SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Three days into her Curb Appeal project of applying German “schmeer” mortar to the facade of her house, Janalene Gould almost bailed.
“It was the hardest job I’ve ever done!” said Gould, who eventually won the “Biggest Bang for the Buck” award in the 2017 Curb Appeal Challenge. “I really had to psych myself up to finish it.” The German “schmeer,” a cement-based mortar is quite heavy and Gould needed a lot of it to cover the brickwork on the front of her ranch-style home. “It looked a lot easier on the video I saw when I started learning about the process,” she laughed.
Eventually, Gould mastered the technique and finished the job. But her Curb Appeal efforts didn’t stop there. With the help of family members, she jackhammered the original walkway and concrete steps in front of her house and rebuilt the steps using lumber and recycled railings. She then dug out original plantings from around the house, moved the plants, regraded the beds with three yards of topsoil, and replanted the flowerbeds. Throughout the project Gould added recycled objects, including a set of shutters found along a roadside and a baby crib up cycled as a trellis for roses.
“I won the ‘Biggest Bang for the Buck’ award because I was able to make use of so many ‘found objects,’” she said. “It’s really dangerous for me to go to a recycling center! My mind just races to what I could do with all the materials.”
Gould, who describes herself as an “Upcycling Artist,” has made a specialty of creating fine art as well as practical pieces using materials others have cast aside. Her home is full of handcrafted ceramics and woodworking projects she made using skills that were mostly self-taught.
“I see objects – and then I see the possibilities,” she said. “Really, everyone can be creative. I believe everybody has creative ideas – you just need to put them out there!”
What are her plans for the 2018 Curb Appeal Challenge? Gould isn’t sure yet, but thinks she might tackle building a stone walkway. “There’s a lot of prep work involved,” she sighed, “but it could be beautiful.”
The Curb Appeal Challenge, which kicked off on April 14, offers homeowners or tenants the chance to enter their home or garden improvement to win a Grand Prize of $500, a second prize of $200, or a Biggest Bang for the Buck prize of $150. Bibens Home Center, Woodbury’s Landscaping, and Sherwin-Williams Paints are offering contest entrants discounts on materials to improve the landscaping of their yard or the exterior of their home; entrants may also have a free one-time consultation from the Springfield Garden Club or real estate professional Lori Muse.
For more information about the contest, call 802-885-6388 or request information from firstname.lastname@example.org. The Curb Appeal Challenge is sponsored by Mascoma Bank, Bibens Ace Home Center, Woodbury’s Landscaping, Sherwin-Williams paints, the Springfield Reporter, Muse & Associates, and Union/Park Neighborhood Association.