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Best Curb Appeal Before and Afters 2009

You submitted thousands of remodels to us. Then you voted on your favorites. Here are some of your top picks and ours

Your Time to Shine

You never cease to amaze us. When we asked you to submit your projects, more than 1,000 of you responded with work that showed the abilities of all you dedicated DIYers. Here's a look at 10 of your top picks for curb appeal projects chosen by TOH editors and your fellow readers.

After you've seen these out-of-this-world projects, you can see more—and submit your own—at Your Old House.

Balancing Act: Before

Photo by Mary Kay and Pat McPhillips

Who: Mary Kay and Pat McPhillips

Where: Ellensburg, Wash.

It took us 20 years, but my husband and I were finally ready to add period charm to our nondescript 1920s house. We wanted it to look more balanced and inviting and add some Arts and Crafts style. After inspecting old homes in the area and consulting an architect, we decided to add a deep front porch, square pillars, a centered front door, and a shed roof. Two contractors, working together, enclosed the existing entry porch, built the new framework, put up fiber-cement siding, and installed a glass-paned door that mimics the home's original windows.

Balancing Act: After

Photo by Mary Kay and Pat McPhillips

Who: Mary Kay and Pat McPhillips

Where: Ellensburg, Wash.

Then Pat took over. He's pretty much self-taught but very methodical. He laid the composite decking for the porch floor, put up stone veneer, built the stairs, and painted the railings. My job was cleanup and landscaping. We worked for three months, almost nonstop. Now we love sitting on the porch with friends—and Pat is so inspired, he's started working on the back.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Row House Revival: Before

Photo by Sean M

Who: Sean M

Where: Charlestown, Mass.

When we bought our 1860s rowhouse, it had zero curb appeal—and that's a big problem when the curb is 5 feet from your front door! So, we had it re-sided and the front entry opened up to its original configuration.

Row House Revival: After

Photo by Sean M

Who: Sean M

Where: Charlestown, Mass.

I did all the carpentry on the entry. I modeled it after other homes in the area, scaling and tweaking things a little bit. Our adjacent neighbors, who where renovating their exterior as well, liked the result so much they had their contractor replicate my design!

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

Buffed Up Beach Cottage: Before

Photo by Bob B

Who: Bob B

Where: Milford, Conn.

This is the restoration of a 1900's beach cottage (third home from the water).

Buffed Up Beach Cottage: After

Photo by Bob B

Who: Bob B

Where: Milford, Conn.

The goal was to create the feeling of an older cottage with low maintenace, modern materials.

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

Four-Square Remodel: Before

Photo by Bob B

Who: Bob B

Where: Oneida, Nev.

This traditional "four-square" had the original front porch enclosed by the prior owner many years ago. We designed the project and specified all the materials, working closely with our contractor who understands and "feels" old houses.

Four-Square Remodel: After

Photo by Bob B

Who: Bob B

Where: Oneida, Nev.

The porch was completely removed and rebuilt using composite decking, rails, and columns. The entire structure was sided to bring the house more into line with its original styling.

Who did the work: A contractor did all the work

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

Out With the Blue: Before

Photo by Scott C

Who: Scott C

Where: Milford, N.H.

As you see here, this house was a severe eye sore on our main street. When we bought it, we looked beyond the surface and saw a solid building form with potential, nestled among Victorian, Colonial, and Craftsmen neighbors.

Out With the Blue: After

Photo by Scott C

Who: Scott C

Where: Milford, N.H.

The exterior work was completed with sustainability in mind. Noteworthy items included all new insulated glass windows, recycling of old roofing (we attempted to recycle the old cedar siding, but the blue paint made them undesireable), prefinished HardiPlank fiber-cement siding, etc.

We are now very proud residents of this home and have received many compliments and gestures of appreciation for helping to restore the architectural continuity of our street.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

Used Some Neighborly Advice: Before

Photo by Chantal C

Who: Chantal C

Where: Silver Spring, Md.

I removed the porch over the original entrance, along with the black shutters. I then jack-hammered up the asphalt driveway and my neighbor and I installed a 1,000-square-foot flagstone patio across the front of the house.

I had the original entrance and the garage door opening replaced with a brick that was close to the original white-washed brick, and the original slate roof was replaced with a 50-year architectural shingle.

