Jenn Todryk of “No Demo Reno” never wavers from her belief that you can make an old house new again without tearing down walls and building up new square footage.
“Save yourself the money and the stress that goes along with a total gut renovation,” she says—all simply by rearranging, restoring, and revitalizing what you already have.
And while she has a pretty good idea of what can be done in almost every situation, in the latest episode, “Cookie Cutter Chaos,” she is actually stumped.
Todryk, you see, admits she never (successfully) bakes in her own kitchen. So how would she know how to help client Melissa, who has cookie-baking paraphernalia occupying every countertop, so her poor roommate Sandy has more than one tiny square foot of space to prepare her meals?
The two have been roommates for eight years and are total besties, but they think organizing and renewing their cook space will make them both more comfortable.
Todryk has six to eight weeks and $100,000 to fix up Melissa’s kitchen, bathroom, and upstairs family room. Did we mention a no-demo renovation takes about one-third the time of other renovation projects, and costs at least half as much to boot?
She even has time to take on a second project: Recent empty nesters Deanne and Curtis Rippee want to redo their back patio so it’s a more grown-up space for entertaining and relaxing. This project has a $10,000 to $15,000 budget and a timeline of two weeks or less.
You might be surprised by some of the great ideas Todryk comes up with in both spaces. Some are such strokes of genius, you might find yourself using them in your own “no-demo reno” on your abode!
Clear kitchen countertops with ample storage
“It’s a very simple thing: How can I organize and declutter their kitchen, hide some of the appliances and give them more countertop space?” says Todryk while making her game plan.
Since she’s not a baker herself, she visits a friend who is and gets some stellar suggestions. One is to install a half-sized bun rack in the island, since Melissa’s kitchen is not large enough for a 6-foot variety. Multiple cookie sheets, either full or empty, fit on the rack nicely.
Another smart feature Todryk learns of are “appliance garages,” where all the appliances are organized and accessible. This gets them and their cords out of constant sight.
A black sink looks chic and hides all kinds of stains
This is one we’ve never heard of (or seen) before. Since cookie and cake bakers often use multicolored frostings and fondants, a white sink can become stained quickly, and an ungodly amount of time can be spent trying to clean it.
While a black sink might sound odd, Todryk blends it in so nicely with the black cupboards it looks stylish.
Always save your extra flooring
In an effort to add counter space, Todryk plans to have a vast new kitchen island built to replace the oddly shaped existing island.
But when they remove the old island, they find a major problem.
“Taking out the island left a big hole in the flooring, and it’s nuts because it’s this crazy odd shape,” says Todryk. “How do we cover up this hole in the floor?”
The existing kitchen floor tile is relatively new, and it’s not in the budget or the plans to replace it all.
General contractor Victor says of the homeowners, “She did mention that she has a few boxes of this tile. … We can fill in this area.”
“If she didn’t have at least four or five boxes, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Todryk says, breathing a sigh of relief.
Builders always order extra material, just in case they’ve measured wrong or something breaks or gets damaged. Whatever you do, don’t throw those materials out—they could come in handy someday!
Replace spindles for a simple staircase makeover
Melissa has an open floor plan, so you can easily see the kitchen and the staircase the moment you step in the front door.
Todryk realizes that the honey blond oak banister is “going to stick out like a sore thumb when I redo the kitchen” with black cabinets. The staircase, as is, dates the home and will look like it’s from different era when these cabinets go in.
So she paints the banister a “bold, beautiful black” and replaces the curvy oak spindles with simple, modern, black iron ones. It looks like a new staircase for a fraction of the cost, and everything flows together.
Power-wash your outdoor space
The first thing Todryk does at the Rippees’ house is power-wash the back patio. That includes the walls, floors, pergola, everything.
That alone freshens things up to a remarkable degree. She ends up leaving the attractive used brick as it is, but paints the pergola a dark coffee color and the trim a grayish green. And because they’ve been power-washed, they’re prepped and ready for paint.
Try a movable gas fire pit
Right in the middle of the Rippees’ beautiful new conversation area, Todryk places a movable gas fire pit, which has a lip that can serve as a table.
“I love gas-burning fire pits because they’re not permanent. So, as you rearrange the furniture, you can move this and rearrange it as well,” says Todryk. “It also has an off button. That’s kind of nice.”
How do these no-demo renovations end up?
In the end, Todryk has taken the Rippees’ patio from drab and disorganized to decidedly delicious, giving them an outdoor living and dining space. And she spent only $11,000.
Deanne is thrilled. “It’s clean, comfortable, inviting—it’s perfect,” she says.
Meanwhile, roommates Melissa and Sandy are over the moon as well now that they both have plenty of room for their own interests.
“The house feels lighter and airier in some ways,” says Melissa. “It’s just brighter, and you just want to be in the space.”
“I totally redeemed myself making a baker’s kitchen,” says Todryk. “Fake it till you bake it!”
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