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Ask Maria: Help Me Update My 60s Exterior | Before & After

By 03/31/2020February 28th, 202143 Comments

One of my readers asked me to help update her 60s exterior. And, you may be surprised to learn that the biggest change I recommend isn’t about colour. Keep reading to find out the best way to update this dated home exterior.

If you didn’t see my last email, and missed my Ask-Me-Anything webinar I taped last Saturday, you can still watch it here.

I talked about exteriors (even sharing some before and afters), decorating from scratch, bathroom inspiration, kitchen countertop colours, choosing hardwood floor colours to coordinate with a wood stained kitchen and much more.

Ask Maria Killam True Colour Expert

Ok my lovelies, I am having SO MUCH fun with all your questions. Thank you for sending them in! If your question didn’t get answered in my free ask me anything webinar it might show up in an Ask Maria post, like this one (keep reading).

And since it’s exterior season, and I’m busy creating more content to add to my Exterior Masterclass (all of you who have already purchased will receive the updates FREE, they will simply be added to the existing course!), so with exteriors in mind, I’m excited to share a couple of reader questions about exterior colour that I’ve been working on.

Exterior Conundrum 1: Help me update my 60s exterior.

As you can see, the siding on the window panels needs fresh paint as does the door and the spindles on the patio over the carport on the far right. The stucco on the walls will not be painted. (My son is firm on that having seen examples of painted stucco in his neighbourhood and how it stands up to Kamloops weather. And it’s a rental property, Mom!)

The brick supports either side of the door will not be changed either. Perhaps if this was not a rental property they would go the extra mile to change them. My husband believes foundations shouldn’t be painted so hopefully there will be foundation plantings that will distract from an additional colour.

From my Maria Killam informed colour knowledge, the brick supports look to be the bossiest element. Would a dirty tan like BM Manchester Tan work? How do you then work in the grey of the walls? If the colour of the siding panels under the windows, trim, patio spindles and the door worked together could the stucco wall colour stand alone?  

Update Dated Exterior

Okay, so my team and I worked through a few different scenarios for this house so you could see what works, what doesn’t work and why.

And it turns out that although the siding panels do need to be painted, the most impactful change that needs to be made is not really about colour at all.

As this is a rental, likely your son might not want to do anything more than the first colour updates (below).

The rest of the versions are for the blog. Not for a rental property. Thanks for sending in the photo!

So first of all, if the green grey stucco is staying, the siding panels and portico peak need to blend and match as closely as possible. I would test BM Revere Pewter HC 172 or one shade darker SW 7061 Analytical Gray.

In this rendering, we changed the front door to a cognac brown to relate to the brick. If you do nothing except add some paint and landscaping you could do this.

How to update dated exterior

Siding details painted to match the stucco, front door painted to relate to the brick colour.

But it’s still not awesome yet.

Before I reveal what I would do, let me walk you through a few other solutions we tried.

The brick of the pillars really is the distracting and bossy element, so we tried (virtually) painting the portico out in a fresh white and adding a bright, mid century modern style door. While I would argue that this is a slight improvement, now it emphasized that the brick columns are way too large and just plain wrong for this home.

Update Dated Exterior New Front Door

This is what it would look like with a brighter, more modern door and a white portico.

So, we tried to blend the portico with the body of the house in the green grey. Keep in mind, this is photoshopped, and still the answer is a big NO.

Portico painted to match the body of the house.

The door really pops with everything else blending, but we were not in love.

Are you ready to see what the ultimate solution is?

Transforming this dated 60s exterior.

Taking it a step further from adding a more modern front door, we realized that while in general, a portico is a lovely feature, the colonial style portico has no business on this modern house.

I asked MaryAnne White my landscape designer what to do with the landscaping and she sent me some ideas. Then I had my team photoshop a similar plan onto the front yard.

Here’s the before again:


Update Dated Exterior New Portico

AFTER | Replacing the mismatched colonial portico with a more linear mid century modern portico makes all the difference on this house!

This is what needs to happen to this house for it to live up to its potential. It needs a broader, more linear, modern portico with slimmer columns like this. A wood stained soffit underneath would be a nice detail. And some well designed modern landscaping with concrete pavers and grasses would also make a huge difference.

AND, if you really want to transform this into a desirable property, you could take it a step further and paint it a creamy white to make it into a show stopper.

