Phoenix is one of the absolute best places to spend time outdoors. We may live in a desert, but you can create a resort-like atmosphere in your backyard with some simple design flair.
For this post, I’m taking you to my very own backyard. I adore entertaining and welcoming friends and family over. I wanted to create an outdoor space that was perfect for hanging out.
As you can see from the before and after photos, this was quite the project. But it added so much value to my home and makes every moment outside that much more special.
Here are my tips for making your backyard your new favorite destination.
Use Focal Features
First, have components outside that draw you and your guests out from inside. Here, I have a Superior Linear vent-free outdoor gas fireplace from Modern Blaze that looks so warm and inviting, you can’t help but want to go outside and get cozy.
Want one of these for yourself? Use promo code HJUDGE10 for 10% off this fireplace when you shop Modern Blaze.
Create Inside-Outside Flow
Make moving between inside and outside seamless by designing outdoor spaces that feel like an extension of your inside design. Here, I used a restoration hardware chandelier that has similar features to my indoor décor. It’s also fun and unique and makes the backyard a thoughtfully designed space.
Also, think about maximizing the functionality of your outdoor space. You have living and dining rooms indoors, so why not have them outdoors, as well?
In my lounge and living area, I added comfy Target patio furniture that’s a dream to relax outside on. And with my outdoor dining set-up, dining al fresco is a breeze.
Add Visual Interest
I love incorporating different layers and textures within a single space. It creates lots of opportunities for your eyes to wander. Here, I blended large metal black screens and Wall Theory wood planks on the fireplace.
The contrast of the materials here makes such as cool impact, don’t you think? The materials work really well together despite being so different!
Don’t Let the Pool Swallow Your Backyard
Splash! Pools are a Phoenix home must-have. For ours, we didn’t want to make it too big, because we wanted room for all the other great entertaining spaces in the backyard.
When you’re adding a pool, think about proportions to the size of your yard. Our pool is 9 feet by 21 feet long, which we think is just the right size for our space.
Also, be mindful of the tile. Pool tile can easily become an eyesore. For ours, we blended the pool finishes with the tile. We used white Pebble Tec in the pool and paired it with white tile from Floor & Decor , that matches the house. It gives it a cohesive feel that also makes the space seem roomier.
For the spa, we used black tile to add some contrast. As you can see in the photo above, it almost looks like there’s a black box in the pool, which is a really striking feature.
Bonus: Create a Rooftop Deck!
Want even more space in your backyard? No problem. Build a rooftop deck, and you instantly get more entertaining room. I chose to go with a firepit from EcoSmart Fire because while it is modern and sleek. it is also safe for when all the furbabies come to enjoy the sunset view with Andy and I.
The spacing of ours worked really well because were able to build it on top of our garage. That way, it didn’t negatively impact the space below, a win-win.
Interested in more of the items I use in my home designs? Shop home design products I’ve used myself.
You’ve probably heard of open concept kitchens, but how about an open concept bathroom?
That’s exactly what I created with my master bathroom. As you can see in the before photos, the original footprint of this bathroom was very modest. It was originally a studio bathroom for a duplex, with a tiny sink, a super-small toilet and a glass block shower.
To open it up and make it a statement space, we almost doubled the bathroom in size to really maximize the layout and functionality. And to let in lots of gorgeous natural light, I designed the vanities and shower to open to the bedroom.
Now the spaces flow together and feel larger. It was almost like magically adding on extra space to my home!
So how exactly do you create an “open concept” bathroom? Let me show you a behind-the-scenes look at how I did it.
Of course, we gave the toilet its own private room that’s accessed from a pocket door, because, well, that deserves privacy. But for the rest of the bathroom, some amazing design finishes make it worthy of being seen from the bedroom.
That’s why the fixtures were super-important to me. As I enlarged the bathroom, I created double vanities to maximize storage and counterspace.
Here we have two elegant, eco-friendly VIGO faucets in matte black . I love VIGO products because they’re so sleek and modern, yet timeless. Their matte black finish is stunning and one of my favorites.
