Bathroom Renovation Lessons – What I Learned

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared both of my mom’s bathroom renovation reveals here on the blog…

Her guest bathroom.

And her main bathroom. Both spaces look incredible and she is so pleased with the end results. I mean, how could you not be?! These rooms have been transformed!Jan's bathroom renovation lessons

I know you guys always love hearing from the Janimal –  her series about downsizing was a big hit around here –  so I wanted her to write a post about this big home renovation experience. All throughout the project, I told her to think about the bathroom renovation lessons she was learning along the way so she could share them with all of you.

This was her first project of this magnitude and I’m not gonna lie, she was pretty freaked out by it all when we first started. The ordering was overwhelming. The planning was overwhelming. All of it felt like A LOT for her, which I’m sure she’ll share below. But she made it out the other side and I’m so happy that she can share her bathroom renovation lessons with all of you. Take it away, Jan.

Jan’s Bathroom Renovation LessonsA freestanding tub in a bathroom

Yes, “overwhelming” is one word I could use to describe this remodeling experience, but I would also have to throw in the words “satisfying”, and “worth all the effort” and even “What took me so long?” I have to say that I am so happy I decided to do this project and I did learn lots of bathroom renovation lessons along the way.

As I look back over all of the places I’ve lived, I realize that I have never undertaken a big remodeling project. I have only had cosmetic work done, so this whole process was new to me. Having Casey guide me through the process was a godsend, but I realized that with some good planning and a realistic idea of what to expect of the process, anyone can do it. I hope these steps can help you get started on your own project.

Use a Highly Recommended ContractorUse a respected contractor

This is probably the most important thing that you want to remember. Find someone who has lots of experience doing the kind of work you want done and get references. Lucky for me, Casey and Finn have used Patrik for all the work in their house and I know how reliable and talented he is, so choosing him was a no-brainer.Demoing the bathroom

I had Patrik come look at my two bathrooms before I did anything else. He took a look at what I wanted to be done and gave me an estimate for the price and the timing of the project. He came to look in February and told me that he didn’t have room in his schedule until May and that both projects would take a total of three weeks to finish. That gave me time to get everything planned and ordered. (Because it was only going to take three weeks, I decided to

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Lessons From Listings Photos: How This House Sold in a Month During a Pandemic

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

There is no perfect time to sell a house—anyone who’s ever put a property on the market will tell you that. Sure, tradition tells us that selling in spring might be ideal. But at the end of summer? During a pandemic?

These extra obstacles didn’t stop the owners of a cute family home in Houston from putting up a “For Sale” sign. Perhaps their confidence came from knowing they’d made home improvements that would appeal to buyers. Regardless of their motivation, this sale was a success: The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home went on the market in August 2020, and was sold just one month later.

So what interior and exterior enhancements did the owners do to make sure their home sold in a hurry? We went to real estate and design experts to discuss the changes made to this house—and how you can pull off a similar transformation in your own space.

Front exterior

The front of the house looks dramatically better after just a few simple changes, supplying a first impression that buyers won’t forget.

“Curb appeal sells homes,” says real estate broker Bruno Fernandez, of Imagine Reality. “By simply upgrading the landscape, adding a luxurious accent door, and a fresh coat of paint that allows the original brick to pop, this home went from ordinary to eye-catching.”

Interior designer Lanna Ali-Hassan, co-owner of Beyond the Box Interiors, explains further. “The exterior of your home will either make or break whether a potential home buyer even steps foot through the front door,” she says. “The aesthetic of your home’s exterior should tell the story of what is occurring inside—and it’s your goal to get potential buyers to the next chapter.”

Ali-Hassan says that’s exactly what they’ve done here, by making the exterior of the home look clean, bright, and welcoming.

Living room

There was nothing exactly wrong with the living room before, other than the fact that it felt a little cramped. But that’s a major negative for buyers and can drive them away.

“If your living room is on the smaller side, the goal is to make it appear larger by tricking the eye,” says Ali-Hassan. That was easily accomplished in this space by using a few basic tricks, such as “incorporating lighter-colored furniture and neutral bright walls, accentuating the vertical by placing your window treatments up higher, and installing either a decorative light or ceiling fan.”

“The change is night and day,” adds New York City real estate agent Judy Liebman. “Dark furniture, drapes, floors, and accessories are replaced with more modern and light pieces.  The addition of blinds allows

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Lessons From Listing Photos: This Refurbished Minnesota Mansion Leaves ’70s Decor in the Dust

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

The self-proclaimed slogan for St. Paul, MN, is “the most livable city in America,” but that doesn’t mean every house in the capital city is one you’d love to live in. This five-bedroom, four-bathroom home may be just miles from downtown, but it had definitely seen better days when it was purchased in 2018.

Thankfully the new owners were ready for a challenge. Out went the 1970s decor stamped in nearly every room, and in came a modern, relaxed style that brought buyers running. Within two years, the house was sold again, for $1,049,000—more than double the previous purchase price of $520,000.

So how did the home sellers make it happen? We tapped top interior design and home staging experts to find out not only what the sellers did exactly right, but also how you can use their advice to achieve the same success when selling your home.


The entryway gives buyers a first impression of the house, and before the renovation, this space probably made more than one potential buyer turn right back around.

Designer and home stager Kim Gordon says the place even looked like it might have had a musty smell.

“The carpet up the stairs is dirty, and the drapes are wilted,” she notes. “Even with so little furniture, the space feels cramped.”

But the update managed to completely change the feel of the space, she says.

“The updated entry has utilized the magic of a white color palette and the contrast of rich woods on both the floors and the banister,” she says. “You’d never realize it’s the same fireplace.”

Gordon also notes that the updated staircase railing—which uses a darker stain on the original rail but new spindles—goes a long way toward modernizing the space. “Such a smart move,” she says.

The new space is now much more welcome to prospective homeowners, especially those looking for a place to entertain.

“To achieve an open floor plan, the back wall was widened and doors removed completely to allow for lots of space and an uninterrupted flow between the rooms in the home,” says Luciana Fragali, owner of high-end interior and architectural design firm Design Solutions.

Dining room

The original dining room could be described as dingy at best.

“Did Lincoln eat here?” asks Gordon. “The gravity of years has drained the room of joy, and it is past the point of charm.”

She was happy to see the changes to this space, saying a white theme with contrasting darker wood tones is the heroine again.

The brighter walls aren’t the biggest change in this room, though.

“A pair

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