That’s exactly what they’re up against in the latest episode, “Party of Five.” Damien and Cymphoni Cambell are parents to three boys—one just 6 days old—and living with Cymphoni’s family. They’re eager to find a home of their own, pronto, and have $550,000 to spend.
They forgo the opportunity Calvin gives them to buy a big, grassy lot and build a home, which would even include a much desired pool. That’s because this gorgeous, custom home will take six months to complete, and they can’t wait that long.
Instead, they go for an older home that Chris shows them: a 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, 2.5-bath for $440,000. This leaves them with $110,000 for renovations—it’s not enough for a pool, but Chris shows them where they can build one in the future.
Chris says he can complete the renovation of the home in eight to 10 weeks.
Once the decision to buy is made, the LaMonts work together to show the Campbells some clever and cost-saving ways to renovate a house, with plenty of great tips you could try in our own dwellings.
Keep the paneling but change the color
Most of the wood paneling in midcentury modern homes is a rich, dark brown, which was popular back in the day. These days, most homebuyers are looking for something lighter and brighter.
Calvin suggests keeping the quality wood for texture, but brightening the room by painting the paneling white. He notes that white walls will make the home look much more contemporary.
Since it’s a family home, he selects a paint that is “durable and will wipe clean anytime sticky fingers leave a mark.” The Campbells do have three young kids, after all.
Sometimes it’s OK to lose square footage
A sunless sunroom that looks more like “a cave,” according to Calvin, was inexpertly added to the back of the house. While it has increased the square footage, it certainly hasn’t added to the enjoyment factor of the home.
Chris suggests opening it up to the backyard and making it an indoor-outdoor room, replacing the heavy, dark ceiling with an open pergola-style roof. However, because the room would no longer be enclosed, it would not be considered part of the interior living space, thus reducing the total square footage.
Calvin asks the couple if they’re comfortable losing a little bit of space. “I’ve got to make sure we are on the same page here,” he says.
“I do like the idea,” Cymphoni responds. “We have family fun night every Friday, and it’s a good space for that.”
She knows the family will get more use out of that room, no matter if it adds or detracts from the square footage.
You can’t buy sunlight
Leading out to the new inside-outside room is a sliding glass door and some awkward windows around it. The plan is to replace the slider with French doors so more light can come in. But what to do with those awkward windows?
Chris asks if they should just cover them up with drywall.
“No,” replies Calvin. “What do I always tell you? You can’t buy sunlight!”
Instead, he decides to reuse the glass from the awkward windows and install more balanced windows on either side of the French doors.
“Then we have more light from the backyard,” Calvin explains. “You can’t beat that.”
Mix your whites
When Calvin and designer Lindsey Walker take the Campbells shopping for cabinets and counters, Calvin notes how many variations there are in the “white” category.
“We went through over 100 different whites, because there are so many different whites: one with yellow tones, taupe tones, pink undertones, gray undertones.”
“For your uppers, this is a kind of classic, neutral white color,” Walker says as she hands Cymphoni a sample. “And then for the lowers, I was thinking we could do this taupe color, and that’s going to add some contrast with the wood floors and break up all the white.”
Adding a darker color to the lowers gives the property some depth and interest, Calvin explains.
“It’s really going to be a showcase and an eye grabber, and that’s really what we’re trying to do here,” he says.