Speaking of which, it’s a good idea to select fixtures that seamlessly blend with the rest of your home design’s color palette, since that will make the space feel larger. These faucets really look so crisp within this space. They’re the perfect feature to pair with the recessed mirror behind them.
Regarding the mirror, let me let you in on a little secret. The mirror is recessed because I kept the original brick exterior wall.
How did the brick wall fit in with the bathroom? Well, it lent itself to this really unique opportunity to create a tile shelf with the countertop vanities and the faucets. It really blends the old and the new together to create a cool and modern space.
Besides opening up a space, another way to create flow is to carry through details from one part of the house into the other. In this case, the wood slat detail that’s featured throughout the house also continues into the bathroom and goes all the way into the wet room, which we’ll cover next. Learn how to create your own stunning wood ceiling look.
Shower + Bathtub = Wet Room
Some people might call this a shower, but I call it a wet room. Having the bathtub and shower in the same space creates a spa-like sanctuary.
The design came from necessity, but it ended up working fabulously. We wanted to ensure there was a bathtub in the bathroom, but we didn’t have room to separate it. So instead, we included everything within one space. Talk about multitasking!
The wet room was designed by creating a wall of glass that features the door to enter. In the process of pouring the new foundation for the bedroom, we were able to create a zero-entry shower and have the water flow into a drain hidden by black pebbles that surround the tub. It’s like bringing the outside in, which is such an interesting detail – sort of like taking a vacation right in your own home.
On the walls, we did a matte black tile from floor to ceiling. I absolutely adore VIGO’s Kingsley Shower Panels in Matte Black for a sleek and modern look. Plus, they have innovative hydrotherapy features that elevate your bathing experience.
Both of these VIGO shower panels are so relaxing because they have their own shower heads, their own spray jets and their own shower wands, so you can target any pain points you have. This is such a therapeutic water feature that I’ve learned I can’t live without.
Not only that, but the matte black finish was perfect to go with the matte black tile against the walls. All of this is open to the glass walls that we added to frame out this wet room space, which features the tub within the center. The glass really helps to bring more natural light into the space to make it so much brighter and so much more modern.
The end of this space was framed with floor-to-ceiling glass to give an indoor/outdoor effect. We planted large bamboo outside that, within a year, should give us lush green privacy. We’ll be able to see the bamboo through the glass doors, transporting us to a tropical oasis right from our desert Phoenix home.
See More Bathroom Home Designs
There you have it. What once was an afterthought in the home became a gorgeous space I can admire from my bedroom. The wet room has become one of my absolute favorite places to spend time in, to soak and unwind after a busy day designing.
Want to see more of my projects? Check out my Phoenix home designs.
Wood? On a ceiling?!
It might seem like a weird combination, but as you can see in my very own Phoenix Ashland Place Historic District home, it creates an amazingly unique appearance.
I’ve used the wood slatted detail design for years on projects, but I’ve always used it vertically, usually on exteriors to create the look of screens, add privacy or add visual interest.
For my house, I was looking for a way to unify the home and bring together the parts of the home that were built at different periods, so that everything flowed together. The wood achieved that and made a notice-me impact. It also added warmth throughout the home, which I adore.
Flat ceilings can be overlooked, but using this wood detail look can really transform them and give them texture and character. Take it from me – here’s how to do it.
1. Buy 1” x 2” x 8’ Furring Strips
Furring strips are thin, long strips of wood that you can typically get from any home improvement or hardware store. They aren’t typically used for decoration, but rather construction. As you’ll see, they aren’t a very refined product, but they do the trick to create a wood ceiling look.
Head to your local construction or home improvement store to buy them. They’re usually sold in bundles. As you’ll see from the next step, you’ll want to use the best ones, so purchase more than you think you’ll need to cover the ceiling area.
2. Choose the Best Strips
Next, sort through your bundles to choose the highest-quality furring strips. Look for the color you like (if you’ll be leaving the strips raw), plus smooth textures and straight strips. The good news is, you can usually return the ones you don’t use, so don’t be afraid to be picky!