Used Some Neighborly Advice: After

Photo by Chantal C

Who: Chantal C

Where: Silver Spring, Md.

Again with the help of my neighbor, a retired arborist and horticulturalist, I planted Encore azaleas in the beds around the perimeter of the patio (inside the fence), along with hydrangeas, camellias, and Rose of Sharon. Morning Glory frames the new entrance to the house.

In a new flower bed on the street-side of the white picket fence, I relocated red and pink azaleas and added yellow and white tulips. A new concrete driveway was added.

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Summer Cottage Update: Before

Photo by Pat C

Who: Pat C

Where: Groton Long Point, Conn.

One winter day, we arrived at our summer cottage and realized how ugly our house was compared to the other beautiful homes on our street. We made plans that spring to make low-budget updates. We started by opening up the small screened-in porch to be able to enjoy the coastal community's fresh air. We took out the old, scrawny cement stairs on the side of the porch and replaced them with new, wide mahogany steps to the front. Inspired by a house on Shelter Island, NY, we added simple white shutters to add a little texture.

Summer Cottage Update: After

Photo by Pat C

Who: Pat C

Where: Groton Long Point, Conn.

We ripped out the overgrown sixty-year-old azalea hedges and replaced it with new evergreen shrubs and a simple weeping cherry tree. We built classic, white window boxes to frame the six windows in the front of the house. We had new royal blue, canvas awnings installed to complement our old and rustic nautical blue Adirondack chairs. Now, we enjoy our summer cottage and when we drive by, we see how much cuter our house looks.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Cedar Shakes Project: Before

Photo by Michael and Faith N

Who: Michael and Faith N

Where: Marlborough, Mass.

We had the bright idea to tear down plastic siding and restore our mansard roof with red cedar shakes. We looked up and said, "How hard could it be? Just take down the white stuff and put up some wood. Easy, right?"

Cedar Shakes Project: After

Photo by Michael and Faith N

Who: Michael and Faith N

Where: Marlborough, Mass.

So after hammering an estimated 6,162 nails (all by hand), suffering cuts, scrapes, splinters, and a bout with tendinitis we completed turning our mansard roof back to red cedar shake-style. And it only took two years and three months of weekends, not working the New England winters of course! A few observations if we may:

It takes 26 pounds of nails for a mansard roof job—nails are sold in 25 pound boxes. Gravity exists. The more time it takes to cut a specific piece, the more likely it is to split when you try to put it up. You have to buy a full roll of felt paper when you only need eight feet to finish the job. If you read a tape measure upside down, 46 inches becomes 64 inches. It is possible to climb a ladder in the pouring rain to reattach a tarp. A 28-foot ladder under no circumstances can reach a 30 foot peak. Think twice if your wife or husband says, "You hold the nail and I'll hammer it in." Scaffolding is for wimps. Bucket lifts are for bigger wimps. Did we mention gravity exists? All objects fall equally, be it a pry-bar, hammer, nail, spacer, tape measure, level, or shake. (We never stood below the work area of course!)

Who did the work: I did all the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Unloved House Is Loveable Again: Before

Photo by Carol H

Who: Carol H

Where: Fowler, Ill.

When my husband and I spotted this house, we saw its potential and persuaded the owner to sell it to us. Two years later, the interior is completely redone, the slate shingle siding has been replaced by wooden siding, the metal roof is sealed and repainted, the foundation has been replaced in the back and the house has two working bathrooms instead of none.

Unloved House Is Loveable Again: After

Photo by Carol H

Who: Carol H

Where: Fowler, Ill.

The neighbors have given us rave reviews and more have asked for a walk through.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

Fresh Update For Childhood Home: Before

Photo by Patricia Ann P

Who: Patricia Ann P

Where: Putnam, Conn.

Here is our 1900 Victorian. This house has been in the family for many decades. My husband grew up here and here is where we took our children to see their grandparents. Now that we have inherited this beautiful home, we have decided on an appealing color. We have kept the clapboards painted to maintain the value and originality of the period.

Fresh Update For Childhood Home: After

Photo by Patricia Ann P

Who: Patricia Ann P

Where: Putnam, Conn.

This house has been white with dark green trim forever. The house has original detailing, which I believe is called gingerbread details. I have put up flower boxes, a new fence, and have done some landscaping in the front with a gorgeous flower and shrub garden. We are so proud of its curb appeal.

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000