Paint Dated Exterior White or Cream

Landscaping is important for updating a dated exterior.

Colour can go a loooong way on its own, but sometimes, the only way you will get there is by making a deeper change. The existing portico and clunky brick columns are never going to work on this style of home. And without good landscaping, it is always going to be bleak.

Now obviously we could go on with improvements to this exterior, but I again wanted to stress the importance of LANDSCAPING. Do I sound like a broken record yet?

Notice the positioning of the tree on the left that cleverly disguises the longer span of siding between the windows on that side of the house!

It’s like styling for exterior. . . such a great way to distract the eye from a dated house.

When you see what’s possible, what would you get busy doing? Adding a bunch of unnecessary stone to the front of this house (like most people commonly do), or hiring someone to help you create a gorgeous plan like this?

Because, let me say this again, a PLAN from a professional who’s aesthetic you like, is the CHEAPEST part of the entire project. AND you’ll know exactly which plant material to use, where to put it, just like I did when MaryAnne helped me with my house.

Get help with your exterior

The feedback on my Exterior Masterclass has been, ‘This is amazing, and we want more!’ So I’m adding some new modules very soon (see the dates below)!

I am also extending the discount on the Masterclass for Exterior Colour selection for two more weeks! Now since we’re all at home anyway and if this is something you want to get good at, take the time to watch it over and over again because each time you may hear or see something in another way. Sometimes when we are in a different mood we hear things differently and the next time you watch you may discover a gem or something perfect for your home that you didn’t notice before. Same words it’s just answers show up when we have different energy or purpose of listening.

I can’t cover every style of home, however the overall trend of FRESH, applies to every house, this is why if you watched my Ask Me Anything webinar this past Saturday, you’ll have noticed that BOTH example brick homes, the final option was the same. Cream or white painted brick. That’s because fresh, white and bright is what most people are looking for right now (like it is in todays example).

White or cream is definitely not the ONLY answer, but it does feel more fresh for a lot of homes right now. Grey feels dated because we’ve just done it for 10 years and it’s too soon to go back to beige (which was the Tuscan trend before that)

So, let’s do a poll. Which colour scheme is your favourite from this post above?

I have three brand new modules being added to the masterclass. If you’ve bought it, you will automatically have access inside the class.

Module 13 – Coming April 10, 2020Decks, Porches & Fences

Module 14 – Coming April 24, 2020What would Maria Do With THIS house; Before & After

Module 15 – May 15, 2020  – What would Maria Do with THIS Deck, Porch or Fence? Before & After

If you have a question with photos for my Ask Maria posts; send them here.

Learn how to choose paint colours or whites in my eBooks, get them here.

If you’d like custom help choosing your exterior colours, check out our eDesign packages here.

Related Posts:

White Farmhouse Exterior Transformation: Before & After

Maria Killam’s White Garden Transformation

Your Yard May Be Scaring Off Potential Home Buyers

30 pins


  • Janet DR says:

    I loved seeing the various ways you tried even though they didn’t work. What a stunning transformation in the end!

  • Debbie says:

    What a transformation! Very impressive!

  • Charlotte says:

    For your poll, My vote is for the final photo with the new portico and the stucco painted. You are so right on with that one! The original portico looked like it was added on without any thought to the style of the house.
    Also, I lived in Kamloops in the 1980s. We painted stucco a creamy white on our house without any issues. In fact, we drove by the house on a road trip 2 years ago. It’s now painted a pretty soft green and looks great. As a tip for painting stucco for your home owner, the BM paint rep told us to either add water to the paint or wet the stucco before painting…something about stucco absorbing a lot of paint especially in the dry heat of the Kamloops area.
    Love your work and am loving Ask Me Anything!

  • Linda Trammel says:

    Wow. What a difference your transformation did! Putting that kind of money into a rental property still stirs my confusion. Why rent and then spend many dollars to update the place? Unless there is a rent to buy option maybe? Anyway. it looks like a totally different house. Great job!

    • Maria Killam says:

      I created this transformation for the blog, NOT to suggest someone who bought a rental should do all of the above. The first colour updates, painting the yellow out and the front door are certainly enough for a rental.
      Thanks for your comment.

  • Julie S says:

    Wow, I mean WOW! I was nodding at the rental-friendly option of gray panels and cognac door (and noticed already it needed green in the front yard) but my eyes popped at the new portico/landscaped version. I have decent imagination for envisioning changes, but photoshopped mockups are above and beyond. This one is a top notch transformation!

