On Unconventional Choices

Moving into this house five years ago has brought about many changes.  We’re living in a different house, duh, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  The house is different in style, boxy and modern versus our more traditional ranch from before.


Though I appreciate many styles, clean, modern houses top my list.  Probably the biggest difference is the landscape.  In just a few miles, the terrain shifts from typical, mostly level city lots with lush grass to steep, rugged/rocky, and natural hillsides.  Dated blue siding, with patched in areas of still natural cedar siding weren’t doing the house any favors.  Nor were the unkempt, overgrown weed hillsides and we set out to update both.


Our choices for the exterior siding and landscape are a bit atypical, but do make the most sense for our house/lot, climate, and lifestyles.  Working with the modern design of the house was far easier than taming the wild slopes around the house, so let’s start there.

Along with typical lap siding, we decided to add accents of CorTen steel.  Why is it so different?  It’s a specific kind of steel that creates a protective layer of surface rust.   Yes, we want our house to rust.  Back in the planning stage, many people, family, friends, and readers, had strong opinions against our choice.  Some going so far to say it looked like a mobile home with steel skirting.


We went ahead with our plan, but slightly deviated by choosing standing seam over corrugated steel.  Just after installing the final piece in November 2014, the house looked very, well…gray.  And shiny.  And boring.


Within eight months, the process had already begun.  It’s a living finish, aging with rain and humidity, slowly deepening.  We also started building our balcony, hence the partially finished railing.


Near the end of that summer, with encouragement in the form of regular spraying from a garden hose, the color continued to deepen.  Finishing the balcony, staining it dark to blend also helped.


Today, we have a deep reddish-brown rust with texture and spotting that, from a distance, looks much like a stained wood board and batten.



This siding is durable, low maintenance, and the long vertical strips make it easy to install along a steep grade, hiding the ugly foundation line.  Since install, we’ve had a large hail storm, with zero damage to the siding.


As I mentioned at the beginning, the landscape drastically changes in just a few miles.  Our rocky landscape is somewhat abnormal, but many homes in our neighborhood have a lot or most rock.


Unlike our home, many others have large areas of level landscape.  Due to our driveway, both the front and back have steep slopes.  Starting at the road, the lot rises 12 to 15 feet before arriving at our front door.


That’s far too steep to mow normal grass.




Furthermore, we live in an area that gets 14 inches of annual precipitation, which is just 4 inches more than the definition of a desert.  Of course, very little comes in the heat of the summer, when grass really needs a thorough soaking.  The combination of the steep hillside and lack of rainfall, we didn’t feel it was responsible to try to grow grass.  Instead, we’ve covered the slopes in limestone, which prevents erosion and quicker water evaporation.  Over the years, I’ve slowly added water wise plants to soften/cover the rock and brighten the landscape.  Unlike the siding, the landscape continues to require maintenance, so we’re happy to save time and work where we can.  Have you chosen any unusual finishes for your home?

3 thoughts on “On Unconventional Choices

  1. I love your house. You’ve made such great choices on the interior, exterior and with the landscaping. I remember when you started planting. It has come a long way. I hope you are very proud of yourselves.

  2. The style of your house and landscaping are totally different from my house (rustic cabin) and area (rural north MS), so I find it so interesting to see how you deal with the challenges of your climate and terrain. I think the Cor-Ten siding was genius. I may be a little biased since my husband is in the steel industry. And your landscaping is beautiful. I love how natural and unfussy it all looks.

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