Maybe your house lacks character. Or, perhaps its past charm was stripped away by a misguided renovation. Take heart — it's possible to add or restore what Realtors call curb appeal to practically any house. You can also add comfort with a porch or a roof to shield you from the elements while you grab the mail or say goodbye to friends. The three successful face-lifts on these pages transformed the front of the house by focusing on the entryway. While the first was part of a major house remodel, the others involved little more than porches, a foyer and a $10,000 investment. Their differing styles and approaches illustrate just some of the possibilities. There are several rules of thumb for changing the face of a house. "Aim to make it better and provide the missing amenities or character while making the changes look like they've always been there," says John Sylvestre, the Minneapolis designer and contractor behind the farmhouse face-lift shown above. Because the new must blend seamlessly with the old, consider the style or type of your home. Is it a ranch, colonial, Victorian, Cape or some other style? "You can't add a cedar-sided sunroom with casement windows to a two-story brick Georgian and expect good results," Sylvestre says. If you're undoing previous mistakes to restore the character your home once had, check for original materials layered beneath the present siding. Also study other homes built around the same time for clues to materials. How you connect a new porch or foyer will also help it look as if it came with the house. "Don't have the old and new materials meet on the same plane," Sylvestre says. He suggests, for example, setting an addition 12 inches back from the original house so the old and new meet on an inside corner rather than on the same flat plane. Next, plan the mass or size of any new structure so that it relates to the scale of the house. Also be sure to match or complement the existing roof pitch. For example, don't add a low-pitched 4-in-12 roof to an existing 8-in-12 roof. Finally, pay attention to existing details, such as soffits, window muntins and trim. Study the way materials were used. Then transfer the same look to any new details your front face-lift includes.
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