We’re not about to suggest that green camouflage is our new favorite pattern when it comes to pillows, curtains and duvet covers – we’re just taking this opportunity to point out how a little bit of curbside camouflaging can go a long way. Here’s what our house looked like after we did a little bush maintenance (aka: getting perfect strangers to dig up our old bushes for free).
Yep, she was looking pretty naked thanks to all the overgrown and overcrowded hedges that we removed in favor of a less bulky and overpowering new landscape (more details on that project can be found here), but what’s that you see on the left near the chimney? Why it’s a huge unsightly propane tank that looked pretty darn terrible without all those overgrown hedges blocking the view.
You can see that we planted two dwarf alberta spruces (one in front of the the tank and one on the opposite side of the house for balance) that will fill in to be about 6 feet tall and 30″ wide (effectively blocking that ugly propane tank in the future). But we’re a bit impatient when it comes to these things… and paint is such an easy option…
Do you see where I’m going with this? We realized that if we could paint the propane tank a dark brick red tone, it would blend right in with the facade of the house. So first I called our propane company (we don’t actually own the tank, and since it’s theirs we wanted to ask if we could take some deep red paint to the old gray tank). It must have been our lucky day because we got the green light. The funniest quote from the company: “don’t paint it anything crazy like black, but red is ok.” Doesn’t red sound like the crazier color of the two? Anyway, we were beyond thrilled that we could get our paint on, so we snagged a quart of exterior red paint (we held paint chips right up to the brick for the closest match) and applied two coats with a brush. Here I am just getting started:
Here she is all purty and painted:
And here’s the full effect from the front of the house from the street, this time with the tank artfully camouflaged- all for about $14 worth of paint:
And I didn’t stop there (I’m kind of a crazy person once I have a paintbrush in my hand). I also called our power company to confirm that I could paint the annoying gray utility boxes on the back of our house (they confirmed that anything installed on our house is ours to paint). Here they are mid-project (I told you I’m a crazy person, I was so excited to get painting I forgot to take before pictures):
And here they are after a quick coat of brick red paint. They’re hardly invisible but they’re a lot less jarring, especially from afar.
So that’s the story of a quart of brick red paint (Sherwin Williams Red Barn to be exact) and an indescribable passion to camouflage the ugly gray eyesores that had our house surrounded. Do you guys have any quick painting projects on the agenda? And are you at all surprised that I’m still finding things to paint? It’s a sickness, people.
An Additional Disguise Trick
Want to see another way we disguised ugly exterior eyesores? Check out this simple outdoor shelf we built to use plants to hide our electrical boxes.
Amy @ Renovation Innovation says
Great job Sherry and John! (wuh hoo – am I the first to post a comment? – yay!). I have another question for you (if you’re always with the paint, I’m always with the questions). Your painting is so neat and tiday – any tips for keeping the pesky paint off the walls and surrounding areas? Did you remove the wires or just paint very carefully?
The only method to my painting madness is a pristine angled brush (I clean them methodically and replace them the moment they start looking frayed). It’s really easy to stay in the lines when you have a good brush on your hands, so we didn’t tape things off or remove any wires, just worked the angled brush and in about an hour: voila! Hope it helps.
Interesting! You guys DO come up with solutions to every problem!
I bet black is crazier to a propane company because it would disguise the tank in the night more and that’s the last thing you want with something holding compressed gasses.
Looks great! But I was hoping for a final picture with white lines to mimic the brick pattern! ;) haha
That is a great idea! Why is it that every picture you have has NO clouds in the sky? It always looks so sunny in Richmond compared to the crazy rain we’ve had here in ATL!By the way, great new house pic on the header :)
Closet doors. Bedrooms, especially, can seem much more expansive when wall color isn’t broken up by a closet door. “Paint ’em out” is my motto. Semi-gloss on your trim? Get a quart of semi to match your wall color, and VOILA! I started this habit in our first home, where all doors were white like the rest of the wood trim, but once I “erased” the closet doors in the master bedroom, I was hooked! It made such a huge difference! I urge everyone to try it! (Those who don’t have IKEA-curtain closets, that is.)
