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<p><strong>After:</strong> Wood-wrapped columns, a refinished floor and steps, and cheery accessories lend curb appeal and make visitors feel welcome.</p>

After: Wood-wrapped columns, a refinished floor and steps, and cheery accessories lend curb appeal and make visitors feel welcome.

Big transformations don't always require a big budget or weeks of work. Good thing, too: By the time Megan and Ross Bray of Racine, Wisconsin, got around to overhauling the dingy entry porch of the 1949 bungalow they'd been renovating for seven years, money was tight.

<p><strong>Before:</strong> With its shabby, stained carpet and retro wrought-iron columns and railings, the dreary front porch felt boxed-in and depressing.</p>

Before: With its shabby, stained carpet and retro wrought-iron columns and railings, the dreary front porch felt boxed-in and depressing.

Porch Rehab

Because the dated wrought-iron posts were structural, they couldn't easily get rid of them, and when the couple pulled back the carpet (yes, carpet!), they found a mess of glue and crumbling concrete. After removing the carpet, they took out the railings with a Sawzall, leaving the L-shaped posts in place. Inspired by Craftsman-style porch columns, they reimagined theirs as square pillars, cladding the ironwork with 1x12s and using 1x6s and crown molding to make a capital and base for each one. To fix the deteriorating concrete underfoot, they mixed up and poured on a resurfacer and smoothed it out with a sponge. Megan fashioned a plaque stenciled with oversize house numbers, added a rug over the now clean white floor, set down a pair of chairs they already owned, and bought potted plants to liven up the space. The transformation took a single weekend. Megan can't believe they waited so long to fix up the entry. "We love it," she says. "Instead of covering up an eyesore, we've made it a cute space we can enjoy."

The Project Tally

• Boxed out existing columns with 1x12s and trimmed the top and base of each one with 1x6s and crown molding $136

• Caulked seams, then primed and painted the columns with white exterior latex $45

• Ripped up the carpet; cleaned the dirty, crumbling concrete underneath and smoothed it with a resurfacer $96

• Made a house-number plaque with on-hand scrap wood and spray paint $0

• Repurposed chairs they already owned, adding throw pillows, an outdoor rug, and planters $90

Total: $367