5 Steps to Transforming an Ugly House

(February 12, 2015)

The Ugly House Syndrome

I don't know what it is, but I have an affinity for buying ugly houses. I like them and see "potential". ugly houseEven when we bought our personal residence, my husband thought it was cringe-worthy. I didn't think it was ugly, but it definitely needed to be remodeled. And this was before I became a real estate investor. Oh the things I've learned!

Transforming the Exterior of the Ugly House

The bulk of the ugly house problem tends to reside in the front exterior of a house. The face of the house, if you will. There may be issues with the type of siding, the paint choices, the lack of upkeep of the landscaping, odd accents here and there. The good news is that most of these problems can be fixed, downplayed, hidden, etc.

1. Paint

The first and most important step to transforming an ugly house is to paint it. It's that simple. Not only will a fresh coat of paint do wonders to the house, it will make an immediate difference. And even though there is a cost to painting, very little if you do it yourself (hint, hint), with either bold colors or subtle ones, this can make a huge change. As far as what colors to choose, I suggest going to Houzz.com and finding houses similar to yours then color-matching the same scheme. The nice thing about Houzz.com is that sometimes either the designer or the homeowner will tell you what the colors are exactly, or you can post a question about the colors and hope that it's answered.

2. Landscaping

Another favorite of mine when it comes to transforming an ugly house into something attractive, is landscaping. There are two sides to this particular equation. First, the existing landscaping needs to be trimmed, healthy and weed-free. Second, adding landscaping, such as bushes or trees to "problem areas" of a house can really hide an unattractive part of a house.

3. Trim, Accents, & Lighting

I would definitely try to stay on a budget here, as this part, as well as the next one, can get really expensive. Done thoughtfully, adding trim and accents to a house's exterior can turn an ugly house into a charming one. By trim, I mean adding trim to windows and door casements. This can help, especially when the ugly house just needs some finishing touches.

By accents, I mean adding an awning to frame an area that needs some depth, or some other type of permanent or temporary decor, such as artificial landscape rocks. You can visit Houzz.com for more ideas (can you tell it's one of my favorite websites for finding remodeling solutions?) or visit Home Depot, Lowe's or any other building supply retailer.

Lighting to accent or change the focal point of a house's exterior is a great and not too expensive way to add style to an ugly house. While adding the electrical wiring to the appropriate areas can mean spending some money, lighting can be well worth the investment. My only advice here is to not skimp on the hardware itself. Take your time to find just the right lights that are unique, appropriately sized and match the style of the home. Whether it's light or dark outside, lighting can change the look of a house dramatically.

4. Exterior Siding

Changing the siding on exterior walls either completely or only sections can really make an ugly house become beautiful. Depending on the style of your house, adding stucco, adding shingles, covering brick or outdated stone with new stacked stone are all examples of what I would call giving an ugly house a "facelift." As I mentioned above, this can also can be expensive, and I would reserve it for only extreme cases. Of course, if you are going to live in the house for awhile, then maybe it's a perfect place to splurge.

5. The Front Door

The front door to any house can be a major focal point. There are certain instances when the front door is so hidden from the street that it doesn't seem to matter, but I would say that any front door is worth attention. If you have a blah house or need to make an ugly house really plain to make it look okay, think about what a beautiful, eye-catching front door can do. People will be drawn to a beautifully crafted front door, or, if we are talking design on a dime, then adding a pop of color can be amazing. You have a big range in price here when talking about paint versus brand-new front door. In the middle, you have replacing the hardware on an existing door or adding trim or glass to an existing door (both can be low cost, too).

Ugly House Makeover

I'm looking forward to my next remodel. The ugly house is always a challenge, but one that I welcome with open arms. Ugly houses have "personality" and I enjoy highlighting all the positive aspect of a house. More importantly, figuring out how to do that on a budget adds to the fun.

Good luck and remember to enjoy the process! And don't forget to contact me if you have an ugly house (or know someone who does) and you aren't interested in transforming it yourself (I don't blame you). Also, please take a look at the 1st of 15 free guides that we are offering below. It's fast and simple.

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Jennifer Shenbaum

Written by Jennifer Shenbaum

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.

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