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Updating ranch home exteriors

Here are five ways to improve the ranch style’s exterior, transforming it from blah to beautiful.

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A drab exterior can make you cringe every time you approach the front door, while a handsome, thoughtfully designed one can turn the experience into a true pleasure.They can even put big projects, like adding on a new porch, within reach. "The outside of our house is just not pretty," declares Marco Leal, who has lived in this Idaho ranch with his partner, Eric Wride, for about a year, focusing on interior upgrades.The good news is that you don't have to spend a bundle to enjoy a happy trip up your walkway.Budget-friendly shortcuts, such as reusing old hardware or choosing high-quality replicas of expensive materials—plus some good old sweat equity—can lead to major transformations. A few easy landscaping improvements, however, can relieve the monotony and provide a visual counterpoint to that long, low roofline.

With their single-story construction and efficient use of space, there's a lot to love about ranch houses.

Try these low-cost ideas for giving their outsides a little oomph. They were so popular that they accounted for nine out of every 10 new houses built.

Now, after 40-some years out of trend, the open, one-story style is gaining favor once more.

One of the biggest complaints of many homeowners is that ranch-style houses can feel dark and claustrophobic.

There are several ways you can remedy this problem.

Trees crowded this house, the veranda's railing was missing, and a lack of landscaping made the house unwelcoming."I'm always in search of the ugly duckling," says designer Ann Nicholson, referring to the day that she and her husband, Charles, stopped short in front of this 1910 Craftsman-style bungalow with zero curb appeal, a partially gutted interior, and a 'For Sale by Owner' sign pushed into an overgrown lawn.