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Sometimes it’s what’s on the outside that counts. In “Front of House,” we dig into all the elements that give a home “stop the car!” kind of curb appeal, from main character mailboxes to muchwelcome yard transformations.

All Anastasia Casey really wanted when she was house shopping in Austin was a slice of history. But in her city, the old charm doesn’t come cheap. So when Anastasia, the founder of IDCO Studio, Design Camp, and the podcast Interior Collective, came across a Tudor-inspired house that was built in 1983, she told her husband, Quinn, “I can work with this.” It had the dark wood beams set in a stucco facade and the steep rooflines you’d expect to see from a Tudor, but it also had glass blocks and random arched windows. “It had been stripped of any bit of character (if there was even any there to begin with),” says Anastasia. 

The exterior, before. | Courtesy of Anastasia Casey

But there were enough elements that Anastasia thought she could expand on. First off, the property was set on a half-acre lot and located only two blocks away from her office. Fifty-foot-tall trees dot the landscape, including heritage oaks that are common in Austin, but also a few tropical varieties. And there was a courtyard out front, marked by a sweet stone wall. “It was really cute, but I thought it could be a lot grander,” she says. Here’s how she turned back the clock on her Tudor’s front yard. 

Go All In on Gravel

The cracks in the concrete roundabout driveway were too big of an eyesore to ignore. Anastasia worked with Yardzen to help turn her outdoor remodel ideas into a reality: She laid out her vision and then they connected her with landscape construction company Urban Oasis Contracting and gave her a flat fee for all the work. The crew arrived with a tractor small enough to fit through the side gate and dug up the weathered driveway, ultimately replacing it with a crushed limestone gravel that not only looks more fitting with the architecture but was $7,500 less than repaving the path with new concrete.  

Make One Grand Entrance, Not Two

Anastasia is almost positive the existing front door had been there since 1983. Funny enough, the biggest issue she had with the double door was how it looked from the inside. “It cast this really gross green glare inside the entire house,” she says. “It was not historic or modern.” She swapped it for a single door with sidelights that she sourced from Austin’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore, where she’s learned she can score solid wood mahogany doors at a serious discount, and painted it Tate Olive by Benjamin Moore.

Match Up Your Windows

The bigger the window, the better, right? Not in this case. The large arched window formerly located to the left of the front door was disproportionate with the rest of the house, not to mention “it was the only arch window and didn’t make any sense,” she says. Many of the other windows on the front of the house felt confused, too, including the not-so-structurally-sound bay window to the right of the entry and the glass block window in the far left corner. She chose to smooth everything out by opting for new vinyl windows from Lowe’s that kept them on budget. 

Give Your New Plant Babies a Boost

Another perk of working with Yardzen: Its contractors guarantee their plants. This was a big plus for Anastasia and Quinn, who embarked on this project last summer in temperatures pushing 100 degrees. “They knew they were putting them in in August, and if the plants died, they replaced them,” shares Anastasia. Her favorite additions include the lavender, which was a big hit among the bees and butterflies this spring, and the white rosebushes that now stand 4 feet tall. “They add a little life and movement out front,” she says. “Anytime we’re getting out of our car or we’re in the front yard, people walk by and tell us how the landscaping has grown in so beautifully.”

Because it gets so hot in Austin, a drip irrigation system was nonnegotiable. Anastasia’s only regret is not incorporating sprinklers. Now they have to manually water the yard a few days per week in the summer.

Shop Your Last Renovation

“The courtyard didn’t feel like a true courtyard until there was a little gate,” says Anastasia. After getting a bid from a metalworker she discovered on Facebook Marketplace, she had the swinging doors constructed on-site. The landscaping team returned to lay down the patio, using leftover Alexander James tile from the Caseys’ kitchen renovation. It’s not unusual to find Anastasia or Quinn out there in the morning, sipping coffee at their Article dining table or tending to their potted plants. But step outside and you better be prepared to socialize. “We have a very friendly neighborhood. If we’re sitting out there, people absolutely walk up to chat with us,” says Anastasia. We don’t blame them for wanting a closer look.

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