Sara Jane says
I go paint crazy too! If I start a paint project, it isn’t long before half of the furniture, frames, accessories, etc in my house are drying on a drop cloth on my back porch. There’s just something about that crisp, new look a coat of paint gives to plain old stuff.
What a great idea! I love it!
Mary Lynn says
Looks fantastic! My guess is the reason they don’t want you to pant the tank black is because black would trap heat and could possibly be a safety hazard if the tank got too hot.
Love the new photo on the header as well, by the way!
Great idea. I hate all the utility stuff attached to my house, and ours is a brick like yours, so this would look much better. Your experiments are making me braver!
Now, if you can let me know you you deal with wires (cable wires, telephone wires) on the outside of your house.
Thanks so much for noticing the new header everyone! We waited for all the azaleas to do their thing and snapped pictures like crazy people.
Kim- We actually painted one cable wire that runs along the side of the house (also with our brick red paint while we had it out) since it was bright white and oh so obvious. Now it’s nearly invisible since it was so thin to begin with! Hope it helps!
I love this! I can’t believe I never thought of it!
I just noticed that you’ve updated your header photo. It looks great :)
I love it! We did the same thing at the Farm where we’re getting married next month! I know what it’s like to have the OCD Paint Brush hand! It can be a tragedy or a blessing but you never know until you finish haha. To make you feel better though it’s better then getting spray paint finger – you can’t move it for hours!
CHEERS To NEW PAINT!
Great solution! In the early 90’s I was into spray painting EVERYTHING imaginable with “fleck stone”. I even did some ornaments for Christmas as a gag for my family who told me they were planning an spray painting intervention on me!
Great new pic on your header!!
I just did my daily vote and show you guys have a slim lead (196) right now……….so VOTE PEOPLE VOTE!!
It’s actually Nicole over at Making It Lovely who has the lead by 196 votes! We slipped into second place. Thanks so much for your support (and for taking the time to vote each day)! We need all the help we can get!
what a smart idea! sherry, i was watching the real housewives of new jersey yesterday and you look so much like Dina, are you related?
Well, I am a Jersey girl (born and raised) but I can happily declare that I share no blood with any of the Real Housewives. Although I did google Dina and I must admit to seeing a bit of a resemblance… just not in the blonde hair/big boobs category.
On the electric box – actually the only thing that belongs to the power company is the meter and wires that run to it…the metal box and rod that they are contained are yours…and they are expensive things actually! We’ve had ours pulled off our house twice by some big limbs!
heather s. says
I never thought to check to see if those boxes/tanks can be painted. Great idea! I have a ton of leftover paint the color of my house so I forsee a call to my companies tomorrow to see if I can paint them!
Holy smokes! What a fab idea!! I was doing a little yard work yesterday and thought about how ugly my electrical meter looked. I will have to call and make sure that I can paint mine as well! Thanks for the tips!
Holy moly………….I was only seeing what I wanted to see with the BHG contest. Even more important now is for EVERYONE TO VOTE!!!!
We reeeeeeeeeally appreciate your voting enthusiasm! You know we promise to use every penny to do fun and fabulous things that we can share with all of our lovely readers (although we would donate some money to a local housing charity as well). Needless to say it’s quite an amazing opportunity for us! And being in first place for a bit got our hopes up, but now that we’re in second we sure are sweating!!!
Thanks again for your votes and your amazing support.
that tree is too close to the tank – imagine the full size
Thanks for your suggestion! It must just be the perspective of the photo because we actually consulted with a master gardener (who also happens to be our neighbor) and she helped us place both trees in just the right place. The spruce will only get to be 30″ around since it’s a dwarf version, so it’s definitely far enough away in person (and we’re sorry if the pics are misleading!).
I am planning to paint the concrete slab in my den. It is currently covered in bloody awful 25-year-old dingy, matted gray carpet. We recently did the same in our kitchen (thus ridding ourselves of the bloody awful 25-year-old vinyl sheet flooring) and loved it so much that we must continue. Not quick, but definitely a cheap way to freshen the floors.
