Start on the first floor and work your way up!

Piles of clothes on the floor, a spotty bathroom sink, clutter in the spare bedroom? You can live with all that. But if you’re a natural entertainer, what you can’t live with is a first floor that is less-than-inviting. Maybe it’s time for a remodel. Time to spruce things up a bit. What are some things you can do to transform your first floor from “just okay” to a fabulous space?

dining room, wood floor

Look down.

How are those hardwood floors doing? When is it time to refinish them and when is it time to replace them altogether? It all depends on the condition. Superficial nicks and gouges can usually be buffed out by refinishing them. Sometimes it’s possible to repair several damaged planks and have them seamlessly integrated into the other flooring. But if there is widespread water damage or rot, you’re going to have to replace them entirely. Hardwood flooring that has been repeatedly sanded down and refinished may be in danger of being destabilized, in which case you’d need to replace those too. So if you live in a historic home, keep that in mind. It’s always less expensive to refinish floors than to replace them. 

Look up.

Do you have long walls with room for shelving? Installing shelving is a perfect solution for storage and display. Built-in bookshelves can store your library, of course, but they have other useful features. Built-in bookshelves are natural focal points of a room, perfect for displaying cherished artworks and family photos. They can also have utility by being a place to stash away things you don’t want to be seen. Purchase fabric or wooden bins fit to size, and you have places to store remote controls, charging cables, magazines, and what-have-you. If you remodel to make space for floor-to-ceiling shelves, consider installing a rolling library ladder. It’s beautiful and functional.

Nothing but powder.

Do you have an underutilized nook or cranny of your first floor that has room to move around, but not enough room to be useful at the moment? Consider installing a powder room for your guests. Under the stairs can be a perfect place for this; a sloped ceiling is not a bother for those going to the loo. Powder rooms are also small places that give you leave to let your decorating sense go wild. It may be small, but your wallpaper and decor can go big. Also, it is lovely to have a bathroom in the house that is not shared by the everyday residents. It can always be kept clean, smell good, and be well-stocked for just visiting folks. 


Traffic patterns in your house are especially important if you’re someone who likes to entertain. Think about your most recent parties: where do people cluster, where do people seem to get stuck? Maybe it’s time to widen a door or two. Are people lingering in the kitchen, impeding your ability to cook and socialize at the same time? Have you considered an open kitchen, merging your dining room and kitchen by opening a wall? Would it be more fun for you to be able to simultaneously complete your hosting duties– providing good chat and good sustenance at the same time? Many historic homes were built with formal and informal living areas. Do you need both or is there a way to open them up so the two can flow together?

Seeing Double.

We’ve talked about “double kitchens” before, but this is one home remodel option that can truly change the life of the first floor of your home. Adding double kitchen islands or extending the counter space in your kitchen gives you more room for prep and entertaining. You can create bars and buffets or invite the rest of your family to help you build the perfect meal. Double fridges help you meal-plan and give you extra space for beverages and warehouse-store buys. Double dishwashers help you make quick work of dinner party dishes and help preserve your cook and dinnerware by keeping them separate. Double sinks give you room to prep and to stash dirty dishes or to fill pots, if you have a pot-filler sink.

There are many ways to refresh your first floor so that it is open, attractive, and welcoming to visitors. These are just a few. We can stash our unwashed laundry away on the second floor if we have to, but the first floor of your home is the public-facing view of your family. A first floor remodel should reflect you and the people who live in your home.