the moment it’s just like stuff that Oscar likes and he moves them around and plays with them while we’re out there and it’s just fun. Just makes it a little destination where we can walk out there and play with him a little and then go do something else and at his age that’s great. 

Elsie: Magical. Okay, let’s talk about landscaping for a moment, because I feel like that is a really important part of curb appeal, it can be a big upgrade. So on our last home we probably did the most landscaping we’ve done because I know this story before, but after we got our house painted I was like, this looks great. When should we take photos? And the house painter was like, well, I think you need to eliminate all of the landscaping and do all new, and I was like, What, I had never been told such a big task before and it turns out he was right when we did do that job. I remember at the time it felt like such a big change. It turned out really cute. There’s like a lot of little tiny boxwood-looking bushes and then we did hydrangeas and we did panes for spring and then we had a place to do one new tree, so we did like a ginkgo tree because I love the yellow leaves at fall time and it was a very magical experience and I can’t wait to do it again. I think it opened up my mind a lot to how worthwhile it landscaping can be because it feels kind of daunting and it feels very expensive and it is very expensive. But once you’ve done it and seen what a big upgrade it can be, I think it felt a lot more worth it to me.

Emma: I honestly felt that way even about painting the exterior of your house. When I was younger, I thought, oh, I wouldn’t spend the money on that I’d rather spend the money I have to fix up my house on the inside because I’m always inside. And I think if you’re on a tight budget, like yeah, that makes sense, I get it. But after you’ve painted the exterior or whatever you’ve done, after you’ve done something to the exterior, then you see what a big difference it makes and the feeling it gives you when you pull up to your house. And also if you spend a lot of time on your front porch or your backyard or whatever, then yeah, you just kind of come to value it in a different way, or I have, maybe not everyone, but I do. So I could definitely see that with landscaping, we kind of have existing stuff from the previous owner, lots of bushes and trees that are coming back to life now and we’re hibernating all this winter. This year is really just like seeing if everything comes back, what it’s like to try to maintain it if we’re not able to, like what are we gonna do differently to make sure it’s still attractive, like are we gonna replace this or that? So that’s really all we’re doing this year is trying to figure out like, what is this treat? What are these bushes? Will they stay alive this summer? I don’t know. So we’re just gonna do our best and see. 

Elsie: Totally. Yeah. I think giving it a little bit of time to just like see what blooms your first spring is really smart because it could be surprising. If you first see it when everything’s dead, there might be a lot of perennials that you don’t even know about. Yeah. It’s very fun though, I think if you’ve never done it before and you’re gonna do it for your first time, my advice is to just be encouraged, and do a little bit at a time. It is worth it for me, at first it felt like it was in the boring money-to-spend category for house stuff. But eventually, I kind of came to appreciate it and love it, so now I’m excited to do more. The next one is the back patio. So I think that your back porch can really be the heart of your home. My favorite way to use it or the way for it to be is if your kitchen will let out into your backspace. I think that’s like amazing. That’s how it’s been at our home in Tennessee and it just made it really cozy because it’s your outdoor kitchen is next to your indoor kitchen and your outdoor dining is next to your kitchen and it just all kind of fits together really well. So if you’re planning a space from scratch, I would really recommend that. Obviously not every house is gonna have that. Our first house in Tennessee had this, it’s so random, but the kitchen was in the very front of the house. There was no possible way that it could ever connect in any way and it was always in the back of my mind when I lived there. Anyway, let’s talk about a couple of ideas for how you can upgrade your back patio. So I just got new porch furniture for our new house and I did not know, so do you know the brand Trex, they make like decking that you never have to replace. So I found out that they make tables and I got one of those tables. I’m really excited about it because I don’t know how many times in the past, which is my own fault, but I would get a very inexpensive wood table from Target or something where I would put a table out there that really shouldn’t be out there and then a season or two later it’s like completely trashed.

Emma: I might buy one of those then because we currently don’t have a back patio and we don’t really have any covered area in our backyard at all. And we just don’t really have the money to do like a huge pour cement and big awning and we don’t really have the budget for that right now. But I would really love to put a table back there because Oscar and I will sit back there and eat dinner and Trey too, it’s not like Trey’s not around. The routine is I pick him up from school, so we eat not really even dinner, but like snacks and it’s just me and him and then Trey comes home. But anyway, this probably sounds like my husband’s never home. I’m like, no, he is. He just comes home about an hour later than me. But yeah, maybe I’ll get one of those tables now that you’re mentioning it because I’m like, I need something that can sit out in the sun and the weather and won’t get completely ruined because I just have not been motivated to buy something. So I’m like, it’s gonna get completely ruined in one season because there’s just no cover for it, so that’s an idea. 