Your azaleas are GORGEOUS!!! I can’t help but to just sit here and stare at the header!! lol Beautiful, really! I can’t wait until we start on our yard!! :) xo
When painting the metal tank as well as the metal utility box by your little mudroom, did you use a special primer to ensure the paint won’t peel? Or is it ok to use any old paint (exterior or interior depending on the location, of course)? I’d also like to camoflage our utility box as well. Thanks!
Metal is an excellent material that takes to paint adhesion like a champ, so no primer is needed. We actually painted the GIANT fuse box in our den to help it blend in with the rest of the room, and then we created a mini mudroom right in front of it so it’s barely noticeable anymore. Hope it helps! Happy painting…
Your ability to find things in need of fixing on your little house is amazing. I keep thinking that you guys are going to run out of things to do because evertying looks so lovely but you keep finding more and more to make everything that much more perfect.
Genius idea, I would have been so chicken to go ahead with it but it turned out great!
jenny kerr says
This is fabulous! I never in my life would have thought of this, just because I would think they wouldn’t let you paint your meters. The utility companies seem to be hell bent on making your home as ugly as possible to begin with. Our home was turned into a duplex by the previous owners in the 60’s and we are putting it back to a single family… but that still leaves us with a double whammy on all of the meters and boxes except cable. Thanks for this!
You guys ROCK! Seriously, your brains must never slow down!
My husband and I have been struggling with the ugly gray utility boxes on the back of our house for a long time. They were low on the list of priorities until we, too, did a major landscaping overhaul this spring. With everything else in order, the utility boxes were more unsightly than ever. I’m literally planning to paint our brand new garden shed to match the house this afternoon and you can bet I’ll be painting our utility boxes while I’m out there!
A couple of weeks ago we got creative and constructed a three-panel screen out of lattice to conceal the boxes (though to remain accessible) and have started growing potted vines up the lattice work. But this will put us over the top!
Thanks for your always great ideas! Juliet
What a great idea! Those things are such eyesores!
I am new to your site, but I am loving each and every post! I am determined to get inspired and hopefully decorate our new home well!
Oh my gosh, I’m excited for this post. Who knew you could paint that stuff?? You guys are so great when it comes to the simple ideas that I never would have thought of myself! The house we’re moving into has a propane tank (out back, thankfully), but now I know I can probably paint it, I am SO adding that to the old to-do list! What a great idea for keeping the focus off that big, ugly thing and putting it on the rest of the back yard.
PS: I also just recently read your free landscaping via craigslist post, and I want to try that out too – there are three neatly trimmed evergreen hedges in front of the house that we want to replace with some flowering shrubs and tulips. I wonder if they’ll replant well enough to attract the craigslist crowd to dig them out for free?
We once posted free gravel on craigslist and people beat down our door to get their hands on it so I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting those bushes dug up and carried off in no time. Good luck!
Great idea. When we built our house we had a underground well put in for our sprinkler system and it came in bright blue. I did take a can of spray paint to it. I painted it Green instead of our house color yellow, just because its in the middle of a bed of shrubs! I’m looking to paint an old dresser of my husbands, but have been affriad to take the plunge!
This is a great way to get rid of the ugly necessities on any house. I did this when i lived in KY. Actually the gas company called us and TOLD us we had to paint the gas meter box (showing some rust and apparently it was our responsibility to keep in good condition) well once we did the gas meter I, like Sherry went to town on anything and everything grey that I hated around the perimeter of our home. I used rustoleum rusty metal primer (the rusty color one obviously) and then a matte clear coat over that. Worked like a charm.
That’s a really good idea. I have a brickfront home as well. I think I’ll try painting our utility equipment this weekend. Thanks!
Confession time. Before moving out of an old apartment, I took a can of white spray paint to a strange stain that had started to form on the otherwise pristine popcorn ceiling. I realize in hindsight I should have probably notified the management so they could investigate something fishy going on with the upstairs tenants. But in my haste to preserve the security deposit I had coming, I Kryloned that sucker and kept my mouth shut.
