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

  1. Lené says:

    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.

  2. Erica says:

    Beautiful! Those bricks by the stairs are to die for. :)

  3. Lené says:

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

  4. Aislinn says:

    wow- that shower is so cool! love the transformation!

  5. Kelley O says:

    Love!!!!

  6. This is so very beautiful! I love the simplicity of the structure and the clean feel.

  7. Kandy says:

    This is freaking gorgeous!

  8. Britte says:

    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 !

  9. caitlin says:

    Amazing! Really. I want to live here.

  10. amelia says:

    So gorgeous. I want to go to there!

  11. Tara S says:

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

  12. Sarah says:

    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!

  13. Ditzy Me says:

    Fantastic bathroom. :D

  14. BoyD says:

    Excellent and amazing job!
    Thank you for sharing!

  15. rae says:

    more more!

  16. Marina Klima says:

    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!

  17. Tarsha says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!

  18. Mark says:

    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.

  19. Cissy says:

    It is lovely. You did a great job.

  20. 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!

  21. Jayme Guokas says:

    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.

  22. Pete says:

    Holy Hannah that is an amazing transformation! Just beautiful.

  23. Three years to complete are you going to ever do it again. I love the rustic reclaimed style of everything, outstanding project!!

  24. Wow! Stunning! Gives me a lot of great ideas!

  25. 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!

  26. Shayna says:

    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!

  27. 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.

  28. danielle h. says:

    holy crap. amazing!

  29. John says:

    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!

    John@KDCUK

  30. dani caplan says:

    what an amazing job , looks wow, wow, wow!

  31. Hollan says:

    OH MY GOSH! What a gorgeous after! (& kind of horrifying before)

  32. 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!

  33. Dion says:

    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!

  34. Diane says:

    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!

  35. Ashley says:

    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!

  36. mary says:

    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!

  37. Wow, love this renovation. Well done!

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

  39. I like this app and I look take to your future posts on further development. Good luck!

  40. The renovation process has completely changed the vision of your home. It is completely amazing.

  41. Joe says:

    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.

  42. Kelli designs for life says:

    Modern rustic industrial…. Amazing!

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