  • Julie S says:

    Linda, the property is being rented out by the question asker- they are the landlords, not the renters. So they don’t want to put a lot of money updating something that is supposed to be a stream of income and isn’t their personal home.

  • Barb says:

    Love this, thanks for taking us through all your ideas! So appreciate seeing the ones that didn’t work. I believe that when you update your home, it can help inspire a neighborhood to improve their property! I also believe if you update an exterior / interior on a rental, you can ask more money and hopefully have a bigger selection of potential renters.

  • J says:

    I liked the white house but I would prefer a classic black front door. The original columns have quite a bit of black in them that would tie in the black door.
    The house landscaping is pretty yet low upkeep.

  • Tam says:

    Wow! Rental or not. If I owned this place, I would be hiring a contractor right now. People who rent look for a nice home too and the owners could charge more rent! Great job!

  • Shelley P says:

    The house numbers need changing too. Looks like they are sliding down the house. Great ideas to transform a very plain unloved house into a home to be proud of.

  • Lucy says:

    Maria this is a good lesson on what landscaping can do for an ugly home. Your portico idea is genius! Certainly the all white look brought the house into the recent trend!

    Ask Maria posts are so much fun and they stimulate our groggy juices!

  • Janine says:

    The cream paint on all, a more appealing door, and the plantings seem like best bang for the buck if they didn’t want to do it all.

    Or would painting whole house cream just make the brick columns show up that much more? Hell, maybe paint the brick cream too?

    Anybody know of a program similar to Photoshop that is cheaper and easier? Photoshop is big $$$ and not at all user friendly for novices. But If experts like Maria and team need to try a couple of different things before hitting on perfection, no wonder what I’ve done ends up being one mistake after another.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Janine, We don’t photoshop our exterior solutions, I did this strictly for the blog.
      I’ve been doing this for 20 years. If the client had asked for the best solution on a budget, I would have given them the two green grey options to try to match the existing stucco along with the front door colour with instructions on what to do.

      If they wanted the full meal deal, they would have received the instructions to achieve something similar to the you’re seeing here.
      You can rent photoshop fro $10 a month through adobe suites. It’s not expensive.
      But my world changed when I learned basic photoshop and now I have staff that can do the hard stuff like adding landscaping!
      Thanks for your comment!

  • Taylor says:

    I love that you include your workflow/process, trying out different iterations until you get it right. Helps us understand the thinking that makes good design!

  • Connie says:

    The final modern of course! I really like the first version for them.

  • Anne says:


  • Kim says:

    I actually really liked the photoshop pic where the house is gray and the color of the front door is changed to relate to the brick columns because 1) it is a very practical solution and 2) the columns and the doors now work together to make a more modern linear statement (albeit vertical not horizontal).

  • Bonita says:

    My favorite is the final one, the creamy brick and new portico. From boring to stunning.

  • Rosemary says:

    What a great visual education as well as how to help a client within a budget. Thank you!

  • Elaine says:

    Hi Maria,
    This transformation is fabulous !! And I agree with Janet about showing the options which solidifies the final product.
    Great job!!

  • Lynne says:

    To go even further with the modern theme of the white house, I would put the wood on the ceiling of the portico going the other direction, cut out the panels in the door (combining two panels and to make one horizontal rectangular window — a total of 4 hortizontal rectanges of glass in the door – instead of eight panels). Then I would put horizontal wood to match the ceiling under the windows with large modern metal address numbers. Might be too much wood, or may not weather well in the elements. Just a thought.

  • Lynn from Bramwell says:

    I’d like to see your final colors photoshopped onto the original house, without changing the portico. Just to see what a transformation can be using colour alone, without rebuilding anything.

    Pretty please?

  • Lisa says:

    I do not think they are the landlords. She’s says perhaps if this were not a rental property THEY would change them (the columns). Am I reading that correctly?

  • stacey says:

    That last picture is a showstopper. Even though it was purchased as a rental, making the place look nice will attract a better renter, and you can ask more too. For sure it needs landscaping or the interior will soon be a disaster with all the dirt and presumably mud during the rainy season.

