Hicks House

From Builder Basic to Beautiful


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Walk on Up

If you drove by the Hicks House a couple of months ago you wouldn’t really be able to tell anyone lived there.  Blah boring white door, no landscaping, no real pizzazz.  But that was before “Project Curb Appeal” started with the painting of the front door. And then the walkway went in, complete with glorious raised flower beds on either side of the front porch. Now it looks like this:

Walk on Up | Hicks House

A little hard to see from there, not to worry I have some close ups. As this was a large and pretty permanent addition, we decided to hire this out and leave it to the professionals. (The fact that they could do this in three days and it would have taken us all Summer helped sway that decision as well.)

One thing that occurs when hiring out professionals unfortunately is a lack of communication or misunderstanding. It seems to happen without fail and we experienced it with this project as well. When we originally met with the contractor who would be doing the work it was November, we went over our wishes for a light gray curved walkway leading up to the stairs with a 90° herringbone pattern, a charcoal border and raised flower beds.

Luckily halfway through day 1 while Ken and I were both at work the contractor blew a fuse requiring him to call Ken who wisely asked for photos of the progress and was sent this:

Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House

Now if you’re not in the process of installing a walkway you wouldn’t know this because you wouldn’t have done hours of annoying research on stone patterns like we did BUT that is a 45° herringbone. Normally that wouldn’t be a huge deal except for the fact that in my mind the pattern gives the feeling of walking you past the porch rather than leading you up to it.

You may also notice that its straight. (Cue minor meltdown during my lunch break at work). After Ken played bad cop with the guy (i.e. “My wife hates this you need to fix it”) the contractor explained that the walkway wasn’t curved due to the fact that we didn’t want a gap between the flower beds and the walk so with the width of the walkway it was near impossible to make a curve. He did however agree to fix the herringbone pattern as well as the icky corners that we hadn’t even thought of. (If you look at the second picture there is a half block at the end of the walk and then the blocks turn the other direction)

When I came home from work that day I was met with this:

Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House

Look at those beautiful corners now!

Walk on Up | Hicks House

Another day and a half of building the flower beds and finishing the flare out at the driveway and we are one step closer to curb appeal!

Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House

Next step flowers! I’d love to hear what you think, are you tackling any curb appeal projects this summer?

Hicks House


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Turn Up the Curb Appeal

Why builders continue to use brass furnishings when building a house is beyond me.  Every time I look at door knobs, hinges and lamps in the hardware store the brass is the same price as the nickel and oil rubbed bronze fixtures so it’s not a budget decision.  It will forever remain a head scratcher to those of us destined to replace ALL THAT BRASS.

Anywhoo, last summer our outdoor projects included staining the deck, un-staining the house (oops), and attempting to tackle the lawn.

This year we are going to be making some more noticeable improvements to the curb appeal. The first step was painting the door blue, and you guessed it next we had to change out that lovely brass hardware.

Hicks House | Blue Door

This project was a bit more involved than when we replaced the knobs and hinges throughout the interior of the house. Because the door knob we selected had a deadbolt and the more sturdy handle holes had to be drilled. If you like the look here is the set we used: Schlage F62PLY619 Plymouth Handleset Keyed 2-Sides with Plymouth Knob, Satin Nickel (affiliate link).

Hicks House | Turn Up

Now for the step by step of how it was done. First remove the old door knob. The Schlage kits are great because they come with handy templates to let you know where to drill. Ken first drilled the hole for the bottom of the handle.

Hicks House | Turn Up

Then the bottom part of the handle was installed and Ken moved on to drilling out the hole for the deadbolt.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

Once the deadbolt hole was drilled through front to back, a hole needed to be made from the inside of the door to the hole.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

Then it then needed to be rotered using a door knob jig to create the cut out for the plate around the deadbolt.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

A corresponding hole was also drilled and routered into the door frame to accept the deadbolt.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

The plates were screwed in …Hicks House | Turn Up

and Ta Da!!!!

Hicks House | Turn Up

Doesn’t it look fantastic?!

Next on the list for project curb appeal is a paver walkway and raised planter beds to line the front of the house. What do you think of this small update that makes a big difference?

