I'm preparing a full-home 2-bedroom, 2-bath with an estimated monthly rent of $5,000 or more in the Los Angeles area and would like to optimize improvements to help lead to good reviews from the start. So far, I had the hardwood floors resurfaced, installed mini-splits, updated the plumbing and will have new vinyl windows installed soon.

 

It would be great to get suggestions for prioritizing the remaining improvements, to accommodate a limited budget, involving the kitchen, bathroom and landscaping: 

 

To avoid the costs of a full remodel, is it an option to leave the kitchen and bathroom cabinets as they are for now? If not, would you recommend replacing the cabinet doors and drawers and possibly the countertops?   

 

With new lawn watering restrictions, the front yard is turning into dirt. I believe artificial turf is a good option to enhance the appearance of the property and is common in the neighborhood, but it's expensive. Also, since we're able to provide a semi-private backyard to guests, I thought it would be worthwhile to create an attractive backyard by installing artificial turf.

 

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

 

Kitchen sink sideKitchen sink side Cabinets opposite side of the sinkCabinets opposite side of the sink side of kitchen with one spice cabinetside of kitchen with one spice cabinet BathroomBathroom

63 Replies

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Huma0 that was an amazing deal you found on the basin. It's good to know about getting creative in buying stuff. Thanks for sharing.  

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jim1912 

 

Yes, I was feeling quite smug after that. It was exactly the type of basin I was after, but I just couldn't afford it at retail prices. You can get similar for a bit less now, but they still cost a few hundred pounds. The basin was in a guest bathroom, so really hadn't been used at all.  I swooped in with an offer instead of letting it go to auction.

 

I also bought a shower that was brand new in the box and retailed at over £500 for £30 on Ebay. I have no idea why that was going so cheap as it was in perfect working order.

 

In both cases, no one else had snapped up the bargains because the listings were really poor. I mean the photos and descriptions were terrible. So, this is what I mean about time versus money. I didn't have much of either, but I put in the time to trawl through Ebay to find those bargains. You have to pay attention, because the best finds aren't always obvious.

 

 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Gillian166 might also have some ideas?

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Hay Valley, Australia
Level 10

ooooooh, fantasy renovation project! and on a budget is my speciality. 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Jersey City, NJ
Level 10

@Jim1912   The cabinets look fine to me.  I would definitely try to salvage by some sanding and repainting plus new hardware.  Not sure about the counter tops.  If you change I'd go with something classic and not trendy.  The color of the floor tile looks like it has a pink cast to it which is odd, but I'm sure you could find some design ideas that would integrate with that color as it looks like it is good shape.

 

I'd have to say hard no on fake turf.  Why not research drought tolerate plants and do a climate appropriate landscape?

 

that's my 2 cents.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Mark116 , I'll lookup people on taskrabbit to see if anyone can update the kitchen cabinets and replace the countertops. The tile floor has a lot of thin cracks so it's probably best to lay luxury vinyl tile or something on top of it.  

 

Okay. Good point. I had looked in to UC Verde buffalograss that's drought tolerant and good for So Cal so I'll give that another look.  

 

Thanks.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Hay Valley, Australia
Level 10

hi @Jim1912  we've done quite a few renos and most of the time it's in "period" homes. You've got some lovely features and it would be a shame to do something too modern that didn't fit the style, and as you say, if you do sell one day no will pay for whatever reno you do, as they will likely demolish the place instead. 

Kitchen, I agree the cabinetry can be salvaged, sand repaint and new handles. I would put in new countertops and splashback but I've seen those tiles used in the USA a lot, so if it's vintage and special (and they are in good condition) then keep it? Personally I think tiled benchtops are awful, spend the money on some good stone composite, which is easy to clean and always looks great. Install a dishwasher. 

the bathroom I would gut and re-do the whole thing. people might tolerate a quirky kitchen but less so a quirky bathroom, and you'll never be able to get it looking clean and hygienic. Use large tiles, go for white, don't do anything quirky or trendy, and put some personality into the space with decor. Unless I'm wrong and doing a mexican/spanish tile thing is on trend and what people love. I don't know your region enough to make that call.

 

In your listing just be sure to write "original features like updated, bespoke hand made kitchen from the 20s" or words to that effect, anything that lets your guests understand that drawers used to work differently.... 

Agree with the others about doing a theme, this allows you to thrift for items which keeps costs down and gives your place personality. Go to pinterest and search for decor ideas for your style of home and i'm sure there's a heap of ideas that you can copy. 

Being in Australia we are pretty down with "drought tolerant" gardens, is there no way to save gray water for your garden?  Around where I currently live (the quite tacky and modern Gold Coast) artificial turf lawns are also popular, my neighbours front lawn is fake. I think it's gross, but for a rental perhaps it works? I'd think that an outdoor entertaining space, esp in your climate, would be a bonus to have. 

Also search other listings in your local area and see what their style is like, what features they have that seem to be popular (read reviews to see what guests mention the most) so you can determine where to spend your money for the best ROI. 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Gillian166 , Okay, I'll see if I can find someone to update the kitchen cabinets and install new countertops and backsplash. 

