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Gemma Bonham-carter went with a Craftsman style exterior.

The dream:

My husband, Dan, and I knew the curb appeal of our Ottawa pad was in for a drastic transformation when we decided to turn an 800-square-foot bungalow into a three-storey house. It was a chance to think up an entirely new shape for the house, as long as it fit onto the existing base and left room for a new garage.

We loved the original red brick, but it was in rough shape, and our contractors advised us to start from scratch. There are a lot of house styles that I am drawn to, but ultimately the timelessness of the Craftsman style – porches, tapered columns, dormers and angled rooflines – appealed to us most, while fitting in nicely among the older homes in our neighbourhood.

The snag:

When doing any renovation on a budget compromises are the name of the game.

We had to cut some angles from the roofline, since each new one meant an additional cost in framing and possibly trickle-down expenses for things such as extra drywall. Long-lasting fibre cement board siding won out over unattractive vinyl, but eliminated the budget for shingle-style siding in the peaks of the house.

We also saved money by only cladding the front of the house in a natural stone. No one will really notice that it doesn't carry along the sides and back, right?

The result:

Picking a colour for the siding was a real nail-biter, since it's not like paint, which is easily redone if the final effect seems wrong. Mid-construction, I began to worry that the house was looking big – too big – and that adding a new third floor might have been excessive.

Luckily though, dark grey siding with white accents pulled the look together nicely and made everything seem reasonably sized. It was a major relief when our neighbours commented that they like their new view.

Now it's just a matter of getting used to the new look – I admit I've driven right by once or twice, not recognizing our new-old home.

In this five-part series, Gemma Bonham-Carter, of the blog The Sweetest Digs, will chronicle the overhaul and transformation of her house. Next up: tackling the exterior.

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