Phinney House Renovation

Holy Moley. My first house. And it was old. Really old. 1947. Never ever updated.

We bought in this neighborhood because it was the heart of everything we loved in Seattle; 12 minutes from downtown, 5 minutes from Greenlake, walking distance to cute, fun local restaurants. But the house. OMG. It was bad.

This was definitely a go-with-your-heart purchase. Upon walking through the musty, outdated home, I had an overwhelming feeling of potential and confidence. Yes...it was old...yes...I had never ever tackled a remodel before...yes...I could get in over my head...but something inside me said "go for it", and I'm so happy we did.

I apologize in advance for the before and after picture quality. As I said, this was my very first renovation. I didn't know that upon completion I would crave doing this sort of thing with every other place I lived in. Because of that, I don't have great before and after pictures. We just thought of this place as our home...not a project...so we didn't document the transformations as we should have. With that said though, bear with me and check out the photos (of photos). Not one room was left untouched.

The kitchen, oddly, was only on the right side of the room. The entire left side of the kitchen had no cabinets, no counters, nothing kitchen-y. And to add insult to injury, there was a faux-finish copper wall and two off-center different sized metal frame windows on the back wall. Without hesitation, we reconfigured the kitchen, adding a new bank of windows across the entire back, new cabinets, granite counters, new sink and faucet, subway tile backsplash. We gained more storage and lost the faux finish copper wall.

On the other side of the kitchen, we relocated the pantry, fridge and range and widened the doorway between the kitchen and dining room to make the rooms flow better.

The living room came with a warm but hideous pellet stove and fireplace surround. I think the mantel had 12-15 coats of shiny high gloss paint on it. The fireplace was flanked by old leaky windows begging to be replaced. And we did replace them; along with a gas fireplace insert, new fireplace surround stone and mantel, and hardwood floors in place of the previous cement hearth.

There were miles and miles and miles of baseboard heating throughout the entire home. It interfered with curtains, furniture placement...life. The baseboard heaters were EVERYWHERE. When we decided to remove them and convert to forced air heating, our lives changed. Not only did we have amazing warmth throughout the home, but we could now place furniture anywhere we wanted with no fire risk! As an unexpected bonus, we found that the radiant heating system previously used in the home was constructed with copper piping. We removed all of it from underneath and inside the house and were able to sell it at a salvage yard for about $700. Jackpot...and the closest thing to buried treasure that I'd ever found!

The "fishbowl" front window was replaced for not only aesthetic reasons (adding two lites on either side broke up the awkward appearance) but also for function. We were now able to open the front windows and create an amazing breeze through our home.

I think, hands down, the biggest change to the home was in the once dining room window that was switched out for french doors that opened onto a newly built deck (above). Why in the world had this poor house lived for so long without main floor access to the outside?!? By removing the dining room window (above) and replacing it with french doors that allowed us to walk out to the new deck and backyard, our home immediately seemed a few hundred square feet larger! We utilized the deck for entertaining through almost every season; it was almost like we had built an addition onto our home.

Our home was significantly improved from the day we moved in. And that improvement was evident when we sold it a few years later for almost $450/sq foot! By doing the work ourselves and finding inexpensive materials, we kept our whole home remodel cost under $20k. Our strategic design decisions and clutter-free living resulted in nine offers within the first 4 hours it was on the market.
 

This success story launched me into the interior design and staging business I'm in today. The proof is in the pudding, right? Be sure to check out more photos of the completed renovation project over here.