Rehab Your Home

Apr 23, 2024 | Businesses, Communities, DeFuniak Springs, Freeport, Walton & Beyond

Guest House before remodel

Local expert offers tips for remodel opportunities

By Wendy O. Dixon

Homeowners renovate for a variety of reasons, including to increase home value, to modernize or add space, and to adapt to a family’s changing needs. 

Walton County native Kim Wennerberg is a real estate broker with Kim & Company, and also an expert on home renovation, design and decorating. “One reason I do it is that it gives me a creative outlet,” Kim says. “I love seeing something go from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan.” 

Additionally, financial constraints for those who want to buy home that is out of their budget can be a factor in a renovation project. “Maybe you can’t buy your dream home, but you can repaint cabinets or make a better bathroom in your current home,” Kim adds.

Home built in 1970 after renovation

Above image: guest cottage after repainting

Upgrading your home can be rewarding, time-consuming and also frustrating. Where to start? What to budget? Can I do it myself or do I need to hire a pro?

The first step when considering if you can handle a project is to count the cost, Kim advises. “Make sure you have the ability to finish. Consider the financial cost, the emotional cost and the time you have to put into it.” 

Room before renovation

Above image: living space before remodel

For your fixer-upper, Kim suggests getting an inspection to have a professional evaluate what you need to do. “Also prioritize by what we have to do, what we’d like to do and what we can do if we really want to hit it out of the park,” Kim explains. 

Kim loves getting her hands dirty with renovating older houses. “I like the character of an older home,” she says, recommending that you should be on the lookout for toxins, including lead and asbestos. “If you have a home built before 1978, which is when lead paint was eliminated, you can buy a lead paint detector kit at your favorite home improvement store.”

Room after Renovation

Above image: living space after remodel

If you’re the type to save all your bits and bobs and this and that, just in case, good for you! Those odd items could come in handy for your reno project. “I save materials from other jobs,” Kim says. “I was delighted to be able to reuse two old doors that I had stored in the shed from my last project.” 

Of course, the most expensive parts of your budget are roof replacement, plumbing, foundation, electrical and adding square footage to your house. But if you have only a $500 budget, you can still make a big impact on your project. “The first thing I suggest for a free or cheap upgrade is to clean — baseboards, sidewalks, walls, windows, the roof,” Kim says. “Decluttering also goes a long way toward making you feel like you’re in a vibrant new space. Upgrading light fixtures, outlet covers and switches gives it a new look, too.”

Kitchen Before Paint

Above image: kitchen before

Paint is one of the least expensive ways to update a space and be on trend. “If you have a $2,500 budget, try adding butcher block to your kitchen, or change out a vanity or two,” Kim says. “Repainting the front door with a new color, adding mulch or pine straw, maybe a new rocker and potted plants on the front porch can make your home look fresh.”

If you have closer to a $20,000 budget, replacing cabinetry to your kitchen and bathroom will make those rooms look brand new. “Ready-to-assemble cabinets you install yourself will save money if you can put in the sweat equity.” 

Kitchen After paint

Above image: kitchen after decluttering,  painting and new fixtures

Whatever your budget, timeline and ambition, remember that renovating a home is a fluid process. “Unexpected expenses will arise,” Kim adds. “Just go with the flow and be ready to be flexible.” 


We asked Kim to make a list of top renovation opportunities on the market to share with our readers. Check out her insightful top picks below.

House for sale with acreage

House with 38 acres would make a great homestead or getaway, with paved road frontage, pond, creek, pasture. Or build new.

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House on acres for sale

House with 10 acres located across from a hunting preserve. Large rooms and huge kitchen. Large tracts all around primarily in farmland.

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House for remodel

This might be a sleeper being on the market 180+ days. This is a foreclosure that wouldn’t take much to turn into a serviceable rental, possible flip or a permanent residence. This much time on market could be a prime opportunity to get a bargain price.

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Remodel near golf course

Priced like a residence, zoned for commercial use. Older home with charm could be used as either residential or commercial or both. Live where you work. Great location that fronts Hwy 90W ( very close to the airport). 

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House in historic Defuniak

For those who love historic charm and proximity to downtown DeFuniak. Location can’t be beat.

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Remodel Opportunity

This is a great homestead or rental located well just north of DeFuniak Springs. It’s possible you may be able to split off a portion of the land on the other side of the road to recoup some of your investment.

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Waterfront Remodel

Waterfront lovers, this view is one for the books. Getaway or homestead, this is a view you’ll enjoy for years to come. 

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remodel with acerage

One of those truly special properties. The home is dated but built with brick and block – solid. It would work great as a family getaway with large rooms (esp the kitchen!) or AirBNB. The knoll in the cleared pasture overlooking the pond is begging for a new home to be built! Once you walk the property, you’ll see how special it is for yourself.

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Remodel Opportunity

This almost-finished remodel is an investor’s pick and ripe for the taking. Very little left to make this cash buy either rentable or flippable and may be possible to even split off the lot with the barn. That’s a $25-30k value alone. 

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