36 Stunning “Before and After” Modern Home Renovations
Need a little inspiration for your next home improvement project? These homeowners got to work and turned their drab spaces into veritable works of art. Keep reading to see the complete overhauls, rearranged layouts, and updated interiors of our favorite "before and after" projects.
SOMA Residence by Dumican Mosey Architects showcases a wide array of art, including, most notably, a Fiat mounted upside down from the ceiling. The auto repair garage in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood was dark, rundown, and pungent with grease. But back in 2011, when Klari Reis and Michael Isard first saw the voluminous space, they were focused on its potential for combining life and work. Architect Eric Dumican of Dumican Mosey was brought in to refashion the 1923 structure into a three-bedroom loft above a gallery/studio and a separate rental apartment. Dumican had gotten to know Klari and Michael a decade earlier when Klari’s studio was in the same building as his office. "They’re both avid collectors, so how the architecture was designed to display art was really important for the home, not just for the gallery," he says.
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When Lindsey Branca and Mike Grosshandler purchased a historic brownstone in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood in early 2017, the decrepit building was mostly in a state of disrepair. Yet the duo, who launched the residential renovation and restoration firm Branca & Co., know a good opportunity when they see one. Enlisting the help of Brooklyn–based designers Sheena Murphy and Tor Sauder of sheep + stone, with whom they had worked with previously, as well as the architectural designers at Frances Mildred, Lindsey and Mike completed a gut renovation of their investment property while preserving as many historic details as possible.
When a young couple from Genova, Italy, inherited a 1,180-square-foot property from a grandparent, they decided to transform the old house into a bright, modern home that better connects with its woodland site.They hired local firm Gosplan Architects to help them makeover the tired-looking space, which had a dark, cramped living room. The Gosplan team demolished the existing walls between the old kitchen, the entrance, and the living room to create a single, large living area that's sunnier, with improved ventilation.
When a family of four purchased this old cedar-clad cabin, the structure was well-sited, but in dire need of repairs. While they originally intended to tear down the home and rebuild it on site, Vancouver–based firm Stark Architecture brought forth another plan. The team advised the owners to renovate and extend the existing structure, and integrate additional complexes on the property, which could serve as rental units. The Drifter Way House, as the project is called, now consists of the original three-bedroom primary residence, along with a rentable three-bedroom suite, and a rentable two-bedroom building. "Tying the buildings together was tricky," explain the architects. "But the use of standing seam metal and more industrial materials, along with a small amount of warm wood, complements the traditional shapes of the existing cabin."
When Clay and Margot Coffey, the husband/wife team behind the architecture firm Isaac-Rae, were approached to spruce up a 1987 beach house in Watermill—a hamlet of Southampton—their clients were only looking to give the dated abode a fresher, more modern look. Yet, due to several disjointed revamps the home had already undergone throughout the years, along with significant water damage that had affected the structure's framing, it was determined that a ground-up renovation was needed. After reconfiguring the layout, the design duo was ultimately able to reimagine the residence and expand the home for more comfortable, modern living.
Shortly after selling their first rehabbed trailer, Lauren and Van Jones of The Arrow Anglers set their sights on renovating another secondhand RV—this time a 2004 Keystone Everest. With a small budget of $5,000, repeat trips to Home Depot, and lots of DIY elbow grease, the couple—along with their four-month-old baby in tow—have dramatically transformed the dated 300-square-foot trailer with a modern farmhouse-inspired aesthetic.
SHED Architecture & Design does not believe in blindly following trends, preferring to allow light and space, economical and sustainable materials, and well-considered details guide their work. Their pragmatic and innovative architects enjoy the challenge of remodeling old buildings and homes, and have rehabilitated many kitchens in Seattle. Case in point: Seward Park House and Capitol Hill Loft feature two kitchen remodels that showcase how SHED can make the most hardworking room in the house even more practical and beautiful.
Seward Park House
Capitol Hill Loft
Located on a private, 20-acre mountain estate near Utah's Uinta National Forest, A-Frame Haus was built 30 years ago by owner and design-lover Kara Van Dyke's grandfather, Frank. When Kara and her family inherited the home, she spent over a year lovingly renovating the cabin. The cabin’s clean-lined, rustic-modern decor was inspired by her own Scandinavian heritage, and she gave much thought to finding balance between the traditional A-frame layout and her redesign. To modernize and brighten the interiors, she painted the walls white, and updated the living area, upper-level lounge, three airy bedrooms, and two bathrooms with new floors, carpets, and fittings.
