Renovating a Small House from the 1920s

3005 Belvidere before renovation

If I had seen this house when it was for sale in West Seattle–even with its fabulous city views and reasonable price tag for the area–I would have kept on driving. Fortunately there are people with better imaginations than I have, and better renovation skills, because now that it has been remodeled from top to bottom, it’s a real charmer.

You’ve got to see this “after” to believe it. Here’s how it looks now:

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it. I’ll bet this house, which was built in 1926, has never looked happier.

The entire project (purchase, rehab, and resale) was managed by Will Heaton & James Dainard, owners of Heaton Dainard, a full service real estate investment firm in Bellevue, WA. Here’s how the living room looked before they got to it:

And now:

The Dining Room before:

And now–a much cheerier space to eat in:

They opened it up to the kitchen, which used to look like this:

But now looks like this:

The house had 3 bedrooms and 1 bath to begin with. Now there’s an additional bedroom in the finished lower level and 3 full baths in the house. It was pretty scary upstairs before the reno:

The new master suite:

This is one of the three bathrooms in the house, and it’s not even the biggest one (the master has a large marble bath), but I think it’s charming:

The views of Seattle from the house ain’t bad, either:

It last sold for $300,000. They expanded the living area from 1,400 square feet to over 2,200 by finishing the lower level and expanding the second floor, and now it’s back on the market for $629,000. For more information, visit Heaton Dainard.

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  1. The Decor Girl says

    This is an awesome transformation. Just goes to show what a little clean up and fresh perspective can do. Ahh, the timeless white kitchen cabinets are perfection. Love the orangey yellow on the walls, a great current choic. Well done.

  2. Melanie Malaviya says

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Everything except the massive steel stove and hood!

  3. says

    My gosh Julia,
    you never fail to deliver an interesting read. I need half your talent and I will be good.

  4. says

    And more touches you didn’t even mention !

    From the new garage door to the top gable window. WOW.

    Painting the terrace level the color of the siding is best on houses without the ‘issues’ of this one.

    Views would have been impossible if they hadn’t renovated the landscape too.

    Row of evergreens along the drive wall with dwarf conifers will be problematic soon. Historically correct for bad landscaping.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  5. says

    Great rehab. I wonder if the people at Heaton Dainard would care to share with us how much $ they have into the renovation. Not that we want to pry, but I think it’s always interesting to see what costs what. I’d guess they easily have $200,000 into it. I’d also like to know how the property taxes will change when it’s sold; I assume the house will get reassessed at the time of the sale. Right now the listing says the taxes are only $542! As a New Yorker living in the county with the highest property taxes in the nation, this really caught my attention. I’m packing my bags. :-)

    • Jane says

      I was wondering if anyone else caught those property taxes! What a beautiful reno and a beautiful view. That will be sold very fast I would guess!

  6. Kris says

    This is the dream I think we all have for our houses. Great find, Julia.

    I’m so impressed by what they did with this house. I live in a 1926 bungalow, which we purchased in 2003 as a foreclosure. Hubby and I were 23 at the time, with a new baby. Needless to say, we have put in a lot of sweat equity but we’re still a long way from completion. This gives me ideas. Love the built-in in the dining room and the bright kitchen.

  7. Patty says

    Wonderful they were able to save the original coved ceiling in the living room and arched entry to the dining room!

  8. says

    what a fab re-hab! The exterior colors are just perfect! I too am curious to know the costs associated with this reno and what the profit margin will be!

  9. Rachel says

    i lived in seattle for many years…as soon as i saw the photo of the house, before i had even read the blurb, i knew this was a seattle home. :) they did an amazing job, makes me nostalgic! thanks for sharing this one!

  10. says

    now thats what I call a transformation! Yes, I agree with looks very very happy now..good one, Julia!

  11. says

    Living in a 1920’s cottage in Oregon. Looked a lot like that from the outside. All overgrown. Brought back memories!

    What a beautiful restoration they did!! It’s a real stunner.

  12. says

    Now that’s a renovation! Well done to the owners. Love the new front door and railings, white Shaker woodwork, bathroom sink and wall colors and ALL those new windows! Lovely.

  13. Jackie Toye says

    Dont know if I’d want my stove facing the Front door? But it’s a lovely home. Great moulding, colors and space. Love it

  14. Dean says

    Wowza! Beautiful renovation and the new price is totally reasonable considering what’s been done and the location/view.

  15. says

    I love this house! It looks so sweet and fresh now. I’m usually pretty good at seeing potential in houses but I’d have passed this one over too…unless I had the budget and manpower to fix it. This was definitely best left to the professionals and they did an amazing job.

  16. Mayra says

    WOW! It’s great that the owner saw the potential of this house. It is beautiful & cozy!

  17. Spring says

    What a lovely home! My husband gets annoyed whenever we drive through Seattle suburbs because I tend to drool on the window – the houses are so cute.

  18. Michael says

    Magnificent remodel. Really incredible. When can we move in? :)

  19. Miss E says

    I am just now starting my search for a bungalow style home in the Dallas area. There are so many that I would just love to snatch up in such terrible conditions and make it sing! As a designer my problem is always finding the balance of the stopping point versus “keep on going” with remodels. What a cute fixer-upper. Love these types of posts- keep ’em coming Julia!!!

  20. says

    I am amazed, and know not what to say! I’m curious what kind of profit was made on the latest sale, given the extensiveness of the renos.

  21. Lisa T. says

    I love everything they did. Such a dramatic change!

    Could you get info on some of the colors? I loved all of them inside and out.

  22. Kim says

    What an amazing transformation. It doesn’t even look like the same house. I love everything about it.

