Seattle, Washington skyline.


Where Do I Start When Renovating a House In Seattle?

A home renovation is a large undertaking. Full remodels can take up to a year to finish, and if your home is in Seattle, be prepared to work around traffic, inclement weather, building permits, the availability of materials, and endless design possibilities. It can be overwhelming — and that’s where an experienced design/build remodeling firm can help.

Neil Kelly has over 70 years of experience with home renovations. Our team in Seattle understands the challenges that come with renovating in the Emerald City and surrounding areas and are here to work with you to make your home remodel go as smoothly as possible.

Seattle Design Consultant Jamie Smugeresky offers some expert advice: “A whole home renovation is not a quick fix. Find someone who will spend the time to help you thoroughly plan, and then communicate, every step of the way.”

Mid Century Whole Home Renovation

Above: This Mid Century home renovation features improvements to interior and exterior, including a brand new addition for the primary suite.

Reasons YOU MAY WISH to Remodel

Many life changes can inspire homeowners to reimagine their space. Some include: growing children, multigenerational living, the ability to work more comfortably from home, aging-in-place, and contemplating whether to move, or stay in a home.

Future Plans

  • Possible move
  • Want to stay and create a forever home

Physical Needs

  • Need extra space and storage
  • Downsizing
  • Aging in place, or just providing easier access

Work-from-home / Home school

  • Need quiet place to work or study
  • Flexible space even more important during COVID
  • Accommodate hobbies and recreation


  • Home has outdated and worn materials
  • Personal style has changed

Products and Materials

  • Desire easier care and maintenance
  • Want to increase home’s value

Already remodeling

  • If already remodeling kitchen or bath, might want to extend the design through the rest of the house

“Our clients are often surprised by just how many items they never even thought of during the design and planning stage. There are so many options, selections, materials and choices it can be overwhelming,” Jamie explains. Having a designer that understands your style, needs, and wants, can help you smoothly navigate the entire process.

Northwest Whole Home Renovation

Above: This gorgeous whole home renovation extends the living space outside the house with a fully furnished lanai or covered patio.


Typical whole house remodeling projects may include cosmetic, space planning and structural elements. They usually affect more than two rooms in an existing structure, and can add more space in the form of a new floor or addition.

Cosmetic: Multi-room refresh, maintaining a consistent look throughout

Space Planning: Rearrange existing space to better suit current needs

Structural: Major structural changes such as a new floor or addition

Of course, all homes and homeowners are different. No home renovation project will fit these categories precisely. We use them to start a conversation about what you would like to do in your home.

Seattle Design Trends

Earlier in her career, Jamie provided design services for homeowners in California. She shares a few regional observations, “In California, people were very interested in keeping up with the neighbors and resale value. In the Pacific Northwest, there is a greater attention to craftsmanship that I find really inspiring.”

Puget Sound homeowners often place a bigger priority on creating spaces that reflect their personal style. Jamie explains, “In Seattle, homeowners are often inspired by a respect for nature mixed with neighborhood pride and city night life.”

Unlike sunny California, many Washingtonians embrace color to help offset overcast and drizzly days. “Many families want to add rich color and fun patterns into their homes, and it’s wonderful when I can help them realize their vision.”

Seattle Whole Home Renovation

Above: Asian and Mid Century influences are delicately balanced in this Vashon Island project, which included kitchen and adjacent pantry, dining room, living room, bar area, and improvements in connecting spaces.

Finding More Space

“In Seattle, space is a commodity,” says Seattle Design Consultant Megan Knight. “We have a lot of finished/unfinished attics that are often a less desirable space because of low or extremely angled ceilings.”

In such a scenario, Megan recommends adding a dormer.

“A dormer extends beyond the angled roof, gives more head height, and can be various sizes depending on your needs,” she says. “This can allow for more flexibility in furniture placement, storage, or even adding a bathroom to a 2nd floor.”

How YOU Can Get Started

Whether you’re moving in from out of town or buying a new house in Seattle, finding the perfect house can be a challenge. But, creating your dream home is more than possible with a remodel, particularly when you dedicate more time planning each aspect. If you decide you want to do a full-home remodel, find a place that meets most of your criteria and then select which aspects you will build to meet your desires. When starting out, here’s a breakdown of general steps to take:

Make a wish list

  • What are your pain points; what do you most want to change?
  • What do you want to keep in your home?

Megan recommends that you start your wish list by thinking about how you’d like your home to function.

For example, do you want an open concept with lots of interaction between your kitchen and living spaces or do you want spaces that are dedicated to certain activities?

Does your home make sense for how you live? When you walk with groceries from your car to your kitchen, is there something that bothers you, or something you wish would be more efficient?

“Thinking about how your space aligns or doesn’t align with your lifestyle is a great way to develop a wish list,” she says.

Collect ideas

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Web
  • Share an ideabook on Houzz

Consider the scope of work

It’s understandable to want to finish the project as quickly as possible, as your day-to-day comfort level and capacity to manage a remodel might be weighing on its completion. However, accurate planning and taking your time with each step will help you avoid costly mistakes and give you more peace of mind about each decision.

  • Size and complexity of job and materials selected will have the biggest impact on cost
  • Consider aging-in-place or energy efficiency features to add comfort

Consider the budget

  • Large jobs can be broken into phases
  • Some parts of job can be done by the homeowner
  • Remodeling is an investment
  • Improvements should add functionality and increase the value of your home

Speak with a professional

An experienced remodeling firm can help you understand your options and develop a framework for getting your project done on time and on budget. Neil Kelly specializes in full home renovation in the Seattle area, ur experienced team can walk you through each component of a Seattle home renovation checklist and help you figure out how to plan your home updates.

Our Washington Design Center is just off I-5 in the Georgetown neighborhood, and we offer complimentary consultations for those interested in a full-home remodel. If you live in Seattle proper, Renton, Bellevue, Bothell, Lake Forest Park, or another city in the Puget Sound region, Neil Kelly would love to work with you.

Do you have multiple areas you would like to improve, but are unsure how to prioritize based on budget, time and scope? Our experienced design team can assist you every step of the way.