Our Best Renovation Decisions, Part I

Since I’ve previously written (not once but twice!) about our many home renovation regrets (see part I and part II), I thought it was only appropriate to balance out that negativity with a list of projects and renovation decisions I absolutely loved (and would recommend to others in a heartbeat!)

With a project as massive as a fixer-upper remodel, mistakes are bound to happen. However, it’s nice to (for once) focus on the decisions we’re actually proud of.

So let’s dive right in, shall we?

No. 1: Installing French Doors in the Dining Room

The room that is now the dining room (originally the master bedroom) had one tiny window that received very little natural light, making the space rather gloomy. When I first re-configured the floor plan layout (a post on that coming soon!), I pushed for installing 2-panel, glass French doors that would eventually open onto a large deck.

We love hosting friends at our house, and I’ve always dreamed of extending the dining space outdoors. Even though we’re still in the process of getting a quote for the deck, the French doors have already proved to be quite useful. During especially warm weekends, I love swinging them open and hearing the birds chirping while I work in the kitchen. And when company comes over, opening the French doors allows the parents to easily watch over the littles as they play in the side yard.

The moral of the story: Before any major renovation project, figure out how you hope to use the space. No deck to speak of at the moment? No problem. I knew eventually we’d have a large outdoor entertaining area, so installing doors to access said area was a decision that had to be made at the start of the project. 

To see more of our dining room, check out:

Our Best Renovation Decisions, Part I

No. 2: Creating an Open Concept Layout

As I briefly mentioned, I’m working on a detailed post about reconfiguring your floor plan to make it work for you. That is one of the most asked questions I receive about our renovation. In the meantime, let’s talk about the open concept living space we created by demoing a couple of walls – one of the best decisions we could’ve made to open up our small bungalow and create more space.

Traditionally, bungalows are known for their small rooms – and ours was no different. Not only did we have a mere 1300 square feet to work with, but the disjointed layout made the house feel choppy and borderline claustrophobic.

By demoing down the wall that separated the living room from what is now the dining room, we doubled on the natural light in the space, which immediately made the area feel so much bigger. By keeping the fireplace in the center (more on that later!), we created two distinct functions for the space – living and dining areas. We also demoed most of the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, which created an open flow – not to mention allowed us to have a peninsula in the kitchen.

The lesson here is that an open concept layout can make the smallest of rooms feel bigger. 

To see more of our open concept layout, check out:

Our Best Renovation Decisions, Part I

No. 3: Keeping the Original Fireplace (With a Few Updates)

The original fireplace was one of my favorite features of the bungalow when we first toured it (which, for me, was actually AFTER we already purchased it – you can read more about that in a previous post). Not only is it one of the few original (and functional!) features that we were able to salvage before the demo, but as I already mentioned, it’s such a great way to visually divide the open concept layout.

The process to update the fireplace was quite a nightmare, to be sure – dubbed “The Fireplace Fiasco” by yours truly. We were finally able to finish it during our very first One Room Challenge – and have been enjoying it ever since.

The moral of the story is if you want your home to have character, try to keep as many features that are original to the house as possible. 

To read more about our fireplace makeover, check out:

Our Best Renovation Decisions, Part I

No. 4: Granite Countertops

The granite countertops were another project that I pushed for vehemently. Budgets aside, I could not wrap my mind around the idea of building a kitchen from scratch (putting in all that work!) – only to install laminate counters. And sure, the other houses in our neighborhood aren’t, exactly, “nice” so chances are, if we ever decide to resell the bungalow, the investment we put into the counters may totally not prove worthwhile. But in the seven months since we finally moved in here, I have loved having granite countertops.

Some of my favorite features of the granite countertops include the heat-resistant factor; I can freely move pots and pans directly off the stove onto the countertop and not worry about it. I also love the salt and pepper look – it’s great for hiding crumbs (and even spills!) that I may not get to right away. Aesthetically speaking, granite countertops are so much more pleasant to look at (and work on) than laminate. And because they were a bit more costly than laminate, I’m always mindful to take care of them – another major plus.

The lesson here is that sometimes you have to design for yourself – not for the potential buyers who may or may not purchase your house a few years down the road. 

If you’re considering granite countertops, you can read more about our decision process here:

Our Best Renovation Decisions, Part I

No. 5: Soft-Closing Hinges in the Kitchen

While we may have quite a few renovation regrets in the kitchen, one decision I definitely stand behind is splurging on soft-closing hinges. They have made cooking and prepping so much more pleasant, and I’m sure once our little one arrives, I’ll be extra thankful for the absence of unnecessary noise while she’s taking a nap just down the hall.

The moral of the story is to splurge for as many “extras” as your budget will allow – they truly do make your life easier and more pleasant. 

If you’re considering IKEA cabinets for your kitchen remodel, check out:

Our Best Renovation Decisions, Part I

Similarly to the renovation regrets series, I’m going to break up this post into two parts for easier digestion. Keep your eyes peeled to this space for Part II, and in the meantime, tell me this:

If you’ve ever tackled a remodeling project, what were some of your best renovation decisions or projects? Share in the comments section, below.

Posted in HOME DECOR, OUR BUNGALOW RENOVATION and tagged , , , .


    • Hi Holly! You can browse all our rooms, sources + links on our “Shop Our House” page. The kitchen backsplash tile is from Wayfair and is currently 42% off! You can see it here. We installed ours ourselves, so if you’re wanting to try your hand at it, I have a full DIY tutorial here. Tiling is one of the easiest DIY projects – and so satisfying, too! Best of luck with your project!

  1. I just discovered your blog and so far have really enjoyed perusing the content (especially the art of being a lady series). Congratulations of your expected little one. What a blessing from God! Soft close kitchen cabinets were definitely a good choice. My husband and I bought a fixer upper last July and just finished the inside. Our house is a ranch built in 1970 and creating an open concept was definitely one of the best decisions we made with the reno. Another favorite feature is the floating shelves my husband installed in the kitchen. Perfect for displaying our pretty white dishes. Blessings to you.

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