Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead are busy with a wildly risky renovation gig on the latest episode of “Flip or Flop,” titled, “Money Mirage.” This former couple take a major risk when they buy a large, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Irvine, CA—without even visiting the property!
“Sight-unseen houses are actually really fun to buy and really scary to buy, because it’s like gambling, you know?” El Moussa says. “You don’t know what you have.“
And these two are certainly gambling in a big way. They pay a whopping $725,000 for this run-down place and find themselves digging deep into their pockets to pay for the renovation.
But the house isn’t just pricey, it’s large too. Really large. “I feel like every time I turn around, there’s another room that needs to be redone,” Anstead says.
Can these exes come together to renovate this high-risk project, or will the stress be too much? Here are some of the big issues El Moussa and Anstead run into, and how they solve them in ways that could help the rest of us, too.
Adding a structural beam can be both a fix—and a feature
When El Moussa and Anstead walk into the kitchen for the first time, they’re shocked by its small footprint, gaudy style, and the awkward sitting space in the corner.
“It’s literally the worst kitchen ever,” El Moussa says.
They decide that in order to make the room work, they’re going to have to break down two of the kitchen walls. But to do that, they need to put up beams going all the way across the living space. Not an ideal solution, but El Moussa and Anstead seek to make the best of it, keeping a large beam exposed to use as an accent piece. They cover the beam with some cosmetic wood, and the result is amazing. The wood accent adds color and depth to the house, while allowing for the open kitchen to draw buyers in.
When the house is finished, El Moussa admires the beam, saying, “It went from an ugly structural beam to, now, it’s a focal point.”
A new stair railing is usually worth the price
When it comes to the outdated banister, El Moussa and Anstead can’t agree on whether or not they should replace it. With so much money already going into the house, El Moussa isn’t sure they can afford a new railing. But for Anstead, it’s a no-brainer: “It’s like the whole focal point of the entire house,” Anstead says of the staircase. They decide to replace the outdated railings with a more modern design.
When the railings are installed, Anstead and El Moussa are thrilled with the new look. The dark color balances out the beige walls, and the sleek, simple design fits in nicely with the clean look of the living room. “I’m definitely glad we did those,” Anstead says of the new railings.
There’s no such thing as a shower that’s too big
“We have a huge master bedroom. We have a nice walk-in closet, ” El Moussa observes. However, “We have a dinky, dinky bathroom.”
And he’s not wrong. The bathroom in the master suite is teeny-weeny, especially considering how big the bedroom is. So, El Moussa comes up with a plan to knock out the closet and make one huge master bathroom, and to build a new closet on another wall.
Once the walls are down, the team crafts the new, larger bathroom, complete with a stylish vanity and a massive shower with a glass wall and no door.
When the bathroom is done, El Moussa admires the work. “It’s the biggest shower we have done in nine years,” El Moussa says.
Don’t go overboard with busy tile patterns
When El Moussa starts working on the new shower, he plays with different tile ideas. He plans on using a subtle subway tile on two walls and pairing it with a black-and-white pattern, for an edgy accent wall. Anstead is on board with this plan, until El Moussa reveals that he wants to use that same busy tile on the floor as well.
“It’s so bold, and there’s going to be so much of it on that wall,” Anstead says when El Moussa tells her of his plan. El Moussa ends up agreeing that doing the tile on the wall and floor will be too much, and he compromises by putting the black-and-white tile on the floor, and on just a 3-foot strip of the wall.
When the shower is finished, Anstead and El Moussa are glad they decided to use less of the edgy tile. The pattern gives the bathroom a “wow” factor, and since it’s used sparingly, it’s not overwhelming.
“I think it looks spectacular,” El Moussa says when he sees the finished product.
Keep it simple with the exterior colors
When it’s finally time to pick exterior colors, Anstead and El Moussa know they’re going to have to choose from a strict HOA-approved list. As Anstead brings out samples of the paint colors, she explains that the choices are “nothing too crazy.”
But some tame colors might be exactly what Anstead and El Moussa need for this house.
The two decide on a gray body with white trim and add a pop of color, with a blue door. It’s not daring, but it’s perfect for this house, giving it a sophisticated look while brightening up the exterior and improving its curb appeal.
Update your water feature
One of the worst features of this house is the outdated fountain in the front walkway. “That fountain is nasty,” Anstead says, when she and El Moussa first tour the home. They know they have to come up with a plan to fix it, because an unsightly water feature could ruin buyers’ impression of the house before they even walk in.
Luckily, El Moussa finds the solution for an update without a high cost: He has some extra tile left over from one of the bathrooms, and offers to replace the fountain’s ugly green tile with new black-and-white tiles.
In the end, this proves to be a brilliant idea. Not only do El Moussa and Anstead give the fountain with a cleaner look, but they do it on a budget. Plus, it matches the interior of the house!
So, is this a flip, or flop?
Anstead and El Moussa pour a lot of money into this Irvine home in hopes of a big payoff. They buy the place for $725,000, then spend $100,000 to get it looking good. After tacking on closing costs, staging, and commission, these flippers have a break-even price of $865,000. It’s a much steeper number than they’re used to, but the house looks amazing, and they’re confident in the market.
They end up listing the house at $988,000 and find a buyer for a cool $985,000. This means they stand to make a whopping $120,200 in profit. This house may have been a lot of work, but the team’s efforts really paid off!
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