QUINCY -- When Randy and Geri Miller purchased their home on a quiet cul-de-sac near Quincy High School, the couple knew they would be making changes to the home's appearance in hopes of making their home stand out.
"This is clearly a cookie-cutter neighborhood," Geri said. "We wanted to make our home unique to us, and now it is."
Fast forward 19 years and the couple have made both large and small changes to the home where they raised their children, Chad and Courtney.
"Our neighbors think we got a new garage door, but we didn't," Randy said. Instead, the couple applied decal stickers to their garage door to give it the appearance of having small windows. They also installed magnet handles to give the overhead door the appearance of being a true arts and craft style garage door.
Small changes like decal stickers and magnet handles gave the couple the courage to undertake a larger project.
"I have hated the color of the brick the whole time we have lived here," said Geri, who worked with her husband to whitewash the brick exterior of the home. She said the whitewash has helped to soften the harsh reds and browns of the original brick.
"I think it clearly gives the home more character," Geri said.
And while the couple may have reduced the color of the brick exterior, they have added splashes of color to their lawn.
"When we bought the house, it was all shrubs," Geri said.
Inspired by the HGTV program, "Hidden Potential," and assisted by a local master gardener, the Millers have worked to add colorful plants and flowers to their yard, which includes limelight hydrangeas, a Japanese yew tree, pampas grass and other colorful plants.
"I love color," Geri said. "Color is my happy place. I love it."
Together the Millers say the changes they have made have helped to transform their former cookie-cutter house into a home.
These changes have earned the Millers bragging rights in this year's Lookin' Good contest, which is sponsored by The Herald-Whig and First Bankers Trust. This is the 31st year for the Lookin' Good contest, which recognizes homeowners for outdoor projects that improve their homes.
The Millers will receive a $100 prize given to weekly winners. They also will be in the running for a $1,000 grand prize to be announced Sept. 29 after readers of The Herald-Whig vote on the entries.
Weekly winners will be announced each week through Sept. 1. Entries must include before and after photos of the home improvement project, along with a brief description of the project.
Projects must be started, underway or completed between Sept. 1, 2018, and Aug. 12, 2019. Entries for the Lookin' Good contest will be accepted through Aug. 19.
Entries can be mailed to Lookin' Good Contest, c/o The Herald-Whig, P.O. Box 909, Quincy, IL 62306. All entries should include a name, address and a daytime phone number.
Online entries can be submitted at whig.com/contests.