house renovation

Top 5 Remodeling Tips

  1. Don’t over improve
  2. Set a budget
  3. Consider the homes in your neighborhood
  4. Choose a timeless design
  5. Set a timeline

Where I Learned These Valuable Tips 💡

First, I’ll give you a little backstory on where I learned these remodeling tips. Ryan and I married and lived in a small apartment in Dallas for a short while, until an opportunity arose for us to purchase a “fixer upper” in Sulphur Springs. As a young couple just starting out, this was a big deal for us! We could purchase this house, put a little money into it and “flip” it, just like we saw on all those HGTV shows! It would be so fun and easy! 😉

Oh, I wish we knew then what we know now. But I guess that’s how life works right? Live, learn and pass on the knowledge. And hopefully don’t make the same mistakes twice. I’m not saying we know all there is about renovation, but we have learned a thing or two; mostly of what NOT to do! Read on to find out what I mean. You will probably get a good laugh in and hopefully gain some knowledge. There’s so much to know about the right way to do a remodel, but here are my top 5 tips for remodeling.

So, let’s start with number one; don’t over improve!!!

Tip #1 – Don’t Over Improve 🔨

We took one look at this house and thought every single bit of it must come out! This wall, that wall, gut the kitchen, gut the bathroom, tear out this disgusting floor! ALL of it! Demo, demo, demo. Until all that was left were some walls and the slab. Well guess what happens when you have a house that has nothing inside of it? You replace everything! 😱 From the kitchen cabinets to the toilets. It all had to, surprisingly, be put back. We could have honestly touched every room in that house to update it, without completely gutting the place. I do stand by the open concept though! I mean, we did do something right! 🤔

Look at the big picture before deciding what needs to be redone and what can stay. It’s highly possible that you can refinish the tub or paint the kitchen cabinets. You’d be surprised what a difference a coat of paint and new hardware can make. If the home does need a complete gut job, purchase it at a price that reflects that. Otherwise, work within a budget and check off the most important spaces first. Especially if you plan to sell after renovating. Look from a buyer’s perspective and put money in the areas that will give you a return. Here’s a great article on some quick and cost-effective ways to spruce things up.

That takes us into the next tip – set a budget!

Tip #2 – Set A Budget 💲

Your budget will depend on your plan for the home and the renovation. Are you buying it as an investment and plan to sell quickly? Then you need to have a good profit margin. If you are buying the home to live in and make the repairs and updates to your liking, then you can think of the return in the long run. You will always build equity in a home, if you make a smart buy. Real estate is the best long-term investment you can make. If you would at least “break even” in the current market, equity will build on that in the years to come.  

Now, don’t just pull this number out of thin air, like we did. Really take the numbers seriously and do your best to stick to it. A great buyer, with a great agent 😉, can determine how much work needs to be done. Then they can guide you on the best price to offer for the property. Make sure there is room for some profit. After all, this is an investment; be smart about it. Your budget for the renovations should be based on your purchase price and what the home could sell for in the market you plan to sell.

The potential sales price also depends on the finishes you will use, so it’s important to have all of this planned in the budget. Extra tip that I wish someone would have told us; plan for unseen issues. When you begin removing walls or flooring, things can come up that you didn’t account for. Have this in mind and set aside some “emergency funds” in the budget. We unfortunately didn’t do this and uncovered some major problems that cost us more in the end.

Going back to choosing finishes takes me into my next tip – take the homes in your neighborhood into consideration.

Tip #3 – Consider the Homes in Your Neighborhood 🏠

This is very important. You can easily over improve in this way as well. Being a step above the competition is great, but this is where design can help on a budget. We chose granite countertops for the kitchen. Back then granite was just becoming popular and therefore it was expensive. It made a great selling feature but hurt our budget and bottom line. If you’re selling million-dollar properties, by all means, go with expensive stone countertops and tile, custom cabinets, hardwood floors, spa tubs, etc. Give the buyer what they’re paying for. But don’t expect a mid-priced homebuyer to pay you $30,000 more than the house next door because you added these features. 🙅‍♀️

Like I said, stand out with your design. You can find some of my favorite designers here. Smart design can make a home feel like it’s worth a million bucks and blow your competition out of the water! Choose a timeless design, which is tip number four.

Tip #4 – Choose A Timeless Design ✨

Timeless: not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion. We did not know this definition then! 😉 Faux finished walls were on trend, and we decided it was a good idea to do the ENTIRE house that way. For those of you that don’t know what a “faux finish” is; it is a way to make a wall, or whatever you are refinishing, to look something like leather or suede or some other lovely finish. I’m sure it could have been nice as an ACCENT wall, but we decided it was a good idea to do EVERY wall this way. We went with the “leather” look. 😬 The process to do this was costly, time consuming and in the end a very personal preference. Do you know how much money we wasted on texture, paint and stain? Ugh! I could cry thinking about it.

