Renovation Style Decisions


Glidden "Tropical Surf" (Satin Finish)

Making decisions on renovation, especially if you plan to flip, can be really stressful. There is a constant battle between "neutral for everyone," "what I'd like to have," and "what's cheapest?"

Here's just some considerations that were pro's and con's  - 

Home is original 1979 (including all kitchen)

Located in a sought-after nice golf-oriented retirement community

Set up for disabled access

A large backyard with view of mountain and greenbelt, but beside a noisy road

Desert landscape out front making it no maintenance

Mature fruit trees

No flooring - bare concrete

No lighting/ceiling fans

Home has a fantastic location in relation to views, highway not far, and everything you could need within a mile

Has a decidedly mid century vibe

With all these considerations in hand, I contemplated the easiest fix for the front yard. With it already being gravel and mature ocotillos, I removed the unsightly pampass grass and put in agave and aloe vera to repeat the same shape. Other than painting the trim of the house a white to make the tan brick pop, it only cost some paint to spruce it up.

When I came into the house and looked around, I realized some things were old-fashioned and made no sense. The front living room has no ceiling fan or lights. Lamps keep it rather dark. And there is a coat closet which Phoenicians do not ever need, so I put in shelves to make it storage.

Other than adding floor to ceiling weather-insulated curtains on the picture window and painting the walls white, installing a ceiling fan, and putting in flooring, that room was a no brainer. 

But what flooring? I believe that a unified flooring throughout is best and considering retirees with dogs, no carpet cleaning is appreciated, so vinyl or laminate flooring. 

Given the lighting and the mid century vibe of the house, I decided to go Scandinavian. Walls were all white, except one unifying wall that stretches from living room, through edge of open kitchen and into the Arizona room in the back of the house. Since this wall unites spaces, I painted it the light blue above for an icy feel. Otherwise, walls and doors are bright white and electrical plates and switch plates traded out from a tobacco yellow tone to a white. 

But, with the house being bright and icy tones of white and light blue, I opted for a flooring that is a light warm pine tone to add some warmth. As well, since many fixtures like the fireplace front included brass, I decided to pick up brass accents throughout.

So now, my palette is white and blue with brass accents and a pine/birch toned wood. Interest is created with textures.

When you opt for neutral tones throughout to satisfy any buyer, consider adding texture for interest. There are few textures people don't appreciate (other than perhaps sparkles). Consider a tan wall that is grasscloth instead of flat tan paint which can look institutional or even tobacco-stained. 

I like this hemp grasscloth as you can also use that asset of sustainable materials when selling - 

I knew I wanted to get rid of the cabinet uppers in the kitchen. It had a long counter and a very long peninsula with lowers and drawers galore, but the cabinets above gave a sense of closure and weight, making the long counter seem almost small because so little of it could be accessed with cabinets in the face. I have to admit, I will NEVER have upper cabinets in my home. It ruins a kitchen's spacious vibe and as a tall person, I always found them in the way of prepping. 

Keeping the galley kitchen feeling bright and spacious, I decided to paint the lower cabinets white, add a charcoal-toned counter, and white appliances. The back wall where the uppers used to be would have a white bead board surface that is very Scandinavian but also suits farmhouse. The free floating shelves for plates and cups would be a warm pine wood. 

To save money and give home buyers some easier options to change the wall, I decided on a bead board wallpaper.

Lighting in the kitchen was crucial, so I removed the fluorescent tube recessed lighting. An electrician will bring the ceiling down to match the level of the rest of the ceiling and create pot lights recessed above the counter, coffee bar and pantry. A series of 3 pendant lights over the peninsula will give interest and nice lighting for this tremendous stretch of counter space.

(includes the light wood, white, and brass)

Wanting to add something that makes a home buyer go "ohhhh," I took an end cabinet/drawer below the coffee bar and removed the drawer and cabinet door. A trash can pull out device will be inserted in and the door from one of the upper cabinets that was removed fits the front of the new trash bin drawer opening perfectly.

Style choices are really personal and you may fall in love with something that others are not going to like. Do take note of trends. When open concept, stainless steel appliances, and granite counters were the thing, it sold houses. You may like Tuscan style with gold and brown, but if those colors are not on the popular palette right now, people will cringe. What was popular once does come back, but it usually takes about 20-30 years and by then the features are dirty and old in a home. 

I will say that a lot of popular flip shows are utilizing gray inside and it is so institutional and depressing that I believe any homeowner would be thinking, "crap, now I have to paint this." Instead, use white, let them see an open palette they don't have to work around. They can live with the light neutral until they decide if they want a color, but most folks can live with white walls quite easily and they do reflect light and create spaciousness.

This is the white I use everywhere in the house - really goes on great!

I am queen of reusing scraps and anything from tear-down, so those items go into the garage and I "shop" when I need something. Those upper cabinets will now create a workshop in the raised garage area and also provide cabinets for soap near the washer and dryer. Adding a towel rack upside down beneath the cabinet, there is now a hanging rod for hanging clothes.

Think about how people use a home, what you look for, and most of all what makes it feel move-in ready.