How To Make The Most of Your Home Remodel



Who: David Leff of Leff Construction Design Build
Where: Sebastopol, California
In his own words: “Clients often come to the realization that they’ve been changing their lifestyle to fit their home rather than enjoying a home that fits their lifestyle. We can help them fix that.”

You’d like to remodel your home, but you face some daunting decisions: where to start, whether you need an addition, how you’ll manage your budget. A design-build firm can help with all of these and more, says David Leff, owner of Leff Construction Design Build in Sebastopol, CA. “Our goal is to make the experience as easy, stress-free, and fun as possible.”

Click on the image to see this Healdsburg Whole-Home Remodel project.

Seeing the big picture. The company was an early adopter of alternative energy systems. “My father and I built Sonoma County’s first solar multifamily project,” Leff says. “My focus on green building eventually led to my passion for the grand-scale thinking needed in the design-build process.”

Click on the image to see this Sebastopol Whole-Home Remodel.

Below, Leff reveals three ways to take advantage of resources and make the most of your remodel.

1. Open Up Hallways

Repurposing underutilized spaces will allow you to regain valuable square footage. “A lot of people have spaces they’re not using to their full potential,” Leff says. “A great example of this is long, slender hallways. You have these walled-off areas that are just for circulation when you can just as easily circulate through an open room. Reconfigure hallways so they’re part of an open room.”

When clients bought this home in Freestone, they knew they could put the square footage to better use. “When you first walked in, you were forced in a certain direction by a hallway,” Leff says. “They needed a foyer that would allow you to move in any direction.” He created an entrance that opens to the living room and kitchen.

2. Tear Down Walls

Create a sense of expansiveness by removing walls and enhancing the flow between rooms. “Rooms become single-function when they’re enclosed by walls,” Leff says. “If you remove the walls, it feels less crowded.” The most common example of an open room is the great room: “By removing walls, you can create a physical connection between the dining room, living room, and kitchen.”

Clients in Healdsburg had sectioned-off living areas. “They entertained quite a bit, so their old setup wasn’t functional,” Leff says. “Guests ended up in the kitchen, causing traffic jams. Once we removed the walls, the cramped areas became one lofty great room. Guests could be part of the action without obstructing flow.”

3. Create a Master Plan

If you need to complete your project in phases, Leff suggests you establish priorities and create a plan that details each phase. “You want to have as strong of an understanding of future projects as possible,” he says. “A master plan will help you prioritize your needs and prevent costly mistakes. You don’t want to have to undo something you did in the first phase.”

Though clients in Santa Rosa knew they eventually needed to build an addition, their budget wouldn’t allow it during the first phase of their remodel. “Together we shaped a conceptual master plan,” Leff says. “We remodeled their home so that there was an office space for their budding wine business, but we kept their future addition in mind.” See the whole-home remodel (Phase I) with the added studio (Phase II).

This article is a Featured Spotlight article originally posted on

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