Anyway, it’s best to not be so bold on an investment property. Neutral colors and simple choices can save on both renovation costs and time on the market. Buyers are looking to make the space their own. If you give them a neutral palette, it’s easier for them to envision themselves living in the home. Think light, bright and airy!  

Finally, my last tip is to set a timeline for your renovation!

Tip #5 – Set a Timeline 🗓

Just like your budget, stick to it! Well as much as you can anyway. Nothing ever goes as planned in any remodel but push to get it done on time. It will cost you money in the long run if you don’t. Like the old saying goes; time is money. We made this mistake too, as you could have probably guessed. Actually, we couldn’t have even finished on time if we wanted to because we ran out of money! I mean really, how many things can you do completely wrong?! 😩 (Tip number 2 is extra important). Obviously if you plan to stay in the home, your timeline can be based on what needs to be done first. If you are going to “flip” the property, then you want to consider what your holding costs are. They can be real profit killers. Also, know the market you want to sell in. For instance, right now in 2021 the market is still going strong and running hot. Getting your property on the market quickly is your best bet!

Value In Lessons Learned 👍

My hope is that you can take this and learn from our embarrassing mistakes. I know I have. I wouldn’t have changed anything we did though because we gained a lot of wisdom. I’m a firm believer in the value of lessons learned. And if this helps you in any way, then you’ve shared in the value of the lesson as well. As an agent, I can’t help but tell you, that I’d love to help you to purchase your first, or thirtieth, investment property. It’s fun and exciting to take something old and beat up and turn it into something fresh and new! Even if it’s something you want to call home. You get to give it your touch and make it your own. Remodeling is tough and can be frustrating, but it is also rewarding. I dare you to give it a try. Let me know if and when you do. I’d love to come check out your work! Good luck! And remember, budget, time and design are the most important aspects to getting a return on your money! 🤑

Thanks for reading! Tell me; have you had any remodeling disasters that you’ve learned from? Please share in the comments below…

Our Family

Realtor in Sulphur Springs – A little about me

Us after Ryan's fight

Hello! My name is Sunni Chester. I’m a mom, wife, and local Realtor in Sulphur Springs, TX. My husband, Ryan, and I work as a team, helping people reach their real estate goals and dreams. It’s probably the best job in the world! We get to work together, meet new people, share in one of the most memorable parts of their lives, and do it all while enjoying raising our 13-year-old son!

Ryan and I have been married for 15 years and together 16. We met while working in Dallas. God set up our meeting; I know that for sure! After only dating for a few months, we knew we wanted to get married, but we weren’t sure how our families would react to the news. So, we finally decided to meet with our pastor privately and marry without telling anyone! Rebels!! Everyone turned out to be ok with it… eventually!

Ayden, our son, may have been a surprise, but he has been our biggest blessing! He became the center of our world and still is. We love to watch him play football and see his growth as an honor student. He truly gives his all in everything, and we couldn’t be prouder.

God and family, to me, are everything. Life is meaningless, without either. I love the life I’ve been given and hope that I can make even a small impact while I’m here on this earth. Here, I want to provide you with valuable content and fun things to read. I plan to bring you along in my life – work, vacations, everyday occurrences, new finds, and family time. While also giving you my insight as a realtor here in this community and beyond. Please let me know if there’s a topic you’d like for me to cover. I’m always open to suggestions! Thank you for taking time out of your day to hear from me! And if you are looking for a Realtor to work with in Sulphur Springs, we’d love to talk to you!

Tell me, what is it that you find most interesting when visiting a blog or on social media?

Hopkins County Courthouse

New To Sulphur Springs?

Downtown Sulphur Springs

A shot of the historic courthouse in Downtown Sulphur Springs. The center of “Celebration Plaza”.

What there is to do and see in Sulphur Springs, TX

First, welcome! You’ve made a great choice in moving to our sweet, small town! You’ll notice soon after you arrive in Sulphur Springs that most of the residents have been here all their lives, or at least most of it. Someone I spoke to the other day, though, referred to themselves as a transplant, and it resonated with me because I, too, am a transplant. I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas. When Ryan and I married, we bought our first home here, and I quickly decided this is where we would raise our family! You can click here to hear our story. So, I understand being the newbie and trying to learn my way around and meet people. The community of Sulphur Springs is like none other! The people are great. They will rally behind you no matter what you’ve got going on. You’ll see that soon enough, I’m sure! Let’s talk about what there is to do and my favorite, what there is to eat in Sulphur Springs!

