There’s More Than One Kind of Renovation


I’ve always imagined buying an old old house that needed a complete gut renovation and diving in headfirst. I’ve never really considered any other kind of project. It would be an old house that hadn’t been updated or kept up for decades, and I would overhaul the whole space.

That’s a pretty big project to undertake, even for an architect. And it’s a huge project to undertake as your first go round renovating a space on your own.

That is most certainly still a dream of mine, and it will happen, but I think that dream is a little further down the road, and there are a few smaller renovations that are waiting for me between now and then. The truth is, there are a lot of spaces that need some updating and refreshing, but don’t necessarily need a ‘down to the studs’ gut renovation.

Guys, there are so many underwhelming places out there that just need a little bit of love! And that could translate to more appreciation and value for you in your property, and who wouldn’t get excited about that?!

When looking at potential properties, sometimes the photos of the space are just bad photos but the space is nice. So many people will immediately dismiss a potential space because the photos are bad. As a seller, this is why it’s so important to have great photos when you are selling! But as a buyer, you could potentially get a better deal because of this miss on the seller’s part ~ so keep this in mind, have certainty about what you are looking for in a space, and be able to see beyond a bad picture.

Today I’m sharing a property that’s on my watch list as a potential easy fixer upper. It’s in a good location in a neighborhood that’s getting more and more popular, but isn’t in a more expensive ‘prime’ location. It’s a brick building that was built in 2003, so not very old ~ in building years at least.

Here are photos of the space as it stands now, with notes on what I would do to update this space {and some inspiration photos of  what I’m imagining the finished product would look like}.

ER_living room_1

Yes, literally just repainting a space can completely transform it, notice my inspiration pics, nice and bright! I would go ahead and refinish the floors here to darken them up just a bit, I’m thinking a medium walnut color {you can see the finish I’m imagining down in the inspiration kitchen image}. And yes, in this space I would replace the trim, instant upgrade.


This building is a very common style/layout in Chicago, where standard lots are 25′ wide and 125′ long. So you have a longer and a little bit skinny living/dining space before the kitchen. I would keep the cabinets but go ahead and replace the counter in this space. sometimes it works to keep the counter, and you can just add a backslash tile. I would do a white counter, but if you did a darker grey counter and pulling from the gray in the counter, you could potentially keep it as well and still have a really beautiful updated kitchen.


All the bedrooms need is new carpet, new paint and a new fan because off, that one is just not good! Stick to a light neutral durable carpet {or potentially switch to hardwood if the cost works out and it isn’t more expensive, definitely worth pricing out as an option}.


No need for a full bathroom remodel here. This soft beige stone is nice, neutral, and now that the grey and white finishes have been around a while this color way is looking new again. Change out the hardware and fixtures, get a new light and maybe change out the mirror. Paint the cabinets, I would go for a dark grey as shown in this photo and literally the space will look brand new.

You can completely transform a space without renovating every room. Some things that I note in this potential renovation are changes that are less expensive that you might think {or you could fairly easily DIY} and have a huge impact on the space, like just changing hardware or bathroom fixtures, or replacing door and baseboard trim.

So next time you look at a potential new house, try to see past bad paint or bad photos… or even just outdated finishes, and see the potential. There could be considerable value there just waiting for you!

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