Turning a Small Ranch Into a Two-Story House

small ranch before two-story remodel

This 2 bedroom, 1-bath post-war ranch in South Portland, Maine, was cute enough to begin with–on the outside, at least. But it was kind of a mess on the inside. A reader named Laurel says they saw its potential, though. They fixed it up and added more space with a whole new second story. Here’s how the house looks now:

two-story Colonial after remodel

To give you an idea of what they were dealing with when they bought the place, here’s how the dining area used to look:

dining room area before remodel

And here’s how it looks now:

dining room area before remodel 2

They knocked down some walls, which gives the rooms more light and breathing space.

living room before

The living room now has a new mantel and hardwood floors. They were able to salvage the built-in bookshelves surrounding the window:

living room after

The kitchen went through some of the most dramatic changes in the house. She says, “The starting point was an awkward space with limited cabinet space, a basement stairwell that tied up a large corner of the room, and a 70’s color scheme.”

kitchen before remodel

The transformation took 5 months, she says, “But it was worth it.”

kitchen after remodel 2

new kitchen sink

They added circa-1800 beams to the ceilings “to give the 1947 house a sense of history that it didn’t previously have. It also provided a great transition to the taller ceiling that we created when the new engineered joist system was installed on the 2nd floor.”

new kitchen island

Another “before” shot of the kitchen, looking into the adjoining room, which used to be divided by a half wall:

kitchen before remodel 2

And now, with the half-wall gone:

kitchen after remodel 1

They envisioned this dark paneled room as a space for sewing and crafts:

craft room before

It looks like a much more pleasant room to work in now:

new craft-sewing room

The house now has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a little over 2,000 square feet. They listed it for $399,000.

Front Bedroom

Laurel says, “We’re pretty thrilled with the results and the buyers are, too. We had multiple offers from the Open House the first day it was on the market.”

bathroom after remodel

Visit her blog SoPo Cottage for more photos and information about the remodel–and to see what their next project is going to be. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

new master bedroom

P.S. This was another one of Laurel’s dramatic makeovers:

Blah Brown House Before

See how it looks now!

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  1. Laurie says

    So beautiful! What a great job they did. I love all the tasteful decorating as well.

  2. says

    H O L A
    Divine! I am now inspired to find a suitable beam for the ceiling between our kitchen + dining room. And of course, a bridge faucet for the kitchen sink! Is it cool or weird that I recognize some of their selections from all my online shopping? Just wondering. And, in closing, I would NEVER be negative, but if I was, I’d mention that the new exterior is a tad plain Jane + doesn’t pack the ‘groovy’ that the interior does.

  3. Debbie W. says

    What an amazing job they did! I loved that they kept some of the original details like the desk in the craft room and the bookshelves in the living room!! Well done!!

  4. says

    What a gorgeous transformation.

    I live on a street with a lot of post-war cottages. A few of our neighbours have added a second level to their houses and I’m always surprised at how seamless it looks.

  5. Peggy says

    Nicely done!
    That little pass-through between the LR and DR made me laugh; it looks like the one in dr’s offices!

    • says

      Don’t you love the pass through? At first we thought it was for pushing food back and forth to the kitchen……but we realized it wasn’t big enough for a turkey or anything sizable. They we discovered the phone outlet was there – so it was for the telephone! I do love these old houses!!

      • Karen says

        I like it and I probably would have left it intact as a nod to the past. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I love old houses too. Well done!

  6. says

    Beautiful! I really love the window treatments. They give each room the color and personality. I had to laugh because I recently moved into our new home with a wood-paneled den that will serve as my craft room, and it is dark and uninspiring. That wood paneling will be the first thing to get painted!

  7. Elizabeth says

    Love it! I subscribe to This Old House and this house definitely wouldn’t be featured on the last page where they show horribly oversized, poorly renovated homes. They did a really good job with the scale and not turning this one into an ultra modern Spanish style with hints of Victorian home.

  8. Linda says

    I saw the kitchen and the awkward stairs before the reno – what a great job! Thanks for updating us.

  9. says

    Kudos! They have great vision and are very talented! It is heart-warming to see a house recued and transformed. This one utterly shines!

  10. Laura S says

    Fabulous!!!! I’m always SO jazzed to see how people do before and after from ranch to a second story — I have a great ranch house (with no basement, but a really gorgeous property) and I love love love the idea of adding a second story (I’ve even mocked up photoshopped versions of what my house could look like) :-p
    Thanks for posting this!!!

    PS – so where is the door from the kitchen to the basement now?

  11. Rob says

    As we in the market for a home, these kinds of transformations make me change my opinion on some listings and go back and look at their potential…especially as they’re usually listed for so so much less.

  12. Alie B says

    Wow, what a difference! They clearly have a gift for renovating and flipping homes. Looks fresh and clean and a bit Pier 1 Imports. :)

  13. says

    I LOVE SoPo Cottage! I watched this baby unfold! I’m totally looking forward to the next house :)

  14. says

    They have such an eye for this! I have a few properties in my real estate market that could REALLY benefit from their expertise :)

  15. Kim says

    What an amazing transformation! Each room was well done and I love the added two story exterior.

  16. Tracie says

    Great vision! It looks lovely now. How much do beams like that go for? I’d love to add at least one (more if possible) to our kitchen.

    I guess thisis the new way to flip a house, huh? I hope that whoever buys it will love it and add more personality to it rather than just passing it on and on….

  17. Chris says

    The proportions of the house before were so off. The roofline was so strange being just slightly higher on half of the house. Looking at that and transforming it into what it is now was amazing. I can look at a house and know what’s off – but knowing how to fix it is another story. This was the perfect fix. It’s hard to add an addition that looks that flawless.

  18. Jonia says

    A.m.a.z.i.n.g. (another) period haha. I have never seen such a dramatic transformation. That was absolutely outstanding! I really like how they were still able to keep the built in desk and produce such a dramatic transformation in what became the sewing room. Okay, I totally didn’t not intend to say “dramatic transformation” twice, but really… the whole house is a dramatic transformation! Well done!!

  19. Mark says

    Amazing transformation!!! Question where did the dining room set come from?

    • says

      The dining room set came from Pottery Barn. I’ve used it in several different houses and it always looks great! In fact, I’m working on a blog post now, about how classic furniture pieces can work in a variety of styles!

  20. says

    Thanks so much for all the wonderful feedback on the house. We LOVED this project, it was so much fun. And Friday we turned the keys over to the new owners – newlyweds, who are thrilled to call it home!


  21. says

    That tiny passthrough is hilarious! The house is much improved, but I admit I kind of like the original kitchen cabinets.

  22. Karen says

    Impressive remodel. It’s beautiful and tasteful as are the decorating choices. I echo the sentiments that they did a great job.

  23. Leslie says

    I love this blog and spend a lot of time lurking here–it’s such fun to read. But I just have to break out of my lurk and comment on this house. It’s really stylish, but you could picture actual people living there. Every room is warm and inviting. The kitchen and craft room are my favorites. But I love everything from the artwork on the walls to the red front door. Bravo!

    We are military and move a lot–this year’s move is this coming week, actually. I can’t wait to be in our forever home and my goal is to get a fixer-upper with some character. This house is really inspirational.