Celebration Plaza

As you can tell, as the locals call it, SS is the typical “American Small Town.” Small shops and businesses, quiet streets, school and church on just about every corner, and a beautiful downtown square! County Line Magazine named it “Most Improved Small Town” in the region. We are certainly most proud of our square! It went under a major transformation just a few short years ago and is referred to as “Celebration Plaza.” The square hosts over 300 events and public activities each year. It’s complete with a life-size chess game and an interactive fountain in the shape of a Texas star that is a family favorite in the hot summer months. We can’t forget to mention the famous see-through public restroom! Built with one-way mirrors, you can see out, but people can’t see in! I’m not sure I totally trust it or even understand it, but yeah – it’s famous! Another great feature of the downtown “park” is the veteran’s memorial. It’s humbling to see the names of the soldiers that have lived or currently live in Sulphur Springs that served in the US military! You may find the name of someone you know!

You’ll also find a ton of yummy dining options downtown. One of the oldest and best restaurants, in my opinion, is Plain & Fancy Sandwich Shoppe. A must-try! It’s much more than just sandwiches; you can go for a home-cooked breakfast and cup of coffee, grab a salad, wrap or their famous fancy chicken salad sandwich for lunch and top it off with a dessert. Just don’t skimp on the dessert. I would suggest the iced brownie or sugar cookies. You’ll thank me later. Another excellent place downtown for a lunch or dinner option is Redneck Bar and Grill. They have something for just about everyone on their menu. Other great places on the square would be The Magic Scoop, The Potato House, Arturo’s Pizza, Burgerland, MAAK sushi restaurant, and most recently added Haystacks. There are quite a few more places you’ll want to check out.

Any visit to a small downtown square isn’t complete without some shopping! Boutiques include Sister Babyz, Miss Behavin, and Everything Unique. We also have a neat addition with The Bookworm Box, owned by New York Times best-selling author and Sulphur Springs native Colleen Hoover. All profits are donated to charities in need, and many of the authors and volunteers have donated their books and their time.

As mentioned, SS square hosts a ray of events throughout the year that are great for the whole family. Just about every Saturday morning in the warmer months, you can visit the farmer’s market with all sorts of unique finds. Also, in the summer, you and the family can come out with a blanket or chairs and enjoy “Movies on The Square.” You’ll find the full lineup for 2021 here. The Corvette Show and Heritage Park Car Show are usually held in mid-October and early November. A variety of concerts, parades, walks/runs, and other fun activities are available throughout the year. I’ve included the calendar provided by the Chamber of Commerce here. An event that’s not hosted downtown but can’t be left out is the Hopkins County Stew festival. Residents, local businesses, and organizations compete to win the title of Best Hopkins County Stew every year in October. Everyone is welcome to enjoy all the stew you can eat with the purchase of a bowl. It’s good family fun!

Places to visit in Sulphur Springs

The square isn’t the only place you’ll find fun things to do. Although we don’t have the “big city” options, there are still quite a few great places. Coleman Lake is a fun spot for outdoor activities like fishing, a walking trail, and even recently added, renting a kayak to explore the water. There are also a few parks for the kids to enjoy– Kids Kingdom, Pacific Park, Buford Park, and the skate park. If you prefer indoor recreation, The Roc offers something for everyone under one roof. You can shoot some basketball in the full-court gym, play ping pong or pool in the game room, or just relax in one of the many sitting areas to read a good book. Membership is free and open to anyone. You can also rent the Roc for birthday parties or events. Bright Star Cinema, the local theater, has been completely remodeled with nice reclining chairs; the only way to enjoy a movie, in my opinion. They also offer the option to book private events. Other honorable mentions would be Classic Lanes bowling alley, the Southwest Dairy Museum, and Heritage Park and Museum.

Sulphur Springs is also centrally located to quite a few lakes and state parks. Sulphur Springs lake is excellent for fishing, but if you are an avid fisherman with a boat and like to enjoy the water, Lake Fork is probably the most visited fisherman’s lake locally. They host a ton of fishing tournaments throughout the year if that’s your thing. Cooper Lake State Park, located about 20 miles northwest of Sulphur Springs, is a fun camping, hiking, and fishing option. Other surrounding lakes are Quitman Lake, Lake Tawakoni, and Lake Cypress.

We are pretty proud of our small town, and we welcome you here as part of the tight-knit community! It’s a great place to raise your young family or retire. I’d love to hear what brought you to Sulphur Springs and what you have enjoyed so far. Let me know in the comment section!

If you have questions about anything, Ryan and I are here to help our fellow residents in any way we can! Happy exploring!