Before & After: Full Home Renovation

When I browsed through the images of this New Milford, CT home renovation from architect and designer Donald Billinkoff, I was very pleased to see how he redesigned the space to integrate into the natural surroundings. Built in 1968, the original home was a bit stuffy, with small windows and heavy carpeting, but Donald’s decision to tear down walls and install huge windows has totally transformed the character of the space.

To keep the budget in check, Donald  sourced almost all of the furniture from Target, Ikea and similar retailers; left floorboards unfinished, cement walls exposed, and chose simple, industrial lighting elements. Not only does this keep costs down, but the organic, understated look compliments the home’s surroundings. Overall, this home is a stunning example of how to utilize raw materials and natural light. —Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 6 months of design planning, 8 months of construction

Basic Steps: Of primary concern was opening the house up on the interior so space flowed from room to room but also to open the house to the surrounding landscape. Having never been renovated, the house was quite dated: bathrooms had olive green fixtures, wood valances had florescent lighting behind them, floors were covered in carpet, etc.

My advice: Establish a budget that includes a contingency. There are always unexpected expenses when you renovate. Also, a well-developed set of construction drawings with detailed specifications reduce the contractor’s ability to add costs for things he claims he did not expect. Everyone involved starts a project with good intentions, but a clearly defined scope of work and a detailed proposal from the contractor will go a long way toward keeping everyone happy all the way to the end of the job.


Click here to download a PDF with the sources.

Claude Remains

Absolutely amazing! I think the only word that springs to mind is WOW!! I love the whole minimal/eclectic vibe.And there’s sooooooo much light.When can I move in?


Absolutely amazing, really inspiring. They did a great job! I love all the windows……..


omgosh! i love this home. I am so glad they left the ceiling stained. Beautiful with all the new white.


Pretty, but looks like it was pretty easy to work with. What great bones.


Oh good, I’m glad they left the ceiling the way it was. The windows make the house and what a beautiful design job. This looks like a house from The Ice Storm (an Ang Lee film). Lucky family!


What a beautiful renovation! Incredible light!

I was in awe of how economically this project was furnished! ” …he sourced almost all of the furniture from Target, Ikea and similar retailers”. However, the pdf of sources suggests otherwise.
The majority of furnishings are custom designed, and other pieces are from higher-end retailers such as B&B Italia, Fullhouse Modern and MOMA.
No wonder it looks so good!


I love this beautiful home…job well done!!! Can I ask where you got the white roller shades?


It’s beautiful even if there is nothing “budget” about it. (And extra points for being right near Buck’s Rock camp, a very happy place!)


I love everything about this BUT the cinder block fireplace. For how put together everything else is, that looks like that isn’t finished yet. In all honesty though, that won’t deter me from day dreaming about living there for the rest of the afternoon.

Hanna Kate

that porch is AMAZING, not to mention the rest of the house!


Beautiful! And Drat! — Of course, the source list reflects it is actually NOT mostly sourced from IKEA, Target, etc..

Grace Bonney


the source list reflects the majority of objects that weren’t from those other box stores, which are harder to track down.


jacks red barn

The house is lovely and all the windows add a nice sense of interior and exterior. My goodness there are SO many places to sit, I want it all.


That teacup/saucer wall may be the greatest thing I have ever seen.


This is my favorite home you’ve ever showcased, renovated or otherwise. Love the use of every single square inch of space, nothing is wasted. Love the introduction of light and views. Love the super long table where people can gather without being on top of each other…the furniture pieces…EVERYTHING!!! I absolutely share their aesthetic 100%…but not their budget :)


Remodel is spectacular! But the bottle of Veuve in the “before” picture seals the deal- Billinkoff is amazing.


This is incredible, but am I the only one creeped out by the Bathroom With A View?


love the bathroom with the view!!!!!!!!!! just think, sitting on the toilette looking at nature, doing what comes naturally!!!!!!!


Beautiful remodel. However, I wanted to put on two sweaters and wool socks just looking at all those windows! Obviously, the folks involved in this project have never lived through winter with all that glass! I don’t care about triple-pane windows, yada yada. The heating bill is going to be astronomical AND inadequate to keep the rooms as warm as we Americans expect them to be. If this were in Europe, well, no big deal. Hot and cold spots in the home are expected and one is looked on as completely mad to expect their whole body to be warm at the same time. Lovely, lovely remodel, but methinks it will be a very expensive home to live in.


Love everything about this house! Especially the super long dining tables, expansive windows with a view, and that amazing deck. This would be a dream to live in!


love, love, all of it except I can’t come to grips with the fireplace–but otherwise perfect. Any chance we could see before and after floor plan–would love to see a comparison of the walls removed.



amazing. i love it even more that most of the furniture were from ikea & target! my kind of budget.


AWEsome. Fave part is the rip out of that clausterphobic hallway wall! The windows and new floor make a world of difference. Love it.


Also rather horrified by toilet with a view! I’d end up leaving the blinds down all the time, which defeats the point in building the room like that. Imagine the possibilities for guests inadvertently wandering into the garden and spotting you on the loo!

Love the house though, and unlike most people here I love the fireplace. I’d have kept the original kitchen cupboards though.


Drop dead gorgeous! A little Frank Lloyd Wright and a lot of personality. Especially loving that aqua chair and ottoman. ..oh my! Gimmee…;)


This is so impressive. My in-laws have a sprawling home that they built in the early 70s using a lot of the same materials, colors and textures in the ‘before’ pictures. Whenever I’m there I wonder how one would go about doing an update of the space. This is it!


Wow! Major facelift! Question: I am wondering if the old fireplace was completely demolished/rebuilt or just given a new insert/facade?


Amazing house, but that furniture is not from MOSTLY Target and IKEA. I think that sectional might be from IKEA, but that’s about it. Misleading.


wow! wooow!woooow! Thats an amazing trasformation. So much life you brought into the house, and the amount of light is brilliant. The colours, tones, so extremely believable (you know what i mean). I am still in awe.


Holeeeeeeeeeeeeee wowie wowie wowza! Seriously stunning. Amazing renovation & the decorating choices are superb. Love. So. Much.


I wish that the before and after pictures of each area were taken from the same angle. For example, the before pic of the hallway is of the wall side of the hallway, the after pic is from the window side so of course there is more light. This is a little like comparing apples and oranges