My Sweeten Story: A Forever Home Takes Shape in Dallas

A bright open kitchen remodel and more natural light gave this family good reason to stay in their 16-year home

Kitchen with white island with seating

“After” photos by Joe Hernandez for Sweeten

  • Homeowners: Griselle Salgado and family found their general contractor by posting their whole-home renovation on Sweeten
  • Where: South Arlington, Texas
  • Primary renovation: A grand opening of the main floor, including a kitchen remodel, surface upgrades, and lots of new windows, along with a master bath redo
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner’s quote:During the project, Sweeten kept in contact with us via email, offering personal assistance if we needed it. Thankfully, we managed all the project challenges, but it gave me peace of mind.”
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovators with vetted general contractors, offering input, support, and secure payments—for free.
Portrait of the Sweeten homeowners

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner Griselle

A forever home’s top priority: space and light

We called this renovation ‘from darkness to brightness,’ because that was the most striking change resulting from the project. The light that now comes into our home is incredible.

I bought this house with my daughter, Jaysa, in 2005. It was a new two-story, single-family home of 3,000 square feet, including a two-car garage. 

Our family of six has changed since then. All of the three children are now in their teens. I am retired; Jaysa works as an elementary school teacher and her husband, Carlos, is an electrician. We have two dogs, a Maltipoo and a Pug.

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Living area with two couches and a TV

We’ve long considered this house our forever home, but it was disappointingly dark. The design included no side windows; it had only two single living room windows and a double window in the kitchen. We changed a backyard door to a glass-panel model, but the home still lacked natural light. When guests came, everybody crowded into the kitchen’s breakfast area. A half-wall separated it from the living room. 

To renovate or move?

After so many years, we thought the time had come to move. But after looking around for new houses, we decided it would be money-wise to renovate. Our home had five bedrooms; we didn’t lack space. We needed a remodel that updated our living and working spaces, improved flow, and brought in more light.

After posting on Sweeten and looking at bids, we chose a contractor who submitted a detailed estimate. We reviewed it with him item by item to ensure we’d get what we wanted within our budget.

Kitchen with white island with seating
LIving area with fireplace and TV

A house hunt turned up design ideas

What bothered us most was the kitchen, which was big with a lot of wasted space. There was a ten-foot stretch between the stove and sink! There was a peninsula, but it offered no seating. When you opened the refrigerator, the door hit a chair in the cramped breakfast area. 

Taking ideas from the new model homes we had visited, we envisioned an improved kitchen layout. The plan was to join the kitchen, dining area, and living room to create one great room. We wanted a big island and glass doors to bring in light.

Bathroom with glass shower doors
Bathroom off the bedroom

Going all out on the kitchen island

In the kitchen, we spent a big portion of our budget on a 5 x 7-foot custom island big enough to seat all six of us. It includes a stainless-steel, 33-inch single sink with brushed-nickel hardware for a sleek look. The island is painted in a warm cream color that harmonizes perfectly with the quartz countertop.

To build it, our Sweeten contractor removed the original peninsula and an adjacent wall, installing a 24-foot steel beam, since the wall was weight-bearing. He surrounded the steel with planks to simulate a wood beam.

"But after looking around for new houses, we decided it would be money-wise to renovate. Our home had five bedrooms; we didn’t lack space."

Adding brightness in the details

The kitchen backsplash tiles weren’t particularly expensive, but we love the way they look. We installed a barn door to access the pantry and chose floor tiles that look like aged wood planks. 

We added a trio of pendant lights over the kitchen island and lots of dimmable recessed lights throughout the space. I had never realized how lighting sets the mood.

Choosing glass doors for the great room wasn’t easy. The four-panel doors we considered were too expensive, so we installed two sets of glass sliders instead, which saved several thousand dollars and still achieved the look we wanted. Now, when you enter the house, you can see directly into the backyard to the pool, and lots of light enters the main floor.

The open plan living and kitchen area
dark kitchen cabinets and stainless steel range

A spacious walk-in shower

The master bathroom needed remodeling and a contemporary, 2020s look for the space. The tiny shower and large, unused garden tub were removed. The shower stall was converted into linen storage, and the bathtub became a glass-enclosed shower.

In the master bath, we installed a 6-foot-wide glass shower door—another costly item that was worth the expense. It looks amazing. The bathroom tiles also contribute to the updated look. We installed a barn door at the master bathroom entry.

A reliable general contractor

Our contractor understood our vision from the beginning and brought material samples throughout the job for easy selection. He didn’t miss a cue concerning what we liked. The challenge with this project was the time it took—much longer than we expected. We were all living in the house, constrained on the second floor, without a kitchen and with one bathroom. We took a week’s vacation in the middle to release tensions and recharge.

During the project, Sweeten kept in contact with us via email, offering personal assistance if we needed it. Thankfully, we managed all the project challenges, but it gave me peace of mind.

This is not our first renovation, but it was at times stressful. Maintaining communication with the contractor was paramount. Future renovators: Never hesitate to ask questions or give suggestions to your contractor. Anything and everything is important to get the job done well.

Wine fridge with glass door

Forever home on a reasonable budget

We were conscious of staying on budget, but ended up spending an extra couple thousand dollars more because we added work. We decided to remove the original popcorn ceiling and convert a closet into a wine closet. This renovation cost around $45,000. My son-in-law did the electrical work, saving us $5,000 in labor costs.

My favorite aspect of the renovation is that it made the kitchen the heart of our home. We’ve already had gatherings with family and friends, and people gravitated to both the kitchen island and the living room, while remaining a cohesive group. And of course, the light fills the ground floor all day long, making us feel so happy that we stayed here.

Thanks for sharing your renovation story with us, Griselle!

Renovation Material

KITCHEN RESOURCES: Valley Ridge porcelain wood-look floor tile and porcelain, marble-look backsplash tile: Floor and Decor. Kitchen island: Custom by contractor. Brushed-nickel cabinet hardware: Lowes. Quartz countertops: Floor and Decor. Kohler single-basin undermount sink and brushed-nickel faucet: Kohler. Pantry barn door: Seconds and Surplus. Samsung refrigerator: Appliances Connection. GE dishwasher, stove, and microwave: GE. Pendant lights: Amazon. Sliding glass doors: Lowes.

LIVING ROOM RESOURCES: Peaceful Blue and Solemn Silence paint: Behr.

BATHROOM RESOURCES: Festival white herringbone porcelain mosaic shower floor tile; Pianetto Tauleto Bianco polished porcelain shower wall tile; Montage Misty Fjord linear glass mosaic shower niche tile; and Valley Ridge porcelain wood-look floor tile: Floor and Decor. Barn door: Seconds and Surplus. Brushed-nickel shower fixtures: Lowes. Porcelain/wood sink and vanity: Seconds and Surplus. Mirror and brushed-nickel bar pulls: Lowes. Lighting: Home Depot.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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