 

Do you think a dishwasher is important? Since a builtin dishwasher would require ripping out the cabinet and frame, would a portable dishwasher be a good workaround? 

 

Good point on the bathroom. I'll look in to gutting it. The bathroom sounds like a higher priority than the kitchen so I'll spend most of the money there.    

 

I appreciate your help.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Hay Valley, Australia
Level 10

@Jim1912  if people are staying 30 days or more i'd say YES, you need a dishwasher, they are obviously going to be using the kitchen.  

It looks like the space to the right of the sink could take a full dishwasher, and it's no loss as those types of opening cupboards are pretty annoying to use anyway (most kitchens nowadays are all drawers) and you have plenty of other storage in your kitchen anyway, esp for STR. they won't have to "rip out" much, they'll cut out the guts but of course leave the carcass intact, and then finish off the sides, you'll just have to make sure they finish it off nicely to match. you'll need a plumber and an  electrician to install a dedicated power point under the bench. make sure you get more power points installed for the kettle, toast, coffee maker and whatnot.  

again i strongly urge you check out all your local competition on ABB so you can see what prices people charge and what the standard is. 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Gillian166 wrote:



the bathroom I would gut and re-do the whole thing. people might tolerate a quirky kitchen but less so a quirky bathroom, and you'll never be able to get it looking clean and hygienic. Use large tiles, go for white, don't do anything quirky or trendy, and put some personality into the space with decor. Unless I'm wrong and doing a mexican/spanish tile thing is on trend and what people love. I don't know your region enough to make that call.


I've used a Spanish patterned tile on the floor and a cubby in one of my bathrooms, with a plain tile on the walls (sorry, no photos of that on the listings yet) and people ADORE it. I mean they really go nuts for it. They were not pricey at all, but look expensive.

 

@Jim1912 While I think that @Gillian166 's advice on the bathroom is totally sound (large, white tiles are the safest choice and probably the cheapest and easiest too and that anything too trendy will date quickly), I would be tempted to go a different route. I would go for a contemporary take on the deco look throughout the property and make this a selling point. You mentioned the hardwood floors and archways, so it sounds like you have nice features elsewhere in the house. Anyway, if you are going to the effort of gutting the bathroom and starting from scratch, you might has well make it look beautiful. And beautiful can be done on a budget!

 

My thoughts are keep it classic by going for black and white rather than colour (more white than black if the space is small/doesn't have much natural light) with brass hardware, which will give it a luxe feel. 

 

Here are some higher end examples from luxury hotels, just for inspiration!

ab4f15b02478f40e2d837b092a0bc201.jpeg36292449382a1f9433ac6d729e650b76.jpeg

But you could definitely simplify this look and pare it back quite a bit, perhaps with plain walls and a patterned floor (which is better at hiding wear and tear).

 

7db94731598d73a24ccd0dd445ccae18.jpegda0e934829e574acda263fafe996a53b.jpeg21917864adc076ec607a354b0c07ed9b.jpege86070d96a6189918cb800981027173c.jpeg48736f0572958ab1eb5c84f02c30dbde.jpeg16e753078b593edaddc463f8ff705096.jpeg

 

I only go to bathroom showrooms for inspiration but buy everything online where it is much cheaper. I don't know about LA, but here there are lots of online tile retailers with great prices (I have used Walls and Floors and Porcelain Superstore, but there are many others). You can get samples for free or cheap to double check it's what you want.

 

Likewise, there are several bathroom retailers that sell sanitary ware, showers, taps etc. for well below the full retail price. If you want a vanity rather than a pedestal sink, remember you can always buy an inexpensive one and paint it a different colour (just pick a durable, water resistant paint) and change the handles. 

 

I have found Wayfair to be a great source for inexpensive but chic looking lighting. Deco style wall lights would help to pull the look together. If you can't find a deco style mirror you like on your budget, try shopping for vintage. I got a brass one (1920s or 30s) for around £15 on Ebay.

 

Then again, this might just all seem like too much effort in the time you have. I am never one to go the simple route though and one thing I know I am good at is finding a bargain!

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Hay Valley, Australia
Level 10

@Huma0  I have 2 of those pics saved in a pinterest folder for a bathroom conversion we want to do! I love all of these, but without seeing @Jim1912  's place i'd hesitate to recommend this dark luxe look.  that white pedestal with the dark panelled walls is 😍 (for me!) 

I love all of these, and subway tiles are always on trend so you can't wrong. even if they go out of style briefly, they always come back. I'd even do black grout which is popular now, and certainly makes cleaning easier! We did the "moroccan" floor tiles in the guest toilets, very small spaces in which to be brave/different, but our main bathrooms are all the same large grey or large white tiles, still looks like it was done yesterday and our tiler came over recently (he worked on our farm so long he became a mate) and asked to see all the bathrooms and he was like "yeah, this still looks great". 

