https://static.houselogic.com/content/images/best-home-renovations-great-room-kitchen-hero-standard_3x2_7066daee9b746ff58c6dcb177f2f6b9e_540x360_q85.jpg

You love browsing remodeling ideas on Pinterest, but you also live in the real world. So how do you figure out what project will ultimately be worth the cost and effort? It’s not a whole lot different than choosing a life partner — will you still love them once the passion’s worn off? Will you still love your remodel after you’ve had to clean and maintain it year after year?

These three homeowners are still in love with projects they finished years ago. We give you permission to steal their strategies.

1. Expanding Living Space – Outside

Florida’s called the Sunshine State for a reason, but what’s the point of all that vitamin D without a proper spot to enjoy it? When Jane Watkins purchased her Miami home 13 years ago, it offered a pool and plenty of yardage, but little outdoor living space.

Watkins is no stranger to DIY projects, so she decided to build an outdoor space herself. Armed with hammers, nails, and a few good friends, she framed and built a simple, low-to-the-ground deck.

The spacious outdoor room bridged the gap between the wild outdoors of her tropical backyard and livable space with cutouts for existing trees, providing enough square footage for a full set of patio furniture — and lots of play space for the kids.

2. Creating a Family Fun Hub

Georgia Harris and her husband Tim purchased their Los Gatos, Calif., home for its view of the Santa Clara Valley, definitely not for its design. “It looked like a brown, tiny little house, like the ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ It was very basic,” says Harris.

The unassuming home became a blank canvas for the family’s dreams. Their biggest renovation success: turning the downstairs into an all-in-one entertainment center to complement their brand new pool.

3. Upgrading Entertainment Capacity

When both halves of a couple come from enormous families, finding room for everyone at Thanksgiving can be quite the challenge. For Cindy Carey, she met the challenge with a remodel that combined her kitchen, dining, and living room into one ginormous great room — long before the Property Brothers made open floor plans de rigueur.