buying a fixer-upper for your family

Looking for the perfect home... to remodel? Here are our tips for finding a fixer-upper with forever home potential.

buying a fixer-upper for your family

Looking into buying a fixer-upper that you can turn into your forever home? Sounds fun, right?! And HGTV makes it looks so easy... tour a few homes, buy the one with potential, tear down some walls, install some subway tile and voila!... you have the home of your dreams!

:: Record scratch ::

The reality is, it's not that simple. Remodeling an old home can be super fun but it can also be filled with challenges and unexpected problems if you don't know what to look for.

We often work with home buyers in this exact situation to evaluate the potential of a home. We weigh the pros and cons and give straight-forward advice based on our experience.  It's easy to overlook or disregard certain aspects of a home if you're unsure of what to look for, which is why we love to help our clients with these kinds of projects!

Here is a quick roundup of the top things we look for in a potential fixer-upper....

  1. Look for a home that has blemishes, not broken bones. Ugly is ok! Most off-putting elements of older homes - creepy wallpaper, dingy carpet, janky light fixtures - are easy cosmetic fixes that don't require a ton of cash. Try to imagine what the spaces might look like with a fresh coat of paint, or new flooring, etc.  But foundational and structural issues can become major expenses, so be aware of what's worth your time and money.
  2. Look for the right general layout, but don't worry if it's a closed plan.  Walls can be hard to move but opening them up doesn't have to be. You can make a big impact even with a small remodel by just opening up select doorways and walls.  Whether you want a semi-open concept with fairly defined rooms and an easy flow OR a totally open concept, this can be an easy transformation with the right floor plan.
  3. Original kitchens and bathrooms aren't scary!  Original (older) kitchens and bathrooms may seem undesirable at first glance but it's actually a better investment to update these original spaces to your personal taste than it is to remodel a remodel. 
  4. Be aware of stair location.  If you're considering upper level additions or changes, make sure you're aware of and okay with the current stair location.  Stairs can be challenging to build and/or move, especially with older homes, so having an existing well-placed staircase is a huge bonus.  In addition, if you're making stairway changes, cities will want you to bring them up to code -- which is also a big hurdle with older homes with smaller footprints.
  5. Appreciate the details. Older homes, especially those built pre-war through the 50's, have beautiful woodwork and trim.  Replacing trim and interior doors can really add up, so if the home has beautiful details to begin with, it can be a big money-saver.

We hope these tips help you in getting started on your search for your forever home. And if you're looking for further guidance, use us as a resource!  We can give you a realistic take on the home you are looking to buy and we offer various consulting packages to review homes online or in-person. We can also give a ballpark of costs for what you are envisioning and offer some clear pros and cons with each home.  While realtors are great at valuing homes, we find they are not as accurate with remodel costs and what can actually be done with a home based on the target budget.  We try hard to be as realistic as possible with our clients when it comes to achieving their goals with a potential new home. 

Find more of our home tips and completed projects on our blog.


Cape Cod Reveal - Upper Level

We're back with more images from our Cape Cod project.  Today we are sharing the upper level, which has transformed into a truly amazing oasis for this family!

The original upper floor plan had 2 bedrooms on the upper level with tiny closets and a small landing area.  We came in and added some height and square footage to the bedrooms, created a larger landing space, and added a much needed (freaking gorgeous) bathroom.

PLANS

LANDING

The original stairway was winding and tight.  There was a plumbing soffit than ran right through the landing space and the ceilings were low, which made the space feel so much smaller than it was.

BEFORE

 

AFTER

We removed the railing wall, expanded the space, and added another window to lighten everything up and create a more open and airy landing spot.  The mix of natural oak and white woodwork gives the space a nice warmth and also allows for the stair railing feature pop.

 

And a little sneak peek into the new bathroom off the landing...

BEDROOM 1

The original bedrooms were feeling cramped for the family, so we opened them up in both height and size.  The closets in both bedrooms were small and awkward so better, smarter storage was a must!

BEFORE

AFTER

This sweet girl now has my childhood (and adult, let's be honest) dream bedroom! She has a little desk area and a dormer window in the front vaulted ceiling, which serves as a reading nook and special spot for her hamster.

BEDROOM 2

The original master bedroom was cramped and the heating and cooling wasn't sufficient.

BEFORE

AFTER

We adjusted the mechanicals to make the room more comfortable and added windows to all three sides of the house, creating wonderful ventilation and an elegant flow.

They now have a true walk-in closet!

 

BATHROOM

This brand new bathroom is arguably my favorite part of this whole renovation!

