Before & After: Salvaged Home Renovation

As a relatively indecisive person, gut renovations terrify me. It takes me so long to settle on one throw pillow or floor lamp that I doubt I would make it past the first stage of planning an intensive project like this full-home renovation from designer Jayme Guokas. From top to bottom, Jayme scraped down and completely rebuilt this Philadelphia row house into a warm and stylish industrial-modern abode.

It’s no surprise that Jayme is a builder by trade; a love of simple materials and natural textures fills this home, and the salvaged materials, built-in furniture and cast concrete imbue the space with a raw, understated beauty. I would love to walk through this home and see all the small details that Jayme has added. This is clearly a labor of love, and it has yielded amazing results. — 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: 3 years

Cost: The house itself cost $30K in shell condition. The project cost $85K; I kept costs low by doing most of the demolition, carpentry, cabinetry and finish work myself (and with the help of friends!).

Basic Steps: My goal was to reduce the structure to its “bones” (i.e., exposed brick, floor joists, and structural columns) in order to have an open, minimal, and modern space and still highlight the history of the 1880 building. Poplar boards were used for most of the walls and stained white. Stairs and built-in cabinets throughout the house are made of marine-grade plywood. Cast concrete elements (counters, windowsills, a sink) add to a warm and inviting modernist aesthetic.

My sustainable-building ethic meant using reclaimed and locally sourced materials whenever possible, including: reclaimed interior doors throughout the house, reclaimed flooring, locally milled wood, and ribbon slate tile from a local slate quarry. Light fixtures, appliances, and some faucets came from Ikea. My advice is to keep your head up! It’s easy to get discouraged rehabbing a run-down row house. They are often very old structures that have layers upon layers of shoddy repairs. It also pays off to diligently insulate and air-seal all exterior walls and make an energy-efficient home. — Jayme

Jamie Galley

I love the details and ingenuity. Just “unfinished” enough to be interesting and “finished” enough to be beautiful and peaceful.


Excellent work! The bath and shower intrigue me … More pictures on the bathroom please.


This is amazing! Any possibility that we could also get a whole house tour with more photos?


This is so very lovely! I adore the mixing of materials and that incredible breakfast nook image. As a fellow Philadelphian who recently gutted a house of her own, it is unbelievable how little Jayme was able to spend on this project. Great job!


Incredible renovation! Probably my favourite that I’ve seen. Would be really interested to see what the exterior of the house looks like as well!

Red Prairie Press

So outlandishly inspiring. That window seat makes me want to drop everything and start a construction project! Thank you so much for sharing.

Nina Griffith

I love this! It is so simple and roomy. Not fancy. Verrry nice!

Brett Torrey Haynes

This is just mind-blowing good! To be able to leave so much untouched while building a refined space is uncanny. I’m with Tina, more about that tub!


Very curious about the river rocks in the kitchen…is this purely decorative or does it serve some sort of function? Totally cool either way.


I thought that’s what it was. When we used to visit my grandfather on his ranch in western Nebraska he would fill one up with water for us kids to go “swimming”. I’m sure that the one pictured contains considerably less algae than his always did.


This is the first time I comment on a renovation. Wow. Love it. I love exposed brick. Its worth the effort. We don’t have a lot of homes here in New Mexico built with brick. Great Job!!!

Could you tell me more about the sliding doors for kitchen cabinets? I would love to do this in my kitchen and bathroom.


This is by far my favorite home featured on Designsponge (and that’s saying A LOT).
It is an absolute dream. I know I will refer back to it often.

Kim @ design + life + kids

A truly stunning renovation. We lived in a Philly row home for years and loved our house, but this is gorgeous. Such a refreshing and open feel in a narrow space. Well done!!


Oh my gosh. I am flabbergasted. I want to know where they scored that metal tub!


