Florida Home: Before Pics and Plans

By Kate Riley April 26, 2022

Regular readers and Instagram followers are aware that after a long search, we bought a house in Florida. There are several reasons why we’re making this move which I’ll go into in greater detail at a future date. Mostly it’s just a feeling that we need a change after 40+ years living in California.

We’ve talked of a different lifestyle, one that is relaxed and more affordable than the cost of living in California. After driving around the Gulf Coast of Florida twice in the last year, we narrowed our search to Sarasota as a place to move. We like the community, the downtown, and the proximity to beautiful beaches so we bought a house there as both an investment and a future home. I’ll be living there in the summer renovating the place and we will live permanently starting this fall with my son finishing high school in Florida.

How did we land on this house? We started looking at new construction homes in Sarasota because we thought that would be easiest for making the move, but nothing was available to move into for at least a year, so we turned our attention to fixer uppers in neighborhoods we liked. On the last day we left Florida this one popped up on the market. We had to move fast and offer a non-refundable deposit, but we were in contract within 48 hours and the house was ours three weeks later.

We now own a 3 bedroom 2 bath 1960s single story rancher with a great big yard and room to add a pool! It’s very close to Siesta Key too. Since I’ll be documenting the entire renovation on the blog, the best place to begin this story is with the ‘Before’ images so you can see what we’re starting with.

What is serendipitous is that this house came with brand new furniture. The furniture is not my style at all, but the stroke of luck is that as a result I don’t have to haul a bunch of furniture across the country. It’s crazy expensive to ship furniture in a POD or truck or drive it in a UHaul. The quotes I received ranged from $10k for a POD and $19k for movers and I’d rather invest in the renovation, so we will be bringing just a few personal items and will make furniture swaps over time.

This home will get a full makeover top to bottom, we will be replacing flooring, renovating bathrooms and the kitchen, and also adding a pool and tons of tropical botanicals to the backyard. After the ‘Before’ pictures I share some inspiration photos so you can see the look I’m going for and some of the details I’ll be including.


Here is the kitchen, very dated but very clean! This is the perfect set up for me because I can live with this for a few months, there’s no need to renovate immediately. It buys me time to come up with the perfect kitchen renovation plan and not rush choices. However one thing that will change immediately is the arched florescent light fixture, I’ll replace it with some small and simple recessed or flush mounts instead.

The kitchen gets natural light from the dining nook and breakfast nook on the opposite side and has great flow into the community and dining spaces. This one will be fun to renovate down the road. That breakfast nook beyond will be a small home office instead. The dining room space is below.

The kitchen sink and peninsula look out into this dining room space. Like I mentioned before, the house came with new furniture. I’m grateful for it but it will be replaced with a wood table and woven dining chairs that seat six to eight people and wired for a really cool chandelier to be determined.

Also… you’ll notice… SO.MANY.VERTICAL.BLINDS and CEILING FANS to replace. There will be much discussion on new window treatments and lighting and fans as I slowly update them around the house.

This is the family room space, it came with these leather loungers which I’m sure my teenagers will love while they last but they won’t for long, I’ll buy a modern sectional for this space. That wall entertainment center will be replaced with a floating media credenza.


I also want to enclose this space and replace the carpet with tile so it’s more of a sunroom and separate from the entry and living room, pictured below. I’ll add double doors to enclose it and separate it for private TV viewing.

This is the entry and living room, it’s spacious and wide and comes with these turquoise overstuffed sofas. I’ve already painted the blue walls white and swapped the coffee table and rug too. Eventually I’ll sell and swap the sofas for more tailored versions.


This is the hall bathroom, very clean but dated so this would be one of the first spaces to renovate. Goodbye florescent light fixture, vanity, & tile, hello modern makeover including new flooring, beautiful wall tile, and a floating vanity.


The guest bedroom comes with a matching furniture set and bed-in-a-bag linens. All this will change over time, but the mattress is super comfortable, I slept here for four nights. I’ll keep the mattress, but sell and replace everything else. This space will be designed for visitors and for when my daughter comes home from college on weekends and holidays.


This is the current “office” which will soon be my teenage son’s room. I have plans to replace these desks and build him a bed with a built in charging station. I’ve already drawn up the plans for that and I’m looking forward to building it for him!


This is the primary bedroom, it’s a larger size which I like and it includes another matching bedroom set and the same bed-in-a-bag linens. I’ll sell this furniture and replace it with new furniture that’s my taste.

The primary bathroom is small, so I’m considering an expansion since it’s located at the back of the house which would make an extension a possibility. The adjacent closets are really small so I like the idea of an addition for a more spacious bathroom off the primary bedroom. For now, I’ll enjoy that pink formica and tile. :)

We’re really excited about this backyard, the large tree is beautiful, I’ll light it up with a twinkle lights and create inviting seating underneath. To the right there is plenty of space to add a pool!

