Before & After: A Cozy Cape Cod Gets a Makeover


Some of my favorite home makeovers are of smaller ones like this Cape Cod-style house in Seattle because they have to get creative about making the limited amount of space work–and it’s usually on a tight budget. So when readers Brian and Kerri sent me photos of the work they’ve done on theirs, I was impressed.

That’s how the house looked when they started work on it (above). Here’s how it looks now:

So cute!

Here’s how the tiny kitchen looked before:

And after they opened it up:

Now it’s lighter and brighter and has more counter space.

Believe it or not, there are 5 small bedrooms in this house.

And two bathrooms. Here’s one of them that they updated:

The basement before:

And now that it’s been turned into a bright and usable space for their kids:

The backyard and deck before:

And after they got it all spiffed up:

They bought the house for $434,000 and just sold it for $600,000, so they feel like all the work they put into it paid off. Many thanks to Brian and Kerri for sharing it with us!

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  1. Sabrina says

    love it! When we tore up our kitchen floor, we found that same linoleum they had in their before pic! Think everyone had that same floor at some point in the 70’s! :)

    • Tracey says

      Both the cabinets and flooring in the “before” kitchen look just like my grandparent’s 1950’s ranch – only their countertops were mustard yellow :)

    • Maggy says

      Oh, I remember that kitchen flooring .. my parents had the exact same flooring (same color, even!) in the house I grew up in! Boy, that brings back memories ..

  2. Laura says

    Very nice job! I like their decor. Those wood floors in the dining area look new, so I definitely would have carried them through the whole kitchen.

  3. Julie says

    I absolutely am in love with the floors in the dining and living room. I love this house, so quaint!

  4. Julie says

    looks great but the price, wow! where is the house located?

      • Shannon says

        Yeah, I live in the Northwest and sometimes when I see the prices on Midwest homes I laugh out loud. And then I start to cry a little.

        • says

          I Love these updates! Gives me some ideas for my 1970’s home. I live in the Seattle area and believe me this is a normal size home for that price.

  5. Justin says

    The kitchen is great! When I saw the before picture, I was doubtful as to how much I would like the new kitchen, but I love the butcher block and, although I’m usually not one for white cabinets, they look great with the butcher block counters.

    I also love the dining area and the corner wall of windows. All of those windows really open the room up and make a small space seem much bigger.

    • Brian says

      thanks Justin! Kerri cried a lot when we first bought the house because of the kitchen. This kitchen was still a huge issue for potential buyers though! Don’t let the wide angle lens fool you…it was still quite quaint!

      • Justin says

        Oh, for sure. I’ve a 1950’s cape and, although bigger than most cape cod homes I’ve seen from the era, the kitchen is still smaller than I’d like. With most kitchens from that period, the best you can do is make use of all available space (unless you have the budget to do a complete gut of the house…) and it definitely appears you’ve done so. Again, fantastic job.

  6. Eileen says

    What a cute house! Great remodel…….and I love the painted floor in the kids bedroom.

  7. 65andcounting says

    Unless they were lucky enough to do all the work themselves and get the materials at cost, I can’t imagine that selling at $600,00 would have given them all that much of a profit. I’ll guess their renovations were in the $50,000 range, give or take. Also, don’t forget, the seller pays the real estate commission, at @5%, that’s $30,000, (most state are 6%) then there’s closing costs, and paying off the mortgage. Not that they shouldn’t be thrilled to get $600,000, that’s great, but numbers can deceive and it’s not always a large take away when so much work is done. I’m curious: were they re-assessed by the town after so much work – i.e. did their property taxes increase alot? That’s the sad downside of major renovations – great until the assessor comes a’knocking!

    • Brian says

      You hit the nail on the head! The renovations were quite a bit higher even though we did most of the work ourselves!

  8. Jen says

    Wow, really cute house. As a current Seattleite and recent first time homebuyer, $600,000 is really steep for a house that size, even in Seattle! It must be in a super prime location like Capitol Hill or near downtown for that price. They did a really great job flipping that house though, I especially like how open the kitchen is now, and the little cubby under the stairs in the basement.

