Before and After: Eight Extreme Home Exterior Transformations

As evidenced by these homes, including a quirky building in Pittsburgh, even the smallest changes can make a big impact on your home's facade.

If you are like most people, the majority of your design daydreams are about upgrading your interiors. New paint, furniture and appliances are on your list. But an exterior facelift can offer the same supreme satisfaction. And there's an added benefit: Everyone will see your brilliant efforts.

These eight exterior transformations range from full-on rebuilds to clever cosmetic redos. But all of them elevate the homes to new levels. Imagine coming home each day to a facade that makes you beam with satisfaction. Curb appeal, after all, isn't just for the neighbors.

Small changes made a big difference in this mid-century Costa Mesa, California, bungalow.


BEFORE: This looks like a typical stucco tract house built in the '70s. The entrance is a dark cavern, and the landscaping is limping along, mostly unloved.

AFTER: It's now bright and modern with sleek, easy-care landscaping. What the homeowners did: lightened the paint, installed a statement door in a contrasting color, replaced the boring cement walkway with modern squares that echo the lines of the house, replaced the dated stucco wall with a horizontal Trex fence, installed modern and climate-appropriate plants that don't hide the house, and completely transformed a home without changing the architecture.


BEFORE: This enclosed yard has perfect bones and wonderful access. It's just screaming for some TLC and a little imagination.

AFTER: See those two bushes peeking over the neighbor's wall? That's about the only clue that this is the same place. Not only did this yard get an amazing modern upgrade with a pool, but the homeowners significantly increased their living space by creating a covered dining area off the kitchen. In temperate climates, outdoor space counts as much as indoor space.

BEFORE: Everything here looks tired. The faded shingles, the cinderblock planters surrounded by weeds, the maroon door — they all just look a bit sagging and neglected.

AFTER: This is the best kind of transformation, because it's so simple. A fresh and exuberant paint job with a front door that springs to life and some simple back-to-nature landscaping have completely changed this home. The cinderblocks are still there, by the way, but the weeds are gone.

BEFORE: Holy Brady Bunch. This suburban box had very little to recommend it, unless you are a fan of faded green boxes.

AFTER: By covering the top story in rich, horizontal wood, the homeowners not only added texture and color and new modern lines, but they also managed to draw the eye away from the garage doors as the main architectural focus. It's still the same box, only much, much prettier.

BEFORE: I'm not one to shake a stick at a vacation house overlooking the water, but this rickety '70s-era cabin looks so closed in and faded. Plus, someone is going to fall right off that deck.

AFTER: The basics are the same, but the paint, the new windows (what's the point of a setting like this if you don't have a lot of windows?) and the deck upgrade have transformed it from dark and damp to bright and welcoming.


BEFORE: Help! This cute little colonial is being eaten by giant bushes.

AFTER: Much better. For one, you can now see the shape of the house (and presumably you can now see out of those first-story windows). The dove-gray paint and light-colored roof make the house seem larger and airier.

BEFORE: It's hard to tell if this low-slung Phoenix bungalow is landscaped or if the desert has just taken over the front yard. The entire home sort of disappears into a dusky beige mass.

AFTER: The same home is now a modernist sculpture rising from the desert. The colors, textures and plantings are all still very much a part of the landscape, but now, rather than disappearing into it, they form a striking contrast.

BEFORE: This odd little building on a corner in Pittsburgh looks like a shuttered diner in a suffering neighborhood.

AFTER: The same odd little building now looks like a bright, modern home in a vibrant neighborhood. Even if you ignore the second story, the changes in colors and materials on the original building are stunning. Cosmetics can make all the difference.


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