Hicks House


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Make it Blue

I’m back!  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted (4 month’s!), a lot was going on in outside of home improvements.  I was searching for a new job – which any of you who have done this can attest to – is like a full time job in and of itself.  So the majority of my free time outside of work was spent looking for new work.  Plus it was a frozen tundra in Connecticut pretty much through March which makes me just want to stay inside and hibernate – which we did with the free time we had.

I’m pleased to say we’ve thawed out (it was 80 out this past Saturday!), and I’ve started at a new job. I’m hoping I can get back to posting at a somewhat regular schedule.

Anywhoo, how did you spend your first warm weekend of Spring? I painted our front door… again… Remember when it looked like this:
Hicks House | Yellow Door

Yeah… that was a learning experience in choosing paint colors. The yellow lasted through the entire winter of 2013/2014 as I had painted it the last warm weekend of the year. Come Spring 2014 the builder replaced the door and we were back to basic primer white. Well we finally picked out a new color over the winter and it was warm enough to get it done I used the same technique I highlighted here, so here we go…

Hicks House | Blue Door

Still a bright fun color. Here’s a close-up of the completed door:

Hicks House | Blue Door

And a view of the whole house:

Hicks House | Blue Door

So what do you think? Do you like it, is it better than the yellow? I’d love to hear your opinion – love it or hate it! Currently we’re liking it and are looking forward to seeing how it looks once we have some plantings out front.

On the agenda for this spring is having a paver walkway and flower beds installed out front which should bring some additional color and life the yard.

Until next time,
Hicks House


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Lofty Ideas

One would think that after all of the hoopla surrounding the shed foundation and the delivery of the shed that we would have immediately started using it for storage and moving all of our possessions out of the garage. You must not be too familiar with this blog… nothing is ever that easy in the Hicks Household… everything must be customized :-).

What the shed was missing was a loft, what better way to store things you don’t need constant access to without taking up space on the precious ground level? You may be wondering, how does one build a loft? Is it hard? Well I actually had no physical part in this, but I can say as far as difficulty that it only took Ken one day, and he was done by dinner time.

The inside of the shed looked like this with all of the wall supports exposed:

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

Ken was able to take advantage of that by cutting several two by fours to the length of the shed and attaching them to the existing supports with wood screws.

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House
Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

It then looked like this:

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

He then measured the length and width of where the loft would go and cut some mdf boards to fit. It ended up using 2.5 boards with the larger ones on the sides and a skinnier one in the middle. (I did help with this part, holding the mdf still while he cut – I like to think I played an integral part in this project but I’m not fooling anyone).

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

The mdf was then placed on the support beams,

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

And then Ken crawled up there and used nailed them in along the supports to ensure they didn’t go anywhere.

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

Now its all ready for extra storage space!

Lofty Ideas | Hicks House

Once we’ve filled it, we will finally have both cars in the garage! Just in time for fall and the upcoming cold temperatures.

What do you think? Do you want to install a loft into your shed or garage now? If you missed us building the shed foundation and getting the shed delivered you can catch up here:

shed foundation

shed delivered

Hicks House


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Special Delivery

If you’re keeping up, you already know that we’ve ordered a shed.  Ken has been preparing the site for a couple of weeks. After the crushed stone was delivered he was concerned that the constant pressure of the stone pushing out on the wood would eventually cause it to bow out. Especially come winter should it rain and then freeze.

Ever the fixer, Ken devised a plan to address this. He purchased 8 foot long ground stakes. Pre drilled 2 holes equally spaced apart on each side.

Special Delivery | Hicks House

Then used a 5lb hammer to hammer in the stakes.

Special Delivery | Hicks House
Special Delivery | Hicks House

Just in time for the shed delivery! I unfortunately missed it as I had to go to work, but Ken got some great shots of them lowering it off the truck.

Special Delivery | Hicks House
Special Delivery | Hicks House
Special Delivery | Hicks House
Special Delivery | Hicks House

The shed is huge 16’x20′ and looks like a mini version of our house. Once all of the items being stored in the garage are organized and moved out here, we will be able to both park in the garage for the first time since moving into this house over a year ago. Just in time for the ugly New England winter (I am soooo not ready for winter).

