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Best Curb Appeal Before and Afters 2014

As we gear up to announce the 2015 winner of the Search for America's Best Remodel, take a look back to last year's top home exteriors

Snap Design Judgment

Curb appeal is a little like speed dating: You only get a few minutes to make a great first impression. From respectful restorations to inspired alterations, color us impressed by the entries to the seventh-annual Search for America's Best Remodel Contest. Click through to see the TOH editors' top 29 favorite fetching frontages.

Winner: "Stone" Siding: Before

Who: Tanya T.

Where: Oak Park, IL

"When we removed clapboards due to damage, we found a treasure: the original historical siding made from cypress boards milled to resemble hand-cut stone."

Winner: "Stone" Siding: After

Who: Tanya T.

Where: Oak Park, IL

"Some parts of the house did not have the same facade, and some of the historic siding was damaged. My husband purchased cedar boards and machinery and spent an entire summer making board after board and installing the siding, corner quoins, and dentil molding. We also added a new porch and roof."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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Putting on a Fresh Face: Before

Who: Dara B.

Where: Lead, SD

"This house dates back to 1893 and needed so much work, both inside and out. We replaced the roof, scraped and painted the house, fixed the crumbling sidewalk, landscaped, and built a new deck."

Putting on a Fresh Face: After

Who: Dara B.

Where: Lead, SD

"I don't think the project would have worked out as well if this house didn't have good bones. It was an old house but solid. I would probably say the outside deck and patio area are my favorite, but every dollar and minute spent was worth it."

Who did the work: "I did most of the work myself."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000 (whole house)

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A Spiffed-up Victorian: Before

Who: Cheryl D.

Where: Edwardsburg, MI

"Our home was built in 1884, and we hope our renovations will allow it to survive another 100-plus years as a grand Victorian lady. Our aim was to brighten up the dreary exterior with color and incorporate Victorian accents that were lost over time."

A Spiffed-up Victorian: After

Who: Cheryl D.

Where: Edwardsburg, MI

"We removed a chain-link fence and replaced it with Victorian-style aluminum. We got rid of the shutters and restored the gingerbread details. Plus, we professionally landscaped around the entire house. I love strangers stopping by to tell us how beautiful our house looks."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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A Porch of Pride: Before

Who: Charlene F.

Where: Fond du Lac, WI

"We purchased this foreclosure sight-unseen because we love the character of the American Foursquare. The hardest part was repairing the siding during Wisconsin's rainy season; the fun part was picking out paint colors."

A Porch of Pride: After

Who: Charlene F.

Where: Fond du Lac, WI

"We built new steps and railings. Hanging a new porch light—just going from a ceiling-mount style to a hanging model—made a huge difference, and we love our new ground-mount mailbox. Digging out the wild rose bushes was difficult because they spanned the entire length of the porch."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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A Standout Paint Job: Before

Who: Debra D.

Where: Rochester, NH

"The outside remodel required us to fix the leaky roof, tear off the old siding and replace it, and completely redo the entire porch. We sold all the steel and aluminum removed from the house as scrap, which paid for the dumpster for the entire project."

A Standout Paint Job: After

Who: Debra D.

Where: Rochester, NH

"One of the hardest parts was picking paint colors for the exterior that would look original and make the original details pop. I wanted something that stood out from the rest of the houses, and I just love the results."

Who did the work: "A contractor did all the work."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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Decorative Touches Make All the Difference: Before

Who: Darin H.

Where: Richmond, VA

"The house was in pretty bad shape, inside and out. It was hard to stay motivated working alone. I hired people to help me avoid that 'weight of the world on my shoulders' feeling."

Decorative Touches Make All the Difference: After

Who: Darin H.

Where: Richmond, VA

"I didn't like the look of the siding, so I replaced a good 90 percent of it. I added decorative work to the front of the house, like brackets and a porch rail. I'm really pleased with how much better the front of the house looks."

Who did the work: "I did most of the work myself."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000 (whole house)

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New Windows Work Wonders: Before

Who: Scott E.

Where: Weymouth, MA

"Lots of dry rot and chipping paint made this 1848 house look shabby, and the windows were in bad shape. One window had been 'fixed' with plexiglass, and another, with a broken mullion, was repaired with tape."

