Before-and-After Home Exteriors
Stylish Exterior Makeover
Spruce up your curb appeal with a little help from our collection of before-and-after exterior makeovers. Whether your home is a cozy cottage or a two-story brick Georgian, you'll find plenty of inspiration to help you along the way.
Circa 1941 Birmingham Cottage Before
Stocky windows, a boring entrance, and a gloomy gray-and-black paint palette gave this cottage a lackluster look.
Circa 1941 Birmingham Cottage After
Flattening the entrance's peaked roof and expanding it into a real porch was the key to creating a "distinct entry for the home," says architect Corbett Scott. The new squared-off parapet, punctuated with 1-foot-tall finials, adds drama and depth to the exterior. French doors with a fresh Chippendale spin complement the Colonial home's English roots.
New Orleans Cottage: Before
Homeowner Alexis Walter loves all things French. "When we bought this house, the first thing we thought of was adding a bit of France to the yard," she says. Such formal structure was needed to bring order to the overgrown cottage garden. With a fistful of inspiration photos, she began to implement her wishes. Later, landscape architect Aaron Adolph of NOLA + Design refined the plan.
New Orleans Cottage: After
Making the garden both formal and functional topped Alexis' list. A parterre garden was the key to fitting it all within the postage-stamp-size front garden. The Japanese boxwood hedge and corner cones add structure. Pruned 'Savannah' hollies near the street add height and screening. Rosemary, thyme, and oregano bring herbal aromas to the plantings, while ivy softens the stairs. Alexis almost doubled the foot-print of her front yard by placing parterres in the sidewalk strip.
Birmingham Family Home: Before
For the young family who moved in, this older cottage needed an update. Overgrown azaleas had swallowed the front terrace. There was no direct route from the street to the front door, leaving the yard a confusing mess. Landscape designer Todd Dorlon of TMD Landscape Designs came to the rescue. He advises homeowners not to cut corners. "Have patience, do the job right, and plan it in phases," he says.
Birmingham Family Home: After
Todd removed the offending azaleas in front to give better access to the door and the updated terrace. The level front lawn just steps away from the terrace became a new play space for the family's young kids. Boxwoods are the garden's backbone. Todd also replaced the original dogwood in the yard's front corner with a 'Winter King' green hawthorn. A new gravel parking space by the street welcomes guests. Larger columns with subtle copper lights direct you to the front walk that now connects to the terrace.
Classic Georgia Bungalow: Before
When Alex Smith decided to renovate a 1920s bungalow, the goal involved more than gaining office space for his design firm. It combined the three things he strives to offer clients: respect for the land, a passion for horticulture, and a love of Southern architecture. The big idea was to honor the home's architecture. He also wanted to create curb appeal to showcase his team's work for visiting clients and friends.
Classic Georgia Bungalow: After
Strategically placed American boxwoods in a sweep of pachysandra anchor the corners. A stewartia tree adds height as well as four seasons of interest, while period-appropriate nandina graces the garden with berries in fall and winter. A manicured 'Zeon' zoysia lawn provides a place for the eye to rest while taking it all in. Vintage camellias and paper bush brighten up the borders in winter. 'Thalia' daffodils and moss pinks tucked into the beds welcome spring, and ox-eye daisies on the front embankment flower into autumn. These ever-changing elements keep the landscape vibrant in all seasons.
Arkansas Cottage: Before
Garden desginer Daniel Keeley was drawn to this cottage, built in 1948, because of its simple, symmetrical design and relatively level, corner lot. He saw opportunitiy for creating unique spaces for gardening and outdoor living.
Arkansas Cottage: After
The new windows, brick cladding, lamps, front door, paint, gate, and planters made a huge difference in this home's curb appeal.
Modern Georgian: Before
When a young couple bought this stately brick house, they knew it had great bones and wouldn't require too much work. Their only concern was that it felt dark and dowdy—a problem Birmingham-based architects Paul Bates and Jeremy Corkern of Cockern Studio easily remedied.