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When Barcelona–based firm Colombo and Serboli Architecture (CaSA) was approached to renovate an ancient apartment in Born—the oldest neighborhood in the city—there was no denying they had their work cut out for them. With high-beamed ceilings, strong walls, and large shuttered windows, the outdated home had good bones. However, it was extremely dark and compact due to its original layout. Thanks to strategic planning and innovative design, this team surpassed expectations, delivering a stunning transformation.
Mexico City based Dosa Studio renovated a 40-year-old residence in Texcoco, Mexico, about 25 kilometers northeast of Mexico City. Located on a main road and not built according to regulation, Casa Palmas suffered poor conditions for space, light, ventilation, and privacy. The owner, seeking a more intuitive space for her cousin and family, sought out the architects for a redesign. Working with a limited budget, Dosa Studio received sponsored materials from three Mexican companies—structural ceramic manufacturer Novaceramic, cement resin makers Mezcla Brava, and construction product maker Probarro—to create a well-ventilated, bright, and private home on the compact, 1,205-square-foot lot.
When Sheena and Jason noticed their everyday was becoming a bit too monotonous, they knew it was time to shake things up. So, they did what any curious mind would do—they turned to the treasure trove of eBay.It didn't take long before the Atlanta–based couple laid eyes on their next adventure: an outdated Airstream in desperate need of renovation. While it took 10 months and countless hours of hard work, Sheena and Jason have successfully revamped the old trailer, and are now transitioning to living in the 1975 Airstream—also known as Mavis—full time.
Oregon–based David Horning of MOA Architecture has joined forces with principal designer Holly Freres of JHL Design to carefully renovate the 1955 three-bedroom dwelling. By using period-appropriate materials, the team has not only restored the property to its original warmth and charm, but also infused a modern, contemporary vibe. To emphasize the home's tranquil lakeside location, two 10-foot sliding doors have been added to the living room to enable a seamless connection to the outdoors.
Originally built in the 1950s, a 484-square-foot garage in the 14th arrondissement of Paris was converted into a work studio with a kitchen, sleeping area, and bathroom for the French painter Pierre Lemaire in 1970. In 2014, Pierre's granddaughter Christine inherited the studio and hired architect Willy Durieu of Atelier Wilda to renovate the space. The transformation, completed in 2017, has resulted in a bright, minimalist loft with an open-plan living area, a master bedroom, a clever guest room with a moveable partition, and a bathroom.
Inspired by the spirit of repurposing urban spaces in the era of tear-downs, Matt Nardella—who runs the Chicago–based architecture and design studio of moss Design with his wife, Laura Cripe—took an old, abandoned bodega in an urban Chicago neighborhood and completely transformed it into a vibrant, contemporary live/work space. The 6,000-square-foot complex, which they call Logan Certified, has been arranged into four distinct areas around a courtyard that they inserted into the center of the structure. The space is now home to the duo's newly expanded architecture and design studio, a showroom, a furniture and art gallery, as well as their personal apartment and a rental apartment on the second level—which is a totally new addition.
Inspired to renovate after moving into her new home, freelance graphic designer Breanna Bertolini—the voice behind the blog Brepurposed—decided to take part in the One Room Challenge and revamp her outdated bathroom. Although she only had six weeks to complete the project, she successfully transformed the room into a virtually unrecognizable space.
On the former site of Washington Market, which was active from the 1770s through the 1960s, this Federal-style townhouse in New York's Tribeca neighborhood was built in 1828 and spent most of its life as an egg and poultry distributor. With the historic home falling into disrepair, the current homeowners, both artists, hired Susan Yun of YUN Architecture to give the home a more contemporary look—one that would also pay homage to the home's rich history. Referencing the past, yet not trying to recreate it, the architects sought to create the layered look of a home that had evolved over the years. Yun explained, "The homeowners didn’t want a specifically modern house or to try and make a Federal house, and because of the home's past renovation, no original details were left—they didn’t want to try and make it into a period piece." The dilapidated interiors served as a blank slate for Yun and interior designer Penelope August (who had worked together previously at Selldorf Architects). While many elements of the project were custom-made for the home, almost equal amounts are salvaged pieces found by the homeowners.
When clients contacted Seattle-based SHED Architecture & Design to remodel their 1957 humble abode, they weren't looking for a total transformation. They were simply searching for a way to highlight the home's midcentury charm, while also integrating a new, modern feel.SHED embraced this challenge and salvaged as many of the original design elements as possible. By working closely with the owners and interior designer Jennie Gruss, the team revamped the layout and incorporated new finishes and furnishings to welcome a refreshing update.