New Windows Work Wonders: After

Who: Scott E.

Where: Weymouth, MA

"We stripped eight layers of paint and redid all the windows around the front door. The shutters were the wrong size and had been nailed to the house. People often stop and say how much they love what we have done."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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A Dynamic Redo: Before

Who: Melissa G.

Where: New Orleans

"This house needed work inside and out. Three different contractors had skipped out on the woman who was selling it, so it had a hodgepodge of everything."

A Dynamic Redo: After

Who: Melissa G.

Where: New Orleans

"We put stucco over the brick and added projecting eaves and brackets. The door has new lighting and is flanked on both sides with a trellis. We also added some decorative trim to the windows and did landscaping in the front of the house."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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From Crumbling to Cute: Before

Who: Richard J.

Where: Cumberland, ME

"Built in 1729, this is one of the oldest surviving houses in Maine, yet many people were interested in buying it solely for the plot of land. The notion of such a historical home being bulldozed was appalling to our family."

From Crumbling to Cute: After

Who: Richard J.

Where: Cumberland, ME

"We stabilized the house; tore off the ancient, rotted clapboards and re-sided; stripped layers of crumbling shingles and re-roofed with architectural shingles; then painted the place a fresh, eye-catching white. I love hearing neighbors say how thrilled they are to see this house looking beautiful once again."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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Repointed Brick Updates a Rowhouse: Before

Who: Glenn C.

Where: Washington, D.C.

"The brick had been painted and was in poor condition, the stairs were crumbling, and the yard was an overgrown mess of vines climbing into the porch railings."

Repointed Brick Gives an Update: After

Who: Glenn C.

Where: Washington, D.C.

"The contractor did a remarkable job of removing the paint and tuck-pointing the brick with new mortar. The porch and walkway were replaced and the yard was landscaped. It was expensive but worth every cent."

Who did the work: "A contractor did all the work."

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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Livening Up the Landscape: Before

Who: Pete P.

Where: Charleston, SC

"I bought the 1948 Cape Cod-style home—from its original 92-year-old owner—because I liked the original character of the house. But the exterior needed to be refreshed."

Livening Up the Landscape: After

Who: Pete P.

Where: Charleston, SC

"I added a new roof, windows, and porticos for the front and side entrances in place of old metal awnings. I put in landscape lighting and flower beds to add color and texture to the lawn."

Who did the work: "I did most of the work myself."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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Adding On to a Basic Facade: Before

Who: Londen H.

Where: Tinley Park, IL

"When the time came to remodel the exterior, I searched the Internet for Craftsman inspiration. We didn't have an architect's plans, just my vision and ideas."

Adding On to a Basic Facade: After

Who: Londen H.

Where: Tinley Park, IL

"The soffits were extended, and we added a window for balance. A new roof, cement-board siding, brackets, a portico, and a trellis were the ingredients we used to create a Craftsman-style cottage. Now I feel happy when I drive up to our house."

Who did the work: "A contractor did all the work."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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A Pretty Impressive Porch: Before

Who: Jackie J.

Where: Greenville, SC

"I did a complete update of this bungalow in Greenville's historic district. The hardest part was rebuilding the front porch, but that turned out to be my favorite part of the remodel."

A Pretty Impressive Porch: After

Who: Jackie J.

Where: Greenville, SC

"I used the old footers to determine where the porch's original pedestals stood. From there, we built the brick pedestals, columns, and railing. I put in a new roof and front walk, and painted the house in a historically appropriate green."

Who did the work: "I did most of the work myself."

Cost: More than $100,000

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Brick Beauty Stretches Out: Before

Who: Jamie L.

Where: Kanab, UT

"The main water line into our house broke and flooded the basement, requiring major repairs. That first project led to a whole remodel. For the exterior, we loved the warm, natural look of brick."

Brick Beauty Stretches Out: After

Who: Jamie L.

Where: Kanab, UT

"Redoing the front porch made the house look more welcoming. We expanded the landing, put in new columns, and added a portico to match the new red roof. Now we think the house has real rustic charm."

Who did the work: "I did most of the work myself."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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A Family Affair: Before

Who: Stephen M.