  9. says

    They did a wonderful job – I especially love the painted wood floors in the attic kids room! Very nicely done! But I agree, the price seems steep – I wonder what the house’s square footage is? Hey, it sold though!

  10. Shabby Chick says

    So pretty! I love that kitchen (except for the flooring. And it’s strange where the wood/tile come together with 1/2 of the cabinet on the tile and the other 1/2 on the wood). I adore cape cods 😉

    • Brian says

      great observation! We should have brought the wood into the kitchen. Truth be known, we refinished the existing hardwood floors right before the sell of our home. They were in awful condition thanks in part to our four kiddos who used the indoors for their “outdoor” tricycles etc. quite a bit during the dreary winter days of Seattle.

  11. Jennifer says

    ShabbyChick-my thoughts exactly when I saw the kitchen….
    They did a terrific job on b-ment.

  12. says

    I gotta say, I miss the red roof, but I really love what they did with the rest of the house. I love seeing people get creative while trying to work within the footprint of their houses (and I know I’m a complete hypocrite for saying that as I am actively increasing mine).

    • Brian says

      we often said that this was the color of McDonalds…therefore the red roof had to go!

      • Maggy says

        Oh, I love the new roof .. the color softens the house. My eyes went directly to the red roof in the ‘before’ picture! Same with the new color of the front door and shutters .. great job!

  13. Kate says

    The renos are lovely, but why oh why did they have the kitchen floor meet the dining room floor smack in the middle under a kitchen cabinet??? That looks totally bizarre. I’d have done wood the entire way, but if not I’d at least have carried the tile under the entire cabinet and THEN met it up with the wood.

  14. says

    Cute house! I love how the change in roof color makes the chimney stand out more, it kind of got lost with the old color.

    It is amazing the price differences from one area to the next. I don’t think there is even ONE house within our town with an asking price of $600,000, probably even the whole county. We max out around $200,000 or so here.

  15. julia sheets says

    great job guys, I love it! I am curious how much the renovations cost? Specifically the basement? That is my favorite of the transformations!:)

    • Brian says

      the basement cost of $20k because we did this ourselves! We had a quote for $80k by a contractor!

      • Maggy says

        Brian, I *love* the basement! Having refinished a basement space, I think y’all did a fantastic job! I love the staircase treatment (the U-turn was a great idea!)and the way you partially opened it up — the partial wall really makes that space feel much more like a real “room” and less of a former basement space. And — great choice on color; love the sage green walls!

        What a fun little nook next to the dollhouse .. I’ll bet that the kids’ favorite part of the room :- )

    • Karen says

      I was thinking the very same thought – nothing that twenty thousand dollars plus can’t fix:) But the hard work paid off for them. 600,000 for this house is just totally absurd by the way . . . . I’d move out of the area first!

  16. Rachel says

    adorable! my sister in law lives in a house nearly identical to this one in seattle…in fact, for a split second i thought it was actually theirs. they recently bought it after it had been renovated. could be the same neighborhood, though. do you happen to know what neighborhood it’s in? just as jen said in a previous comment, for the size, that price suggests it must be in quite a prime spot!

  17. stephanie says

    Love this! What an amazing job they did!

    The kitchen counter tops are fantastic. If I see one more kitchen with granite countertops (and stainless steel appliances w/travertine floor tile) I’ll shoot myself. The countertops make the kitchen seem warm and “homey”.

    I love the basement too! The whole thing is an excellent use of space. Where the heck did they fit 5 bedrooms??

    • JoLynn says

      I totally agree with you! Polished granite countertops and stainless steel appliances seem so trendy to me. Everyone has them now.
      P.S. I would have loved to have seen pics of the 5 bedrooms!

  18. Robin says

    Would love details about the flooring in dining room: hardwoods? laminate? Pre-finished? Spill it! They’re gorgeous :-)

    • Brian says

      red oak hardwoods with a darker stain. we finished it with a water based stain to not have to deal with the toxic smell.

  19. Brandy says

    Great job! Absolutely adore the painted floor in the one bedroom–too cute!

