Chapter One: The Lewis Bay Renovation

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

To renovate or relocate...that's the ultimate design question.

The neighborhood in Lewis Bay is quaint and sleepy, and not surprisingly, it's a big area for sailing and boating. Our house sits in a group of small ranch-style houses that are staggered throughout the neighborhood. We’ve owned this property for twenty-one years and bought it initially as a vacation home. Built in the 1950s, we loved that it was spacious, larger than a standard cottage, and weather-proofed enough that we could still visit in the winter.

Nine years ago, my husband and I, new empty nesters, decided to move there full-time. But it wasn’t till the pandemic hit that I got serious about finally making the changes I’ve been planning and thinking about for twenty years. First, we did some serious soul searching. It’s a small space—which is notoriously more difficult to design—and we were dealing with a major challenge: a set of stairs that run down the middle of the house, fragmenting the living room and kitchen (and spoiling my hopes of ever hosting a big holiday gathering with my boys and someday, their families). There’s also an existing kitchen that needs a serious update, let’s just say it still has a linoleum floor and outdated appliances.

So, knowing that it was going to take a financial investment to make it the house we’ve been dreaming of, we were forced to make the first big decision that any homeowner makes before deciding to start a home reno: do we stay or do we move? Here are some things to consider while you’re making your decision:

-How do you feel about your location? Are you attached to it and do you love your community?

-Is it possible for your existing piece of property to morph into the space you want it to be? So, do you have enough room on the property to renovate if you choose to?

-Figure out what you can afford—what it would cost to remodel vs. costs of moving (so a house that meets your space and taste criteria, along with costs and fees associated with moving).

-What’s your timeline? It’s smart to look at how long it will take to sell your home in the current market vs. what your timeline would look like if you chose to renovate.

-What would your return on investment (ROI) be if you choose to make these improvements? There are changes that can be made that will add value to your home, like adding stone countertops, minor kitchen renovations/updates, and replacing your entryway door; while some might not translate to more money in your pocket when you go to sell.

For us, we had a strong emotional attachment to this home. Our boys grew up summering in this house and we love the local community. I can walk to the beach from this house—which based on the Cape Cod real estate market, would be hard to find in another home. So, we decided to renovate, but we’ve restrained ourselves a little bit, scaling back some of the plans to fit into a budget we set for ourselves. Now we’re still in the planning stages/demo. We’ve decided to leave the stairs in place because we didn’t want to shoulder the cost to move them. But construction is underway—we went from replacing two windows to replacing every window in the house and we’re currently re-shingling the exterior.

Stay tuned to see what’s next for our Lewis Bay project…but we want to hear from you! It seems crazy to consider, but all too often it’s easier to change your home than it is to find a new one—we’re happy to help you create a design you love, no matter your square footage.

Based on these questions we posed, would you stay in your current home and renovate or would you move?