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When Jim and Sandy Barrett moved into their 1930s cottage, in Keego Harbor, Michigan, "it was the street's ugly duckling," Sandy says.
The sparse facade and dingy siding looked forbidding but offered the perfect blank slate for making a cheerful statement that suits their lakeside locale.
Shown: Nailed-together board-and-batten shutters cost only a few bucks each to make.
Eleven years ago, when Aaron Stern bought this early-1900s home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, it boasted tons of traditional Craftsman features—not that you'd ever notice, thanks to the monotone paint scheme.
Their crisp white stands out against the mocha-hued siding, while a solid-fir door lets in light without compromising privacy.
Simple porch posts and railings that angle toward the walkway help give the space dimension.
To copy it would have cost ,000, so he restored the original on his own, stripping the wood, then rebuilding it piece by piece.
Windows: Previously painted shut, the single-pane windows sport repaired sash weights and new storms.
The porch ceiling is painted pale blue in traditional Southern style.
Entry: To tie the front steps in with the rest of the house, Andrew coated the original brick with gray concrete.