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A Dressed Up Facade

Illustration by Howard Digital

"It was kind of our dream house," says Lucas Watkins of this 1952 Colonial Revival in Middletown, Ohio, which he shares with his wife and daughter. "It's obviously a fixer-upper." After eyeing it for two years, the Watkinses finally bought the place and then gut-renovated two baths and the kitchen without hiring any help. But when it came to the plain, one-dimensional facade, they were puzzled as to how to proceed.

For inspiration, we called architect Darren Helgesen, who encounters all sorts of Colonial Revivals in his Amagansett, N.Y., practice. "Similar two-stories here run the gamut from basic early-American styles to more embellished Federalist homes," he says. "This house can afford strategic touches of ornamentation."

Facade Before

To start, he suggests adding a new portico for depth and a more formal entrance. Pilasters at the corners help frame the front, and dentil molding under the eaves and below the portico cornice introduce character-building detail. Working shutters provide texture and balance, and classic copper gutters tie the look together. "Pretty sharp," says Lucas of the proposed changes. "It's definitely where we'd like to go with the house."

For inspiration, we called architect Darren Helgesen, who encounters all sorts of Colonial Revivals in his Amagansett, N.Y., practice. "Similar two-stories here run the gamut from basic early-American styles to more embellished Federalist homes," he says. "This house can afford strategic touches of ornamentation."

Keeping Up Appearances

Illustration by Howard Digital

A custom mahogany door blends with the authentic character of the other cosmetic changes.

Better with Age

Illustration by Howard Digital

Unlacquered brass door hardware will develop a nice patina with age.

Address to Impress

Illustration by Howard Digital

Brass house numbers echo the style of the door hardware.

Colonial Character

Illustration by Howard Digital

Substantial box-beam columns give the portico welcome support.

Refreshing the Facade

Illustration by Howard Digital

Pilasters neatly frame the facade and echo the style of the portico columns.

Contrasting Shutters

Illustration by Howard Digital

Raised-panel red cedar shutters painted hunter green provide needed contrast.

Stylish Accents

Illustration by Howard Digital

Copper 5-inch half-round gutters add an authentic touch of class to the facade.

A New View

Illustration by Howard Digital

The head casing topping the first-floor windows anchors them on the facade and ties in with the other new moldings.

Finishing Touches: Siding

Illustration by Howard Digital

Warm-beige fiber-cement lap siding stands up to weather extremes.

Jameshardie.com; about $1.50 per square foot

Finishing Touches: Door Knocker

Illustration by Howard Digital

A classic brass door knocker punctuates the welcoming front door.

Baldwinhardware.com; about $69

Finishing Touches: Windows

Illustration by Howard Digital

Double-pane wood windows insulate far better than the original single-panes.

Andersenwindows.com; from $700

Finishing Touches: Shutters

Illustration by Howard Digital

Raised-panel red cedar shutters add dimension to the colonial's flat facade.

Vixenhill.com; from $300