Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make a house desirable to buyers.
The über-affluent Montecito, CA, may be home to such A-list celebs as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, not to mention Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Grande, but the coastal town is made up of more than just palatial estates.
The previous owners who found this modest two-bedroom, three-bathroom home saw the value in the property’s location, but they knew it needed a substantial interior refresh to make it truly stand out.
They purchased the home in 2018 for $1.2 million and redesigned it from top to bottom with a modern sensibility complemented by a natural, boho aesthetic. Their attention to detail paid off, and just a year and a half later, it sold for $1,542,000.
So which design-related decisions made this flip a success? We consulted our panel of experts to get their thoughts on which choices made the biggest impact. Here’s what they had to say.
Let there be light! It’s amazing how a few simple changes can make a room so much brighter.
“The selling feature that stands out the most in this upgraded space is the lightening of the room,” says Jason Gelios, a real estate agent with Community Choice Realty in Southeast Michigan.
Gelios adds that the consistent flooring gives the room a more spacious feeling.
Karen Aronian, an education design expert with Aronian Education Design LLC, agrees that the new space has a better flow.
“Before, the steps broke up the room visually,” she explains. “Now that they have been redone to match the carpet, they extended the room.”
Of course, proper staging also plays a big part.
“New contemporary furniture and stylish decor gave this tired room a new look,” says the stager and interior designer Karen Parziale, principal of The Real Estate Staging Studio in Hoboken, NJ.
She argues that the placement of the furniture matters just as much as the furniture itself, and that this functional setup is a winner.
“What they did successfully was created an emotional connection—the potential buyer must picture themselves in the space.”
Kitchen upgrades are a must when flipping a home. A remodeled kitchen is pretty much guaranteed to add value to the property. Also, a sparkly new kitchen will catch a buyer’s eye.
“Today’s buyer wants fresh and modern,” says Parziale. “In fact, the kitchen should be the first room a flipper fixes.”
Fortunately for the previous owners of this home, they were able to make some major upgrades without changing the footprint of the room. This probably saved them big bucks, which they could pour into the rest of the space.
One of the most significant upgrades in this kitchen is the peninsula. The new, lighter tile and waterfall edge makes the entire space look modern and welcoming. That same light color scheme is also found on the floor, the walls, and even the appliances. That white refrigerator is certified chic!
The change in the dining area might be the biggest change of all—it’s been completely relocated. The table and chairs are no longer crammed into the kitchen, but alongside it, in a corner of the massive living area.
“That was a smart idea,” says Parziale. “The way they had it before, the room looked exceedingly small and cramped—and too close to the kitchen stools.”
The last thing anyone wants is a cramped kitchen.
The move also helped to define an otherwise empty space in the large living area. That’s a staging win for sure.
Parziale also acknowledged that the stylish new dining table and cane dining chairs are a great contribution to the home’s boho, midcentury modern aesthetic.
We’ll be the first to admit that even before the renovation, the bedroom was enviable. But after the flip, it’s nearly impossible to pass up.
“One of the best upgrades in this renovated bedroom is the darker color of the ceiling beams, in contrast with the rest of the room,” says Gelios.
He also appreciates the choice of wood flooring, which took the place of the worn, beige carpeting.
“Homebuyers flock to floors like this, due to its durability and attractiveness within a space,” he says.
Decor updates, like the curtains, bed, dresser, and large palm fronds, carry that airy, modern look into the bedroom.
“They also added a few pieces of strategically placed furniture, like a desk, to show how large the room is,” says Parziale. “It is always best to show how spacious a room is.”