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‘Good Bones’ Shares 5 Recession-Friendly Renovations That Prove Being Cheap Can Lead to Fresh Design Ideas

Mina and Karen


On “Good Bones,” Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen Laine are always keen to save money when renovating a house. But lately, it’s become their only priority, especially after losing money on their last project.

In the Season 7 episode “Big Red Urban Barn,” Starsiak Hawk buys a run-down home for $55,000. It’s a good price, but she knows the pressure is on to make a big profit to make up for past losses. So, rather than relying on her usual upgrades, she swaps in some cheaper alternatives that actually end up looking a lot fresher to homebuyers, who are likely bored of seeing the same things house to house.

Whether you’re eager to save money amid the looming recession or just interested in some creative new ideas that won’t break the bank, check out the clever swaps the “Good Bones” team tries with fantastic results.

Try vinyl siding instead of stucco

Before: This worn-down home needed a new look.


The exterior of this home is badly run-down and needs some TLC, so Starsiak Hawk gives the home some new siding in a unique color: barn red.

“We’ve done a lot of neutral houses. This block needs a little bit of red to spice it up,” designer MJ Coyle says. “We have this urban barn-bungalow theme. It’s going to be amazing. We’re going red.”

red house
After: The red siding makes for a dramatic look.


They finish it up with vertical board and batten as well as dramatic black gutters to really make this place stand out. And when the house is done, it looks rugged and unlike anything the team has done before.

While new siding certainly cuts into the budget, it’s not as pricey as other choices like stone veneer or stucco, and unlike these more “natural” finishes, siding comes in an endless array of colors. It’s a smart financial choice that pays off in the end.


Watch: ‘Bargain Block’ Stars Reveal the Secrets to a Successful Flip


Plant shrubs instead of a fence

These bushes will become a lush border for the property.


While Starsiak Hawk and Laine know new siding will improve the look of this house, they know they’ll also need to put some money into improving the lawn. They give the yard some new grass, and Laine suggests some functional foliage.

“Because it’s a corner lot, it kind of screams for a grass fence or a shrub fence or something other than a fence fence,” she says.

They plant some shrubs, and when the home is done, Laine is proud of her choice. The plants aren’t fully grown, but she says when they have time to mature they’ll provide great coverage.

“They get about 4 or 5 feet tall. They’ll get about 3 feet wide, so it should fill in and make a nice hedge,” she says.

While fences can be beautiful, they can be pricey. Planting some shrubs, especially less mature plants, can be much cheaper and provide some attractive privacy.

Install butcher block counters instead of quartz

neutral kitchen
This kitchen has a neutral design.


Inside, Starsiak Hawk wants to get a simple style to balance the unique exterior.

“The red is a bold color, and I just want to make sure as we’re finishing it inside that we are, like, nice and neutral,” Starsiak Hawk says.

They fill the kitchen with neutral white cabinets, then they warm them up with butcher block counters.

“The white can be a little cold, so I want to warm it up with a butcher block countertop. Maybe do it in a herringbone pattern. That’ll be a little bit fun,” Starsiak Hawk says.

Coyle agrees with the idea, saying it “gives the kitchen a little something-something.”

butcher block
Butcher block countertops warm up the white cabinets.


While butcher block is an inexpensive choice of countertop, it can create a winning look. When Starsiak Hawk and Laine show the house to one potential buyer, Dakota, he’s delighted with the countertop choice.

“The herringbone counters, the butcher block, that is so cool,” he says. “I’m not a big fan of quartz, so I was super excited to see that you guys did not go with quartz.”

Add floating shelves rather than cabinets

floating shelves
Floating shelves can be a great addition to any kitchen.


While most of the kitchen has white cabinets, Starsiak Hawk also wants to include open shelving. She says this trend isn’t “revolutionary” and plans to make these shelves uniquely long so they’ll go across the kitchen window.

“I found this really cool inspiration picture, and it showed the floating shelves going across the window,” she explains.

Coyle likes the idea, saying these shelves are perfect for a little herb garden or flowers. It’s a fresh look that’s a smart, inexpensive alternative to traditional shelving.

Put up beadboard in lieu of tile

This beadboard is inexpensive but still has the simple elegance the team wanted.


To finish this kitchen, Starsiak Hawk wants to add a beadboard backsplash instead of tile. Beadboard is cheaper than tile, so the team is able to take the material all the way to the ceiling.

Beadboard also goes with the rustic barn exterior while still working with the neutral look Starsiak Hawk wants for the kitchen.

“The beadboard would be super cool, and I think if we paint it just the wall color, then the shelves will really pop more,” she says.

How does this home’s good bones turn out?

In the end, homebuyer Dakota is so smitten with the house, he declares, “Take my money!”

Starsiak Hawk is able to get this house under contract for $294,000.

She’d bought this house for $55,000 and spent $130,000 on the renovation. So after closing costs and other fees, she stands to make a profit of $89,000. That’s an impressive windfall that proves that tightening your renovation budget can lead to a whole new world of ideas that can make a house stand out!

The post ‘Good Bones’ Shares 5 Recession-Friendly Renovations That Prove Being Cheap Can Lead to Fresh Design Ideas appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

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