I love this house! I can’t help thinking the kitty might use the pebbles in the kitchen as a litter tray. How do you keep that clean? However they do look absolutely stunning! :-)

Catlin Jones

That home just resonates within me…what a talented, creative, interesting person Jayme must be. Kudos multiplied.


The whole thing is just SO well done. I’d like to know what kind of floors I’m seeing in the…Bathroom? Is it some type of linoleum, or what? Looks like it would be easy to care for as well as eye-pleasing.


Ok, it’s not the bathroom, I suppose. The space with the chair and shelves with blankets or towels…


Quel Merveilleux Résultat ! Splendide de “Bien-être”. Au fait, le chat ne fut-il pas fatigué par ces Travaux ? Son “Frère-Chat” est chez moi ! Félicitations et merci . Vi et son chat noir et blanc ! Et,….j’ai la “même douche” aussi !

Tara S

This is one of the best renovations I’ve ever seen. Amazing work.


I would love, love, love to get my hands on a salvage house like this and rebuild it from scratch! Not that I’d know where to start, but I do love a good challenge. Amazing!

Marina Klima

This is awesome; A great work of art, I love the materials used, the house looks fantastic with it. Simple yet refreshing to the eye. Very creative. good job!


Wow! What a transformation – really hard work and effort certainly pays off in this wonderful new home.

I particularly love the styling around the staircase and keeping the brick work exposed.

Alice @

WOW!! I love it. Just one question about your kitchen layout? Does it work for you in that figuration? Would you change anything about it? It is exactly what I want to do to ours, so am wondering if I should tweak anything!

Jayme Guokas

Wow! Thanks folks… The kitchen is a U-shape, wrapped around a 3×6 island (stove on one end, fridge on the other). The base cabinets along the wall had to be shallow because it is a narrow space, which made them flush with the upper cabinets, and yes – its a very functional kitchen. The doors aren’t sliding, they have hinges, just left some cabinets open. The flooring on the 3rd floor is the Ikea flooring that looks just like a composition book. And the river rocks in the kitchen aren’t too hard to clean, and they’re a big hit with children.

Jessica Stripe

What a fantastic job! I am a massive fan of reproduction and antique furnishings and your home has such a classy old fashioned look to it! I really commend your efforts, absolutely phenomenal work and very inspiring too!


This is beautiful! I’m curious how you maintain the heat in your stock tank/tub…but maybe you don’t use it as a tub?

We have one in our backyard for summer dips but I love that you used one in your bathroom!

Second Floor Flat

In the process of looking for a new flat/apt and this is so so SO inspiring. It can be hard sometimes to see the “potential”, if you will, of a space but this has refreshed and reminded me that you can make a space whatever you want it to be.


I can’t believe that Jayme was able to keep the costs so low and still manage to populate the house with such original looking pieces like that incredible bath tub!


Diana Ratliff

Now I LOVE posts like this – think exposed brick walls in particular can be amazing but you still have to know what to do with them. Thanks!


Truly inspiring to see what is possible. The 1st set of before and after photos are just amazing. To transform something that looks so terrible into something so beautiful, especially with those stunning unusual lights. Wow!


This is amazing work and one of my favorite remodels you’ve ever done. I love that certain elements from the “before” were kept in the “after” like the brick wall and that the whole house wasn’t overhauled in a different direction. Beautifully done!


This is such an inspiring post! I love the attention to detail and utilization of green building materials, while keeping in touch with the original character of the home. Just lovely!


Also curious about the river rocks in the kitchen. beautiful look, i’m wondering if there’s a function and how they would be cleaned every so often. saw them used in a hotel in bali in the bathroom floor and have wanted to have something like that ever since!

Karissa Kelly

This is a gorgeous renovation. The brick looks completely different and makes everything stand out so much. I absolutely love it.


Was curious about something as I have been looking to do something similar. What kind of neighborhood did you buy this place for 30k? Was this a gamble in an area that was developing? Do you feel it has paid off? Would love to hear a little more.