Elsie: I’m kind of at the point in my life where I’m like, I’m not buying outdoor furniture if it’s not weatherproof and I’m excited to see, I guess I’ll have to see it for a couple of seasons to see how well it wears and like how it is to clean up in the spring and things like that. But yeah, it’s worth it to me. I love outdoor furniture, but if you don’t have a covered space, then I think you have to be a lot more intentional about the stuff you choose to put out. 

Emma: You wanna hear our funny thing about our backyard? Back patio. We don’t have a patio as I mentioned, we are getting one for Oscar’s birthday in June, we’re getting him a sandbox because he loves playing in the dirt and I am a little tired of it. So we are getting the sandbox so he can play in that sandbox as much as he wants. And I’m gonna get the kind that has a cover because we don’t have any cover back there, so it can be covered up when we’re not playing with it. But I’m really excited. I think he’s gonna love it. So I’m really excited about it. 

Elsie: That’s a fun idea. I love that. Let’s talk about the backyard for a little bit. Oh my gosh. Backyard. So I’ve learned so much, I feel like, so our first house in Tennessee had this giant backyard. All it had in it was playhouses. So it was pretty much like an acre of yard that you just mow and I learned from that experience that I wanted a more concise yard, that was useful. It’s great to have a big yard if it’s useful, but I didn’t wanna just have a giant yard that was just like a lawn mowing bill or whatever. And then in our current home, we have actually a pretty small yard, our Tennessee home, feels like it’s mostly the swimming pool. Yeah. And then there are a couple of side yards that are a little bit awkward to get to. So they really don’t get used much, they don’t get played much. So if our kids play outside, they usually play in the front of the house, like in the driveway and stuff, and in the back in the pool area. Probably one of the smallest yards we’ve had. Not a lot of play space. I felt like we got so much out of it because it was well-planned. It had an outdoor dining table. We had the cornhole game, which our kids love. We had a fire pit, which they love. It was very useful and functional. So it taught me that we don’t really need a big yard, we just need a really well-planned yard. So with our new home, I’m trying to be very careful in the planning. So yeah, I’ve been getting my swimming pool quote. Everyone, cross your fingers for me because I’m terrified. I just think that when you live in the middle of the country, swimming pools are more expensive because they’re just not as common and there are not as many companies to choose from and it’s just not as competitive. But yeah, we’re planning for that. A fire pit, I’d like to have some kind of play space, but I wanna make sure it’s gonna get used a lot. And I’d like to have some kind of yard that’s open to run in, but not a lot, just like the right amount. So yeah, that’s my plan at the moment. I’ve redrawn it like a hundred times so just to encourage anyone who’s moving to a new space or planning your yard, you can’t overthink it. Really, really think about like how everything can connect together because it’s so much better to plan it over and over before you’ve spent any money than to start doing it and have regrets. 

Emma: Oh yeah, I agree. And yeah, we don’t have any huge plans for our backyard at the moment. We kind of need to get our fence replaced, but it’s gonna be like 20 to $30,000. So, we’ve kind of been putting it off. We have a fence and it’s fine, but our dog keeps finding ways to escape and he never runs away. He just like waits at the front door but he will kind of terrorize other people who are walking with their dogs because he’s not great with other dogs, that’s not good. So we’re just trying to think that through. We also have his dream, I would love to get a golf cart. Our neighborhood’s very windy and it’s a great place for kids to ride their bikes and stuff. People don’t really drive through super fast, it’s just very windy. So anyway, you could definitely drive a golf cart around our neighborhood and get to the neighborhood pool from our house. You could definitely walk, but it would take a while and if you’re with a little kid and you have a bunch of stuff like pool stuff, you’re not gonna do that. So I kind of thought the golf cart could be great for going to the pool in the summer with Oscar. I also have this dream with the golf cart that maybe I could do some kind of spooky hay ride or some kind of spooky, everyone hops on the little train, we’re going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood with the golf cart and it could look like a monster. I could decorate, I don’t know. I don’t exactly know, but I just feel like there’s something there that could be fun but our problem is we don’t know where to store the golf cart. We have a two-car garage and we each have a car. So our garage is not really big enough that we could put the golf cart in there.