I come by it honestly… before he moved my cousin into their new home together, her then fiance took metallic pewter paint to some little brass screws and hardware around the house. Not exactly as permanent a fix as, oh, say changing the fittings and fixtures, but with limited time, he wasn’t taking any chances on her changing her mind about the wedding on account of her hatred for cheesy 80s brass. Smart man.
And two generations before us, our grandfather wrote to tell us of a quick new cleaning method he’d discovered while Grandmom was off on a girls’ vacation. If you plug the vacuum hose into the opposite end of the unit, you can use it to blow the dust off the furniture, just like a leaf blower! Ah, yes: yet another reason men should not be left home alone.
I would have never thought to do that, and it makes such a huge difference! You know I’ll be wandering around my house tonight lokoing for imperfections to paint!
Wow, great change a little paint can do! Thanks for posting about your home, I like seeing the ideas and what things I can tackle as a new home owner myself! I just got a hold of a great inexpensive power washer from Costco, I would definitely recommend tackling the bricks that were hidden by the overgrown bushes. Quite easy to use and you get instant gratification with just water! Keep up the good work.
such a small transformation that makes a huge difference. great change!
I love paint…I don’t think there’s anything it can’t fix! :)
What a great idea! So simple, but such a big impact!
Carol May says
What a great job! I went to Ask.com to ask my question and up you came. My problem is the electric box is really rusty. Do I have to get the rust off first and how. Would I use rustoleum to paint it?
Thanks so much
Hey Carol May,
Good question! We actually used regular exterior paint over a few rusty spots on our propane tank and it has held up beautifully so far. You would definitely have added rust protection with a paint meant for rusted areas (like Rustoleum) but exterior paint is a lot more durable and protective than interior paint so either one will probably do the trick. Hope it helps!
Wonder if I can paint my ac/heat unit that’s nestled in my garden….
Do you know if you can paint things like carbon monoxide detectors? There is one on the wall of our dining room that sticks out so badly.
Hmm good question! You definitely want to be careful to make sure that you don’t cause the tests to become defective. Perhaps dry brushing a tiny bit of color (suuper thin coats) just around the shell (being sure that it doesn’t get inside the detector) will do the trick. You’ll also then want to test it (push the test button or replace the batteries) to ensure that it’s still functioning. Safety first! Hope it helps.
Your home is just so adorable. It is amazing what you can do with paint and a little elbow grease! I also love your how-to videos, so much inspiration for when my husband and I buy a home of our own.
Question: I do not see any neighboring homes in your pictures, do you live on an acreage? Just curious!
We are actually super lucky to live in a neighborhood that’s pretty spaced out. Here’s a post all about our lot: https://www.younghouselove.com/the-lay-of-the-land/
I agree that painting the tank black would be a safety hazard due to heat buildup. Surface material and color make a huge change in emissivity of an object. So it’s good that you called your propane company, and anybody else thinking of painting their tank should probably call their own company. My friend had trouble on his home inspection or getting a permit or something, because the previous owner had painted the propane tank green to camouflage it, and it had to be returned to the original paint and color to pass.
Great tip Melissa! Safety first!
We painted our house this summer and we definitely painted all of the lines and cables to match the house. Our house is a 1956 ranch with years worth of different paint jobs and three sides facing a street, so leaving them the fleshy beige that our house was when we bought it was not an option. Plus, who wants to look at cables, cords and boxes when they can just blend in? Now that I know that I can paint my electrical meter, it’s going blue next spring!
Oooh, I never thought of doing this! My utility boxes are in full view of my deck and stick out like a sore thumb. I’ll have to see about camouflaging them.
sarah @kate leverenz photography says
Its definitely a great idea, I am determined to get inspired and hopefully decorate our new home well!thanks for sharing this wonderful post!
Steve @portable computer says
good idea. Camouflage styles can hide those things that can easily be seen. Sometimes there are home decorations that are shocking whicj i dont like.