The entry hall.
Ok, so how do I explain this.
The gray door you see is the entry hall closet which was the only storage space in the house for cleaning supplies etc. The stairs in the house were on the other side of that entry hall closet, so the closet was really cavernous because it included all of the space under the stairs.
A few of you requested I show the floor plans to the house…I don’t have any on my comp but this is basically the layout.
Those notes are kind of hard to read but they say “replace coat closet door with cowhide upholstered door. Look in to redoing coat closet to be a reach in, and give that space to the laundry room behind it”.
Initially, I had thought we could make a smaller coat closet for the entry hall, and expand the space where the washer dryer was behind it. The architect suggested just closing up the closet door from the entry hall- you don’t really have much need for a coat closet in Houston- and having one big closet accessible from the door by the staircase that would be laundry and storage.
This was a fantastic plan and I so wish it would have worked. In every renovation there are things you just can’t make happen and this was one of them. We still closed up the front closet door, which is great because now we have a place for a table for all our mail etc. but we weren’t able to make the closet a laundry room. Access to the pier and beam space under the house was located in that closet, and we couldn’t close that off. So we had to move the laundry to the garage, which is much more practical for doing actual laundry but is in the garage.
This vintage table was in our entryway in Chicago and Austin, and now here. We added the rug from Amber’s shoppe, and are constantly moving furniture and accessories around in there trying to figure out what works best. Currently we have a chair, the table, and coatrack.
We also did a little mini-reno in the powder room. The finishes weren’t my favorite, but they were new and perfectly fine and it seemed like a waste to tear everything out in such a small space.
So I painted the cabinet, wallpapered, changed out the mirror and lighting. We are thinking about having a piece of seagrass cut to lay over the tile to cover it- but it wouldn’t be full on carpeting. Kind of like a perfectly tailored, removable rug.
Small changes, big impacts.
Some people have asked how I consider the changes I make with resale, and if our past houses have sold. Our house in Chicago was on the market for 10 months. We had tons of people come through with architects and talk about what they were going to change and give us crazy low offers. And then one day we got a full price offer from a great family who loved everything exactly the way it was. Now I know not everyone can afford to wait for the right buyer, but I had faith someone would walk in and just get it and decided to wait it out. We visited the house when we were in Chicago this past summer, and the new owners repainted a bit, but all of our wallpapers and fixtures are still in place.
I think when redoing a house you have to somewhat limit your concerns about resale. Shows on HGTV have made us all fancy ourselves house-flippers, but unless you are Jeff Lewis, that shouldn’t be your main focus. Here is why:
1. Design with mass appeal has it’s mass appeal because it has been watered down so much that it is non-offensive to the majority, but that usually means it also isn’t reflective of any individual taste. If you are going to spend the money and time on a renovation, it should at least be something you really love.
2. The renovations that give the most on return are the ones that got you a lower price on the property when you bought it. So, for instance, a house with a kitchen that hasn’t been updated in 30 years. Or adding a bathroom to a 1 bathroom house. Typically you don’t get huge returns on cosmetic renovations. This is totally different at different price points, and also if you are a talented DIYer, but in my experience, and my friends and families, you don’t put $1000 into a bathroom and get $20,000 out. Sorry HGTV.
3. Unless you are renovating expressly to flip the house and are an industry professional/have done a lot of research, you don’t know who your buyer is going to be. No matter how neutral your choice- someone could always come in and have another idea.
I mean consider our house now. Did I mention that the people we bought it from had not even lived here a year? This is what the house looked like when our sellers purchased it.
Apparently our sellers weren’t trying to flip, but had bought our house after an offer on their dream home was rejected. Six months later those owners reached out and accepted our sellers’ initial offer, and our sellers put this house on the market.
Point being…I would have bought the house whether it looked like this or the way they bought it. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if there were crazy ass paintings on the ceiling, or if it was pure tasteful beige and belgium.
I was going to do my thing either way.
I am assuming they did this reno because that is how they wanted to live.
I was going to come in and do this.
Right? You could do a perfectly lovely neutral reno- and then I could come buy it and crazy it up again. And I am not going to pay for someone else’s taste. Some people will. But you don’t know who is going to be out there buying when you are selling, who is going to want your house and for what reasons, and what offers you are going to get.
So unless you are Jeff Lewis, balance the desire to “flip” with what you really want and love.
That said, if you know you are doing the house as an investment and aren’t going to be there for a long time, try not to make the permanent and expensive changes too personal. So in a bathroom, for instance, maybe do white and black subway tile/marble/penny rounds and classic fixtures and then go crazy with paint/wallpaper that can be easily changed.
Try not to make structural changes that could be too specific to how your family lives. Like, maybe, what I did by taking out the laundry room. We aren’t trying to flip the house, and I am hoping over time we can figure out a new solution for the space, but I fully anticipate when it comes time to sell someone is going to have a problem with the laundry in the garage.
Our house is great, but I know the way the Houston market is we have as much a chance of someone calling us tomorrow and giving us some ridiculously high offer, as there is that when we actually go to sell someone is going to tear it all down and build a lot line to lot line McMansion. And after going through two renovations that I lived in for less time than I spent renovating, I just wanted to be happy here. I know enough now about best laid plans, and who knows how long we will be here and why, so at this point I just want to enjoy it.
That is just my experience and perspective, I know things are very different in different markets, and everyone has a great real estate story about how someone they knew made a kazillion dollars on lipstick renovations. There are buyers at every price point looking for “move in ready” and who are looking for a fixer upper to make their own. And you don’t know who is going to be looking when you are on the market. But my view is that a renovation is stressful and expensive either way, and since you don’t know who is going to be out there buying when you are selling, so (within reason) live in the now and do you.
How crazy is it to see those spaces done by three different owners?