So we don’t really know where it would go, because we wouldn’t want it to just be sitting out all the time. So it needs to go in the backyard somewhere, but it needs to be something at least covered, if not a little structure. So that’s sort of where we stop is we’re like, we don’t know how the golf cart’s gonna get taken care of, be stored when it’s not in use. So then we just kind of dunno what to do with that. I’ll figure it out someday. I’m gonna be driving around and the golf cart’s gonna be dressed like a monster for Halloween. I don’t know. So that we can trick or treat.

Elsie: Keep thinking in that direction. I definitely think it’s a cute idea. The last thing is a mailbox. So I had a mid-century mailbox in one of our houses, and I remember, I felt like it was such a splurge at the time. And now we have an antiquey looking mailbox at our new house. I just think mailboxes, like why not make them fit the personality of your home? I think that’s very sweet. 

Emma: Oh yeah, I agree. Ours is this kind of metal and swings open right outside our front door and I love it. I don’t plan to replace it at the moment, but I will say though, you know how when you put mail in for your mail carrier pickup, you flip up a flag usually. A standard mailbox has a flag.

Elsie: Do you have to use a close pin on the outside or something? 

Emma: Yeah, it has to have something like that. So I went online and I was like, well there’s gotta be some solution for this, I’ve seen mailboxes like this before. I’ve never had one, but there’s something and so I looked around and basically what it has right now is this little tiny plastic flag that you can push out or close and it’s on the mailbox with a command strip and it’s worked. But it requires you to very carefully open and close it and the mail carrier is closing it and I don’t know him or her, but they’re doing nothing wrong, it’s not great. It’s not a great solution, the command strip, because it’s also like commands strips are great. If you’ve heard me say it once you’ve heard it a thousand times. I love command strips. But they’re not always great outdoors. It can get very cold here, with freezing temperatures. It’s also very wet at times. And this summer it’ll get really hot. So I’m just trying to find another solution and basically on Amazon, I saw these little magnets that like say, oh, cute, pick up the mail. And so you just put the magnet on the outside. Of the metal and then they can just put it on the inside once they’ve picked up the mail. And so I bought one of those and it hasn’t come in yet, but I’m really excited about it. It has a little picture of a mail truck on it. It’s a tiny bit cheesy, but I just feel like it’s gonna be a good solution for the type of mailbox we have because there’s been a number of times I needed something to go out and the mail carrier didn’t realize I had something in the box and it didn’t go out and that is kind of a bummer. 

Elsie: That’s super annoying. That’s a cute idea. Okay, well good. We’ll have to link that in the show notes because I bet there’s someone out there, that’s also the perfect solution. 

Emma: Yeah, someone should start selling his on Etsy if they haven’t already because they’re really cute and they’re just like magnets.

Elsie: Okay. The last part of decorating the exterior of your home that I wanted to talk about is Halloween and Christmas. I think that planning ahead for this is essential. I’ve said this many times if you’re landscaping your house or whatever you’re doing, you have to think about how the Christmas lights are gonna interact with that and the skeletons and all of that. So something interesting, our friend Sarah from the Bird’s Papaya, got permanent Christmas lights put on her house. Like that stay on all year round. Did you see that? 

Emma: That’s what I have. 

Elsie: Oh my gosh. Do you have them too? 

Emma: I just don’t turn ’em on all year.

Elsie: That’s cool. Can you see them? 

Emma: Yeah, you can see them like as far as like if you’re standing outside of my house like they’re not turned on, you just see there are bulbs. 

Elsie: You just don’t care?

Emma: No, why would I care? 

Elsie: That’s really appealing to me because I just don’t wanna pay someone to put them up and down every year. But I do want them every year. 

Emma: Ours is not very elaborate. I feel like I can turn them on all winter. They don’t spell out Merry Christmas or Ho Ho Ho or anything like that. So if you wanted something really elaborate, maybe it wouldn’t be as good of a solution. Yeah. I think most people leave their Christmas lights up all year. They just don’t turn ’em on. 

Elsie: What, what really? 

Emma: If it’s not like a colored thing. They don’t leave like Santa Sleigh up on the roof all year, but other things.

Elsie: I’ve never wanted to do a poll more than I do right now because I assumed that everyone just took them down.

Emma: Maybe we should do a poll. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. I could totally be wrong. 