Since 2015, when Ashley and Ross Goldman bought a Craftsman-style bungalow in their hometown of San Diego, California, they've worked diligently to turn it into a warm, stylish, modern home. At the top of the Goldmans' house hunting wish list was a building with some old-world charm, so they were immediately captivated by this classic, Craftsman-style bungalow built in 1915. "The built-ins, plate rails, room dividers, picture rails, leaded glass cabinets, fireplace, big windows, beefy trim, hardwood floors, and classic facade give the house so much character," says Ashley Goldman. "Since we bought it, our goal has been to restore it to its former glory, and refresh it, while adding modern amenities and our own personal style." Simple, modern furnishings don't take attention away from the original details of the home.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, design-build firm Case Design/Remodeling Inc. has over 50 years of experience with home interior and renovation projects, including kitchen remodels. Below, we shine the spotlight on two kitchen makeover projects handled by Case.
Designed by Elena Eskandari with Greg Polen as project manager, this modern kitchen update required taking out part of the wall, which completely changed the layout. All the old finishings were replaced with new materials, and a 12-foot island was added.
Black and White
To solve the problem of a tight, cramped kitchen with an awkward layout and a lack of continuous countertops, Case project developer Erin Hoopes, designer Elena Eskandari, and project manager Loren Sanders worked together to change the layout and fit-outs from the floor to the ceiling.
When a young family first purchased Maison Clark, the home boasted little charm. From issues with mold and seepage to its cramped, dark, non-functional layout, the outdated dwelling was in dire need of a proper remodel. Fortunately, local firm la SHED was eager to help. The team of architects reimagined all of the interior and exterior spaces, creating a bright and airy abode that would easily be able to evolve with the family's needs over time.
Outside the Japanese city of Ritto in the central Shiga Prefecture, a 53-year-old rice plantation farmhouse was renovated to carefully balance old and new. Koka–based ALTS Design Office was careful to preserve the original interior and exterior heritage elements of the existing building as they worked to open up, brighten, and modernize the home.
Remodels, especially of vintage homes, are a balancing act between preserving the home's innate character and updating its function for modern life. Gut too much and a house's charm is lost—yet no one wants to live in a dark time capsule. For this 1954 residence in Portland's West Hills neighborhood, Penny Black Interiors skillfully delivered an update that retains the house's midcentury character, yet still feels fresh and modern. "Our approach was to create some standout moments throughout the home that made the space feel 'more mod than mid,'" says designer Stewart Horner.
When Portland–based Suraya and Jason Barbee were ready to give their kitchen a fresh makeover, they hired His Builders—a small, family-run firm headed by brothers Owen and Nathan Burkholder—to help them carry out the remodel. After Suraya shared her vision for the kitchen with His Builders, Leon and Owen decided the best way to achieve her goals was to move the kitchen to the original dining space, which had a higher ceiling.
According to Clay Coffey, founder of the architecture and design firm Isaac-Rae, his first tour of this spacious loft was a bit blinding. "As the elevator doors opened, you were overwhelmed by a dated and severe design—a lot of black, red, and silver," he notes. Located in an 1890 garment factory that was converted to lofts in the 1980s, this particular unit had undergone a misguided remodel before being bought by the current owners in 2013, when Coffey first saw it. Not only were the fixtures and finishes out of sync with the building's bones, the 3,100-square-foot home was "underutilized" with "a good deal of dead space." "But the building had natural attributes and bones worth uncovering," said Coffey. The team gave the loft a complete overhaul, reconfiguring the layout to fit two more bedrooms and upping the bathrooms from one and a half to three. They then incorporated an "un-fussy" aesthetic throughout.
Architect Shane Neufeld has been considering a project like this for a quarter-century—or in other words, much of his life. Before he spent a year renovating this row house in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Shane spent a decade living in a nearby apartment with his wife. And in the years preceding that, he grew up in a townhouse set in the same New York City borough.His day-to-day familiarity only bolstered the practical experience he gained in his career, which includes starting his own firm L/AND/A. Nevertheless, when he and his wife, Claire Stapleton, decided to buy the listing online, he was still intimidated by the idea of modernizing a 19th-century property. By focusing the remodel on one specific detail—the stairs—the rest of the home fell into place. "The goal from the very beginning was to invert and open up the traditional row house by replacing a stacked stair with a switchback stair," he says.
When the current owners laid eyes on the home's spectacular city views, they instantly fell in love with the 1958 dwelling. In addition to amazing vistas, the custom-designed house had an authentic midcentury vibe and a cool chevron floor plan. Yet, despite its captivating character, it also had several major issues. From the tiny, closed-off rooms and awkward spaces, to the low ceilings that were "begging to be vaulted," a renovation was desperately needed.Fortunately, Portland–based Risa Boyer Architecture came to the rescue and carefully revamped the 3,600-square-foot home.