3. Select a Spot on the Ceiling
Look for an area on the ceiling to start that makes sense. Usually, you’ll want to start against the wall or near a ceiling object and work out from there. If you start in the middle of an empty space on the ceiling, you might mis-measure your placement and create a design that isn’t uniform. We don’t want that.
4. Determine the Placement
Draw pencil lines on the ceiling to guide you during the installation. It’s always better to plan and be prepared than to try to fix mistakes during the process. *wink*
5. Install the First Strip
Use furniture nails to attach the strip where it’ll meet the rafters. Be careful with your fingers as you install! You’re precious cargo here!
6. Space for Equal Installation
Use another furring strip as a spacer so that you install the strips equally. You’re going for a unified, polished look here.
7. Create Frames Where Needed
When you’re installing furring strips around lights, vents, etc., create a frame using the 1” x 2” x 8’s so that the strips connect equally. Check out the photo above to get an idea of what it should look like.
8. Choose the Finish
You can keep the furring strips raw, or you can paint them. You can go as natural or wild as you’d like with the color, depending on whatever type of look you’re going for.
Bonus Tip: Continue the Strips Down the Wall
As you can see in my pool house, the new wood ceiling was such a big hit, I decided to keep a good thing going and continue the design all the way down along the wall.
I’d love to see your results when you try this wood furring strip technique in your own home. Tag me on Instagram @thehousejudge so I can see your creations!
The kitchen is often the heart of the home. It’s definitely a place where my loved ones and I love to get together, so it’s become one of my fave spots to design whenever I’m working on a home.
When I’m designing or renovating a kitchen in a Phoenix historic neighborhood or at another home I’m working on, I focus on two things:
That’s why I love using ZLINE, Kräus and HanStone Quartz products in my designs. They blend the best of both worlds: impeccable finishes in pieces that make total sense for one of the most-used rooms in a house. Here’s what I love about each brand and how I featured them in a recent home design.
ZLINE has fantastic products that allow you to create custom exhaust hoods, so every piece you use fits the design and style you want for your own kitchen, without sacrificing the functionality.
In this kitchen, I wanted to be simple and minimalistic in the design. This ZLINE exhaust hood insert nailed it. You can see how it sleekly complements its surroundings. You can shop similar inserts here.
ZLINE has a variety of kitchen products, including ranges and cooktops, wall ovens, microwaves, dishwashers and kitchen faucets that are inspired by the elegance of Lake Tahoe. I just say they’re classic pieces that add luxury to any space. What do you think?
All kitchens have kitchen sinks. That makes them an important and essential element to every kitchen design.
For sinks for your kitchen, Kräus can’t be beat. The kitchen designer goes above-and-beyond what a kitchen sink is and what other purposes it can serve.
That means homeowners get more bang for their buck in functionality. Plus, the sinks become a kitchen statement piece, not an afterthought.
Within this super-modern design, it was really important for me to focus on a kitchen sink that was more than just a sink. Not only is this Kräus sink a great kitchen sink with a matte black finish and stunning Urbix™ Industrial Bridge Faucet, it’s also multifunctional. With some simple inserts, you can turn it into a:
Kräus has so many useful accessories to add to their kitchen sinks that fit right in and maximize the functionality of the sink. Kräus makes it easy to take a kitchen sink and turn it so many more practical things. Whenever I can provide a homeowner with more useful touches, it’s a win-win.
If you’re looking for countertops for a kitchen, I love HanStone Quartz. Their durable, strong quartz surfaces retain quality year over year and have a classic, yet modern, appeal.
In this home design, I used a HanStone Quartz countertop to create continuity, even without backsplash, by bringing the countertop up the wall. That also allowed for a functional and chic kitchen shelf.
I have to give a shout-out to ESI Arizona, the HanStone Quartz dealer I got the countertops from. I used the Storm design from the Unearthed Collection for this kitchen, because it’s so unique and the texture’s incredible.
