23 amazing home makeovers

See before and after photos from some of our favorite house remodels and renovations

Oakland home exterior

Photos by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones; 

Get ideas from great home remodels around the West

Homeowners around the West are restoring old houses, reinventing cottages, updating midcentury classics, and even giving teardowns new life.

This 1930s house in Oakland, CA, for instance, called for a creative preservation rather than a full-on remodel. “The patina and wear patterns are things we love about this house,” says owner Jeremy Kidson.

Next, get ideas from this home's before and after, plus 20 more inspiring house remodels.

Dining room before remodel

Before: Open Craftsman remodel

When this homeowner returned to her native California from New York, she missed the openness of her family's former loft back East.

So she knocked down a few walls (including those surrounding the former dining room, above) of her Oakland Craftsman-style home to create a more spacious feeling.

kitchen and dining space

Photo by Ericka McConnell

After: Open Craftsman remodel

The ground floor of the once single-story house is now essentially one combined kitchen, dining area, living space, and home office, with bedrooms in an upstairs addition.

More: Old meets new in Craftsman remodel

ranch backyard before

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Before: Retro ranch

Obsessed with retro style, the homeowners of this Arizona ranch were determined to keep the 1960s vibe of the house, but with their own spin.

ranch backyard

Photo by Thomas J. Story

After: Retro ranch

Keeping on a tight budget, they replaced the back wall of the house with windows to open up the space, and decorated inside with a mix of new and secondhand pieces.

More: Retro ranch remodel

Kitchen makeover before

 

Before: Creative home renovation

The new owners of this 1930's home in Oakland opted for a careful renovation that updated the house but preserved its character.

As part of the kitchen makeover, cabinets were replaced using the same footprint; the countertops and walls were resurfaced, appliances updated, and plumbing revamped. See what they did next.

 

Cooking area after

Photos by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones; 

Creative renovation

A new island increased counter space and allows for a prep sink beyond the main farmhouse sink.

The kitchen cabinet doors were removed: “If a door’s closed,” says homeowner Jamie, “I have a tendency to forget things are there.”

To maintain the integrity of the house, the owners had the walls repaired with plaster, not drywall.

See more of this home renovation

 

 

Cottage living room before renovation.

Photography by Lisa Romerein

Before: Airy cottage

This 900-square-foot house in Santa Monica was billed as a teardown when designer Julie Hart first saw it. Rooms like this living area were cramped and dark.

The first thing she did was climb to the attic to make sure she could raise the ceiling. And indeed, she could.

Cottage living room after the renovation

Photography by Lisa Romerein

After: Airy cottage

The living room is now a colorful new gathering area. Light floods into the room and reflects off the white walls and mantel.

For contrast, the wooden floors are stained in a custom mix of ebony and dark walnut shades; the high-gloss polyurethane top coat reflects even more light.

Designer Julie Hart sparks the interiors with colorful accent pillows, throws, and pottery that she coor­dinates with a rotating collection of art.

See more of this airy cottage makeover

Midcentury modern home makeover: the exterior

Sunset

Before: Midcentury update

Featured in Sunset's May 1966 issue, this award-winning La Mesa hillside home near San Diego was considered a model of indoor-outdoor living.

From the downstairs office and family room, glass doors led to an outdoor patio and beautiful gardens.

A glazed breezeway and sliding glass doors opened onto shady decks that abutted the hillside of granite boulders and meandering pathways.

Exterior of renovated midcentury home.

Photography by Thomas J. Story

After: Midcentury makeover

A sensitive update by local architect Carmen Pauli and owners Jora and Bryan Vess kept the essential character of the 3,178-square-foot residence while incorporating modern eco-friendly materials, including Brazilian teak floors and ipe wood decking.

See more of this modern makeover

 

The home's kitchen, prior to the remodel.

Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones

Before: Rooftop garden

Cramped rooms, including this eating area on the third floor of this San Francisco house, were removed to make way for open living spaces and garden.

The renovation reduced the house's total square footage from 3,700 to 2,997 ― an eco-friendly move.

The remodeled living and dining space of a Victorian home.

Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones

After: Family-friendly remodel

The owners replaced part of the Victorian's top floor with a green space, opening the interior to natural light, views, and family-friendly flow.

See more of this new rooftop garden

Eichler Before

Before: Back to the future

A poorly placed low window marred the façade of this house designed by A. Quincy Jones ― one of the principal architects for developer Joseph Eichler, the father of the mass-produced Eichler house of the 1950s and '60s. 

Eichler makeover

Lisa Romerein

After: Back to the future

After the remodel, privacy is restored. The chartreuse door is inspired by the color of new-growth ivy, a plant that had overrun the garden.

More:  Learn more about this classic restoration

Hallway

Before: Halls without walls

Like many ranch houses, the home of Bill Welch and Maren Christensen in Portola Valley, California, had a long central hall that blocked light, views, and easy access between major rooms. 

Walls removed

Thomas J. Story

After: Halls without walls

Architect Mark Pearcy replaced part of the hallway with a series of columns and beams, which allows each area to borrow space from the others.

More:  See this remodeled ranch house

Call of the wild

Before: Alaska cabin makeover

The cabin ― abandoned for six years ― was literally falling apart when the Jenkinses purchased it.

Alaska cabin makeover

After: Alaska cabin makeover

The Jenkinses’ revamped cabin makes the most of its small scale.

More:  See inside this amazing cabin makeover 

Warm kitchen before

Thomas J. Story

Before: Modern farmhouse kitchen

The small kitchen had an awkward space for dining and was hidden from the home's main living areas by a closet wall.

Warm kitchen

Thomas J. Story

After: Modern farmhouse kitchen

Now a sliding barn door allows the kitchen to be hidden for formal dinner parties and serves as a place to hang holiday greeting cards.

More:  Get Dutto's tips for a phased remodel

Make a stylish entrance

Before: Remake the entrance

The formerly blank façade had cramped stairs along one side and a front deck that was exposed to the weather.

Make a stylish entrance

John Clark

After: Remake the entrance

Following an exterior makeover a broad stairway welcomes guests to a protected landing while an expanded refaced chimney and lower wall both clad in buff-colored manmade stone further define the entry. Muted earth tones link the house and the landscape.

More:  See how the homeowners did it

Before: Tudor kitchen

Before: Tudor update

"When this house was built, the kitchen was only a place to work, so it was a small, dark room," says architect-owner William Hefner. "We wanted a kitchen open to a family room, so we put it at the back of the house. The dining room is now where the kitchen used to be." 

After

Grey Crawford

After: Tudor update

Now in the kitchen/family room, traditional wainscoting and a coffered ceiling complement contemporary marble counters, glass cabinets, and a stainless steel hood.

More:  Learn all about this Tudor update 

Classic bungalow before addition

Before: Sunny bungalow addition

Owners Gus and Stephanie Koven wanted to find a cost-effective way to unite the original 1,000-square-foot bungalow and its backyard. "You literally had to duck through a tunnel-like door and meander down steps to access the garden," says Gus, a sound designer and avid gardener. "The only view of the yard was through a small window in the bedroom." 

Classic bungalow gets a light-filled addition

Lisa Romerein

After: Sunny bungalow addition

Now sheets of 16-mm. clear polycarbonate open this dark little bungalow to its garden.

More:  Learn everything about this light-filled addition 

Before: Victorian transformation

Before: Victorian transformation

Call it too much of a good thing. The 154-year-old Victorian in Napa, California, was bogged down with layers of wallpaper ― even on the ceiling ― and saturated with a disturbing amount of bright blue paint. 

After: Victorian tranformation

Thayer Allyson Gowdy

After: Victorian tranformation

Homeowner Kimberley Nunn created a welcoming entry hallway with creamy white walls that contrast with the dark floors and staircase.

More:  See the rest of this Victorian transformation 

Dark fireplace

Before: Portland kitchen

 A dark brick fireplace and paneling made this old kitchen gloomy.

Break through

Jon Jensen

After: Portland kitchen

Removal of the old fireplace wall allowed for expansion into the garage and flanking windows flood the room with light.

More:  See how they did it 

Room for the family

Thomas J. Story

Before: Family-friendly kitchen

The narrow U-shaped design of the all-white kitchen trapped an oven between the counters. There was barely room for two stools at the counter end.

