“Flip or Flop” stars Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead have flipped a lot of houses, but in the latest episode, they get the rare opportunity to renovate a home designed by celebrated midcentury architect Cliff May.
In this week’s episode, titled “Cliff Makeover,” El Moussa and Anstead buy a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Anaheim, CA. This pedigreed property has definitely seen better days. But some past owners have added their own designs—putting up walls, closing up porches, sprinkling in dated decor—so now, the house looks like a messy time capsule.
It needs so much work to get back to its former glory that Anstead and El Moussa have to pour money into it, going way over budget, and possibly getting in over their heads.
Can these house flippers turn this fixer-upper into the midcentury modern masterpiece it should be? Here are some tactics they use to get this house looking good, and some lessons we can learn from their latest flip.
Find the right tile to match your home’s style
To highlight that midcentury modern style May was known for, El Moussa and Anstead want to find the right tiles for the bathroom, kitchen, and fireplace. So, they pick out some patterned options with lots of midcentury modern flair.
They choose a retro black and white pattern for the master bathroom floor, a large gray and black star design for the kitchen backsplash, and an intricate geometric tile for the fireplace.
“I love the geometric on the geometric,” Anstead says. “Like, it actually works.”
The patterns are loud and daring, but they’re just what this house needs.
White makes a space look larger
To balance the bold patterned tiles, Anstead and El Moussa pick a softer look for the hall bathroom. They find a gorgeous white tile for the shower and frame it with a thin line of black subway tile. The white makes the small space look larger, while the black brings the look together.
It’s a simple design, but the classic charm works.
“I just love these bathrooms,” El Moussa gushes when touring the finished home.
Use wood designs for a retro style
For this house, El Moussa and Anstead know they’ll want a retro design to stay true to the May aesthetic. So, when it comes to the kitchen, they decide to go with a classic: wood.
El Moussa likes the idea of a light-colored laminate flooring paired with dark wood cabinets, but Anstead wonders if it’s too much.
“It’s kind of wood on wood,” she says. But El Moussa points out that this combo is very midcentury modern, and they decide to go for it.
And it’s a good thing they do, because once the cabinets and flooring are installed, El Moussa is proud of the choice. It’s just retro enough to complement the midcentury style without seeming dated.
“I love the cabinets, that they’re dark,” he says. “I love that we did the light flooring.”
Don’t forget to design your outdoor space
May’s home designs are as famed for their outdoor spaces as what’s indoors. Yet this home’s previous owners had closed in their yard until May’s signature ambiance was no more.
To restore this home to the way May would have wanted, El Moussa and Anstead open up the enclosed outdoor spaces, taking out the roof over the patio and the sunroom.
In the end, the result is amazing. Plus, after cleaning up the yard and adding a fire feature, El Moussa and Anstead make the patio and sunroom some of the best spots in the house.
It’s a good reminder that while adding more indoor living space can be valuable, there’s nothing quite like a well-designed outdoors to boost a home’s value.
Add visual interest to concrete with river rocks
Once Anstead and El Moussa decide to convert the patio and sunroom back to the way May designed it, they know that the concrete hardscaping will need an update, too.
“This concrete looks awful,” Anstead says, so they spend about a thousand dollars updating the cement, breaking up the square slabs with strips of river rock. In the end, this tweak enhances the patio’s midcentury modern feel.
A fence can turn your yard into a private oasis
Anstead and El Moussa create a great indoor-outdoor flow and a stylish yard design, but they know that, even with these improvements, something is still missing.
That, of course, is a little privacy.
With next-door neighbors close by and a road just beyond the yard, Anstead and El Moussa know that the short wall around the property isn’t going to impress buyers. So, even though they are already over budget, they spring for a $3,800 veneer to go on top of the existing block wall.
They aren’t happy with the cost, but Anstead explains that they can’t put the house on the market without fixing the yard.
“I feel like that’s kind of one thing we have to do,” she says. “We’re the corner lot, and we have all these windows. There’s literally no privacy right now.”
In the end, Anstead and El Moussa are right to add the fence. It looks good, and it makes the house feel much more private.
“I absolutely love the wraparound fencing. I love everything,” El Moussa says.
So, is this a flip or flop?
While El Moussa and Anstead originally anticipate this rehab will cost around $75,000, they end up spending $98,200. The house cost them $445,000, so this brings their break-even price (after staging, commission, and closing costs) to $570,000.
They list the house at $649,900—and 10 days later, they score an offer of $650,000. That means a profit of $80,000.
Not too shabby! We think Cliff May would be proud.
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