Shop My Kitchen Designs
You can see more of my kitchen designs here. Click each one to shop the exact products I used for your own kitchen. Tag me on Instagram @thehousejudge so I can see your designs!
James Judge is a renowned designer, realtor, flipper, and self-described “house-a-holic” known for his stunning home transformations. So when it came to transforming his own home, we were thrilled to be included in the process.
James wanted to make a statement using unique materials, but he had size and weight limitations in this historic home. Our RealCast Board-Form Panels were just what he was looking for. Not only did he use them to help create the courtyard in front of his house, he also used them on his ground-to-roof outdoor fireplace and as a stunning feature headboard in his bedroom.
We had a chance to ask James a few questions about the project, his approach to design, and what’s coming next.
A Chat With James Judge
Tell us a bit about this project and why it’s special to you.
For years, I imagined all the possibilities this house had and hoped that someday I could help it become the property it deserved to be. It had been a rental property for many years and ultimately I wrote the owners a letter asking to buy it and they sold it to us.
“A few years ago this home was more likely to be demolished than remodeled.”
There were a lot of challenges along the way because initially the property was zoned for high-rise but I worked with the city to get it designated for historic preservation. Nobody would have ever done what I did to this house because a few years ago this home was more likely to be demolished than remodeled. Therefore to see it go from a rough rental property to what it is today has been extremely rewarding.
Why did you choose to use Wall Theory’s Board-Form panels for this project?
The home was originally built in the 1930s, and then had an addition added in the 1950s. Both offered angled lines and had modern elements to the architecture despite being a historic home. Therefore, to help connect the two styles and blend our 2020 addition, we decided to take the home modern and give it a new identity while still respecting the original elements that remained.
As a result, using unique materials was very important to the design yet we had limitations with sizes and weights which is why Wall Theory had the perfect solutions.
What is most important to you when designing a space?
Continuity! So many people design one space at a time, but I think it’s essential to have things flow and feel continuous. As a result, we used Wall Theory at the front of our house to create our unique angled courtyard. However, we also used it in the backyard around the fireplace to create a great focal point.
“By using this awesome product in three different locations within the homes, the design has continuity and visually connects all of these spaces together.”
Finally with a few of the leftover pieces, I decided to create a headboard out of them for the pool house; therefore, literally by using this awesome product in three different locations within the homes, the design has continuity and visually connects all of these spaces together.
What’s your favorite room/space to design?
I love designing outdoor living spaces. This is such an important part of our homes in Arizona and to be able to create outdoor living that feels like an extension of the home is so special. Inside the house, I used a lot of grey and concrete which compliments the Wall Theory outside and seamlessly blends indoor/outdoor living.
What has your career journey been to get to where you currently are at?
My degree is in Interior Design from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. I moved to Arizona to help my Mom and remodel her house (my first project).
Ultimately I started working with an investor to develop distressed properties into rentals. This led to flipping houses which is still a huge factor of what I do today… But on a much different scale than most flippers because I focus so heavily on the design to ensure that it looks and feels complete and unique.
Where do you seek inspiration for your designs from most?
I seek inspiration within the house itself. So many homes have existing inspiration and it’s important to look for it rather than making the house into something it’s not meant to be. In this project, it was the diagonal lines that created inspiration for the modern aesthetic and lines throughout the house.
“So many homes have existing inspiration and it’s important to look for it rather than making the house into something it’s not meant to be.”
Is there a signature “James Judge” piece that is worked into every project?
My signature is individuality… I try to make every home look different. You might be able to look at two of my projects and guess that I did them because of their level of completeness and detail, but overall I try to avoid having a signature or ‘style’ because I think it’s limiting.
What’s your top design tip for those who are trying to upgrade their space?
Work with what you’ve got! There are so many great ways to add texture, color, and visual interest to an existing space without gutting it and starting fresh.
“The more you can reuse, the more you can save and ultimately it will allow your budget to go farther.”
We live in a world where it’s “cool” to watch demo happen and then have everything be brand new afterwards… Sometimes this needs to happen, but oftentimes that just creates a lot of waste. The more you can reuse, the more you can save and ultimately it will allow your budget to go farther so that you can add unique elements to your space that make it one of a kind!
