6 Ways to Love your House Before you List It

April 30, 2015

A few years ago we bought a house that was in pretty bad shape. Everything about it was wrong. No really, my mom cried when we told her we were buying it. So what was the appeal? The location. In the area we live, the public schools are top notch, there are tons of  young families in the particular neighborhood we liked, plus it’s central to all the local hotspots. My husband convinced me to think of the house as four walls that we could transform into the home of our dreams. Despite the size, I started to envision the potential. Did I want a bigger house with a bigger yard? At the time, yes. But I’ve learned that you can make the best of the space you have – and there is something to be said about a cozy, intimate living space, and neighbor’s at an arm’s reach. These can be the biggest saving graces of all – especially when you have kids.

In a recent conversation with realtor Haven Duddy, wife of the owner of Duddy Construction, she told me that many people face this same dilemma. If they want their kids to be in one of the better school districts, the homes come with high price tags – especially if you are looking for a certain sized home. In the township that I live, there is only one active house on the market that is under 500K and has more than 2,500 square feet. Most young families who are looking for a house in these desired school districts may not be able to afford the larger homes. The result? Basically, we are going to have to get creative.

Being mom of 2 (and pregnant at the time) I had a short list of things I wanted for our new home: a mudroom, an open concept – a.k.a. a direct line of sight to where the kids play when I am in the kitchen, and a master bathroom. And pretty. Of course I wanted it to be pretty.

So maybe you are starting to question whether you are ready to splurge on the “forever home” or stay put for a while and make the best of the space you have. I sat down with Duddy Construction and we came up with some relatively simple changes you can make to help you love your home.  The following ideas are projects that Duddy Construction has completed (and some of my own house because we truly made use of every nook and cranny). Duddy Construction works with architects and designers who are able to come up with designs for the best use of space. Here are some recent projects and inspiration to make your home one that you love, not one that you want to list.

6 Ways to Love your Home (before you list it)

1. Add a mudroom: You have all heard of the “dumping ground effect”, right? You know, when the kids or messy spouse (won’t mention any names) walk into the house and dump their shoes, bags, clothing, junk etc… in whatever room is closest to the door, like, oh say, your living room (insert angry mom face)!!!!! By adding a small first floor addition or partitioning off part of an existing room, or adding custom built-ins along a wall, you can alleviate the “dumping ground effect” that so many families struggle with.




2. Adding closet space. Raise your hand if you’ve snuck some of your own clothing into your children’s bedrooms because you just don’t have enough closet space of your own? Yep. Guilty. Since we bought an older home, we were blessed with strong bones, but measly closets. In order to make this work, we took what once was a blank wall, and framed the windows with twin closets and a small bench.

ways to love your home

In the project below, Patrick, owner of Duddy Construction, took a blank wall and created a walk-in closet of sorts. He used the entire wall length which drastically increased the closet space in this bedroom. This was was a space that was essentially wasted, which made the closet the most logical use.

ways to love your home

In another project, they created a walk-in closet by carving out a corner that wasn’t being used.

ways to love your home

3. Bathrooms. I just LOVE sharing a sink with my husband and kids…. said no one ever. Installing a double vanity is a luxury, but many people think it just won’t fit. One little trick would be to replace the traditional swinging door with a pocket door. By doing this you gain several feet of usable space, and possibly a vanity that can span the entire wall. Duddy Construction made this happen in several situations where clients were desperate for larger bathrooms that included a double vanity.


ways to love your home

We did the pocket door trick in both of our upstairs bathrooms as pictured below. And the tower console is another great way to gain storage space!

ways to love your home

In the kids’ bathroom we wanted a larger vanity with storage space underneath instead of a pedestal sink. The pocket door trick opened this small bathroom up significantly.

ways to love your home

4. Opening up kitchens. We talked about this previously in our home facelift post, but taking a wall down between the kitchen and dining room or kitchen and living room is the perfect way to achieve that “open concept”. The three photos below are examples of how Duddy Construction opened up kitchen walls to adjacent rooms improving overall flow, light, and functionality for the modern family.

Wayne Kitchen Open


ways to love your home

How insane is that last transformation?


5. Custom Mill-Work and Built-ins: These are the finishing touches that not only make your home more beautiful, but they allow for more storage space. The before/after pictures below are the proof.


It looks like a completely new house, right?


6. Finished basements. For families with kids, this can be a total game changer. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Ours is essentially walls and carpet, but it’s a room that can evolve as the kids grow up. Right now ours serves the purpose of “play room”… soon to become “man cave” (likely) since I’m terribly outnumbered.


And we did convert the wasted space under the stair case into a playhouse for a little touch of fun.


There are countless ways to love your home before you list it —- converting unused dining rooms into an office or playroom, adding a small patio or deck to enhance your outdoor living spaces, or even changing a closet into an office nook or a small laundry room —- and the list goes on.

What changes have you made to your house to turn it into one you love? What projects are on your list?

This post was sponsored by Duddy Construction. All opinions about how you can make your house awesome, are my own. 

Duddy Construction is a full service renovation firm based in the Philadelphia suburbs and formerly known as “Patrick Duddy and Son General Contractor”. Their relentless commitment to quality, craftsmanship and customer service has built their reputation as the area’s trusted residential contractor. Additions, renovations, and remodeling are the core of Duddy Construction but they can assist you with any home improvement project. You can also find them on Facebook for updates and photos of recent projects.

duddy construction

  • Abby
    April 30, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Love this post!! I am obsessed with HGtv! And I love seeing these transformations.. So inspiring

  • Sarah Hughes
    June 1, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I love so many of these transformations!! We are in that same smaller house better schools zone!! Hoping to move to a larger house in the same development in the next year or two

  • Jessica Peace-Urgelles
    June 1, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I love the under the staircase playhouse, so fun! You have a beautiful home.

  • David Laniado
    April 11, 2016 at 1:59 am

    You did such a nice job, everything looks great and so clean.
    This post is great motivation to get into something in my house today!!

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