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Tarek El Moussa and Christina Hack Prove One Massively Popular Upgrade May Be a Huge Waste of Cash

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On “Flip or Flop,” Christina Haack and Tarek El Moussa know that open floor plans are preferred over cramped quarters, but what if you just can’t knock down a wall that’s in your way?

In the Season 12 episode “Surf City Flip,” El Moussa and Haack buy an $825,000 home in Huntington Beach, CA. The four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is in fairly good shape, but the floor plan is awkward and needs work. Still, with a limited budget and time, they’ll need to pick their upgrades wisely in order to make a profit on this flip.

Find out which renovations this team deems worth the investment, as well as which ones are too pricey to pursue. Haack and El Moussa’s smart choices might help set your priorities straight for your next renovation, too.

Can’t knock down a wall? Give it a purpose instead

closed layout
This wall makes the house seem closed off.

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When El Moussa and Haack first walk into this home, they’re surprised to see a wall in the entryway. They soon find that it’ll cost a whopping $25,000 to take it down.

Although El Moussa knows that knocking down walls is a popular upgrade, in this house, it would be a waste of cash. So he tries to convince Haack that they can make the wall work, suggesting they build it out with stone or turn it into a beverage center or a key rack.

“You and your key racks,” Haack says. “No one wants a key rack.”

bar area
After: Now, this obstructive wall has a purpose.

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Still, it seems a beverage center is just what this space needs, so the flippers add lower cabinetry, open shelving, as well as wine racks to this wall. When the home is finished, Haack still thinks that removing the wall altogether would have been better aesthetically, but makes peace with the beverage center as the next best thing.

“This bar area makes a huge difference when you first walk in,” Haack says. “Otherwise, that wall would have looked really odd.”

Use color and texture to highlight a home’s best features

fireplace
This fireplace was small and dated.

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To the left of the entryway, Haack and El Moussa find a living room with a fireplace. While the room is a good size, the space seems smaller because of that pesky entryway wall. So the flippers paint the living room’s far wall a blue-gray to draw the eye in this direction. They also update the fireplace, adding tile all the way to the ceiling, bringing attention to this feature.

When Haack shows El Moussa her choice for the fireplace tile (a large white tile with a wavy look), she explains, “because of the texture, we can do pretty tight grout and kind of look like a textured wallpaper.”

living room
After: This living room is now an ideal hangout.

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It costs $3,000 to build out the fireplace and add tile to the ceiling, but the results are gorgeous. The tile and paint are a great addition, showing how easy it can be to draw attention away from a negative feature toward a home’s best assets.

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Watch: Out of Space—and Out of Your Mind? Here’s How Much Adding on to Your Home Will Cost

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If the layout isn’t great, make sure the finishes are top-notch

new kitchen
Since the flippers won’t remove the wall, they need to make this kitchen stylish.

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The entryway wall closes off not only the living room but the kitchen, too.

“This is a tiny kitchen,” Haack says when she first sees the space. “It’s very, very dark and very low ceilings. It’s the tile, too. It feels like a hospital in here.”

Since Haack and El Moussa aren’t opening up the layout, they need to compensate with stunning finishes. Haack shows El Moussa two different options, one modern and one contemporary, but it’s clear she’s leaning toward the modern look with gray cabinets and a brown tile backsplash.

“We don’t normally do something like this,” Haack says. “I think this could look really nice. We spent all this money on the kitchen, might as well go a little bold.”

kitchen design
After: The “Flip or Flop” stars gave this kitchen a stunning look.

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While this look is a little riskier than usual, in the end, it’s clear Haack and El Moussa made the right choice. While the kitchen is closed off by the entryway wall, it’s so stunning that buyers likely won’t even notice the tight space.

There’s more than one way to add light to a home

kitchen lighting
With lighting under the cabinets, this kitchen doesn’t need another window.

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Once the kitchen finishes are installed, Haack and El Moussa are happy with their design decision. Still, they realize that between the brown tile and the wall, the kitchen looks a bit dark.

Their contractor, Jeff Lawrence, says adding a window will cost only $1,000, but this change would need to be approved by the city, which would take about three weeks.

Haack and El Moussa decide to skip the window and make the kitchen brighter by adding more lights.

“Let’s do under-cabinet lighting, extra lighting. Let’s make it as bright as possible,” El Moussa tells Lawrence.

This addition costs just $600, and it doesn’t put these flippers behind schedule.

When the kitchen is done, Haack approves.

“It’s a little dark, but I think adding the under-cabinet lighting definitely made a huge impact,” she says. “It looks cool.”

It’s one more smart solution to this dated layout that proves homeowners don’t need to tear down a wall, or even create a window, to make a home look great. Sometimes it just takes a creative design choice.

Dual showerheads make a bathroom feel ultraluxe

large shower
This light, cement-colored tile makes this large shower seem even bigger.

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Upstairs, Haack and El Moussa find a sizable bedroom and an en suite bathroom with yet another odd layout, with lots of wasted space and a vanity outside the bathroom door. Unlike the entryway, these flippers decide to fix the bathroom floor plan, creating an extra-large shower in the process.

“This is the biggest shower I’ve ever seen in my life,” Haack says.

Haack and El Moussa choose a light tile with a cement look and add two showerheads, one for each side of the massive feature. When the bathroom starts to come together, Haack and El Moussa love the luxurious shower.

“It’s so big, it has two shower niches,” Haack says. I’m “really glad we did dual showerheads. Otherwise, this just would have felt like it was a locker room with a showerhead on one side.”

Is this a flip or flop?

Haack and El Moussa buy this home for $825,000 and sink an incredible $182,000 into the renovation. After factoring in closing costs and commissions, El Moussa says the house has a break-even price of $1,067,400.

They decide to list the house for $1,299,000 and are shocked when they get 13 offers in less than a week. They end up in escrow for $1,450,000, which means a profit of $382,600. That’s an amazing windfall that proves a home doesn’t need a perfect layout to be beautiful—or to land a buyer!

The post Tarek El Moussa and Christina Hack Prove One Massively Popular Upgrade May Be a Huge Waste of Cash appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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