What other project(s) are you currently working on or have upcoming?
Currently I’m working on a high-rise condo in Downtown Phoenix, a Rustic Ranch in Northern Arizona, and soon I’m going to be starting a restoration on a famous historic home here in Central Phoenix. So many exciting and very different projects ahead this year!
How can people stay up to date on what you’re up to?
Follow me on Instagram @thehousejudge and other social media outlets… And hopefully someday you’ll see me on TV... (HGTV - Are you reading this?)
There you have it! We’d like to thank James Judge for taking the time to chat with us, and for including us in his beautiful home makeover. Can’t wait to see what you do next!
A version of this article was originally posted at walltheory.com
Talk about a big project: designing my own home.
When I purchased this Phoenix home 3 years ago, I loved the architecture and knew I could make it into something special. But the house was experiencing an identity crisis – it was 1930s in the front and 1950s in the back.
There were also details that lent to a more modern style, like the flat roof and angular lines that are present throughout the exterior. To unify the design, I chose to give this home a modern and minimalist style. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but the new design feels so right for the house.
Designing this home within the city was all about being bold. Situated within an urban setting amid skyline views, I was able to design this home to stand out and become one-of-a-kind.
Here’s a look at how I preserved what was left of the home’s character, while also embracing the modern details that were present to give this home an identity makeover.
1. Gave the Paint a Face Lift
First, let’s focus on one of the first things most people notice about a home: the paint color.
I went with a bold black paint color (Broadway by Behr), which demanded attention and fit in with the urban surrounding. A simple fresh coat of paint made a stunning difference, while also instantly unifying the design and giving the home a notice-me distinctiveness.
2. Designed a Courtyard
I’m a true believer courtyards create communities. I added a metal custom gate and beautiful outdoor patio furniture from Target to design a space my guests could enjoy and that invites congregation.
Also, check out the stunning, unique concrete wall by Wall Theory. This was a RealCast Board-Form wall that has amazing texture and movement within it. It’s a perfect contrast to the black exterior.
Want a Wall Theory wall yourself? Save when you use code JAMESJUDGE at checkout online to get 5% off your order. Tag me on Instagram @thehousejudge so I can see your design!
3. Kept the Charm
Despite updating this home with a modern design, it was really important to me to preserve the original windows because they’re such a special feature of this house within the historic neighborhood. Another fun fact: the massive original front window likely once looked at other homes, but today you can see most of the midtown towers.
If you want to keep original windows like I did but refresh them, consider painting them the same color as the exterior of the home. That’ll create a cleaner, more polished feel. It will also help hide some flaws while elevating the charm of the home.
4. Embraced Diagonal Angles
One of the only existing common elements in this home was diagonals. Both the original front window from the 1930s and another large glass window from the 1950s in the back offered unique angles. To connect the home and enhance the design, I embraced diagonal lines throughout the home.
As I was designing the landscape, I incorporated diagonal angles, as well. I positioned the Wall Theory RealCast Board-Form wall on a diagonal. And as you’re walking by the house, the courtyard wall leads you directly to the front walkway to help establish a sense of entry.
5. Featured Desert Landscaping
Since this home is in Phoenix and Phoenix is in a desert, I used architecturally-appealing and water-efficient desert landscaping for this home. I love the contrast of the natural desert tones against the black exterior.
I used the larger rocks in the courtyard to create definition of the new space and add texture. I really enjoyed working with Whitfull Nursery, based in the Valley, to help bring my vision to life.
6. Added Visual Interest
After deciding I wanted to paint the house black, I knew it was important to incorporate additional visual interest. I transplanted the cactus to the backyard to make room for a new walkway and patio spaces. We removed the stucco from the brick to highlight the texture of the front of the house.
To to bring warmth to the front with a natural wood element, we resurfaced the door with an $11 utility board from Home Depot. We added wood slats to the ceiling of the front porch to complement the door and help connect the exterior to the interior.
