Dwell’s Top 10 Renovations of 2017

The end of the year is the perfect time to celebrate change and renewal.
Text by

If there's one thing that gets our attention, it's a thoughtful renovation that respects a building's character while updating it for modern comfort and efficiency—and data shows that our readers love it, too. This year, we've covered some jaw-dropping projects ranging from an abandoned apartment in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, to a fire-ravaged Victorian in San Francisco. See their transformations—along with other ingenious overhauls—below.

10. Exquisite Home Renovation in Melbourne

The BuildHer Collective, a development company whose aim is to empower women to tackle their own construction projects, teams up with architects Bellemo & Cat.  For this recently sold home in Northcote, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, BuildHer partnered with the homeowner to help her purchase the land, as well as manage the design and build team, which consisted of renowned architects Bellemo & Cat and contractor Beirin. The result is a stunning remodel that combines a new sun-dappled extension with a renovated period home. 

Formerly a one-bedroom cabin, the Mill Valley, California, home of Tim and Stefanie Rosa more than doubled in size after a renovation and addition by Pfau Long Architecture. The high-ceilinged kitchen-living-dining room is outfitted with white oak casework by Henrybuilt. Leo, five, sits in a Tripp Trapp chair at a custom dining table.

The Sea Ranch, which stretches 10 miles along the Pacific coastline in Sonoma County, California, is characterized by timber-frame, wood-clad structures that are in dialogue with the local climate and terrain. Sited on a bluff within this pioneering community is the vacation home of a lawyer couple. After purchasing the residence in 2007, they lived in the home as it was for four years, even keeping the previous owners’ furniture. Envisioning a retreat that would accommodate their extended family and guests, they then recruited Butler Armsden Architects and Leverone Design to help guide the project.

The original apartment, located in the Grazia district, was dark and disjointed. Built in the early twentieth century, it had been partitioned into small rooms that were connected by shadowy hallways. The impression of the architect, Carles Enrich, was that the apartment's potential had been "hidden behind the consequences of several interventions" over the years.

As if undertaking an archaeological dig, architect Carles Oliver peels back layers of his home over the course of three years. Cities that are inundated by tourists, such as Palma de Mallorca, Spain, can suffer severe housing shortages that call for the reappropriation of unused space. Architect Carles Oliver undertook just this task, rehabbing an old, empty building with a budget of just over $21,000. Through an urban sharecropping contract, the work on the home was done in exchange for three years of rent.

Thanks to a careful renovation that included a handful of preservation challenges, a family's Spanish beach house is given new life—and a big dose of light. Situated along the historic Camí de Ronda footpath in Spain's Costa Brava region, the Es Garbi beach house was renovated by Nook Architects to reflect the light and tranquility of the surrounding Mediterranean landscape, as well as to function as a well-designed family home.  

High on the east bank of New York's Hudson River, a special midcentury home receives a stunning renovation inspired by the strength of its initial design. One of the defining design elements of the home is that the entire floor is made up of original terra-cotta tiles which only required a cleaning.

Mexico City-based architecture firm PRODUCTORA completely remodeled and renovated the home of graphic designer Jessica Fleischmann, daughter of Ernst Fleischmann, who led the Los Angeles Philharmonic and commissioned Frank Gehry to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Over the 15 years she lived in the home, she developed a strong connection to the neighborhood and the house itself, which inspired her to renovate it. With her strong affinity for design, she was thoroughly involved in the creative process, including selecting the particular colors that are interspersed throughout the renovation and extension of the house.

In San Francisco, the tug between new (slick, contemporary condos) and old (wood Victorians) plays out in Dogpatch, a historic district that houses a large collection of turn-of-the-20th-century homes that survived the 1906 earthquake. One of those Victorians is an 1890 cottage that caught fire in 2008, destroying everything but the shell. That allowed a young couple who’d been searching for a single-family home to have the best of both worlds—a Victorian with 21st-century interiors—thanks to the work of Red Dot Studio.

Sitting on spacious lots just walking distance from Menlo Park’s downtown area is a trio of architecturally modest tract homes—one of which is the residence at hand. Joseph Eichler worked with a draftsman to build them in 1949, before he hired architects Robert Anshen and A. Quincy Jones to design his recognizable homes of the 1950s. After living in it for a year, a family with two young children decided they needed more space and some modern day upgrades. 

To see more of our Top 10 lists, click here.


Last Updated

Get the Renovations Newsletter

From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.