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Plain Facade

"We love the long front porch and the pillars, but it's just very plain," says Jason VanderWoude of the 1968 home he shares with his wife, Kristi, and their three children. Unlike most homes in their Grand Rapids, Michigan, neighborhood, theirs has yet to be renovated.

The VanderWoudes moved into their 3,000-square-foot house a year ago, not because it's bigger than their old house, but because they "wanted to be in a neighborhood with kids and sidewalks," says Jason. It has five bedrooms and 3 ½ baths.

After the Photoshop Redo

Illustration by Howard Digital

For ideas on where to start, we turned to architect Jon Sarkesian, from across the state in Royal Oak. The home's builders, he says, must have been going for a kind of Colonial Revival, but they didn't get the proportions quite right.

The VanderWoudes are certainly sold. "Oh my word, it's spectacular," says Jason. "We'll have to have someone price it out to see how soon we can get started."

Proper Proportions

Illustration by Howard Digital

"The columns aren't out of place, but they're too tall and too spindly," Sarkesian says. To remedy the scale, he beefed up the columns and halved their height with a second-story porch that gives them purpose.

Replacing the original round columns with 1x12s over structural posts—either in cedar or a cellular PVC material such as Azek Trim—gives the facade a much more substantial look.

Stylish Porch Addition

Illustration by Howard Digital

Of course, an upper porch needs an access point, so French doors replace the window in the master bedroom. "Having French doors coming out of the bedroom to a porch is very appealing," says Jason.

Subtle Details

Illustration by Howard Digital

Cladding the face of the concrete porch with a stone veneer like one from Eldorado Stone is a subtle way to further dress things up.

Spruced-Up Siding

Illustration by Howard Digital

The aluminum siding is in decent shape, so it gets a fresh coat of paint instead of being replaced.

Window Trim

Illustration by Howard Digital

Framing the windows with simple 1x4 casing finishes the look.

Lively Accents

Illustration by Howard Digital

Hanging baskets filled with colorful bloomers, such as geraniums, add a homey pop of color to the backdrop of creamy-gray clapboards.

Finishing Touches: Paint

Illustration by Howard Digital

Gray with cream trim beats bland all-white, and a yellow entry door adds a cheery hello.

Benjamin Moore; $38 per gallon

Finishing Touches: Sconce

Illustration by Howard Digital

A frosted glass silo casts a candle-like glow while a clear shell enhances the period look.

Restoration Hardware; $179

Finishing Touches: Front Door

Illustration by Howard Digital

Divided lights echo the geometric pattern formed by the new porch and columns.

Allegheny Wood Works; $981

Finishing Touches: Shutters

Illustration by Howard Digital

Classic raised-panel wood shutters add a lot of bang for the buck.

Kestrel Shutters & Doors; $150 per pair