Updating your home

When Jim and Sandy Barrett moved into their 1930s cottage, in Keego Harbor, Michigan, "it was the street's ugly duckling," Sandy says.The sparse facade and dingy siding looked forbidding but offered the perfect blank slate for making a cheerful statement that suits their lakeside locale.

updating your home-55

Landscaping: A fresh layer of sod and a narrower walkway mean more green grass and less crumbling concrete.

Shown: Instead of paying for custom lattice, cut panels to fit from off-the-shelf sheets.

Siding: Jim and Sandy splurged on fiber cement to replace the bent aluminum.

They added character by installing fish-scale shingles above the porch and wood painted to resemble lattice at the roof's peak.

Paint: A beachy combination of vibrant turquoise, aqua, and white invigorates the front and evokes the area's history as a resort town.

Landscaping: Once a flat expanse of dying grass, the yard now features perennial beds and small shrubs, and is anchored by a walkway constructed from pavers that they got for free from a friend.

They can even put big projects, like adding on a new porch, within reach. By clearing the space, homeowners Darci and Matt Haney brought the focus back to the front door—and all the other improvements they made.

Money-Saver: "Cleaning up your yard—mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, sweeping the steps—hugely boost curb appeal and doesn't cost a thing." —Jill Simmons, Zillow Landscaping: Darci and Matt saved all their mature trees but swapped everything else in favor of tidy boxwoods mixed with rose and hydrangea bushes for a lush look that doesn't overwhelm the walkway.

The porch ceiling is painted pale blue in traditional Southern style.

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