"The house was already charming, but the brick was hard and it was lacking something," says Jeremy. "It needed some depth and lightness to reflect the homeowners' lifestyle."
Modern Georgian: After
"Everything was done to give the house some height because the homes on either side loom over it," says Jeremy. "We tried to pick it up a bit." Paul and Jeremy created an oversize but not imposing 9-foot-tall limestone entryway. Light spills into the foyer through the 7-foot French doors and leaded-glass transom. A pair of Palladian-style shutters adds a single punch of color (Pratt & Lambert's Artichoke). A bell-shaped front lawn furthers the illusion of more height.
Colonial Williamsburg: Before
Flimsy materials diluted the charm of this 1,400-square-foot cottage, but architect Bill Ingram couldn't overlook its pleasing proportions. He was also drawn to its ideal location—tucked away from traffic but only a stone's throw from shops and restaurants.
Colonial Williamsburg: After
Inspired by the architecture of Colonial Williamsburg, Bill gave his home the authenticity and substance it needed with a few elegant upgrades.
Bill first got rid of the lifeless siding, asphalt roof, mismatched windows, and flat, nonfunctioning shutters. He opted to cover the exterior walls and roof with more tactile cedar shakes. "The house was static before, but now it's more animated," he says. "The shadows and textures all enliven it."
Bill put every inch of his small front yard to good use by forgoing grass for a more impactful garden. He replaced the unruly vines, sloppy shrubs, and front walk with a tailored parterre of boxwoods and paths of antique bricks.
Cape Cod Cottage: Before
The Cape Cod-style house Wendy Meredith and her husband, Cleve, bought several years ago had been built in the 1930s and was more or less in its original state, so the interior designer had a clean slate for incorporating her best ideas. “Before we bought the house, I would pass by it while walking my dogs, and I could just tell it had so much character,” Wendy says. “But it definitely needed to be freshened up.”
Wendy called in Atlanta architect Brad Heppner, and the two immediately started working on curb appeal as their first project.
Cape Cod Cottage: After
“We made subtle but important changes to the front exterior,” says Brad, “such as painting the brick a warm light brown to help the house nestle into the surrounding trees.” Brad also added a cedar-shingled roof, a flared awning over the front door, and charming black shutters to the upstairs dormer windows, all giving the house more architectural definition.
Southern Craftsman-Style Home: Before
Montgomery, Alabama-based designer Ashley Gilbreath worked through years of neglect to restore her 1910 craftsman-style home that’s just doors down from where Zelda Fitzgerald once lived. Intent on preserving her home’s architectural details and character, Ashley wanted to salvage and restore. “I reused what I could and replicated anything new to be as close to the original as possible,” she says. “If I’d wanted a brand-new house, I would have bought one.”
Southern Craftsman-Style Home: After
While many of the porches' floorboards and railings had rotted and needed to be replaced, the front door (including sidelights) and all of the front windows and siding needed only cosmetic maintenance. The ebony door was restained, windows reglazed, and siding repainted with Sherwin-Williams' Palais White.
Using old photos as inspiration, Ashley had skilled carpenters copy the home's original second-story porch.
Landscape designer James Farmer helped Ashley complement her home with a low-key front garden of iconic Southern plants and casual pea-gravel paths.
Historical Concepts Cottage: Before
The potential for this 1920s Shingle-style cottage was evident before the renovation. It had great scale and was sited nicely with rear water views. Georgia-based architecture firm Historical Concepts brought back the original charm of a jewel box cottage.
Historical Concepts Cottage: After
Historical Concepts took it back to its stylistic roots, emphasizing the distinctive gambrel roofline.
"The new design made simple, effective changes—a second entry, similar in size and detailing to the original, was added to balance the facade," says Betty Dowling, Professor Emerita at the Georgia Tech College of Architecture and guest judge of the 2013 Southern Living Home Awards. Then, new matching, equally spaced windows gave the exterior a more cohesive and pleasing look.