New windows refresh house exterior


We continue to pick away at the dated and energy-inefficient features of our 1970s ranch. We’d put off replacing our paper-thin, single-pane, silver-aluminum windows — one with a BB-gun hole covered with a piece of Scotch tape — because of the expense. But now that it’s done, I am thrilled with the result.

No longer can I hear people talking in the yard next door through my closed office window. No longer are the cracked plastic seals and shiny aluminum of the old windows distracting from the view inside and out. We expect immediate savings on our cooling and heating bills thanks to these high-efficiency windows (Don Young Aluminum Thermal Break).

Let’s compare “before,” “during,” and “after” photos, shall we?


BEFORE: Here’s how the house looked soon after we moved in. Don’t even ask what I was thinking with two Christmas wreaths at the door AND a leftover Halloween pumpkin.


DURING: I soon ripped off the inoperable shutters and the fake mullions on the windows. I pulled out the dwarf nandinas crowding the porch steps. I painted the wooden door green and the surrounding trim a creamy white. The lawn was drying out, and the liriope edging disappeared.


DURING: Two years ago, we added a gabled entry to the front porch, replaced the porch lights, and poured large concrete slabs to replace the cracked, water-collecting, tiled front walk. I ripped out the thirsty lawn on the hot, sunny side and planted architectural, drought-tolerant specimens in steel containers and other pots, mulching the entire space with gravel for a courtyard effect.


BEFORE: The small lawn was difficult to keep watered and didn’t enhance the entry. Also, the far wall of the house looked crummy, exposed, and too white.


AFTER: Here’s the space today. Although white or tan windows are trendy, I went with bronze in order to get a dark, almost black, frame on the interior, which I like because you notice the exterior view instead of the frame itself. Outside, I like how the dark color outlines the window like eyeliner, and it matches our existing bronze-clad doors in back and the front-porch lights.

The ugly back wall now blends into the background thanks to a greige coat of paint (Sherwin Williams SuperPaint in Mega Greige) and a clumping ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo.


AFTER: Yay! I think I now need to repaint the door surround to match the rest of the greige trim, to de-emphasize the traditional sidelights. But I’m worried that that the green of the front door won’t pop against it. What do you think? Repaint trim and door maybe?


And here are a few gratuitous garden pictures to end my post. Natives winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) and purple skullcap (Scutellaria wrightii) add color to the retaining-wall bed by the driveway. ‘Green Goblet’ agave narrowly survived the ravages of deer antlering last winter and is putting on new growth.


Have a great weekend!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

47 Responses

  1. TexasDeb says:

    We had windows from the same company installed and now the noise and disruption is over are thrilled with the results. As you say, it is wonderful to be admiring the views through the windows rather than being distracted by old ugly windows themselves.

    I’m a huge fan of before and after series and loved these. Wouldn’t mind one bit if you did the same for other areas you’ve improved in your new(ish) digs. As to that front door? I agree, paint the trim greige, and perhaps a brighter color will then be desired for your door. Whatever you choose – can’t wait to see what you do. Happy Mother’s Day!

  2. Heidi says:

    Before and afters are so much fun, all of your improvements look great. I think that the darker windows go with the contemporary updates you’ve added & agree to paint the white the greige color, but think your door is a wonderful shade of green. Your metal planters are so cool, I would like to add some similar planters to my yard someday. Thanks for keeping your blog so varied and interesting, because of you I am growing fond of spikier plants!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Yay for spiky plants, which are so shapely, aside from their obvious virtue of needing less water. By the way, the two low metal planters are just old tractor rims with no bottom. Cheap and easy! —Pam

  3. Heidi says:

    Looking back up at your pics,a more chartreuse green door might not be bad with the greige trim.

  4. What an improvement! Are you trending contemporary on the inside too? I just bought a mid-centry inspired couch. Funny how our taste changes…

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Yes, I am going more contemporary inside, Marian. But still comfortable and quite colorful. I’m never ever going to be a cool-white or beige decor person. —Pam

  5. Kris P says:

    All the changes you’ve made to the front of the house are great, from the window to the landscaping to that wonderful gabled entry. Changing the door color would probably have major impact too – get yourself some sample paint cans in different colors and have fun finding out what speaks to you. (Oh no, I sound like a TV commercial!)

