With fresh paint and a terraced slope, a Minneapolis stucco goes from mousy to magnetic.
after front minneapolis stucco home
Credit: Eric Mueller

Before architect Joy Martin and her late husband, Ted, got their hands on a 1915 Minneapolis home, it suffered from a play-it-safe paint job and lackluster landscaping. The couple spent three and a half years transforming the house inside and out, adding modern finishes to highlight the property's best features. Dark paint and Fond du Lac limestone walls set the stage for a lush perennial garden that Martin planted herself using divided plants gifted by family and neighbors. "My goal was to create a space with more flowers than grass, where we could enjoy our small yard and engage with the neighborhood. The terrace became our front porch," Martin says. Vision accomplished.

before minneapolis stucco home
after front minneapolis stucco home
Left: Before, a safe neutral palette and minimal landscaping held this home back from reaching its full potential. | Credit: Courtesy of Joy Martin
Right: Credit: Eric Mueller

Get the Look

Even if you're not doing a full makeover, consider these exterior level-ups inspired by Joy Martin's home.

bird and branch door knocker
Credit: Courtesy of Wildlife Wonders

Branch Door Knocker

Martin chose this knocker to add some nature-inspired whimsy and a dash of blue-green that complements the home's paint palette. Bird and Branch Door Knocker, $75, Wildlife Wonders.

luminata led outdoor light
Credit: Courtesy of Lamps Plus, Inc.

LED Outdoor Lights

Old (Mission-style lines) meets new (a chic cylindrical form) in this porch light. Luminata 9-inch Oil-Rubbed Bronze LED Outdoor Light, $166, Lamps Plus.

modern farm house mailbox
Credit: Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Bronze Mailbox

Big enough for magazines and small packages, this sturdy bronze-finished mailbox has a top that looks like a standing seam roof. Modern Farm House Mailbox, $99, Pottery Barn.

garden products cor-ten steel planters
Credit: Carson Downing

Steel Planter

Cor-Ten steel is strong, corrosion-resistant
and weathers to a beautiful rust finish. This planter (available in late March 2023) comes in six shapes and sizes, with a drainage hole and pads for surface protection. Arcadia Garden Products Cor-Ten Steel Planters. From $103, Home Depot.

after front minneapolis stucco home
Credit: Eric Mueller

Exterior Paint Refresh

How to Choose Retaining Wall Materials

Besides saving you the labor of mowing a slope, retaining walls add function by creating flat areas for gardens or seating. First step: Choose a look.


The most popular and budget-friendly choice (by a long shot) is modular concrete blocks. For a less factory-made look, upgrade to dry-stacked natural stone, such as limestone, bluestone or slate.


For a sleek—if spendy—style, consider Cor-Ten steel or poured concrete. You'll want professional help for either. Installing Cor-Ten requires less labor than concrete, but welding skills are a must.


Long a go-to, affordable wood timber is fading in popularity because wood isn't treated with as many chemicals these days, so it decays faster. (Rot-resistant varieties last 10 to 15 years, some experts say.) Boulders can be cost-effective, but are of course heavy and require the creative labor of puzzle-piecing together. Gabions (wire cages filled with rocks) offer an economical alternative.