We used the Rejuvenation vanity as the inspiration for this space and incorporated a fun mix of matte black and brushed gold finishes to tie everything together.  We extended the tile wall from the shower through the length of the vanity to create a larger and more cohesive feel.

   

We built a beautiful 3-shelf cubby with coordinating tile in the shower to store soaps and shampoo and added in a little bench on the other side of the half wall.  We also put in a high window to allow for more light while still maintaining privacy.

We left space for this beautiful piece of furniture to store linens.

 

And that's it!

There she is! What do you think??

A big huge thank you to this sweet family, for inviting us into and trusting us with their home.  They were a true pleasure to work with.  We hope they love their new space as much as we do!

If you missed Part 1 of this reveal, be sure to check it out here.

Sources:

Bathroom Vanity  | Wall and Trim Paint | Bathroom Sconces  | Master Bedroom Sconces | Shower Faucet  |  Bathroom Vanity Faucet


Cape Cod Reveal - Main Level

Gah! We are so excited to share this little gem of a remodel with you!

This home belongs to a lovely family of 3 who were so much fun to work with.  Overall, their spaces were feeling a bit small and cramped. Their goal wasn't to create a bigger home; rather an overall smarter and efficient use of space, with a small addition.

Aesthetically, the family loves mid century modern so we were excited for the challenge of weaving a more modern style into their traditional cape cod.  They have great style and an eye for detail so the whole process was a true collaboration!

 

PLANS

 

KITCHEN AND MUDROOM

Kicking it off with the heart of the home, the kitchen!  The original kitchen was feeling a little congested, so the family wanted to open it up for entertaining and create an easier flow so they could all cook together.  There was no mudroom before, so all their outdoor gear slowly spilled into the kitchen.

BEFORE

AFTER

We took advantage of the galley style wide walkway and focused on the busy areas. The sink and dishwasher are no longer back-to-back with the range, which eliminates a lot of the congestion.  We created more space further down the line for food prep or just general kitchen congregating :)

There is now a great cooking station with open shelving so the entire space feels much more open.  We snuck windows in everywhere possible to keep the space flooded with light.   

A simple but impactful change was opening up both the doorway from the dining room into the kitchen and the stairway wall.  We exposed the last few treads of the stairs to create a beautiful architectural feature to the space, in addition to making it feel much bigger.

We took advantage of the galley feel and created a cool bar at the back of the house that overlooks the backyard.  It has been the ideal work from home and bird watching spot!

 

We utilized the small addition to create a much needed mudroom.  Since it isn't a closed off space, we used white oak cabinets to hide all things while still being beautiful to look at.  There is a ton of storage in this cabinet!  We wanted to make sure we had a good size space with tile so that the whole family can walk in and out of the back door without worrying about tracking snow and wet shoes onto the hardwood.  The bench gives them a nice spot to tuck shoes away.

 

LIVING / DINING / ENTRY

The family had done a few thoughtful projects on their own in this space that worked really well for how they live.  We gave the space a little refresh, which included adding down lights to create more light, refreshing the paint, and refinishing the floors. The front door got a facelift too!

DINING BEFORE

DINING AFTER

 

LIVING SPACES / ENTRY BEFORE

 

LIVING SPACES / ENTRY AFTER

     

Sigh... she's a beauty, isn't she?  That's it for today, but make sure you come on back for the upper level reveal in a few days, you won't want to miss it!

Sources:
Wall and Trim Paint |  Kitchen Cabinet Hardware  |  Kitchen Faucet  |  Living Room Wall Sconces  |  Cooktop/Range  |  Dishwasher


How to practice fire safety in your home.

'Tis the season to get educated on house fire safety!

I was recently in an early childhood education class where there was a guest speaker who was a firefighter.  She was giving us all the dirty details about fire safety, with an emphasis on being responsible during the holiday season - cookie baking, Christmas tree decorating, outdoor light stringing, etc.  Coming out of this class I realized how unprepared my family was for any kind of fire emergency.  Cue the manic googling and amazon-ordering.

A few things I learned.... house fires are more common than you probably think.  According to the National Fire Prevention Association*, firefighters respond to a house fire every 87 seconds and an average of 7 people die in a house fire per day in the US.  The top three causes of fires in homes are cooking, heating equipment, and electrical malfunction.  Only 26% of families have a practiced fire safety plan in place.

Scary stats, I know! So I did some research and came up with my top tips for house fire safety and planning that will take you less than an hour to do!