Room for the family

Thomas J. Story

After: Family-friendly kitchen

Warren and Jennifer Lloyd turned a cramped alcove into an inviting dining nook by borrowing room from a closet (located opposite the original freestanding counter) and rearranging the appliances. "We gained just 15 square feet, but the kitchen feels triple the size," Jennifer says.

More:  Learn more about this kitchen makeover

 

Eichler kitichen, before transformation

Thomas J. Story

Before: Eichler update

With a few subtle changes ― done without altering the floor plan or developer Joseph Eichler's basic post-and-beam aesthetic ― architect Anne Phillips transformed this space into something fresh and lively.

Eichler kitchen with a few subtle changes

Thomas J. Story

Eichler kitchen update

More light and openness, the latest appliances, and a richer color palette give this kitchen new life while preserving its midcentury-modern character.

More:  See what makes this kitchen work

Before

Thomas J. Story   

Before: Shed revival

Evan Sagerman and Marci Riseman needed extra space for a guest room and entertaining area, and they found it in an unlikely place: a tiny, ramshackle shed in the backyard of their San Francisco Victorian home.  

Converted shed

Thomas J. Story

After: Shed revival

The couple decided to remodel the shed, and it became an exercise in preservation and space planning. They looked to boat cabins for design inspiration. "I grew up sailing," Sagerman says. "Being on boats taught me how important it is to give things in small spaces multiple functions."

More:  See the rest of this remodeled shed

Chic fireplace update

Before: Chic fireplace update

A cozy lounge reminiscent of a martini bar was Pasadena homeowner Carolyn Powers's wish.

The reality, however, was a charmless room with a dated fireplace covered in brick and hand-painted drywall. 

Chic fireplace update

Joe Schmelzer

After:  Chic fireplace update

To achieve her dream of a glamorous hideaway, Powers turned to designer Jennifer Charleston, who began by extending the fireplace 6 feet along the wall and adding a mantel and storage cubby for firewood.

More:  See what makes it work 

Before: The front of the cottage

Thomas J. Story

Before: Venice cottage

An 800-square-foot ramshackle structure was the starting point for Joe and Kalli Rivers Altieri's four-year project. "The owner actually paid me to fix it up enough so that he was able to legally sell it to me," Joe says.  


After: The front of the cottage

Thomas J. Story

After: Venice cottage

Now the front entry hints at the creativity to come.

More:  See the rest of this Venice cottage

 


Garage makeover: Before the addition

Thomas J. Story 

Before: San Francisco garage

Architect Jonathan Feldman increased livable space ― but not the home's footprint ―  by smartly reconfiguring an existing structure.

Garage makeover: loft in the new guest room

Thomas J. Story 

After: San Francisco garage

Feldman transformed half of the detached structure into this 400-square-foot guest room and office.

More:  See the rest of this garage transformation

Before the gap was bridged

Thomas J. Story

Before: Amazing cottage makeover

These two tiny houses, each measuring 640 square feet, sat next to eachother for more than 80 years. The one-bedroom cottages were smaller than any other homes in the working-class neighborhood of Albany, California, and it seemed the only way to expand either one was to build up or start over. 

That was until artist Michael Shemchuk drove by. Now the house is a colorful, contemporary gem, with a stunning dining room where the driveway used to be. 

Connecting two homes

Thomas J. Story

After: Amazing cottage makeover

The remodel is low, unobtrusive, and in scale with the rest of the homes on the street. The light-diffusing glass brightens the interior while creating privacy.

More:  Go inside this amazing makeover

Classic comeback for a midcentury abode

Lisa Romerein

Before: Midcentury comeback 

Overgrown ivy and brick retaining walls cluttered the front of this home in Sherman Oaks, California. 

Classic comeback for a midcentury abode

Lisa Romerein

After: Midcentury comeback

Sometimes you have to go backward before you can clearly see how to move forward. For Guy and Jennifer Genis, renovating a midcentury modern home meant returning to its roots. Their goal: to unearth the original design features while endowing the space with ease and comfort.

More:  Learn more about this classic makeover 

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