Where: Granby, MA

"I grew up next door to this 1890 house and had wanted to buy it and fix it up ever since I was a child. My father, father-in-law, and cousins all pitched in on the renovation. We finished it, and my wife and I moved in the day we left the hospital with our newborn son."

A Family Affair: After

Who: Stephen M.

Where: Granby, MA

"The only thing saved after the demo was the framing and staircase. The new porch without the railings has a clean, fresh look. The best part was the way this accomplishment brought my whole family together."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: More than $100,000

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A Farmhouse Redefined: Before

Who: Jenny H.

Where: Narrows, VA

"Our beloved 1909 three-generation farmhouse was in disrepair. There's no reason to tear down these old homes; they just need some love and attention to be beautiful once more."

A Farmhouse Redefined: After

Who: Jenny H.

Where: Narrows, VA

"We replaced the original siding and upgraded the windows, adding shutters and window boxes. Removing the shrubs from the front of the house and adding landscaping let us show off the porch. It looks so warm and inviting now."

Who did the work: "A contractor did all the work."

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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Updated Ugly Duckling: Before

Who: Steve M.

Where: East Hampton, CT

"We honestly never liked the exterior of our Cape Cod; we thought the front yard was flat and boring, with no garden beds. Last year, we were finally able to change the dormers and windows and the eaves and the landscaping."

Updated Ugly Duckling: After

Who: Steve M.

Where: East Hampton, CT

"We stripped off the dented, damaged aluminum siding and replaced the windows; built out the eaves; and re-roofed and re-sided the exterior. The landscaping involved installing a cedar fence and raised fieldstone garden beds."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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Lead Paint Led to a New Look: Before

Who: Joelle P.

Where: Olean, NY

"Due to a high lead paint level recorded on our property, we had six weeks to repaint the house. Our property was surrounded by caution tape and flashing 'Danger' signs to alerting the entire neighborhood."

Lead Paint Led to a New Look: After

Who: Joelle P.

Where: Olean, NY

"We spent hours poring over period-appropriate paint color choices, and we're so pleased with our choice. The house had been lost under all that white, and now the three different shades bring out the charm and beauty that had been hiding for so many years."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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A Craigslist Creation: Before

Who: Faith M.

Where: Ellensburg, WA

"We found the house for sale on Craigslist. It became my mission to use Craigslist to find as much as I could for the renovation, inside and outside."

A Craigslist Creation: After

Who: Faith M.

Where: Ellensburg, WA

"We replaced original shiplap siding, repointed the brick foundation, and put in a new roof and all new windows. Our best Craigslist score was the two front Pella windows for $400. They drove the color scheme for the exterior."

Who did the work: We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it.

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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A Grand Old Porch: Before

Who: Will O.

Where: Boydton, VA

"Enlarging the porch with an east wing and a west wing would give our Craftsman a grand look. The hardest part of doing the exterior was removing the siding, milling it, and putting it back on."

A Grand Old Porch: After

Who: Will O.

Where: Boydton, VA

"I removed the porch's four original Craftsman-style columns and replaced them with round columns salvaged from the local courthouse. I crafted all the capitals and bases for the columns by hand."

Who did the work: "I did all the work myself."

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

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Homespun Restoration: Before

Who: Nancy R.

Where: Elizabeth City, NC

"We purchased this 1903 home and did a full gut remodel. It had been remodeled once into a duplex and was in pretty bad shape, inside and out."

Homespun Restoration: After

Who: Nancy R.

Where: Elizabeth City, NC

"We tore down an old shed that had been attached to the house and put new vinyl siding on the exterior. A new door replaced the two separate entrances. We redid the porch and got rid of the rail. The house we bought for for $25,000 now has a tax value of $389,000."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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Neglected Victorian Gets a New Life: Before

Who: Dave P.

Where: Lynchburg, VA

"This neglected house needed to be totally restored. It had extensive roof damage, and the 660-square-foot porch was rotten to the core."

Neglected Victorian Gets a New Life: After

Who: Dave P.