  • Smoke detectors. The risk of losing a life in a house fire is cut in half for those in homes with working smoke alarms! Check your smoke detectors once a year.  For those hard-to-reach detectors, look into investing in a smoke detector pole like this one, or reach out to your local fire station who often offer free detector poles.  (I received one from the firefighter speaker, it's a long pole with a teeny-tiny plastic hand on the end, which makes it super fun for my kids to "help" with this task. Ha!)
  • Safety equipment. Have a fire extinguisher on every floor (multiple if you have a larger floor plan) and make sure everyone in your family knows where they are.  Keep in mind that these have expiration dates printed on them so double check the ones you own every few years.  If you have upper levels in your home, think about purchasing a fire escape ladder like this one.   
  • Identify safety hazards.  Check the lint in your dryer, make sure any heating appliances are at least 3 feet from anything flammable, extinguish embers in your fireplace before leaving the room, etc. There are so many great resources and checklists on the NFPA and Red Cross websites.
  • Create a family fire escape plan. It's especially important to teach your children about a plan in case of a fire.  This doesn't have to be a scary learning experience for them if you involve them in the planning!  This is a great resource for creating a fire plan with your family.  It's really comforting to now ask my kids what they should do and where we should meet if there's a fire, and they have an answer! 

I hope these tips help you to feel prepared and safe in your home!

*NFPA.
Read more home and safety tips from us here.


5 simple ways to keep your home & family healthy this winter

It's safe to say we are all ultra concerned with keeping our families as healthy as possible this winter.  A big part of that means managing the air quality in our homes.  This can be tricky given that many of us live in colder climates (hello, from Minnesota!) and are shutting our windows and reaching for our thermostats. So here are a few things you can easily do to keep the air quality and your family as healthy as possible this winter.

  1. Yes filter!  Furnaces are known for circulating all kinds of pollutants around your home, so making sure you regularly change the air filter on your furnace is very important.  We also recommend using a home air purifier like the Breatheclean that attaches to your furnace or the free-standing Molekule to literally clear the air of bacteria, mold and allergens that can be floating around.
  2. Reduce dryness.  Making sure your house isn't too dry and your humidity levels are optimal (around 30-40%) is also key and we love these for monitoring.
  3. Get your greens.  One of the easiest and most inexpensive things you can do is to bring in some houseplants.  They reduce stale indoor air by by releasing both moisture and oxygen.  Plus they are proven mood-lifters and anxiety-reducers, which we can all use in the dark winter months!  Don't worry if you're not a plant aficionado, Paisley and Sparrow is a great resource for recommending the best low maintenance plants.
  4. Clean with clean products!  This is probably pretty obvious but keeping your home free (or as free as possible, ha!) of dust is very important.  And check on your cleaning products as many of them can do more harm than good, especially in the winter months.  Check out the Grove line or any of the cleaning products from Thrive market.
  5. Let fresh air in.  We know this can be tough in colder climates, but letting in fresh air for even 5 minutes a day can do wonders for your homes' air quality.  So if you can, grab a cozy blanket, crack open those windows and let in some real air for just a few minutes!

We hope these tips help you and your families stay safe, healthy, and breathing easy this winter!

For additional cleaning tips and tricks, check out our post on spring cleaning


Planning a remodel? Here are 3 things to consider before you get started.

When it comes to starting a home remodel or design project, we understand that the options can be a bit overwhelming.  Depending on your needs, there are several directions you can go in when choosing a designer, contractor, builder, etc.  You might not even know where to start!  That's where we come in.  As a design build firm, we take on the entirety of your project from beginning to end.  Other firms may only manage certain aspects and send you off on your own to figure out the rest.  But we actually take on everything!  From concepting, design, and construction to quoting and contracting, we take sole ownership and responsibility of your whole project, making the entire process as seamless as possible.  Which means a much more simple and exciting experience for you and your family!

  1. We make it easy: From top to bottom we manage the full process while keeping you informed every step of the way. We go through quotes, review specs, hire contractors, build schedules, etc. etc. etc.  Basically we do all the heavy lifting (literally) so that you can just enjoy the progress on your home.
  2. No surprises : Our entire team begins collaborating from the very beginning to ensure that we are all moving your project forward as efficiently as possible. And because our team collaborates from day 1, it is less likely for unforeseen changes, delays and costs to occur.
  3. Talk talk talk: Communication is our core value!  We value honest and frequent conversations with our clients and our team so that everyone sees the same information and is always on the same page during the process.

Simply put, we make this exciting process easy on you.  Because we want you to be just as excited as we are about creating a home that you and your family will thrive in!

View our portfolio of projects and read client reviews about our process here.