Tarek El Moussa and Christina Haack have renovated a lot of fixer-uppers—so much so that on the latest “Flip or Flop,” they tackle their third fixer-upper on one street!
“We’ve been flipping houses so long, we flipped multiple houses on the same street,” El Moussa says.
In the Season 12 episode “Lucky Lakewood,” Haack and El Moussa revisit Lakewood, CA, to renovate a house they’ve purchased for $560,000. Yet while the street is familiar, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house presents a whole new host of problems.
These flippers take some gambles—eliminating a bedroom, closing off a window, and adding dated beige tiles to the bathroom. Find out if these risks pay off, and learn which upgrades are worth trying (or avoiding) around your own home.
Paint brick for a budget-friendly makeover
When Haack and El Moussa first tour this home, they’re not impressed with the exterior. Lots of red brick features date the home, so Haack proposes adding gray tile to the porch, pouring concrete over the brick walkway, and applying stucco over the rest of the brick features.
Contractor Jeff Lawrence estimates this would cost $4,000, but El Moussa thinks it’s too much—especially when he learns it’ll cost only $500 to paint the brick.
“It’ll look really, really good,” El Moussa says of his painting plan. “People are installing brick a lot, and people are painting brick a lot.”
The flippers decide to protect their budget: They paint the walkway gray and the planter boxes and part of the stucco off-white. Haack and El Moussa also add a pop of dark blue around the entrance for a modern look.
“I love it: the three-tone paint color,” Haack says of the exterior results. “The white, the gray, and the blue—it makes it kind of dimensional. It just pops.”
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Meanwhile, El Moussa takes a moment to appreciate how far they’ve come as flippers.
“This is our third house on this street, and this is my favorite exterior,” he says.
A fireplace makeover is worth splurging on
While a coat of paint can be a simple and inexpensive makeover, Haack proves that paint isn’t a cure-all for all eyesores.
Inside the house, there’s a huge fireplace with brick from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Both flippers hate the dated style, but they have trouble deciding on a new design.
While El Moussa, once again, wants to simply paint the brick, Haack pushes to cover the brick with stucco, giving the fireplace a makeover with large gray tiles.
Lawrence says Haack’s plan will cost $3,500 to $4,000, and El Moussa decides to splurge this time. The fireplace is the first thing buyers will see as they step in the front door, he explains.
When the home is finished, El Moussa is glad he didn’t go the cheaper route. The stucco and tile look fantastic, he says. “It doesn’t even feel like the same house.”
Floating shelves in a kitchen add storage and visual interest
El Moussa and Haack know they need to upgrade this small kitchen, so they remove a wall and make plans for a peninsula. Then, when it comes to design, Haack suggests a couple of options, including a unique circular floral tile, which she points out is almost identical to the existing floor tile. El Moussa loves the coincidence.
“It’s almost matching,” he says. “Because of that, let’s go with that. It’s a sign!”
Still, the flippers run into a problem when trying to apply tile to one wall. Lawrence warns that if they extend the tile up to the ceiling as they usually do, “the cabinet door wouldn’t open.”
So Haack suggests tiling only the bottom of the wall.
“We go old-school and back to the cheaper days of only running it halfway,” she says. “But I feel like the only way that would work is just adding in some floating shelves, so at least it kind of ties in together.”
El Moussa likes the idea and asks Lawrence to add two shelves for a total cost of $1,000. This solution gives this wall some interest while adding extra function.
Beige is making a comeback
When it comes to designing the bathrooms, Haack shows El Moussa two different tiles: a gray hexagon and a beige herringbone.
Haack explains that beige is coming back, but El Moussa hates the dated color.
“I don’t think it wants to be brought back,” he counters.
Still, El Moussa compromises, using the beige in the secondary bathroom on just one wall of the shower. He admits that the herringbone tile looks pretty good, proving that dated looks don’t stay dated for long.
Big closets can be more valuable than bedrooms
While this house is a good size, it has an awkward layout, with one of the bedrooms accessible only through the primary suite.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Haack says. “Like, you shouldn’t walk through a room to get to a room. So what would be nice is we create a massive walk-in closet over here.”
Lawrence says closing up the windows in this fourth bedroom and turning it into a closet will cost only $8,000, so El Moussa agrees to the change.
“It would be a spectacular three-bedroom house versus a nice four-bedroom house,” El Moussa adds.
“It’s definitely a risk turning the fourth bedroom into a closet, because in general, a four-bedroom sells for more than a three-bedroom,” Haack says. “But in this case, it allows us to create a much larger primary en suite and fix this awkward layout.”
In the end, it’s clear these flippers made the right choice. El Moussa explains that in this area, three-bedrooms are selling for more than four-bedrooms. Plus, Haack knows people appreciate storage and might use a closet more than an extra bedroom.
“Personally, if I was buying this house, I would want the closet,” Haack says.
Is this a flip or flop?
El Moussa and Haack buy this home for $560,000 and put $131,000 into the renovation. After factoring in closing costs and commission, the house has a break-even price of $731,000.
They decide to list the home for $849,900 and end up getting seven offers, accepting one for $925,000. These flippers make an incredible profit of $194,000. While these two are flipping on a familiar street, they truly have come a long way!