What an adventure right? I haven’t been this excited in years! After a long and weary pandemic, this is just the energetic injection we need.

The design style of this renovation will be light and bright, lots of white and natural wood, a contemporary coastal style with a touch of midcentury modern. Here are just a few inspiration photos I’ve collected in my *huge* Pinterest board for this house.

For the interior floors, I’d like to refinish them in a whitewash tone reminiscent of the white sand beaches close by. For the kitchen, I love the idea of pale wood cabinets and white tile.

abby hetherington interiors

Pale green is also something I’m considering for kitchen cabinets.


For the dining space, light and bright is so appealing to me since it looks out to the backyard.

the palm co

For the bedrooms, serenity will be key! I’m loving muted colors and extra comfort.

the palm co

mindy gayer design


For the bathrooms, I want colorful tile in subtle hues. I can’t get this minty green zelige tile out of my mind so I may go with this shade in the hall bathroom.

milton & king


For the backyard, I’m thinking of a glass pool enclosure and as many tropical botanicals as I can fit.


three birds renovations

and I must include an outdoor shower, right?

the palm co

It feels so good to have my hands on this project and to be starting a new chapter in a new home in a different state. I’ve already painted the blue walls in the living room white and made some furniture changes too. More coming soon.

I’m posting a full video tour of the “before” spaces on Instagram stories tomorrow if you want to get a feel for the flow of the house, look for it there. The videos include more of the backyard and the rear patio (not shown). I’ll be starting on this renovation in July, so much more to come!  This new house project needs a name or hashtag, what do you suggest?


  1. Love your inspiration photos and can’t wait to see what you do with your new house. It’s much easier to live with something when it is sparkling clean!

    • Hey, I’m your neighbor (sort of). We Love Florida (and I’m a PTOWN native!)

      • Woah hello there KT! I sure will miss Ptown, will definitely be back to visit in the summer!

  2. How exciting! I love your inspiration photos too. Sarasota is such a great little city. Can’t wait to hear more.

  3. So much potential! Those coved ceiling panels are really…different!
    I’m looking forward to seeing all your ideas come to life.

    • Haha those ceilings are so strange aren’t they? Thank you so much, this will be a fun journey.

    • I wish someone local could explain those coved panels – are they a common phenomenon in the area?? So curious what it looks like underneath! Can’t wait for your updates!

  4. Congratulations, Kate. Longtime reader here. Just moved to the next town over from you, Bradenton. So many beautiful mid century ranchers in Sarasota! I can’t wait to watch your transformation of the house! Jill

    • hello neighbor!
      Bradenton is so cool, it seems everyone has a boat there!

  5. Congratulations 🎉 I can’t wait to see your journey. Wish you all the Best!

  6. Congratulations on the new phase of life! My in-laws have lived in Lakewood Ranch for more than 20 years and love the area. My SIL is building a house there and felt so lucky to be chosen for a lot over a year ago and their house is still under construction. HVAC is the latest big delay. They were hoping to be in by June but probably will be later. So you were smart to not go that route. It is a wonderful area and the beaches are some of the most gorgeous in the world.

  7. I’m so excited for you. I always anticipate anything you get your hands on and this will be such a fun adventure!!! Best of luck, can’t wait to follow!

  8. So exciting! Looking forward to following along as you make this house your new home! :)

  9. Congratulations. We moved back to Florida just about 9 months ago. We north of Clearwater. We bought a very neglected, fixer-upper. We are on month 3 of renovation. Maybe 2 more to go. Wishing you much luck with your project.

    • Congratulations on your new home. You will love Sarasota. As a long time seasonal resident who has lived in multiple cities and countries over the years this area delivers. I’ve done two full gut renovations here since 2018 using your blog for lots of inspiration if I can be of any assistance please reach out.

  10. I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to take down those ceiling fans especially with delays in the supply chain that can affect HVAC replacement/additions. In addition, a ceiling fan can help reduce your cooling costss. Unlike CA, FL can be very buggy and the fans create a breeze that bugs don’t like. And if you do a patio or covered porch you’ll want a ceiling fan to create a cooling breeze as well as keep the bugs away. Nevertheless I look forward to seeing what you do with this house.

    • Ugh I’ve heard about the bugs! We’ve already hired a “bug guy” to help keep them at bay. We have great A/C but will also use ceiling fans for cooling too!

