Random Thoughts From An Architect

Frequently, remodeling is thought of as a quick and cost effective way to update a house prior to selling it. The realities of the market indicate that selling a home in today’s market might prove to be a bit difficult. (Did I put that sensitively enough?)


This was a home built in 1968 and, except for enclosing the porch a few years later, untouched.

The results often are houses with new kitchens and master baths (good) that seem out of sorts with an older home (not so good).

Ideally, a renovation/remodel should enhance and improve the entire house. Leave money in your budget to (at least) minimally update the rest of the house. Things like new faucets in the guest baths, new paint and carpet everywhere and repairing everything that needs it are givens, but don’t forget to look at light fixtures, door hardware and the (often overlooked) landscaping.

Your goal should be, as much as possible, to have your home look “new”, and not just “new” as in “just completed”, but “new” as in “finished and coordinated as well as if you started from scratch”.

In our practice, we have found that looking carefully at current local trends AND AVOIDING THEM AT ALL COSTS will keep your home from being quickly dated and make it stand out in the crowd of other homes on the market. Disclaimer: this only works if your selections are wonderful which you can only do if your taste is as good or better than Martha Stewart’s or you’re getting the very best professional advice.

I suppose I should mention here that this is not about money. It’s about careful choices and oh-so careful coordination so that the parts and pieces of the home flow seamlessly together. Again, this is hard and it’s hard even for experienced professionals. Add in a tight budget (and if you don’t think that the budget will be the primary controlling aspect of your project, think again!) and you can understand why close cooperation between you and your team members (architect, interior designer and builder) with each understanding their role in the process is so important. Everyone’s proper roles and how to manage them is worth an entire article in itself, so for right now, just trust me on the condensed version: since you’ve selected the “perfect” team, work closely with the architect and interior designer, simultaneously, to translate your goals into a design while getting frequent price updates from your builder. Simple, eh?
As I’m writing this, the Oscars have just concluded, followed by the yearly critiques of the stars red-carpet wardrobe choices. A poor choice isn’t a career killer and can be overcome by better choices at the next event, but too avoid embarrassment they ALWAYS choose a proven professional to design their outfits. With your home on the market, a bad choice means a lost opportunity. Please, please, please (imagine me on my knees, singing like James Brown here) don’t try this alone! Don’t take a greater “fashion” risk with the design of your home than you would for your choice of clothing for a formal social event.

Just like with formal attire there are guidelines for architectural design that should be broken only by someone who knows the guidelines inside-out and knows when it’s appropriate to bend them and when it is not. So, do your research, choose team members you trust and respect and get that old house in shape. But be prepared to love it so much that you’ll be sorry to give it up.



Existing Sun Room updated… just a bit.


About More Than Architects

I’m Rick Clanton. Michael Ruegamer and I are architects and the principals of Group 3 Design on Hilton Head Island, SC. We provide architecture and interior design services for homes in the US and the Caribbean Islands.
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