  • Mary Chandler says:

    I like the one where you replaced the mismatched portico and then the paint that was the more grey color instead of the cream.
    My husband is remodeling our master shower during this time even though he is still working and then I am going to paint the bathroom which has never been painted. I am doing things I never get around to doing since I am out of work. So, deep spring cleaning, doing our taxes, doing yoga, taking my cats for walks in my pet stroller, organizing and cooking more! I am actually very busy!

  • Katy says:

    I like the last cream with red door and portico best. I’d also paver all that cement.

  • kim1 says:

    I like the green-grey body with the linear mid century modern portico and landscaping the best, more so than the creamy white. Maybe because in my mind I imagine having to keep the cream white exterior power-washed more frequently, lol. I SO wish I could persuade my husband that we need a professional landscapers plan because it clearly made such a difference in this home and your own. Looking forward to the new modules!

  • Barbara says:

    Great job Maria and team! I love the final look.
    It reminds me of something similar. Over ten years ago our parent committee meeting for my daughter’s dance group was held at one of the mom’s houses. Her house had been of the vintage in this blog but looked spectacular, compared to the others on the block. She was a professional designer and really the changes she had made were not huge but made such a difference.

    And to the original poster: stucco can be painted. It is always painted and stands up well. Of course the colour may fade over time in strong sunlight. My painter told me it is best to be sprayed on, but then back-rolled. You would probably have to pay extra for that step. Or, when I was young, we did it ourselves. It does sop up a lot of paint.

  • June says:

    I agree with kim1, who wrote, “I like the green-grey body with the linear mid century modern portico and landscaping the best.”
    To me, the color is more pleasing than the creamy white. Love how the tree on the left hides the weird window and panel size situation, which was soooooooo distracting to me. The landscaping overall is super. THANKS so much for this before and after. INSPIRING!

  • Though I agree this home needs some serious updates, and the after shots are a huge improvement, may I suggest a smaller portico or heftier columns. The updated columns appear more like toothpicks and feel as though they wouldn’t be able to take the weight of the portico. Just saying…..😊

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Joanne,
      This is far from perfection, just a way to help people visualize! Your comments are totally valid. Maria

  • Redesign says:

    Really been enjoying these real life before and afters…great connecting through a passion while staying home and social distancing. It’s a great course or continuing ed. More please!

  • Millicent Y says:

    Spot on, as usual. I love how you took it from drab to better to fabulous.

  • Deb says:

    It’s so helpful when you list what you tried and what didn’t work and why! Thanks so much for adding that! You gave them such a great option to fix it up for minimum cost. The new portico plus the landscaping ideas are amazing! Love the final version!

  • Christina says:

    Fun post Maria! Loved the run through with the different ideas and why they weren’t great…nice job!

  • Marilyn says:

    I really enjoyed your photos showing various options for changing the 60s exterior. Since the owner seemed to want to do very little because it was a rental, he would get the maximum result from painting the front door and panels on the front of the house. It made a substantial improvement with minimum expense and effort.

  • Denise P says:

    BAM!!! You nailed it Maria! No need to say more!
    NOW….Many thanks for all of your hard work on the Exterior Class! Incredible content! So looking forward to the updates. I’ve been looking for 25 years for help with Exteriors and your class has been sooo helpful!
    Stay Well
    Denise P

  • Loving the creamy white idea and wow what a difference landscaping makes!

  • Alita says:

    Hi Maria,
    I love the final product as suggested. If I were the owner and wanted to make the most impactful changes, I would start with painting the door to match the brick and the siding to blend as shown and then hire that landscaper! If I wanted to sell or live in it in the future, or could swing the upgrades once the property was making money, the portico change would be on the list after a window upgrade. Amazing what can be done – I love the old buildings personally so I like seeing how they can get a makeover that brings them into a new era.

  • Marina says:

    Hi Maria,

    I absolutely love this makeover, the house didn’t belong to any style and now it is stylish and aesthetically pleasing.. If southern plants could grow there, they would make a view of a house from the hot countries and create a holiday mood ..👌🌴The greige walls and plants is one if my fave combinations.. 😍 I wish I was a landscaper really .. 😆🤣

  • Janinr says:

    Maria, sorry if my comment sounded like a criticism. I was just riffing on ideas if it WERE a budget job, since that always seems to be the case for me.

    And i didnt know Photoshop had gotten so affordable. Will take another look. I get so much out of your before and afters where you show how you got there.

    Off to buy your exterior masterclass while the sale is still on!

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