Transform Your Own Home with My Design Picks
This home got a modern makeover, but its new identity will be preserved for years to come. The historic neighborhoods here in Phoenix are one of the unique things that make it so special to live here, because you have single-family homes within a city setting. It’s the best of both worlds!
If you’re interested in giving your home’s exterior a face lift, check out the home design products I love.
When I was restoring the kitchen in this Monte Vista home in the Phoenix Willo Historic Neighborhood, the owner and I focused on a few key points:
This kitchen has been one of my favorite projects. We were able to accomplish all three goals, adding some modern updates while maintaining the kitchen’s historic character that makes it so unique.
The following are five techniques we used in this kitchen that you can apply to any home kitchen design project.
1. Use Two Tones
Using two tones in a kitchen is a quick, easy and simple way to add elegance to a kitchen. Dual tones also create more visual interest, which keeps the eye wandering. That can make a space look roomier, since there’s added visual appeal.
With this kitchen, we used custom two-toned cabinets and a white HanStone Quartz countertop. The dark cabinets on the bottom ground the kitchen, while the white cabinets and countertops create a flow and expand the space.
You’ll see the dark tones were used in the sink faucet and window treatments, too, creating cohesion throughout the entire view.
2. Create Visual Impact
When you’re working on a kitchen, go big to create visual impact. In this home, we centered the stove. Stoves are one of the most used, largest appliances with significant visibility in a kitchen, so centering them can create a nice effect.
To elevate the stove’s visual appeal, we made sure the custom cabinets on this wall were dark to create contrast and make the stove the focal point.
Putting the stove in the center also made this kitchen more functional. Moving the stove created room for a very tall pantry cabinet on one side and a tall Bosch Home Appliances refrigerator on the other. This created great symmetry and balance, while adding more storage.
3. Carry Backsplash Tile from Countertops to Ceiling
This is a technique I learned during my first home renovation and have carried with me ever since. Putting backsplash tile from countertops to ceiling creates continuity and doesn’t leave you with a weird space of wall peeking through.
With this Floor & Décor tile, we also wrapped it around the custom exhaust hood. That created even more continuity and made the hood and the surrounding area look sleek, modern and classic, all at the same time.
You don’t often see backsplash tile on an exhaust hood. This was an example of thinking creatively to give kitchen features a unique, stunning touch.
4. Keep What Gives the Kitchen Its Charm
Since this was a historic home restoration, we wanted to retain the historic features that gave the home a ton of charm.
In this case, take a look at that cabinet above the sink. This feature is common in historic homes.
Even though we replaced all the cabinets with new ones and swapped out the old sink for an incredible Kraus sink, we made sure to keep that over-the-sink cabinet for some additional unique flair. Plus, it maximizes storage availability in the kitchen.
We also kept the original historic cabinet layout to retain the galley kitchen style, another design you’ll often find in historic homes.
5. Create Definition for the Space
Finally, get thoughtful with the space as a whole, not just the details. To make the kitchen its “own” room while still making it flow with the rest of the house, we added dual curved archways. These archways were similar to other archways we added throughout the home, which also fit the home’s historic style.
The archway additions served a couple purposes. One is that they connected the kitchen with the rest of the home, since the same designs could be found in other rooms.
Another is that they signified to people in the home that they were entering a new space. They helped to both create flow for the home, as well as to define the kitchen space.
Keep Up with My Kitchen Restorations
As you’ll see throughout my site, I love designing kitchens and working on historic kitchen restorations. Check out some of my kitchen restoration projects, where you can purchase the exact products I used in each project.
Well, not exactly. This historic home on Monte Vista in the Phoenix Willo Historic Neighborhood used to be part business, part home, before the new owner and I took over to restore it.
In fact, the home’s living room was an office waiting room. So during the redesign of the home, we had to make that space more welcoming to attract buyers who wanted the house to live in, not conduct business in.
From softening lines and encouraging more natural light with a neutral color palette, here are four techniques we used to transform the old waiting room office space into a warm and inviting living room.
