The Home Improvement Contest I Didn't Enter but Won

by georgettejohn

I felt I had a chance of winning the contest for America's Most Desperate Landscape. When a slow internet connection prevented me from entering I took on the challenge myself.

My ritual every spring had always been to wash down the siding, throw on a fresh coat of pale yellow paint and plant some flowers. I had always been so focused on the interior of my home that I never really looked at the exterior of it through the "eyes of the camera". When I eventually did, in preparation to enter a contest, I was jolted into action by what I saw with "eyes wide open"! With a budget of no more than $500 I was able to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.

Two years ago I happened to be watching the DIY Network and learned that they were sponsoring a contest for America’s Most Desperate Landscape. The grand prize was a $25,000 makeover. The rules seemed simple enough but entries were due within days.  I immediately grabbed my camera and headed outside. As I trotted around the yard I realized it was horrid!  The peeling paint at our entry way almost sent me over the edge of sanity! I quickly came inside and viewed my video. I started to ramble and make various comments about how appalled and disgusted I was.  I summarized by loudly announcing  I was too embarrassed to even consider posting it online. What if people recognized it? From the other room my husband kept reassuring me that I was over exaggerating.  I silenced him rather quickly by showing him the video. His reaction was sudden,       “You're not really going to post that online are you?” He then proceeded to tell me the video made it look far worse then it really did.  I informed him that the camera doesn’t lie.

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From a distance it didn't look too bad...Who am I trying to fool? It looked awful!

From a distance it didn't look too bad. Who am I trying to fool? It was awful!
side from back
close up door
side again
close up side

The remote possibility of winning the grand prize was enough to lure me into taking the chance. I had less then 48 hours to write a convincing essay as to why I needed to win and post my video. I wasn’t wasting any time.  Unfortunately, living in a rural area with dial-up internet worked against me.  I think I tried close to a hundred times to post my video with no success. I resigned myself to the fact that I could not realistically meet the entry deadline. I also resigned myself to the fact that I would have to undertake this makeover on my own, with very limited funds.  This did not bother me as much as the realization that I would have to plan in advance and because this project would have to be done during daylight hours. Everyone around me would know what I was doing. They might watch, try to give advice or worse yet, help! All being conditions I was unaccustomed to working under.

My first dilemma was I did not know what to do or where to begin. I spent many sleepless nights, tossing and turning in my bed, thinking about it. I did not want to do anything beyond my physical or financial capabilities.

I spent an hour standing outside, peering at the entryway of my house and realized that was the major area of my dismay. Just when contemplating what to do was becoming completely overwhelming, my mind started to formulate some ideas. I quickly jotted them down on paper. From a few ideas flowed many. I began to get excited to start.

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Of course the weather turned for the worse and like a child waiting for Santa, I waited  with mounting anticipation for almost 3 full weeks. At the first hint of warmer temperatures and sunny skies, I purchased lumber and paint.  I took a few pictures and I believe that is the best way to outline what I did.  It wasn’t a $25,000 make-over but when it was completed, it felt like one to me!

more of side

Some paint, lumber, flowers and imagination...

Some paint, lumber, flowers and imagination...

The picture above left was taken prior to the remainer of the porch decking boards being painted. The last task to complete after the steps were extended.

The grass eventually grew where there was gravel and between the flat stones on the walkway. Last summer I added some rose bushes and after looking at these pictures... I've decided the hedges in the front are going to be transplanted elsewhere!

side view
side differ
last picture
Updated: 02/12/2013, georgettejohn
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georgettejohn on 04/06/2013

Yes it is. I hope that someday it will be passed down to one of my children or grandchildren...or at least the acres of land broken up and shared between them.

katiem2 on 04/06/2013

It seems there's always something else to do if not the maintenance alone. BUT owning your own home is a wonderful experience and a labor of love. :)K

georgettejohn on 03/19/2013

Thank you very much. It wasn't as hard as I thought. (looking back of course!). There are still a few things I would like to do this year but sometimes my ideas are much easier in my head than they play out with my hands!

katiem2 on 03/19/2013

I love it! What a beautiful home, the wrap around porch is a dream of mine. The landscaping and stone features with all the natural additions stunning just STUNNING! :)K

wildharemom on 02/04/2013

Ignore the typos and improper grammer...please :)

wildharemom on 02/04/2013

you never cease to amaze me! you always bring to light your vision of what it is you want and now that you have mastered the tape measure things have gotten better...and if its not better, you can always add another coat of paint! looking at the photos i can really see how much work you truly put in to making your house and even prettier home!

georgettejohn on 01/30/2013

Thank you was a long time in the making but well worth the effort.

Guest on 01/30/2013

I am so jealous of that beautiful porch! Fantastic job!

dustytoes on 01/27/2013

I totally understand Georgette, just an observation. I have fought with photos before myself, so I know that feeling! Still love the page, and your beautiful home.

georgettejohn on 01/27/2013

I tried to put them side by side last night but ran into a lot of problems trying to get them to load in that order. At first I thought it might just be the internet but after 2 hrs of trying I loaded them in the order they are now and they went right on with no delay. I really wanted them side by side and am thinking I might try doing some rearranging when I am in town this week (where the internet speeds are quite a bit better). Thanks Dustytoes!

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