Eric and Lauren Wendlandt
Leave it to a moon-eyed young couple to see the potential in a 96-year-old, 750-square-foot, mouse-and-spider-infested fixer-upper that needed updated wiring, new plumbing and a down-to-the-studs gut renovation. Then again, Eric and Lauren Wendlandt aren't just two 29-year-old dreamers from the Midwest. By the time they moved to San Diego and purchased their house in 2005, both had earned bachelor's degrees in architecture from Kansas State University. Even better for a couple on a budget: Lauren works for a firm best known for its low-income housing. "The expensive part of renovating is the labor," she says, "so we did it all ourselves." Lauren oversaw the plumbing, while Eric handled the electrical system. The only real rough patch occurred during the four long weeks the pair lived without a proper bathroom. "It was like camping," Lauren says, laughing, "We did a lot of 'European bathing.' But at least we have the same design sense. I can't imagine us doing this if we didn't."

Take the tour of their cozy bungalow.