Homes for Sale With Design Potential

Buying a home is a delicate balance. You can pay less for a fixer-upper but end up spending more than you anticipated in renovations. Or you can hold out for your dream home and end up exceeding your budget. Perhaps a happy medium is to find a home that you love minus a room or two. For inspiration, here’s a look at a few for-sale listings coupled with images from Zillow Digs showing the hidden design potential in each home.

Nashville, TN

820 Benton Ave, Nashville, TN 
For sale: $597,500

Located in the country music capital, this Queen Anne-style home has 4 bedrooms and 4 baths for less than $600,000. The main floor has several selling points including a wrap-around porch, hardwood floors, a contemporary kitchen and 11-foot-high ceilings.

Nashville before and designed
The attic (pictured left) currently serves as a kids’ room/office but is lacking in design. The room at right serves as an example of how the space could be more inviting by focusing on one purpose — a kids’ room — instead of trying to squeeze a desk under the window. Painting the walls green and bringing in chalkboard paint adds a playful, kid-friendly vibe to the room.

Nashville cellar before and designed
A small shelf in the basement (pictured left) is currently being used as storage for wine, but the space doesn’t have a defined function. By contrast, Cream City Construction created a wine cellar (pictured right) using built-in shelving and a center island. The result is a room that feels more intentional. With wine cellars growing in popularity, this kind of remodel could also benefit resale value.

Riverside, CA

3695 Everest Ave, Riverside, CA 
For sale: $300,000

Described in the listing as a “turn-of-the-century beauty,” this Riverside property was built in 1912 and boasts a large great room flowing seamlessly into the dining room.

Riverside kitchen before and designed
Wood paneling in the kitchen (pictured left) could be a turn-off for prospective buyers looking for contemporary finishes. The kitchen at right, however, illustrates how new cabinets could go a long way in updating the space. To get this look, Zillow Digs estimates cabinetry would cost about $19,000 for materials and $5,900 for installation in Riverside.

Riverside dining room before and designed
The dining room (pictured left) has potential with bead board and molding throughout, but with white walls, the architectural detailing doesn’t stand out. The photo at right illustrates how a coat of light gray paint could make the white molding pop. A new light fixture and dining room chairs are also affordable ways to add style to the space.

Boston, MA

24 Hollywood Rd, Boston, MA 
For sale: $419,000

Built in 1935, this Boston home is full of character with a brick exterior, arched passageways, wooden built-ins and antique chandeliers. The house spans 1,274 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms.

Boston bathroom before and designed
While some home buyers may love the antique yellow tile and wallpaper in the powder bath (pictured left), others may want a more contemporary look. By comparison, Wright Ryan Homes built the bathroom at right, which has a similar layout. Cosmetic updates include molding and a neutral paint color to give the space a clean, classic look. Zillow Digs estimates a similar sink would cost about $700 plus $200 for installation in Boston. Paint would cost about $100 plus $400 if you hire a professional to complete the work.

Boston deck before and designed

Adding some design love to a deck is easy compared with building one from scratch. The image at right shows how a patio set with bright cushions can add style and function. The Boston home’s deck (pictured left) also has a built-in bench, which could serve as additional seating.


Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design. Read more of her work here.