  20. JoLynn says

    I would have definitely ran the hardwoods into the galley kitchen. I love the green they painted the basement! Anyone have any paint color suggestions for a great paint with just ‘a touch of grey – kind of dusty green’ color close to what they used in the basement? I’ve been searching for months!

  21. says

    It is darling and that kitchen absolutely makes the house!

  22. Kim says

    What a cute house. Brian and Kerri did such a great job with the renovations. I love everything about this house.

  23. Linda says

    Love the off-white shade of the kitchen cabinets! Is it paint or were they purchased in this finish?

  24. says

    Great remodel! Love the new kitchen, but wish they brought the hardwood in to the kitchen. My eye caught it immediately, especially since the cabinet is straddling both floors. Otherwise, a great job and it paid of for them! Would love to do a remodel like this, then sell. Flip that house! haha.

  25. cbean says

    So very, very cute and inviting, but for $600,000.00 you could buy ten houses in my city! (:

  26. Elvira says

    Well done! The house is beautiful. My favourite part is the kitchen and especially the luminous dining area with the wrap around windows. In my next kitchen I’ll have butcher block countertops and white cupboards too, they add warmth and cosiness. I currently have marble countertops which I hate with a passion.
    Also, great job in the basement! I love the paint colour there.

  27. Jen M says

    Great renovation. Clean and bright and perfect for a Cape. Love all of the windows in the dining area, the kids’ room and the basement (especially the swing!). It’s obvious that a lot of careful planning went into it.

  28. Dina says

    Was the square footage mentioned? In Upstate NY this house would sell for about $145,000 with the renovations and probably $90,000-110,000 in the before state. I guess I will not be moving to Seattle anytime soon.

  29. Dina says

    Yes, thank you. I as guessing 1800 ft from the outside and I didn’t consider the basement.

  30. Karen E says

    OMG!! This is my nephew and wife’s old home!! When I first looked at the photos I thought, “Wow, that sure looks like Brian and Kerri’s home”…..Doggone!! It is!!

    They are a great family and they did a great job on this with Brian doing much of the work himself……

    • Brian says

      You didn’t get the memo that we are pretty much famous now? Or at least our old home is!! I guess we will have to stay tuned for another project here in Bend, Oregon!

  31. Screendoorgirl3 says

    So pretty! I love a cape, and love those painted floors! Great job..

  32. says

    Loved the house, but have to question..WHY di they not have the SAME floor going thru0out in the kitchen/dining are? Looks really odd, and espicially with the dining floor starting under one of the kitchen cabinets.

  33. Decatur Mama says

    I love the sink shown in the updated bath. Where was it purchased? Thanks!

  34. Megan says

    Love the painted floors in the kid’s bedroom and I want that playroom for my boys!

  35. Stephanie says

    Do you know how they got rid of the corkboard in the basement? I have a room that has 3 walls of cork and it looks like it may have been put up with an adhesive such as liquid nails (40 years of age seems to not have made a difference, it’s still on there tight). I’m desperate for a solution!

    • Brian says

      Our solution was not be an easy one… as we had to rip everything out!! This did have some advantages though as we were able to easily rewire the basement and reconfigure the living space. Wish I had a better solution for you!

  36. Corinna Taubner says

    Great project. Thanks for sharing. If you recall, I would appreciate knowing the stain you used on the dining room floor. Love it. Thanks.

  37. Brian says

    The wood floor finish was a Medium Brown by Dura Seal with 3 coats of non-toxic commercial grade finish (PALX96 satin).

  38. Menahil says

    This house is so beautiful. I love it! Why’d they sell it,!? This is like my dream home: comfy, charming and welcoming, light and airy…it’s perfect for me!

  39. Edith says

    I love seeing readers’ remodels, especially when they do the design and actual work themselves! I can’t relate to those “magazine” remodels in which extremely wealthy people pay designers, architects and contractors to do their renovations for them. I have been doing my own whole-house renovation for the last 6 years and it is such an incredible, confidence-inspiring learning opportunity. Kudos to Brian and Kerri!