In the Season 7 episode “Eastside Americana Cottage,” Starsiak Hawk buys a house for $17,000, thinking she got a pretty good deal. However, she soon finds big foundation problems that will cost $10,000 to fix—that’s more than half the price of the house! Understandably, this worries Starsiak Hawk.
“The last house we did in this neighborhood barely made a profit,” she says. “So coming right out of the gates with a $10,000 foundation fix doesn’t really give me a lot of confidence in this project turning a profit.”
Still, the team has no choice but to fork over the cash to make this home safe. These repairs mean Starsiak Hawk will take a hit when it comes to profits on this project, so she makes sure to give this home affordable upgrades that look expensive and add a lot of value.
Read on to see how Starsiak Hawk and Laine give this home a high-end look on a tight budget, and get tips for easy upgrades that will make your home stand out on the market.
Bold colors will make a home stand out
Once the foundation is fixed, Starsiak Hawk and her team are able to redo the exterior and give it a fresh, welcoming look. However, they don’t have a lot of wiggle room in their budget, so they can’t do anything too costly. One inexpensive thing they can do is make an impression with color.
“We’ve got this really rich, kind of like jewel tone blue vinyl siding picked out. We’ll do white trim,” Starsiak Hawk says in a meeting with designer MJ Coyle. “So it’s going to have this kind of like Americana vibe almost with the color palette outside.”
She also wants to add quaint cross-hatched windows, giving this home an “Americana cottage” feel. Plus, the team brightens up the exterior with some flora and a DIY bench made from an old piano.
With a bold color choice and upcycled furniture, the team shows how easy it can be to upgrade an exterior on a budget.
Watch: Old Is Gold: The Hosts of HGTV’s New ‘Renovation Goldmine’ Share Their Secrets for Home Makeovers on a Budget
White kitchens are crowd-pleasers
Inside the house, Starsiak Hawk wants to play it safe when it comes to design. She explains that they’re not too familiar with this neighborhood and they need to create spaces that will be attractive to the most buyers.
“Most of our design is going to be buyer-friendly, like, the biggest pool possible,” Starsiak Hawk says. “So lots of neutrals.”
In the kitchen, she selects a plain white quartz counter, white cabinets, and a simple white subway tile for the backsplash.
This all-white kitchen is a safe choice, but Starsiak Hawk is happy with the finished product. It sets a good example for sellers hoping to get their home sold fast. If sellers want to attract a lot of buyers, clean and simple choices will do the trick.
Get creative with the sink
While an all-white kitchen might be a crowd-pleaser, Coyle doesn’t want to leave this kitchen without any contrast at all.
“Because the kitchen is so white, let’s do something a little bit different with the sink and do maybe, like, either a black or a gray,” Coyle suggests.
Starsiak Hawk likes the idea of adding a dark sink, but points out that the tone will need to be matched somewhere else in the design.
“As long as we just kind of pull it through somewhere, even if it’s, like, in the curtain rods or whatnot,” she says.
In the end, this new sink matches the black faucet and looks great in the white kitchen. The sink draws the eye and gives this kitchen a dramatic focal point.
Add a custom built-in feature
This home has a loft area, which Starsiak Hawk knows could be a great bonus room, especially for a family with kids.
“I want MJ to do something in the loft to make it like a homework area,” Starsiak Hawks says. “So, maybe build out a drop-down desk so they can use it when they want to, but then it can be folded up and put out of the way.”
The team ends up building the desk and, once it’s done, it looks beautiful. It’s just another example of an inexpensive piece that can add a lot of value to a home.
Use every space—even the unfinished basement
Starsiak Hawk and her team make a lot of changes to this home, but they need to leave the basement unfinished. Still, Coyle and another member of the team, Cory Miller, know they can improve the basement.
They decide to make the dusty space feel like a wine cellar, complete with DIY wine racks made out of wood and paint. They even add a wineglass holder and some wine barrels to finish the look. The feature costs very little, but it makes a big difference to buyers. Now, instead of being a boring unfinished basement, this space is a big selling feature for wine lovers.
Does this home with good bones finally sell?
After Starsiak Hawk spends $17,000 to buy this home, she puts $225,000 into the renovation, which is $25,000 more than she planned.
She lists the house for $339,000 and ends up getting an offer right away. If this deal goes through, Starsiak Hawk would make an impressive $72,000 in profit (minus closing costs).
In the end, costly foundation issues aren’t a deal breaker if you spend your renovation dollars right.