SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – “Do you have the guts to take on a fixer-upper?” asks a popular home improvement TV series. With that as their mantra, Les and Louise Roberts rolled up their sleeves, renovated every square inch of their “fixer-upper” inside and out, and won the 2018 Curb Appeal Challenge.
The project started last November when the Roberts decided to sell their large cape and move to a smaller house in town.
“We loved this neighborhood,” said Louise, gesturing to the dead-end street on a quiet hillside in town. “We sold our old house three days after listing it, then moved here and started to work. This was the ugliest house on the block – the old white metal siding was worn out, the shrubs and bushes had grown so large you couldn’t see out the windows, everything inside was dated and awkward.”
Using a consistent palette of warm, dark colors the Roberts updated the exterior siding to a rich green and painted the tired blue shutters a crisp black. They removed overgrown shrubbery and planted perennials in borders along the driveway and near the front of the house. With the help of one of their sons, Les Roberts expanded a small side porch to a large outdoor deck.
“We’ve worked on this house all day, every day since last fall,” said Les. “Then one day in August our mailman suggested we should enter the Curb Appeal contest, so we did.”
Judges looking at the Roberts’ handiwork were impressed and gave them the much-deserved first place honors but never saw the full extent of the couple’s efforts, which included complete renovation of every room in the home, extending the warm color scheme and incorporating handmade accent pieces.
“We love the American Primitive look,” said Louise. “It makes the small rooms feel cozy.” Featured in several of the rooms were small cabinets, shelving, cornices, and wall plaques created by the Roberts in shades of grays, browns, and greens. “We’re just project people!” laughed Louise.
“And most of what we’ve done doesn’t cost a lot of money,” added Les. “You don’t have to spend a lot to get a big result – just a can of paint can make a big difference.”
“People need to look at the small picture,” said Louise, a former real estate professional. “Choose a small project to get started – paint your front door, see if your neighbor has a few perennials to share, clean up around your yard. It’s contagious! Our neighbor across the street painted the house and got a new roof after we got started with our projects.”
What’s next for the busy couple? “Next year we’re targeting the stone wall in the back,” said Louise, “and there’s a lot to do in the cellar…and we’ll add a wooden shed outside for garden tools.”
Laughing, the couple held hands as they sat together in their cozy living room. “And we still love each other! If you can get through renovating a house together, you can do anything!”