Kate Hostetter of Brentwood Builders vividly remembers the first time she saw the 1880s brick row home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "The home was dark and small and smelled like cat pee—not inspiring at all," she says with a laugh.Yet with the help of an excellent team of local contractors, Kate and her husband, Brent, dramatically transformed the outdated 1,100-square-foot space into a spectacular light-filled home.
A Neglected 1960s Ranch-Style Home Gets a Sunny Outdoor Connection in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
On her wedding day in 2015, designer Abbie Naber of a.NABER Design and her husband closed on this four-bedroom, two-bath home in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a community in North San Diego County, California. The demolition soon followed. The house had been built in 1960 and had not seen much attention since, aside from a few coats of paint. Skimpy slider windows, lackluster carpet and tile, and a slapdash backyard pergola all added up to an eyesore. Naber carefully reworked the house's floor plan, expanding the kitchen to include a breakfast nook, adding a dining room where the pergola once stood, and opening up the new interior to a swoon-worthy back patio. Then she wove in artful finishes throughout, from patterned tile to sumptuous wallpaper to cozy textiles.
When Bonnie Christine and her husband, David, decided to take their two young kids on a long cross-country road trip, they began hunting for a pre-owned Airstream they could renovate and make their own.Having spent nearly a decade casually leafing through the classifieds for a trailer, the couple developed a keen eye that quickly led them to the perfect purchase—a 1962 Airstream Overlander for $18,000.From the reupholstered green velvet couch to variated penny tile, the diverse finishes and textures breathe new life and charm into the Airstream. Having returned from a successful adventure out west, Marjorie is now parked at Bonnie and David’s house in North Carolina. "She lives at our house and serves as an excellent additional office space for my husband and I when we need a quiet moment," Bonnie explains. "We've also got several trips planned over the next year. We can't wait to do more traveling!"
When a young couple yearned to inject new life into their historic apartment known as Little Flat in Lviv, Western Ukraine, they turned to Replus Design Bureau to help bring their vision to life. Aside from making the small space look and feel larger, the owners also wanted to keep a number of the home's original details, such as the old brick walls and Austrian parquet floors.
When Mike and Laura Farah found out they were expecting their second child, they knew it was time to purchase a larger home. Having lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Gardens for about a decade, they weren't ready to say goodbye to the familiar, so after viewing multiple properties, they ended up buying a 4,167-square-foot brownstone right across the road from their old home.The couple liked the condition of the relatively new property, which was built in 2010, but felt it lacked the soulfulness of the other homes they had previously lived in. There were also certain aspects of the house that did not suit their current lifestyle, so they contacted Brooklyn architect Frederick Tang to help them alter their new space to better fit their needs and tastes.
Inspired by the exposed infrastructure and roughcast concrete elements that were a part of the original space, Kiev–based architecture and design studio 2B.group has strategically redesigned the equipment room layout into a stylish penthouse residence—an idyllic setting for entertaining. "The main challenge of this project was to plan the space so that it would achieve maximum utility of its 180-degree view from the windows." explains Slava Balbek, one of the studio's founders. "We visually divided the space with lines originating at the doors in the center, thus separating it into the living room, master bedroom and service areas."
When Grace and Eric Koelma sold their home in Australia in 2017, they acted upon a ruminating idea of exploring the world and embracing an adventurous, nomadic lifestyle with their young son, Leo. Craving a change from the suburban norm, the couple took their work on the road and traveled in Europe and Asia, living without a permanent address for an entire year. With an ignited wanderlust and itch to live family-life on the road, Grace and Eric began searching for a van that would allow the three of them to comfortably explore Canada and North America. After first looking at a VW Westfalia, they knew it was simply too small. "Looking at a van that size was helpful because we realized we wanted more of a tiny home on wheels than a weekend-style camper," notes Grace. Shortly thereafter, they came across a 1991 Ford Econoline RV, which they then purchased for $8,500.Though the van was in great condition for its age and mechanically sound, the drab interior left little to be desired. Neither Grace nor Eric had building experience, so they figured things out as they went, enlisting the help of generous friends and fellow van-goers, while also faithfully consulting YouTube.
Sited just a half-block from the Pacific Ocean and neighboring a 70-acre ocean-side preserve, the location of the 1952 ranch-style dwelling could not have been better. Yet, homeowner Heather Greene of Sprout Concepts envisioned a more modern look for the modestly sized 1,100-square-foot residence in Santa Barbara, California. To take charge of the renovation, Greene called upon local firm Anacapa, where she worked in collaboration with architect Dan Weber. Given the extensive updates that needed to be completed on the three-bedroom, two-bath property, the redesign soon turned into a three-year project.
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