What do you think? Is your shed a life and space saver?
Hicks House


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Building a Strong Foundation

After over a year in our house, the day is finally approaching where we will be able to park both cars in our two car garage. Yes, you read that right TWO cars in a two-car garage. To some, this may seem like an obvious thing that would happen right at the beginning, however half of our garage has been devoted to the storage of the essentials (such as the riding mower, the snow blower) and the recreational (two dirt bikes) that prevented the second bay from being used for a car.

My friends that is about to change. That’s right, we’re getting a storage shed. Before any good shed can be delivered a base foundation needs to be set up. The retailer we purchased the shed from suggested crushed stone in an area one foot larger on all sides than the shed – that’s all well and good, but not very tidy – crushed stone could get everywhere.

Not to worry, Ken had a plan. He purchased several pressure treated 4×4’s and cut them to the lengths he needed plus 4 inches (I would go into super specifics but the overall length is dependednt on your base) used a dado blade to create lap joints that would overlap creating a longer base than the original 4×4. (you’ll see this in a later photo). Here is a video we found online on how this is done watch here.

This is what the lap joints looked like:

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

He then drilled those diagonal holes you see in the above shot. These are for the 6″ galvanized metal lag bolts that will hold the two pieces together.

Before we could move all the wood outside, the site needed to be measured out and leveled. This was mostly handled with a small tiller used to dig down the high spots.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

Then we brought out all the wood pieces 8 in total and laid them out making sure they were level. This took some finagling.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

And here is a photo of the lap joint lined up and ready for the bolts.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

The bolts were hammered in with a washer between the bolt head and wood.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

Then they were secured with a washer and nut on the opposite side. Here is a close up of the pieces bolted together as well as some of our weeds.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

The entire structure then had to be lined in landscape fabric.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

Then filled with the crushed stone. Several tons worth. The place Ken ordered the stone from was willing to do this in two loads so they could drive up to the base and dump inside it rather than dump one huge load in the driveway that would then need to be transferred, or drive the humongo truck over our lawn and rip up all of our “lush vegetation”.

Strong Foundation | Hicks House
Strong Foundation | Hicks House

Ken used a rake to spread the stone out and that’s all for now folks!

Strong Foundation | Hicks House

I’ll be back next week with an update on how Ken added some extra support to prevent the wood from bowing out over time due to the weight of the stone and shed delivery.

Is it normal to be super excited about having both cars in the garage? Or is it something most people take as a duh! That’s what a garage is for!

Hicks House


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Yellow Door No More

Perhaps the most spectacular fail we’ve made since moving into our house was painting the door yellow. You may recall the house looking like this:

close up

One thing is for sure, if you’ve ever driven down our street you sure couldn’t miss the house. (Not sure if that’s a good thing?) Needless to say it didn’t stand out in a GOOD way. The plan pretty much since the yellow paint was still wet was to repaint. Unfortunately I made this blunder on the last somewhat warm fall day. So we lived with it, all winter.

Spring arrived and I was practically chomping at the bit to repaint, but what color? I didn’t want to choose wrong again. We were also having more and more problems with the door sealing, something we noticed when we first moved in but never had addressed. So we brought it up with the builder who came over with a brand new door.

He took the old door off…
Yellow Door No More | Hicks House

and put in a new door.

Yellow Door No More | Hicks House

When he asked if we had anymore yellow paint, so he could paint it Ken and I pretty unanimously agreed that “We had run out, don’t worry about it, we’ll paint it.” NO MORE BRIGHT YELLOW DOOR.

So now we have this

Yellow Door No More | Hicks House

Back to square one. Now the decisions start, do we want to stick with yellow but something more subdued like this (first photo) or this? Or are we too traumatized from the horror that was the first yellow?

The interior is much more geared towards gray and blue tones so maybe something light blue/teal like this, this or this, or this. There is also the gray option such as this, or this, but is that too ho-hum?

I’d love to know your thoughts! Please leave your color choice in the comments.

Hicks House