The challenge: David and Lynne Nathan had reconfigured and remodeled the second floor of their 1903 Colonial to create a new master suite. Next on the list was improving the flat, no-frills back of the house. It lacked an inviting transitional entry from the detached garage, as well as a sheltering overhang.

"If it was raining, it was hard to juggle the key, umbrella and dog leash," said David Nathan. The couple's goal was to add architectural interest, shelter and an outdoor seating area to the back of the home.

The design team: Chris Christofferson and David Heide, David Heide Design Studio, Mpls., 612-337-5060, The contractor was Next Level Renovation, Mpls.

The solution: The back of the home, which was part of an addition by a previous owner, was "unbalanced, bland and it felt like something was missing," said Christofferson, senior design associate.

He gave the back facade a cosmetic face-lift by adding a charming new porch and upper-balcony combo that blends with the character and style of the Colonial in the Uptown neighborhood.

The porch created an outdoor sitting area, as well as weather protection, and an entry transition from the garage and backyard, said Christofferson. The upstairs master bedroom steps out to the new balcony, which has flooring made of low-maintenance waterproof vinyl Duradek.

And more light flows throughout the house, thanks to a new French door, porch door and additional windows.

Mirror image: Design details on the new covered porch, such as columns, square spindles, soffits and overhangs, echo the home's early 1900s front porch. "Plus it gives us shelter from the elements," said David Nathan.

Lounge lizards: The couple's daughter often reads on one of the Adirondack chairs on the balcony, and the whole family loves the hanging Sky Chairs on the porch. "We have our coffee on the porch in the morning and sit on the balcony in the evening after the kids go to bed," said Nathan.

Summer wind: The Nathans can open the full-view French door and let air flow through the remodeled master bedroom.

Standout exterior: The couple chose a deep purple-red paint color for the exterior as a bold contrast to the white-painted porch and trim. "It gives a fresh color to the neighborhood and stands out during the gloomy months," said Christofferson.

The result: The project was a cost-effective way to bring balance, character and charm that's consistent with the architectural style of the Colonial, said Christofferson. Now the back entry is better connected to the backyard and "more harmonious with the beautiful landscaping."

Best part: The Nathans were just seeking protection from rainstorms and snow and an improved transition from the backyard, but "we ended up with two new rooms," said Nathan.

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619