I would like to share what I think made our beach cottage renovation successful:
1. We trusted our instincts. If there is no architectural or historic significance to or in a space, have the courage to tear down walls and remove previously added decorative items to suit your own tastes (i.e. we removed a tin ceiling the previous owner installed in one area of the house). If in doubt as to what to remove or do, ask an architect, a respected renovator, an architectural historian at a college, or someone from your local historic preservation alliance to come take a look, to give you feedback.
2. We considered the neighborhood. We took note of the surrounding houses primarily because we didn't want to overbuild or make our renovations inconsistent with the surrounding style. I think this is an important consideration should you ever want to sell the property; you want to get your money back -- or some of it anyway.
3. We talked to people. In determining what and how much we would do to this house, we invited a few professionals inside before we did anything. One fellow suggested that this old house might have a chimney hidden within the wall between the living and kitchen space. We did see the top of a chimney in the attic so we were hopeful. And when it came time to tear down the wall, we instructed caution. Our reward was finding an intact original brick chimney that probably serviced an old cook stove. We know love having that architectural feature.
4. We hired professionals sensitive to what we want to accomplish. McDaniel Construction Company took the extra step to have our bungalow declared a historic property by the Galveston Historic Foundation . GHF then submitted our application to the state of Texas. This was a biggie, as it allowed us to re-use the 1920 wood and glass windows in the newly constructed areas of the house (see floorplan). Otherwise, we would have had to install new windows and compromised the look we wanted. Additionally, this declaration allows us to replace windows with old ones even now should they ever be destroyed during a hurricane.
5. We recycled materials. As you can see with the floorplan, we took space from a small closet to add a half bath, which connects to the renovated full bath. We reused an old door found elsewhere in the house as a pocket door, which slides inside the wall between the half and full baths. Pocket doors are great space savers! We took the living room windows, which looked out onto a small brick patio, and placed one in the bathroom, rebuilt for stability reasons. We installed the other two in the newly constructed master bedroom space. We wanted carpet in the bedrooms so the McDaniel group harvested the wood flooring in the bedrooms to install in the kitchen space, front door entry and new utility area, which previously had Linoleum floors. We also reused the red brick pavers on the back patio where we had our new bedroom space constructed. We had someone carve out a front walkway using the recycled brick. When it came time to landscape, we had to remove some of the foliage (it was so overgrown), but we replanted much in more suitable areas.