  11. You are going to love Sarasota and the surrounding areas!! (I live in Tampa with a 2nd home in Belleair Bluffs). Please do not replace the celling fans with lights only, I don’t think I could live without them. The Florida heat is truly brutal in the summer! Why do you want an enclosure for the pool though?

    • Oh some of the ceiling fans will definitely stay, even though we have A/C we will need circulating air! I’m updating the ones in the bedrooms and main living spaces with more contemporary versions but will remove the fans in the kitchen and bathrooms. Thanks for your input!

  12. Long time follower! Truly love your style. We moved to Venice 11 years ago and really love it! Can’t wait to watch the progress.

    • Oh wow, hello neighbor! I love Venice!
      Thank you for the welcome, I’m excited to get started!

  13. Congrats! We have a vacation home in Osprey, just down Tamiami from Sarasota. You will love the Gulf Coast!

    • Osprey is next door! Love it there, and Venice too!
      Thank you for the welcome and yes I do love the Gulf Coast!

  14. Welcome to Florida! I am a huge fan and a follower of yours for years. I live in Jacksonville which is to the north east of you. Sarasota is beautiful, and is way more tropical than what we have here in Jacksonville. Regarding your glass pool enclosure… Just FYI it rains here a lot, more than in California. Spots on the glass would drive me absolutely nuts. I’m sure there Is some product, like rain X, that could keep that from happening. In the meantime, Welcome to the sunshine State!

    • Oooh great tip, thank you so much Pepper!
      It’s either a glass enclosure or full fence… more research to do!

  15. Welcome to Florida! We live in St Petersburg in a little mid century ranch so I’m excited to see what you do. Sarasota is such a great town with an internationally recognized mid century architectural scene. Our family from across the country gathers there once a year for a big family beach vacation. You’re going to love it!

    • Yay! So happy to hear from fellow Florida residents!
      It’s true, there are a few neighborhoods with a Palm Springs mid-century vibe and we’re in one of them!

  16. Oh my gosh, Kate, how exciting! You will love Sarasota. Good luck with the renovations, I can’t wait to follow along!

  17. Hi Kate, so very excited for you and your family! Will be on standby waiting for details as you expertly maneuver the renovation process. Really looking forward to how your journey unfolds. Best wishes on the cross-country move.

  18. You inspire with your fearlessness and vision! Look forward to seeing how you make this house your home. When we looked for our first home I was always confused by the houses that had a tv room right next to a living room. I don’t see how that works sound wise, and it looks redundant and jarring when the decor is so different. Your plan to wall it off with doors is great.

    The glass around the pool is beautiful but I would worry about having to deal with birds flying into it. Also, keeping all that glass clean? Maybe you could get the pool guys to do it, hah.

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • Thank you Michelle! I think an enclosed sunroom/TV room makes so much sense!
      I’m curious about the glass enclosure too, it’s either that or we have to fence the whole property for safety.
      We will do more research for sure!

  19. Wow, what an exciting adventure! When I first started reading your emails, your daughter and son were just small. Now they’re so grown up. I hope you, your husband and the children find your new place wonderful. I have no doubt you’ll make it look fantastic and look forward to reading all about it. Congratulations!

    • thank you so much Wendy! Hard to believe my baby girl is off to college in the fall!
      thank you for being a long time reader!

  20. Welcome to Florida! After living in SE Florida for about 50 years, we made a big move to central FL and built new in a small town community. We had that same kitchen lighting in our old house. We didn’t have the patience nor talent to remodel, so we decided to go new. Can’t wait to see your renovations. Have fun!

    • That lighting is a Florida thing I’m learning! Glad to be joining you in the Sunshine State!

  21. Floridians like screen enclosures for pool areas but you might still need a fence for child safety reasons.

    • We go back and forth on the screen enclosure… we think there’s a way to add a pool without it.. but we’re remaining open. :)
      If we don’t do a full screen enclosure we need to fence off the pool to meet safety codes.

  22. Welcome to Sarasota! I have lived here on Siesta Key for almost 5 years and LOVE IT. The people are so friendly (see all the comments above!) Let me know if you need recs on shopping, restaurants or anything else! I’ve been a loyal reader for years : )

    • Ooooh hello friend! Thank you so much, I’m excited to join you and be your neighbor. I welcome any and all recommendations for all things!

  23. Hi Kate,
    I read that over 700,000 people moved out of California LAST YEAR! So happy that you will be able to join many of them in southwest Florida! It’s a beautiful place to live!

    • it’s a mass exodus and it’s sad. California has so much beauty and an amazing climate.

  24. Kate, I’m a long time follower. Great choice and so exciting! I’ve given up my dream of returning to Northern California when I retire in a few years. I will be interested to hear how your home progresses and what great Thrifting spots you discover .I may be moving down that way in a few years .

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