Where: Lynchburg, VA

"There was rot everywhere—the roof-deck boards; the rafter tails; the fascia, soffit, cornice, and siding; and the mud-sill beams at all downspouts. The hardest part was copperizing and reframing the hidden gutter system. Plus, the place had only been painted once in 26 years!"

Who did the work: "I did all the work myself."

Cost: More than $100,000

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Colorful Re-Creation: Before

Who: Nelson R.

Where: Tacoma, WA

"When I purchased this house, it was plain and boring. It had lost most of its original appeal due to poor remodels and color choices."

Colorful Re-Creation: After

Who: Nelson R.

Where: Tacoma, WA

"I restored the original siding and replaced parts with replica siding. I put in all-new wood windows, built a new full front porch in the style that had been there originally, and painted in a three-color scheme that recalls the period."

Who did the work: "I did all the work myself."

Cost: $50,000 to $100,000

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Historic Home Standing Strong: Before

Who: Susan M.

Where: Fairview, TX

"The house was in bad shape, but our aim was to maintain or replicate as much of the original character as possible. We loved the sidelights around the front door and the touches of brick on the porch."

Historic Home Standing Strong: After

Who: Susan M.

Where: Fairview, TX

"My husband and I tried to do as much work as we could ourselves. We steamed all the old window sashes, removed the glazing and glass, and re-glazed and reinstalled them ourselves. The windows alone took us nine months!"

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: More than $100,000

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Au Courant Cottage: Before

Who: Nancy R.

Where: Knoxville, TN

"We enjoyed the Cape Cod-style, but we were ready to update our home with a more current cottage look to match our lifestyle. We wanted a very welcoming, warm and casual feel."

Au Courant Cottage: After

Who: Nancy R.

Where: Knoxville, TN

"We covered the existing porch and added columns of cedar and stack stone. We put in a new stone border around the front, and added shutters to the windows. The paint is a warm green that works with the stone and wood."

Who did the work: "A contractor did all the work."

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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An Entrance That Says "Welcome": Before

Who: Christen S.

Where: Clear Lake, IA

"The exterior of the house was in bad shape, and it really needed landscaping to bring it back to life. We had just moved to Iowa, so doing the work was a great way to meet our neighbors."

An Entrance That Says "Welcome": After

Who: Christen S.

Where: Clear Lake, IA

"We put in a new entryway and front porch, and painted the whole place apple green. We added shrubs and flowers in front and along the front walk. The porch is our favorite part—we spend a lot of time out there in our rockers."

Who did the work: "We did some of the work ourselves, but a contractor did most of it."

Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

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A Gulf Coast Gem: Before

Who: Alex T.

Where: Corpus Christi, TX

"We didn't care for the faux stucco exterior or the color. So my wife and I committed ourselves to fixing it up, after our 50-plus-hour work week, in 96-degree heat."

A Gulf Coast Gem: After

Who: Alex T.

Where: Corpus Christi, TX

"We replaced six windows, added a double French door and, for the siding, went for a mix of board-an-batten and shiplap. We really enjoy our front porch, which we transformed from a tile-floored slip hazard with simple 4x4 posts into a classical representation of true Gulf Coast architecture, complete with a custom column and pilaster and whimsically balmy waves cut into the skirting."

Who did the work: "We did most of the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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Puttin' On the Porch: Before

Who: Carla W.

Where: Gastonia, NC

"We really wanted a porch, to have a little more outdoor living space. The challenge was to make it look inviting and like it was always a part of the house."

Puttin' On the Porch: After

Who: Carla W.

Where: Gastonia, NC

"The rails across the front were powder-coated white so that we wouldn't have to repaint after the jasmine grew. Now we love relaxing on our porch every day, every season."

Who did the work: "We did all the work ourselves."

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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A Return to Elegance: Before

Who: John S.

Where: Davison, MI

"This house, built in 1926, needed a full gut rehab but I was able to save some of the exterior, including some trim and the front door. I wanted to preserve the historic aspects of the house in keeping with the neighborhood."

A Return to Elegance: After

Who: John S.

Where: Davison, MI

"The original front door was totally stripped and refinished, so it could be reused. I put in a new awning and got rid of the bright blue in favor of more subtle colors."

Who did the work: "I did most of the work myself."

Cost: More than $100,000

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