On “Good Bones,” Mina Starsiak and her mother, Karen Laine, are used to cutting corners on their reno budget. But in the latest episode of their show, they remodel a designer’s home—and let’s just say he wants a whole lot done!
In “MJ’s Dream Home,” Starsiak and Laine visit designer MJ and his husband, Andrew, who’ve just bought a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house in Wolfington, IN, for $160,000.
While the home is livable, this couple wants tons of upgrades that would normally jack the reno budget sky-high. Nonetheless, Starsiak and Laine are given only $60,000 for the renovation. In renovation terms, that’s not much money, given the amount of work they need to accomplish.
Read on to learn how Starsiak and Laine deliver a whole new house without blowing their budget—and how you can make a few changes around your house without spending a ton, too.
The fastest, cheapest home makeover: A new coat of paint
MJ and Andrew’s new home already looks quaint and charming, but it may just be too traditional for this couple.
So, Starsiak decides that the fastest and most budget-friendly makeover she can offer for the whole house is simply a new coat of paint in more modern colors.
They decide to paint the shutters black and gray, then they update the brick with a light beige. Once the paint dries, it looks like an entirely new house! As far as transformations go, this one was pretty easy, quick, and cost-effective.
“The secret to it is that’s all lime-washed,” MJ says. “So the brick, over time, will actually expose a little bit here and there.”
The lime wash adds some age and character to the house, without letting it look outdated.
As far as this home’s makeover goes, it looks as if they’re already off to a great start.
Sometimes budget flooring is better
When MJ and Andrew bought their home, they were under the impression that there was concrete subfloor in the sunroom. However, when Starsiak and her team rip up the hardwood flooring, they find that the subfloor is simply wood.
This is disappointing, because MJ wanted to put stone floors into this space, and without the concrete subfloor, this would simply be too expensive.
So, Starsiak decides to install the next best thing: EVP flooring, or vinyl flooring, that looks like stone. MJ isn’t thrilled with the compromise at first, but Starsiak convinces him that the EVP will be great.
“I know it’s EVP, and you’re not hyped about that,” Starsiak tells MJ, “but I think it’s a way better option than stone for cost and coldness underfoot.”
When the renovation is finished, the floors look amazing. Not only has MJ finally come around to the idea of EVP flooring, but Andrew isn’t even able to tell the difference between this flooring and genuine stone.
Create a kitchen island that stands out
MJ and Andrew are determined to give their home a healthy blend of both modern and traditional, but MJ has begun to realize that finding the right balance between the two styles can be a challenge, especially in the kitchen.
After they decide on light floors and light kitchen cabinets, MJ decides he wants a high-impact countertop on the kitchen island.
“I want the island to be a big statement,” MJ says, “and I want it to be the most organic dark stone I can find.”
In the end, MJ is happy with the dark stone, and so is Starsiak. When she reveals the finished product to Andrew, it’s clear she’s proud to show off this feature.
“The real showstopper in the kitchen is the matte black stone on the massive island,” Starsiak says, “which will be perfect for entertaining.”
Arches add a classic vibe
MJ has his heart set on adding arches into his home design, saying, “I really am lacking arches—and arches are like my favorite thing ever.”
Starsiak knows that this is an odd style choice. Arches are usually considered to be a little dated, with many designers preferring clean square edges.
Starsiak even admits that she and Laine usually spend time taking arches out of homes, not putting them in.
Still, MJ is determined.
“I wanted to have some kind of design element that was more traditional or classic,” MJ explains. “And I think arched bookshelves in the living room will achieve that in a really beautiful way.”
So, the team commissions some custom bookshelves that will fit perfectly in the room. The shelves may have an old-fashioned look, but they fit in well in the modern room.
“I think it really makes the room,” Andrew says.
A red brick fireplace can look timeless
Classic red-brick fireplaces can feel dated in some homes, but MJ wants to embrace the traditional look by stripping the white paint from his living room fireplace.
He and Laine get to work, applying a paint stripper and then using an angle grinder to clean off the brick.
With the paint gone, the fireplace looks completely different. Instead of feeling old-fashioned, the brick makes the living room look timeless.
In the end, MJ and Andrew love their new space—and what’s more, the renovation finishes up right on budget. Starsiak and Laine manage to overhaul the whole house for $60,000, proving that home makeovers don’t have to cost a fortune.
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