  23. tracy says

    What a transformation! Love the color in the living room. Any chance someone knows the name of the color?

  24. says

    I love before and after pictures…it gives me hope for our house project (finishing the basement) that it will some day be a beautiful ‘after’ picture!

  25. Jane says

    I’ll bet this turned out to be mostly a labor of love rather than profit but consider the free word of mouth advertising for the real estate investment company ( Heaton Dainard).

    After all, they help clients find and flip properties and this one only shows the potential of even sad homes ( before) turning to happy ones (after) with those who have the knack for seeing the potential in an apparently ugly home.

    What a gem! And a smart move for the company.

  26. Brandy says

    Wow, this company did an A-mazing job! If I lived in Seattle, I’d hire them for sure!

    You find the best places to highlight, Julia! Thanks for keeping the blogosphere interesting for abodeophiles like myself. :-)

  27. cbean says

    This might be my favorite of all your posts. It’s lovely inside and outside. I could see myself living there. Sigh. (:

  28. says

    Wow, that’s impressive. Someone likes to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Like you, I would have kept on driving if I had seen the ‘before’.

  29. says

    Now, THAT’S the sort of house that warms the heart! Although I love all kinds of house, large and small, I think a house that’s brought from another era into this one with grace and charm is the most wonderful of all! You’re right–this house looks happy. And I can imagine that happy people will be living in it!

    • says

      Yes! This post illustrates perfectly why those of us who are “hooked on houses” are so compelled by possibility … and by the prospect of making beautiful, happy spaces for today from the damaged, forlorn rooms of yestereday. House as metaphor for life and hope. :)

  30. Christina from Dallas says

    Fanstastic! What a transformation! If you only went by what it looks like now as compaired to what it looked like before (just on the outside) it would be amazing. But, with all the changes inside it turns into fanstastic! Wow can’t believe the house price doubled too! But it seems worth it.

  31. Penny says

    Beautiful, but they totally skimped on the light fixtures… :(

  32. S.BUSH says

    Wow….this really turned out very nice…great work to all involved…..

  33. Rebecca C. says

    And I thought I was the only one to say that a house looks happy! What an incredible transformation. These are the kind of houses I love to see. Buying houses that just looked depressed and fixing them. Way to go.

  34. Serena says

    Just checked the listing.. and they have beautiful photos! Thanks Julia

  35. E. George says

    What can I say but absolutely beautiful. You did it again (you know that thing you do) that has us all drooling and taking notes (must do lists) and we Thank You. This is a family home and then some. I hear that it rains a lot in Seattle (who cares I think it’s beautiful). Regards Esther from a cool and wet Sydney. PS I’ve been looking at a book called Architecture of New Orleans they have some great looking homes and gardens you just don’t get to see what they look like inside (pity).

  36. Cheryl Stoy says

    Well done! I’m with you, I would have kept driving. Thankfully, creative juices flow through different veins in all of us.

  37. Elvira says

    Charming renovation! It’s a real home, although I believe it’s staged for the sale and that’s why they don’t have any window dressings nor many lights.
    I love all those windows but having the neighbours’ windows right opposite I’d like some sort of curtains.
    The front yard landscaping is perhaps the only thing I’m not keen on. Someone mentioned conifers that will soon need pruning – I agree.

    Great find, Julia!

  38. Karen says

    Impressive restoration. The living room is stunning with a lovely fireplace. I wonder the total cost as well. The only thing that I would change would be the location of the stove and hood, especially since it opens to the dining room. That could just be me and my personal taste preferences too. I probably would have another landscape plan too–live and learn. I love everything else though. That must be a mistake on the property taxes and if it isn’t well it will definitely be going up soon.

  39. says

    I grew up in a house extremely similar to this one except that it was built in the late 1930s and located in Connecticut. Seeing the ‘before’ version of the rooms brought back terrific memories for me. Even the narrow driveway and steps up to the front of the house are almost exact duplicates! Love the new look though. Ironically, my mom always wanted to cut the wall between the kitchen and dining room and make it look like the ‘after’ picture. Thanks for this one!

  40. AB says

    Now this would have made a great show on HGTV. I wish they’d create a long 1 hour series (Drab to Fab!?) and devote to total renovations like this.

    I’m sure a lot of heart and soul and imagination went into the process–and I’d enjoy seeing it.

  41. says


    This is the type of inspiration that keeps me going on our little yellow cape -because I know the beauty is there, I just have to transform it into something lovely. (If only I didn’t have to make all the mistakes along the way :( Oh, well. Living and learning.)

    Thanks for sharing,

  42. says

    We live in West Seattle and LOVE what they have done to this house! There are a lot of smallish 1920’s houses here that are well-loved and cared for, and this one fits nicely into the neighborhood. My only change would have been to install a down-draft venting on the stove so not to block the view of the lovely kitchen.

  43. Menahil says

    Whoa! Love this space, it’s just soo pretty, love the sitting room, and the bathroom really is soo cute and charming!

  44. Rebecca says

    Love! the kitchen/dining room being opened up! What a difference that made. One thing I do not get..with the fabulous re-do on the outside..why o’ WHY did they leave that ugly cement wall by the drive! I know it is a retaining wall, but SURELY they could have least “dressed” over it in some way?? To me it was a total eyesore on a beutiful exterior!

  45. Pam says

    Very inspiring! Julia – your site is great. I recently inherited a home in Alabama that is not in a historic district, but built by my grandparents 50 years ago. They did not even build it from a house plan so you can imagine there’s nothing built to code but I’d like to see what could be done to save it. I’m totally overwhelmed by all the resources online. Where should I start? Is there a beginner’s book?