“Flip or Flop” stars Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead are used to taking some big risks with their flips, but the renovation on the latest episode has us wondering if they’ve made too large a leap of faith.
In the episode “Far Out Flip,” El Moussa and Anstead buy a 1935 Spanish-style home in Hollywood, CA, for $950,000. They’re determined to preserve the home’s classic character while updating it for a modern family. Here’s how they strike that balance, and the take-home lessons that might apply to your own abode, too.
Arched doorways can provide lots of charm
Anstead and El Moussa love the character in this old home, but they’re not used to renovating classic houses. They know they’ll have to be careful choosing what to keep and what to change when it comes to style.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to modernize it but then keep all the old character,” El Moussa says, noticing an elegant but dated archway to the dining room.
While he admits that they’d usually remove an archway in favor of better sightlines, they decide that this feature should stay.
“The arch is part of the design of the house,” El Moussa says.
So they keep the arch and, for good measure, add a second one leading to the kitchen.
Use dark cabinets for a classic Spanish look
When it comes to kitchen design, Anstead suggests using dark cabinetry. But right away, El Moussa is skeptical.
“Now this is the risky move right here,” he says. “I mean, we’re talking about putting almost-black cabinets in a kitchen.”
However, Anstead defends the choice by saying that Spanish-style homes are usually darker and that, when paired with the other materials they’ve chosen, like the colorful backsplash, the cabinets will fit right in.
“Spanish Revival design is about combining rustic elements with traditional motifs,” Anstead explains. “The dark cabinets and flooring mixed with the patterned backsplash totally completes the Spanish look.”
When the kitchen is finished, it looks amazing. The kitchen is modern but has a style that’s reminiscent of the old days. Dark cabinets may have been a risky choice, but they certainly paid off!
Update a bathroom for modern comforts
When it comes to renovating an old home, it’s smart to keep the new design era-appropriate. Still, Anstead and El Moussa know that it’s OK to go a little more modern in the bathrooms.
When these flippers first examine this home’s restrooms, they’re unimpressed.
“I see the original character,” El Moussa says in one of the bathrooms, “but in here, it’s screaming to just rip it apart.”
Anstead agrees that sometimes functionality wins out over classic charm. They decide to completely renovate the bathroom with a more modern look.
With blue shower tile, a dark vanity, and white walls, this bathroom looks brand-new. Still, Anstead and El Moussa are careful to make sure this modern space doesn’t look too stark or cold, ensuring that it has enough character to fit in with this old home. The use of color gives the bathroom charm while the mosaic floor tile adds a classic look.
Adding a bathroom in an old home adds value
With the existing bathrooms being updated, El Moussa starts thinking about adding another one.
Old homes don’t always come with many bathrooms. So El Moussa comes up with the idea to convert two small closets at the front of the house into a powder room.
“With permits, it’s going to cost us about seven grand, but we’re going to see a much bigger return because of it,” El Moussa says of the new half-bath.
Anstead and El Moussa choose muted tones and a simple but elegant style. In the end, this bathroom increases the value of this old home and brings some modern convenience to the space.
A guesthouse should complement the main living space
When Anstead and El Moussa first tour this house, they’re thrilled to find that the detached garage has been converted into a guesthouse. But they need to choose a design for this space, and that proves to be tricky.
The guesthouse doesn’t have the Spanish style of the main house, so these flippers can’t exactly give it a style that matches the home. Still, they don’t want it to look too different.
“Let’s carry some elements from the main house,” Anstead says, suggesting that they give the guesthouse its own style while still connecting it to the main house with the same finishes.
They use the same bathroom floor tile, which looks great. When the house is finished, the space feels like a more modern version of the main house. It complements the space without being too matchy-matchy.
Is this a flip or flop?
After spending $200,450 on renovations and setting aside $50,000 for closing costs, commission, and staging, El Moussa and Anstead realize that their break-even price is about $1,200,450. They decide to list the house at $1,650,000.
While El Moussa and Anstead know this home’s classic charm and guesthouse will be big selling points, by the end of the episode, they’ve had the house on the market for weeks without any offers.
In the end, El Moussa admits that he may need to lower the price in order to sell it—suggesting that this classic style, though gorgeous, might be a risky gamble that might not pay off.