  6. Robin says:

    Pam, knowing your door color, you won’t be happy with it against griege. Your door has a clean, clear undertone, and griege has a muddy, dirty undertone. Neither will look good when paired close together. Love those new windows!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Do you see the green as being clean and clear? I see it as a bit muddy, like the greige. (It’s currently the green in the 1st photo, not the 3rd.) But I think it’s not going to have enough pop against the darker trim. —Pam

  7. Kate S. says:

    I am envious! I have the cracked-plastic-seals-and-shiny-aluminum windows that desperately need replacement. After buying new ACs/heaters this year, this update will need to wait for me. Your windows look wonderful, and bronze was definitely the right choice.

  8. peter schaar says:

    Love the new look! I agree that the existing door would no longer “pop” against a darker surround. Perhaps a red door would be better? In any case, congratulations. Please post what the door ends up being.

  9. Kylee Baumle says:

    Pam, I LOVE everything you’ve done. And some day, when I’ve visiting Jenny, I will come and see it in person. It’s just beautiful.

  10. New windows, what a difference and I love the dark color you chose. We’re about to go down the new window pathway too and I am thrilled! As for your entry dilemma as the others have said paint the trim first and then you’ll know if the door needs to change….

  11. Nicole says:

    The makeover is amazing, Pam, looks like a completely different house! Esp love the floating look of the concrete slabs

  12. Eleanor says:

    I second the red door idea. Make it a red/brown or dark maroon to pick up the red tones in your gable. Right now it’s the gable that pops (at least in your photos) Turquoise might work well too as a contrast.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Although I love red and have accents of it inside, I don’t want to use it here because of all the orange in the Mexican tile and stained porch posts. I want a cooler contrasting color. —Pam

  13. Loved this before/after post. What stands out in your doorway is the trim color. Maybe paint the door the trim color and the rest the Mega Grunge? Or paint the door turquoise of the pot outside it? Will painting the area grunge, make the inside too dark?

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I see what you’re saying, but I could never go with a white/cream door. Must have color! I am considering a turquoise though. —Pam

  14. Bonnie says:

    OK, I’ll throw in a vote for red. Especially because I think you have this wonderful contemporary look going now with the dark metal on the windows and the xeriscape on that side. Really looks fantastic.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I would have jumped on red 10 years ago. In fact I had a red door on my first Austin house. But I’m just not feeling it here. Thanks for weighing in though! I appreciate all opinions. —Pam

  15. Gail says:

    Love the new windows Pam…I am not good with color and am struggling with a similar issue. The nice thing about trying out a paint color is that it is relatively inexpensive! Look forward to seeing what you choose.

  16. Those new windows look WONDERFUL! I am excited to hear more as time goes on about energy savings. We need to do ours bad (same aluminum ones you had).

    I wonder what the sideboard thingies would look like painted a deep bronzy chocolate (like your new window trim) to make them disappear….and I LOVE your door color the way it is. It’s the perfect shade.

  17. Sherry says:

    I’ve been thinking I’d see you in person, Neighbor, to tell you that we love your new windows! They look great; good choice!

  18. Shirley says:

    The new windows look great. Good time of year to do this so you should see the better function add up right away.

    All the changes you’ve made are coming together and looking good. Can’t wait to see this for real.

  19. Hoov says:

    what an improvement. Have you thought about a purple or lavender door. Might look nice with the color of that brick. Now for that grass on the other side of the doorway…

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I haven’t considered purple but have considered a deep blue since the entry (on the inside) is that color. Still mulling it over. The tiny semicircle of grass on the right is all that’s left of the big lawn, front and back, that we inherited upon moving in, and it will stay. Our live oaks put up many, many suckers from the roots, and that’s a particularly bad area for it. It’s far easier to mow them down with the grass once a week than to clip them by hand or weed-eat them out of a garden bed. Plus I like that one small swath of green, and since it’s in deep shade, it doesn’t require any special care. —Pam

  20. Laura says:

    The windows look great, and the energy savings will be an extra bonus. I think I agree with you that the door color (as much as I like it) will get lost with the greige.

    You could always do a bronze-colored door to match the windows.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’ve considered that too, Laura. Much as I love color, I think that would work. But I’ll probably have to opt for color. ;-) —Pam

  21. Susan says:

    I am right there with the idea of a red or purple door! Your brick color would go with just about anything. How about hot pink? You will love your windows. All the houses in my neighborhood were built in 1995 except for 4( of which mine is one) that were built in 1985. Now due to my new windows my house blends in with the newer ones! Great job!

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