On “Unsellable Houses,” Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis know that in today’s hot seller’s market, home sellers all dream of getting an offer way over asking price—perhaps even by six figures. And in the latest episode, they prove it could be as easy as doing a few shockingly cheap upgrades to make a house stand out.
In the Season 3 episode “Timeless Elegance,” the sisters meet Mary and Steve, a married couple who’ve been unable to sell their Everett, WA, home. Lamb and Davis are confident that if they invest $80,000 in renovations, the house will sell for a nice profit. Read on to see how they pull it off, and learn some smart investments you can make around your own home, too.
Don’t overpay for cabinets
At first, Lamb plans to keep the kitchen cabinets, but once the renovation gets going, she decides they just don’t work with her design. Still, she didn’t plan on spending money on new cabinets, so the sisters need to find a way to get new storage on the cheap.
“It’s a great trick to go to a local cabinet store and say, ‘Hey, I’ll take mismatches of bases, maybe returned,'” Davis says. “And all it means is they ordered it and they didn’t use it. So it’s a great trick.”
These cabinets cost only $2,400, a huge bargain. Lamb then chooses to paint them a pretty light blue, and in the end, the kitchen is gorgeous. No one would ever guess these weren’t custom-made for the space.
Factor in installation costs
Lamb wants to give this home a design style she calls “regal elegance.”
It’s “a mix of soft colors, and then we accent some metallics and mirrors so it’s very, like, old Hollywood but still comfortable,” she explains.
The light blue cabinets fit this look, but Lamb wants to add some sparkle with the backsplash. She chooses a unique white tile with little bits of gold, giving the kitchen a fun but elegant vibe.
While this tile seems to be the right choice, the sisters learn that a complex tile like this can jack up the cost of installation. Their contractor, Jeff Lawrence, installs the tile but mentions that if they were to hire anyone else to work with this intricate tile, carefully cutting it to go around cabinets and light switches, it would cost $3,000 to $4,000 in labor.
“So with tile, if the pattern’s more detailed, it takes more time, which ultimately costs more,” Davis says. It’s a smart thing to consider before picking any tile at all.
Storage on wheels can work as an island, too
When Lamb and Davis first tour this house, they notice a wall of cabinets in the kitchen.
“All those cabinets on the wall right there, they’re amazing for storage, but they do pinch the flow of the entry to the kitchen,” Davis says.
“There’s probably a compromise here where maybe we lose a little bit of storage but we can feel a little bit more connected, Lamb says.
The sisters end up removing the cabinets and replacing them with a single unit with wheels. The $900 addition gives homebuyers a spot to tuck things away. Plus, because it’s on wheels, this cabinet can double as an island.
“We also added one other cabinet on wheels that can be used as an island in the kitchen when needed,” Davis says.
Laminate floors look as good as hardwood
New flooring can be pricy, and Lamb and Davis want to make sure they’re not going over budget. And while this home does have some hardwood floors, the sisters are concerned about the flooring not being the same throughout the house.
“The hardwood floors are in the bedroom and the halls, but they’re not in the rest of the home: the living room, dining room, and kitchen,” Davis says. “So if we were to put in a hard-surface flooring in those other rooms, they’re not going to match.”
“It’s going to look hokey,” Lamb adds.
The sisters’ contractor points out that sanding these wood floors would be more expensive than putting down new laminate anyway, so Davis and Lamb decide to put down beautiful laminate flooring that gives the whole home a consistent feel.
While cost-conscious homeowners might have the instinct to reuse whatever they can, sometimes completely redoing the floors can be the thriftier choice.
Stenciling adds visual interest on a budget
When it comes to Mary and Steve’s back patio, Lamb and Davis want to update the colors to attract younger buyers. They paint the skirting blue to match the kitchen cabinets and then, on the floor, they use black.
To make this space seem extra playful, the sisters stencil big dramatic flowers on the floor.
“Stenciling is going to make it feel like we put intention into it, and we were purposeful with using that space,” Davis says.
When the paint is dry, it’s clear the stenciling was a big success. The white flowers on the black floor give this patio a fun look, and it didn’t cost much to do: just a stencil, some paint, and a few hours of work. It’s a creative upgrade homeowners could do on even the tightest budget.
Does this unsellable house finally sell?
When Lamb and Davis meet Mary and Steve, they’ve had the house on the market at $475,000 for a month with no takers. After putting $80,000 into the renovation, the sisters list the house for $550,000.
Soon enough, they get an incredible offer for $650,000—a full $100,000 over the asking price! After the HGTV stars get their investment back, they split the profits with the homeowners and walk away with $72,500. It’s an impressive sum after a lot of smart, budget-friendly fixes.