*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links
I have an idea for a new blog category that I hope you like. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and ran it past my realtor brother who said he thought it was a great idea (but he’s my brother and thinks all my ideas are great so you can give me your honest opinion). The idea is Designer Real Estate - real estate listings from a designer perspective - what I look for, what I avoid and how to unleash the potential in a home. I have a bit of a real estate obsession so I figure I might as well put it to use. The intent is to encourage a respectful approach to renovations by considering the original style of the house (more on that in this post) and its surroundings. Some older homes are in less than desirable areas of Chilliwack but I’m going to ignore that and focus more on the house itself and hope that as more and more people who care (namely, not investors) buy up in these neighbourhoods we’ll slowly see a change.
I’m starting the series with this listing on Coote St. in Chilliwack. See listing here. This home is really well priced so it may already be off the market… but the principles still apply.
I briefly thought about working with a hypothetical budget but that just won’t work because there are too many variables. I have no idea if the basement layout works or if this house needs a new furnace or hot water tank or roof etc. It also depends on how much is hired out or if a contractor is hired to oversee construction, what changes are made, and which finishes, materials, appliances, etc. are chosen. But, whatever the budget may be, I want a good reason for every dollar spent.
Let’s get to work. Starting with the exterior, the simple lines of this house are something we’re going to want to embrace. There’s a few ways to do that. One is paint it all out the same colour with a contrasting front door or paint the body and window trim one colour and the fascia another so your eye follows the roof line, which is what we want in this house. If budget allowed us to replace the siding then a horizontal hardie would be the way to go. Whatever we do, vinyl siding is not an option people.
Our house (by ours I mean the listing) is not nearly as cool at this one, but has the same roof line so work with me. It’s just an example of how to keep everything simple and embrace the roof line.
Let’s move on the interior. Here’s the inspo boards so keep these in mind as we continue. (links to products at the end of the post).
Design board #1 is the fixed finishes.
Design board #2 is just style inspiration.
I think you’re going to appreciate my realistic renderings.
First off, the house needs a fireplace. I’d keep it simple with black brick (see design board) - making it look like it was original to the house. Remember, we like the original house!
One major problem in this house is all the different casings and interior doors. The baseboard can stay but the rest needs to be replaced. Designer tip: never angle flat stock. So that’s gotta go, we also don’t really want to match what’s going on around the front door so that’s also gotta go. In this case I’d do a 2 1/2” mitered flat stock so it works with the baseboard and keeps costs low. If we were going to replace the baseboard as well I’d probably go with the Very Square Scene II line by Metrie.
Another problem here is that half wall thing by the front door. If we keep the floor, we’ll have to redesign something that isn’t quite as offensive. If we replace the floor then that can be ripped out. If the floor is in good condition we could keep it for now to keep costs down… but I really want to change the kitchen layout, don’t you? And that means changing the floor (more on that below).
The cabinets, back splash, appliances and bulkhead will be ripped out. But we’re probably going to have to stick with a 30” fridge because there ain’t no room for a bigger one! If you need more fridge space you can put another one in the basement. Or buy less groceries. You can see a little built-in in the dining room. That could possibly just have the trim removed or replaced with something simpler or replaced altogether with new cabinetry. No matter what the trim that runs down to the floor has got to go.
Our last house had a similar layout and we tore out the pantry (where that door in the dining room is) and wrapped the cabinetry around from the kitchen into the dining room and it was a game changer. If budget allowed, that is what I would do here, the only problem is we’d have to rearrange the kitchen quite a bit to make it work… possibly change the sink and window location and if budget is tight that could eat away at too much of it. So if rearranging the kitchen was out of the question we can work with the existing layout. New cabinetry to the ceiling, new countertops and subway tile on every remaining wall would totally transform the space.
Bathroom. Hm. This is a tight one but considering the size of the house, this is not a bad sized vanity. If custom cabinetry fell within the the budget I would replace the existing cabinetry with an 18” deep cabinet (instead of the standard 21”) and do subway tile about 3’ up the wall all around the bathroom (higher in tub/shower area of course). To keep the cost down an Ikea vanity (that’s what my lovely drawing shows) can save the day.
I didn’t bother with pics of the rest but one of the main floor bedrooms needs carpet and that same carpet and all the general finishes in the rest of the house should be brought to the basement.
Now that we have a style direction, the real design work begins: Interior layout (wherever there’s changes), elevations, cabinetry and millwork details, the rest of the lighting, plumbing and material specs and the list goes on. It may sounds like a lot of work but I cannot stress enough that the more work you do upfront, the less stressful the construction process will be. So plan plan plan!! (And hire an interior designer!)
Well that was fun. I’m not sure I will approach all the ‘Designer Real Estate’ posts the same way - I guess we’ll see how I’m inspired😜. Even if you’re not in the market for a new home, or planning any major renovations, I hope this was informative and inspirational to you in some way.
As promised, links to design board products below:
If you’re also real estate obsessed and come across a house you think I’d love, send it to me!