I'm loving the look of the black window framed glass but i think it's potentially a cleaning problem, and bit too trendy. I would recommend NO GLASS at all.  cleaning glass takes so long because you can always find a streak or a spot, but it does depend on the shape of the room, the lighting, and what you can configure. 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Gillian166 

 

Yes, I mentioned to @Jim1912 that if the bathroom was small and didn't have a lot of light to maybe tone back the black (could just be accents). I also LOVE that look with the black walls and think it would be great in a downstairs toilet, for example, but is maybe too brave for a main bathroom. I don't know. I was tempted to paint my main bathroom black when I was renovating the house. It's a large room with lots of natural light. My builder talked me out it though and so I went for grey.

 

Do you think the black framed glass is harder to clean because of all the panes? I was thinking about getting a black framed cubicle for one of my bathrooms. Yes, I can see how panes could be a pain (sorry for the pun!) but you can also get black framed ones with single panels of glass. I don't mind glass screens in bathrooms. I much prefer them to shower curtains which I think can look messy and get grubby quite easily.

 

We have very hard water here, so it is easy for limescale to build up. However, I've worked out the techniques to keep it streak free and it really doesn't take long. I guess it depends on how often it's cleaned. My cleaner does it weekly and I can keep on top of it in between as I'm a live in host. If @Jim1912 is only planning to do clean in between the long stays rather than regularly during them, I can see how it could soon start to look grimy.

 

Overall, I'd say with bathrooms it's about finding a balance between good looks and classic design that doesn't date. I went for something quite traditional, with white tiles and sanitary ware in my main bathroom and, 13 years later, it's not dated at all. However, I do see bathroom designs in magazines etc. that look cool but you just know in a few short years, they are going to look wrong.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Hay Valley, Australia
Level 10

@Huma0 wrote:

 

Yes, I can see how panes could be a pain (sorry for the pun!) but you can also get black framed ones with single panels of glass. I don't mind glass screens in bathrooms. I much prefer them to shower curtains which I think can look messy and get grubby quite easily.

  


1) never apologise for an excellent pun. 

2) oh i wasn't suggesting a shower curtain, that's not even on my radar! I see it a lot in USA design but here in australia shower curtains are not a vibe.  the bathroom in our cottage had a shower curtain, on a rusty rod, we simply took it down, and now it's just an open shower space, with no glass screen and it's wonderful to clean. 

when we bought it:
cottage06.jpeg
cottage05.jpeg 

Now:
cottage_bathroomWEB.JPG

sorry i don't have a photo of the shower but we tiled all the way to the ceiling in the whole room, and put in a new double shower head with mixer tap. a little water spills out onto the tiles but it's not a big deal (of course we supply floor mats), it's SO easy to clean this shower area. the grey tiles extend out into the front entrance, and this cottage is light grey + white colour theme. We didn't do this reno thinking of airbnb, but it's worked out well. The only thing that has failed is the underfloor heating, it's never worked in this space. the tiler blames the sparky, and viceversa and there's never been a solution offered by either, and digging it all up isn't an option. 

I love your traditional bathrooms, they are stunning and perfect for your place. this little workers cottage of ours is a humble little place so everything we've done has been humble, subdued. No point putting lipstick on a pig!  I'd love a chandelier in the bathroom and maybe one day i'll have a space that suits it, but i'm a firm believer in design that you let the house guide you. (sort of like: dress for your body type)  

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Prescott, AZ
Level 10

@Gillian166 

Wow, what a nice bathroom!

We spent on our bathroom, more than any where else in the bunkhouse. But, I didn't want the bathroom to be far nicer than the rest of the place, which only got "a lick and a promise"!

We use shower curtains that I take down and wash with the sheets. Low step in, big bench to sit on or put your stuff on. Big enough for 2 people to share the shower experience!

Ted & Chris

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Gillian166 

 

Ah, I see. Yes, I have gone for a similar shower set up in my downstairs wet room. There's no glass screen, no shower curtain, and it all works fine. However, that's largely because it's on the ground floor and the floors and there (underneath the parquet or tiles or whatever) is concrete.

 

Having this wet room type set up higher up in such an old house is risky and, even though it is perfectly possible, it's going to cost a lot more money to ensure it's totally leak proof. I have dealt with enough leaks in this house to know. But then my house is almost 200 years old. Maybe it will fall down next year.

 

Perhaps it's different in a 1920s house in California though, especially if @Jim1912 's bathroom is on the ground floor. 

 

I totally agree with your ethos of letting the house guide you. That was kind of why I was getting so into the deco vibe with @Jim1912 's place, although it's probably not the advice that most would expect/want when planning to do things on a budget.

 

However, I am a firm believer that you do not need a big budget to create something beautiful because there are always bargains to be had. We have so much choice these days because I think the average homeowner is so much more style conscious now and demand brings down costs. It's the labour that is the costly part... as you well know!

 

Nothing wrong with keeping it very sleek and simple though. That can also be very chic as well as practical. I just think it's a shame to lose the deco vibe in @Jim1912 's property. Oooh, how I would love to get my hands on it!

 

 

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