Elsie: I’m very interested to hear now, I wanna hear. Please write into us at podcastabeautifulmess.com if you have strong feelings or experiences about permanent Christmas lights. Is there a way that I can leave my Christmas lights up forever? But it won’t look bad in the summer. That’s what I wanna know. I’m very curious about this subject. Okay, so this is how I plan Halloween and Christmas. I print off a little picture. You could also just do this on your phone, a picture of your exterior, and then I just draw on it. I just draw on it as many times as I want and just kind of plan out like what are all the different ways we could put up the decorations? There are lots of different ways you can do it, it’s so fun. One of my favorite things is driving around at Christmas and like looking at how everyone else does all their Christmas lights, the magic of planning it out, and being creative. It’s so much fun. 

Emma: Imagine driving around on a golf cart with hot chocolate, looking at all the neighbor’s Christmas lights.

Elsie: Stop it. Okay, so I have to just say in Jessica Simpson’s memoir, she was talking about trick or training with golf carts, and now I just think that you’re like so fancy. 

Emma: Doesn’t it sound like a celebrity thing? I was just complaining about how much money we need to replace our dog fence and then I’m like, but we’re gonna get this golf cart. You can’t tell my priorities are all over the place. 

Elsie: Okay. Do you wanna read the listener’s question? 

Emma: Yes, this question was emailed to us from Janie. She says, recently the pipes burst in my New York City apartment. I’m young, single, and live alone. The construction company hired by the apartment management company was trying to just paint over mold and water damage. I had to continually fight for the job to be done correctly, for sheetrock to be replaced, and I felt bad about it, like guilty for asking for the job to be done correctly. So what are your tips, tricks, experiences, and ideas for dealing with issues like this, especially as a young woman? 

Elsie: All right, I wanna start off by saying, I just wrote a post recently about how to hire a contractor on A Beautiful Mess. So we’ll link to that, and it has a whole section about dealing with sexism because dealing with sexism and people talking down to you, unfortunately, in this industry, in this situation is really bad. And I think that your experience is very common. Honestly, it’s sad, but not surprising to hear that. So yeah, I think that learning how to stand up for yourself and to assert yourself and also get what you want done, most importantly are all really good skills. Just dealing with the initial shock that people just don’t listen or try to talk you out of what you’re asking for or try to talk down to you, it’s frustrating. So do you have any good tips Em? 

Emma: Well, it sounds like Janie did exactly what she needed to do, which was keep bothering them until it gets done the way it needs to get done and when you’re talking about mold, that’s not a joke. That can mess with your health, so this isn’t just like, oh, the color’s slightly different than I thought and I want you to repaint it for free. It’s like, no, no, no, no, no mold is a serious issue. And also you did a huge favor to whoever owns your building because now there’s not gonna be mold growing forever. Sounds like she did what she needed to do, but it sounds like for Janie and definitely, for me, I almost have to just give myself a little pep talk after I have moments like that where I’m like, hey, it was okay that you did that. It was okay that you kept asking them it was okay that you told them no. Sometimes I really do have to almost talk out loud to myself and be like, it’s fine that you called them back and said this is not acceptable, you were not unkind. You were not mean, you just said what needed to be said and that is okay. Sometimes I think that needs to be something in your routine if you’re the kind of person who feels really guilty advocating for yourself, which I feel at times, so I definitely get that. And then if you’re ever like unsure, ask your friends, ask your parents, whoever you’re close with, if you’re like, am I being too much here? Check-in because your friends will tell you right away. If I had a friend be like, do you think it’s okay for them to paint over mold? I’d be like, no, you need to call them today because you cannot be living in a house with mold like that. You know that it’s there. Sometimes we live with mold and we don’t know it, but you know. If I had a friend ask me, I’d be like, no, you absolutely should call, it’s good that you’re calling. It’s good that you’re checking in. Take care of yourself. This is important for your health. So maybe reach out to friends, family members, or whoever you need to just be reassured that the thing you’re asking for is completely appropriate to ask for, and as long as you’re not being unkind, like calling someone a name, or threatening them in some way. These are things that are not appropriate, but asking for what you need even multiple times or somewhat forcefully, not yelling, but somewhat forcefully is totally appropriate and a very adult and very normal thing to do.

Elsie: Yep. And honestly, if you want to do a lot of renovations in your life, it is something that you should hone as a skill because it’s something that you’ll come back to over and over again. All righty. It’s time for our favorite part, A joke or a fact. All right. Here’s gold. Gold. Do you have a joke for us today?

Goldie: Where does a ghost like to shop? A boooo-tique.

Elsie: Good job. You did great. Okay, thanks so much for listening. If you have any questions or podcast requests for future episodes. Email us anytime at podcast@abeautifulmess.com, or you can call our voicemail and leave us a message at 417-893-0011. We’ll be back next week with a deep dive into hobbies.