1. Said Goodbye to Glass Doors
The old glass doors in the waiting room area separated the office space from the rest of the house. To create continuity and flow, we removed the glass doors and added archways. These archways were in the same original curved design that was found in other parts of the home. The design unified the space while respecting the historic home design.
Removing the glass doors also brought a whole lot more natural light into the room and throughout the space. Today, the living room looks cohesive with the rest of the house.
2. Created Continuity with Museum Baseboards
Museum baseboards, sometimes called flush recessed baseboards, create a minimalist and elegant effect. They’re a flooring style that’s flush with the wall, which prevents dirt and debris from accumulating on the floor.
For these baseboards, we used the stone tile from the rest of the house. Again, this technique created continuity into the living room from the rest of the home. Using these museum baseboards also blended a sleek modern style with the historic home design.
3. Kept Original Windows
As I learned during my first historic home renovation, it’s so important to keep what gives a historic home its charm. In this case, the original windows provided character and were just as functional after the restoration.
Keeping them also saved money during the home restoration while adding value because of the historic touch. Some updated window treatments elevated the windows and let more light in.
We also painted the windows dark to add contrast. This technique frames out the view better and enhances the natural light.
4. Appealed to Buyers with Staging
Finally, staging the space to feel like a living room really helped sell the space to buyers. To make the living room more of a place to gather and get rid of the waiting room vibe, we added a plush couch with lots of throw pillows and draped a blanket over the end chair. We deliberately used large furniture to fill the room, so that buyers would understand how much space the room offered.
I also love incorporating nature into my designs. We added a calming plant and natural wood centerpiece to make the living room more relaxing and serene – not at all like a stressful office waiting room.
To encourage congregation and create a more inviting space, we aligned all the furniture to face each other and the fireplace. Lastly, to give purpose to the original track lighting, we created a gallery art wall.
See More Transformations
I really love the challenge of taking an old space and transforming it into something totally new and more functional for today’s homebuyers.
You can see more of my Phoenix home renovation projects here. Click through the images to see how they changed. Shop the same products I used for each project to create your own transformation.
Seven years ago, my renovation strategy started to change. It all began with the first historic home project I did in the Phoenix Fairview Place Historic District. This project helped me find my passion for historic homes and small spaces. I learned a ton of lessons I’ve taken with me since then.
If you’re thinking about revamping your home or want advice for flipping a house, take these nuggets of wisdom from me. They’ll help you cut costs and add value to a home. Plus, they make a space more functional and a whole lot more appealing.
1. Repurpose Materials
If you’re getting rid of materials from one part of a house, think about how they might work somewhere else.
For example, to save money when I was renovating this historic home, I moved the cabinets from the main house into the guest house and used the leftover countertop remnants, as well. These were only small pieces, but they worked for a secondary space like this.
You can really get creative during the renovation process. Some ideas:
Also, carefully think about elements in a room that could still work or be improved with a simple upgrade. For example, I kept the industrial concrete floors in the guest house, because they have benefits like:
Moving home elements from one room to another, or transforming them for a whole new function, is an easy way to elevate a space without having to spend on new materials.
2. Think Functionality
A huge way to add value to a home is to make it more functional. Especially with historic and older homes, the way they were designed back then doesn’t always fit how we live today.
With this guest house, I moved the center door over to the left to make the kitchen more functional. That door on the right? That became a window.
These simple tweaks made a big impact, creating a seamless flow in the kitchen, providing more space for a sink and countertops, and letting in a whole lot more light.
Wondering how to make a home more functional as you renovate? Here are some tips.
In kitchens, you can add a kitchen island or add cabinetry to an existing kitchen island. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets are a great way to make space more functional, too.
3. Retain a Home’s Charm
Here’s a tip you might not expect from me, a Phoenix real estate agent: don’t always listen to real estate agents.
With this house, the agent I was working with said, “New windows sell houses.” So, I replaced all the windows.
At the time, I didn’t understand the value of architecture. Now, I realize replacing the windows was a mistake. The original windows had given the home a lot of character. Retaining them could have also saved a lot of money.
