After years of renting in San Francisco and Oakland, we bought a home in Walnut Creek (a small city in the Bay Area) for $545,000 in 2010—when the market was relatively slow. The house was the smallest model in a 1960s neighborhood at 1,445 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. But it sat on a spacious 9,375-square-foot lot. It was a dream cosmetic fixer. Over seven years, we made it our own. We installed new interior doors and baseboards, gave away the wall-to-wall carpeting on Craigslist, and refinished the original hardwood floor. We painted the interior and exteriors, removed popcorn ceilings, and remodeled both bathrooms and the kitchen.