Should I fix up my house or should I sell and upgrade to a larger home? All homeowners will find themselves asking this question at some point, but if you live in a major metropolitan area of California (or similarly high priced area), it’s not so simple. Especially if the income needed to purchase a median priced home is well into the six figures, and let’s not forget a 20% down payment which is also a six figure investment.
Take San Francisco, for example. It is reported that a $191,000 annual income is needed to purchase a median priced home of $963,250, not to mention a 20% down payment which is $192,650 (more than you make in your annual salary!)
In San Jose, you’ll need to earn $126,000 to purchase a median priced home at $635,200 along with $127,000 down payment. Do you know what that buys you? A starter house in a not so desirable part of town or an itty bitty condo in a slightly nicer part of town. Oh yea…living the dream here in California!
So, when confronted with the dilemma of whether to upgrade your existing home or to sell and buy a bigger home, it’s not exactly a choice for many people…that is if you still want to feed your family and have a life. I mean, a nice big house is great, but you still have to furnish it, pay utilities so you can have running water and electricity and children don’t grow if you don’t feed them and clothing is required dress code for school. So, unless you are literally busting at the seams, you’re better off fixing up your existing home and actually enjoy your life.
This is what we did for our clients recently. They own a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom townhome which is actually quite spacious. The bathrooms are typical builder basic and can be easily updated for a higher end look. She was hosting a baby shower for a friend which motivated her to do some upgrades to the first floor spaces. Here’s what we did…
The half bath or powder room was her biggest concern. It’s a tiny space so it wouldn’t take much, but we actually did a lot. Here’s the before of the toilet side…boring and basic.
What’s not working:
- the solo piece of art is too small and very lonely. The white frame and glass is lackluster against the butter yellow walls.
- why do you need a towel rack above the toilet? There’s no shower or tub in this space. There’s already a towel ring by the sink…that has to go!
- She wanted to replace the toilet…perfect, found a really nice modern option.
What we did:
- Painted the ceiling Kelly Moore Swiss Coffee
- Painted the walls Kelly Moore Malibu Beige
- Installed removeable wallpaper in a yellow lattice on the wall behind the toilet
- Installed new clean line toilet with soft-closing toilet seat
- Installed 2 pieces of art stacked one on top of the other above the toilet which brought out the yellow and gray and added some blue and a little bit of pink.
- Installed another piece of art in complementary colors to the right of that wall to add some visual interest, otherwise it’s a lot of empty wall when you walk in since the pocket door entry is directly opposite that wall.
On the sink side, the homeowner wanted to keep the vanity which was in good condition. The cultured marble sink and countertop needed to be replaced, along with the faucet. She considered removing the medicine cabinet altogether, but ended up just upgrading the unit to something a little less basic. The sheet mirror was going to be replaced with a framed mirror and of course, the hollywood strip light needed to be replaced.
So…that’s what we did.
- Installed the same wallpaper on the mirror wall above the vanity
- Replaced the light fixture to a much more contemporary unit
- Replaced the medicine cabinet for a frameless, bevel edged version
- Replaced the countertop with a prefabricated white quartz which is super low maintenance along with a new undermount sink and a simple brushed nickel faucet. The single hole faucet takes up less space than the previous version.
- Replaced the tissue holder and the towel ring
- The old wood doors were painted a beautiful dark gray and we added two brushed nickel pulls which adds a nice touch and makes it easier to open and close the doors.
My favorite has to be the mirror. Now that’s a statement piece! I love the 3D pattern and especially that it’s round. When I sent photos to the homeowner initially, she requested a rectangular framed mirror and I encouraged her to go with a round one instead since most everything in the space was square and boxy – the light fixture, the medicine cabinet, the countertop edges . Luckily she agreed and it is the showpiece of that room!
A soap dispenser with a similar trellis pattern and a faux orchid with a beautiful turqoise base is the perfect finishing touch.
Moving onto the living room, this was purely a decorating project.
The homeowner wanted to keep her art and the sectional sofa. She was open to a new rug which I was thrilled about because the art and the rug didn’t really go together. The rug was contemporary but the lavender tones were throwing off the rich orange and green tones in the art. She was so funny because she laughed and said she really thought they did go together. Also, the accent pillows were too traditional for the contemporary rug and the art.
So…first things first. I wanted a darker wall color to contrast the art and really make it pop. The thought of dark walls everywhere scared her so we chose to paint a focal wall where the art was hanging which carried up the stair landing. I also recommended painting the metal stair rail black which was also outside of her comfort zone. The rail still needs to be painted but take a look at the after photo below and tell me what you think…black or white?
As you can see, we kept her sofa and rehung her art with 3″ of space between each piece. It’s a triptych which means it’s a piece of art that’s divided into three sections. That does not mean the panels need to be butted up against one another. They are meant to have some separation but they should read as a continuous piece of art, which it does. I also found these candle sconces which I thought would look great flanking each end and I love how they look. I purchased battery operated wax candles which makes it much more convenient. There’s even a remote control so you don’t have reach in and grab the candles every time you want to turn them on…instant ambiance!!! The new rug is an eyelash shag in shades of light and dark gray and brown which grounds the light colored sofa and allows the decorative pillows to really shine. Simple but classy!
Here’s the dining room before…
One of my pet peeves is a dining room chandelier that is not centered above the table as most are not. Builders really need to consider where the furniture will be placed rather than just centering it to the room. Regardless, that old school light fixture had to go and she was interested in installing drapes.
- replaced the builder basic light fixture for a oil rubbed bronze chandelier
- carried the same focal wall color from the living room to the window wall in the dining room
- installed floor to ceiling decorative panels on either side of the window which made the room feel taller and
- rehung her African art
If you notice in the before photo, the art was hung way too high. That’s a common mistake people make. Art should be at the average person’s eye level. I know she was concerned with the art being too low and her 2 year old son would have access to it, but aesthetically, art looks more comfortable when it’s not at the ceiling.
There’s a few more things to do in Phase 1 of #ProjectTownhouseTransformation, but otherwise, not bad for about 3 full days of work which included painting. According to the homeowner, the party guests loved her bathroom (no doubt!) and the dining room drapes looked fantastic as a backdrop to photos. We’ll be replacing the faux wood blinds with shutters which will be another upgrade that adds value to their home since it’s a permanent fixture.
Hope this inspires you update and upgrade your home and really enjoy it to its full potential. Save yourself the increase in property tax and a bigger mortgage. Love what you have! 😉