Two Rooms Become One
(MONEY Magazine) – Maryann and Chris Jones of Manhasset, N.Y. combined their underused living room and formal dining room into one great room that's become the family fulcrum for their four-bedroom, 2k-bath Tudor-style house. "The renovation greatly enhanced the value," says local broker Mary Rohan of Laffey Associates. "The house was worth $875,000 before; now it could sell for $1.1 million." Not bad, considering the Joneses bought it in 1994 for $435,000 and moved in, says Maryann, "with only $1,000 to our names."
$200k - RENOVATION COST 
110% - COST RECOUPED
$1.1 m - ESTIMATED VALUE
 Includes kitchen renovation, facade work, a new roof and heating and air conditioning.
A Remove a load-bearing wall. To combine the living and dining rooms, a structural wall was replaced with a five-inch steel support beam. At $20,000, this was the most costly part of the renovation.
B Expand the space. The exterior wall and attached garage were bumped out six feet, allowing for extra elbows in the great room plus a new home office tucked between the kitchen and garage.
C Connect the kitchen. Putting in doorways between kitchen and great room, kitchen and home office, and office and great room gave the space a traffic flow that works for the way the family lives and entertains yet also maintains the charm of their 1934 house.
Fireside chat When adding a custom fireplace surround (left), the owners also hoped to remove the hearth's passé glass doors and brass insert--until they found that it cost $3,000. Instead, they left the doors and simply painted the insert. Cost: a can of paint. To accommodate a plasma TV (above), they consulted both a decorator and an electronics store before construction. Result: a custom-built wall unit installed around the screen and speakers.