Home RemodelsWhat Goes Into a Home Remodel? See This Seattle Remodel Firsthand
November 1, 2016
When some of my friends and previous clients were ready to sell their home in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood, they enlisted me to help them.
Built in 1949, this particular Cape Cod home had never been remodeled. The kitchen was original, and the house just looked old, closed off, and dark. The home had only ever had 2 owners, and it hadn’t really been changed at all!
I started off by taking a walk around the house. I asked myself, “How do I transform this house into a home that I would want?”
First of all, a remodel should look like the home was designed to be this way. Your modernizations should blend into the home as accentuations and not as a flashing billboard distinctly different from its surroundings. Nothing should look out of place or character after you finish the job.
How do you do this? Well, no doubt this part takes a little courage, talent, and patience. You need to create your spaces and style in the home. What is your house about? What is your home’s style? What is your style? So before breaking any walls down, make sure you have a complete design in mind for your home. Then grab the hammers.
Our Wedgewood home suffered from several obsolesces. The big issue was the layout. Today’s homebuyers want a home that flows. People like to envision entertaining in the home, and seeing what their kids are doing. Unfortunately, this home had too many boxed spaces, doors, walls… and the fireplace piled its substantial mass right smack in the middle of it all. It was a design challenge for sure! This was my first and most pressing issue and all design decisions were made with flow and openness as the guiding principles. Then, I set out to see where and what I could remove, knock down, or expand.
Of course, you can do anything if money’s no object. Unfortunately, money is always front and center. One of the first things I did for my clients who were remodeling their home was to consider cost. I made a list of all of the renovations we needed to do and listed out how much each item would cost, as well as the value of the home once complete. I did a minimum required list of needs coupled with the value of the home upon completion. I drafted out a medium remodel and the value upon completion and a FULL remodel and value upon completion. In this case, we did most of the full remodel plan. What we sold for even surprised me…
But let’s back up a bit! Ramiro with CMAR Construction is my trusted and fairly priced contractor, and so, in mid-July, we got to work!
First, it was time to open up the space. We ripped out a couple of walls so I can get a sense of the space without the walls. That way I can finish my design.
It was easy to see what was needed on the living level. True to the late 1940s, this home had a door to every room. While some call that cozy, most call it cut-up and bad for entertaining. I knew we had to open this main floor up by removing walls. When you walk through the front door, it’s important that your eye can carry across the home to provide a sense of space.
See how we opened up the space:
On the other side of the wall to the right in this photo (below) is the kitchen, and on to the left the basement stair wall. Clearly, the washer and dryer are not well placed off the kitchen. The washer and dryer take up valuable living space and the hall space between and wall between eat up even more valuable floor space. Plus, the stairs to the lower level felt like basement stairs; with a door and a small narrow staircase, you feel like you are going to the cellar and not down to living space.
And it’s already looking more open!
Here (left) is after we removed the wall separating the kitchen from what was the washer and dryer space. We also took out a closet at the head of the stairs, removed the door to the lower level and opened up the stair wall to the main living area. Not only did this add much more valuable living space and the perception of open airiness, it also helped to integrate the “basement” stairs to the rest of the home. Now the basement will truly feel like additional living space. Today’s buyer wants an open home. The trick to getting that feeling is allowing the eye to travel unobstructed. The more you are able to provide what I call “eye flow,” the more buyers will love what you did to the home.
The kitchen was another big concern in this home. We had a few things working against us. One, the main floor is small. There are walls everywhere and a HUGE fireplace in the middle of it all. There was not enough room to get a proper sized kitchen and dining room. While this kitchen is cute, it has no dishwasher, no counter space, no cabinet space and only one bank of drawers. The kitchen was also divided from the rest of the living space. So what to do…
We completely ripped out the kitchen and the walls that closed the kitchen from the rest of the living space. In the old photos here (to the left) you can see the stove against one of the walls we were able to remove once we moved the washer and dryer. The laundry space could now be opened to the kitchen, giving us much more space to work with. We also got rid of the walls and cabinets that divided the kitchen from the living room creating flow.
Below, you can see the walls are now removed in the living room and future dining space and kitchen. You can also see we removed the big window from the wall where the tiny dining space once was. This allowed us to install more cabinets and counters. We did not want to lose the light, so I found a solution for that too.
A few weeks later, here’s a bit of progress! Now that the walls are removed and the plumbing supply lines have been added and moved we can start patching the walls back up. We removed the big window from the far wall and added cabinet windows.
With the walls patched up, the kitchen begins to shine with new floors!
Now the under cabinet windows are installed too (see below). Look at all the sunshine flooding in those windows. A nice trick to brighten up a kitchen!
About a week later, the kitchen is really starting to shape up:
We also opened up the stairwell a bit for more flow:
…What a difference a month makes:
Here’s the downstairs; we also opened up this area quite a bit:
Here, we had an unused basement area that we could make use of. Here’s the beginning of transforming it into another bedroom: