Twin sisters Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis are experts at renovating run-down properties on their HGTV show, “Unsellable Houses.” But what if a house is already in good shape? Then their strategy shifts to shooting for the moon and maximizing profits.
That’s exactly what they aim to do in the Season 3 episode “Fancy Farmhouse,” when the sisters work with married couple Spencer and Molly. Their Marysville, WA, property, which they designed and built themselves 17 years earlier, is already nice and move-in ready. Lamb and Davis know that this house could sell for $700,000 as is.
The sisters also believe that they could sell this place for much more, maybe $850,000. Their tactic? Add $50,000 in upgrades that will make this house look unique and give it an edge. Find out the changes that help take an already great house to a whole new level.
1. Open up a tight staircase
When Lamb and Davis first step into this house, they’re not impressed with the tight entryway. Between the narrow walkway to the kitchen and the staircase, the space isn’t ideal. So Lamb and Davis decide to open up the staircase wall and install a custom iron handrail to connect the staircase and hallway, making both feel bigger. Once the new railing is installed, the sisters are impressed.
“Before, I would’ve rushed a buyer through that entryway,” Lamb says. “Now, I want a buyer to stop and enjoy and notice how beautiful and unique that entryway is.”
2. Try different island shapes
A large kitchen island can be a big selling point, but Lamb and Davis think this home’s large rectangular island could use some improvement—especially when they decide to add a long dining room table right next to the bar seating. Luckily, contractor Jeff Lawrence comes up with a brilliant idea to build the island in a pentagon shape.
“The advantage of doing this is that we can get seating around here without encroaching into the room,” Lawrence says.
Davis approves of the idea right away.
“I actually really like this shape,” she says. “I feel like it’s just giving us that advantage, that step up from all the other homes on the market.”
They go ahead with the pentagon island, and when the kitchen is done, it’s clear that the nontraditional shape was a great idea. The HGTV stars create more room to add a dining room table while still providing enough space for four seats at the island. It’s a smart, space-saving solution that other designers will surely borrow.
3. Add color in surprising places—like your sink
To finish this kitchen, Lamb wants to add a big farmhouse sink. However, Davis disapproves of the blue color she picks.
“This is forcing a color on a buyer,” Davis says, gesturing to the blue sink.
Then, pointing to a plain white sink, she says, “This is allowing a buyer to select their own color. In that price point, I think the buyer needs to make their own decision.”
However, Lamb persuades her sister to use the blue sink, and it ends up looking perfect in the space.
Next to the new black Shaker cabinets, the sink adds just the right amount of playful color to the room. While homeowners might not think to add a colorful sink, Lamb proves that it might be a risk worth taking.
4. Add high-end finishes to the bathroom
The main suite is already in good shape, but Lamb and Davis know that if they replace the builder-grade finishes, such as the laminate floors, they’ll really impress buyers.
“Builder-grade materials totally make sense when you’re on a budget,” Lamb says. “And Molly and Spencer had four kids to raise.”
Davis agrees: “To really maximize this home for a new buyer, we’re going to have to put in some new, upgraded product.”
They rip up the laminate flooring and lay down stylish tile. They also replace the vanity and put in a black soaking tub. While Davis isn’t so sure about the tub at first, Lamb knows the black will bring some elegance to this farmhouse home.
“That black tub, I don’t care what anybody says, it puts a bow on this whole design,” Lamb says.
5. Paint doors black for an elegant look throughout the house
To finish up the home update, Lamb decides to paint all the interior doors black, giving the whole home a more dramatic, elegant look. The new color not only looks chic, but it also matches the black cabinets in the kitchen as well as the black tub and the stair railing. The common color helps the entire home look cohesive and thoughtfully designed.
How much does this house sell for in the end?
Once the $50,000 renovation is done, Lamb and Davis list this home for $850,000, well over the $700,000 they would have listed it for before the updates. After just 10 days on the market, Spencer and Molly accept an offer for $875,000. Davis and Lamb recoup their investment, and then the homeowners and the sisters split the difference, each side scoring $62,500.
It’s an amazing profit and an incredible home upgrade. Davis and Lamb prove that while a home may look great, there’s always room for improvement.