Always respect the home and keep its true charm intact. Many homebuyers will pay for features with a vintage look or real vintage touches.
Some older home features you should consider keeping include:
And, finally, windows! You can give older windows a makeover by adding exterior shutters, installing indoor window treatments, upgrading the landscaping around the windows or adding flower boxes underneath them. If the windows are old or damaged, repairing them to good-as-new condition can also be a lot less expensive than replacing them altogether.
Before You Replace: Repurpose, Restore & RepairYou don’t have to give a home a complete makeover to upgrade it. To save money and add value during a home flip or remodel:
Want to see more examples of how I took those lessons from my first home renovation into future ones? Check out some of my recent home renovation projects, where you can shop the same items I used in designing the homes.
The kitchen: it’s one of the most-used rooms in the house, where families congregate, where memories are made and where you provide fuel for your household.
When I’m working on home renovations, I always prioritize kitchen improvements. Kitchens are such a focal point of a home, they can make or break a home sale and add (or take away) lots of value.
When I renovated my first historic home in the Phoenix Fairview Historic District seven years ago, I learned a ton about how to effectively upgrade kitchens. Working on kitchens in both the main house and guest house of the first historic home I renovated, here are five tips I learned.
1. Match the Color Palette to the Home
With my first home renovation, this was a small-space, ‘90s style kitchen. I wanted to bring in the color palette of the rest of the home to create more flow and cohesion. But doing all-black or all-gray cabinets would close in the space.
I opted for two-tone cabinets, which made the space look bigger while still unifying the overall style of the home. When you’re considering color for a kitchen, a two-tone design can motivate the eye to wander. That provides the illusion of a bigger space.
Using classic colors like these also gave the kitchen a sleek look, while making it fit right in with the rest of the home.
2. Keep the Style Consistent
This tip is especially important for older and historic homes: maintain a consistent style in your kitchen. The hood I was working with in this kitchen was in complete style conflict with the historic architecture. It was way too modern and looked really out of place. That’s not a good vibe to have when you’re whipping up something tasty in your kitchen.
I switched out the hood for a more classic range hood style. You can see what a huge impact this simple change made to make the kitchen look more cohesive.
Try to keep a consistent style throughout all the appliances and fixtures. Create cohesion in your kitchen by:
Your design aesthetic may be all over the map, but to add value to the kitchen, you want to make sure it looks united as a room in itself, and that it also makes sense within the context of the entire house.
3. Pay Attention to Details
With small-to-medium spaces like kitchens, details are super-important and can really make a kitchen shine. When it comes to hardware, this is your opportunity to make a unique statement. Have fun with it!
In this renovation, I have to admit, the hardware was a little basic. If I were redoing this kitchen today, I would upgrade cabinet hardware to be more attention-grabbing. Some styles I love:
Whatever your aesthetic, there are endless ways to customize kitchen hardware and hinges. Since you likely use your kitchen several times a day, you deserve to love all the elements in it, right down to the hardware.
4. Be Strategic with Backsplash
I learned a lot about installing backsplash in this first Phoenix historic home renovation. A couple major tips when it comes to kitchen backsplash:
Backsplash is another kitchen detail you can get really creative with. But if it’s not installed correctly, it can throw off the whole kitchen design.
5. Find Unique Solutions to Problems
Finally, embrace your creative side when renovating a kitchen! In this historic home, I had an issue with needing to hide mechanical equipment in the laundry room that could be seen from the kitchen. My solution? A saloon door!
Saloon doors are so functional. They make it easy to move between rooms while also creating a separation when you need one. I gave the saloon door in this home a modern look by painting it teal to really make it pop against the classic colors of the rest of the kitchen.
Why saloon doors in a kitchen? They let natural light through and provide privacy. Compare that to a regular door that blocks light or a door with windows that would expose anything you don’t want seen on the other side.
Some other ideas for unique solutions in kitchens:
Want to see more kitchens I found unique solutions for? Check out my Phoenix home design projects, where you can shop the exact products I used in the many renovations over the last 10 years.
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