Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Meet Christen Anderson of Christen Joy: Inspired Interiors & Events. Each month, she will answer a home design question posed by one of our readers. Anderson is a Minnesota native with an eye for decor and design. Christen Joy is known for new-construction commercial projects, exceptional remodels, expert staging and accessorizing high-end living spaces. Anderson is also a passionate art collector, world traveler and home cook who frequently entertains for friends.
Question: I’m considering flipping a home – what rooms and recommendations do you have for me?
Thanks to the fabulous duo, Chip and Joanna Gaines, they’ve made flipping homes a task that anyone watching has said, ‘Hey, I should do that!’ My latest client thought the exact same, so let me walk you through a recent flip I’ve been working on in North Fargo to tell you a bit more about the important changes that not only brought this house back to life but also increased this home’s value.
Background on the home
This North Fargo Flip was the home of the owner’s, Mike and Zac Wanzek— father and grandfather. After considering selling it, they decided they wanted to create a house that would become a home for a new family to enjoy for years to come — so, they decided to flip it.
This four-level split built in 1968 had great bones, however, the layout and finishes were in need of some major TLC. The Wanzeks enlisted me to assist with the selections and provide direction on recommended changes to ensure the house would gain value, be functional and appeal to the masses while still having some personal touches that Dad and Grandpa would be proud of.
After a walk-through of the entire space, the demo quickly started with the removal of anything that wasn’t still intact. Once completed, we were able to gain a more idealist vision of what was needed and wanted; the real fun started by creating a fresh and open concept floor plan.
Originally, as you walked through the front door, the main floor was divided into four rooms – kitchen, living room, a pantry and entryway. We immediately knew that ripping out the walls would create an open concept floor plan that would not only create a loveable open space but would also accommodate future buyers who envisioned a large gourmet kitchen with endless natural light pouring in. Extra bonus: off the kitchen, we left the four-season porch but planned a complete makeover for it.
Upstairs is home to the master, two additional bedrooms and a shared bathroom. Considering most growing families enjoy having everyone on the same floor, we kept the layout while updating the closets to provide additional space for personal items. The large bathroom would be home to a new layout that provided better flow, function and key for a shared bathroom, more storage.
The lower level, home to another bedroom or office was near the spacious family room and second bathroom. Focusing on function and finding ways to include more nooks for storage, a new layout was constructed in the second bathroom by a strategic move of a door that allowed for both better flow and storage any homeowner would love!
The basement was quickly determined to be an opportunity for an additional bedroom. We decided to add an extra wide egress window and walls to create a private oasis. The old craft room next door would be updated with plumbing to create the perfect space for a laundry room.
Out with the Old
The Wanzeks and I started by creating a list of priorities that would bring this home from updated to move-in ready. We agreed that quality would not be sacrificed. The end goal would be for a homeowner to move in and not want to rip out a countertop because of the lack of quality, durability or feel that a selection was more ‘flip friendly’ than visually appealing. The Wanzek’s encouraged me to add special touches that would be unique to the home while keeping an overall cohesive look and feel.
The long list of items that would be net-new included flooring throughout, custom cabinetry, tile work, lighting, siding, roof, windows, countertops, appliances and paint.
Considering the length of this list, I’m going to focus on three rooms of this home that are overflowing with new selections and details – the kitchen, main bathroom and second bathroom. If you’ve watched your fair share of flips, you know these are key areas for both return on investment and also where potential homeowners will spend the most time hmming and huhing on whether to buy or walk.
The Heart of the Home
With the main floor now being an open floor plan, you are greeted immediately into the heart of the home – the kitchen. We wanted to ensure that this space would be a place that any cook in the kitchen or kiddo snacking at the island would love, so keeping this in mind, we were able to focus on a proper design and curated selections.
Remembering what the original kitchen lacked, we opted for custom cabinetry, which isn’t your typical choice that many would make when flipping a home, however, it is a decision I highly recommended. Not only do custom cabinets turn out beautifully, but the top reason I highly recommend them is due to the fact that they are unique to every home since they are designed to fit the space to a T while allowing them to serve at their highest function. We designed our cabinets to fill out the room by not only doubling the amount of cabinetry the original kitchen had started with but by also installing them to the top of the ceiling. Doing this not only makes the space feel larger by bringing your eye up, but it also allows for maximum storage, which was one of the aspects the original kitchen had lacked. Being able to add in details like soft closed drawers and a wine nook made choosing custom cabinetry a no-brainer for us, as we wanted to provide the future homeowners function and high-quality design selections.
Choosing a warmer white versus a brighter white for the cabinetry color was the direction I also recommended. We wanted our polished nickel hardware to sparkle off of the cabinetry, so the color we chose was Sherwin William’s Snowbound, which is a lovely compliment to the warm toned floors while still allowing that classic light and bright kitchen look and feel.
Speaking of floors, we ended up taking out the original flooring, due to excessive wear and tear that could not be replaced and invested in new, platinum coated laminate floors that run throughout the entire main level. Choosing this option gave the look and feel that anyone would mistake as real hardwood floors while allowing for the durability of a laminate. BOOM – functionality, highest quality and beauty at its finest! Due to this investment, we chose to keep all the original trim work and chose to match our new floors, in the shade of Aged Chestnut, to said existing trim work.
The jewel of the kitchen is the beautifully oversized (83” x 48” to be exact), quartz countertop island. Whether building new or buying existing, we know homeowners today are drooling over large islands that are big enough for prep work, hosting, eating at or just admiring an oversized bouquet of flowers. So now that we had the space to create a beautiful island, we knew that the investment was a total must. This quartz countertop showcases the white complements that continue to make this kitchen feel light and bright, yet airy.
Pairing this quartz countertop with the ceramic tile we used for the backsplash instantly brought this home from looking updated to feeling personally designed. From the very start, I was urged to design something timeless yet unique, and in my design opinion, adding this Carbon (a beautiful mix of blue-gray) color backsplash was the final design element to help complete our overall look and feel. In a flip, most of the time you want to keep colors and accents neutral, however, The Wanzeks and I felt like this pop of color was done tastefully and complemented the gray veining in the countertop. Officially seeing the heart of the home now completed, we know the homeowner that was meant to live in this home will instantly love and appreciate all the details selected.
Join Me Upstairs – The Main Bathroom
Improving the overall look and feel of the main bathroom was a definite must when working on this flip. Everything was demoed in order to optimize the space for future buyers, especially if they had a growing family. Ample storage, a new layout for better function and designer details are on the top of buyers wish lists and, lucky for them, we waved the magic wand!
We started by refreshing the built-in cabinets located in the hallway outside of the bathroom with new cabinet doors and a fresh new coat of paint in Sherwin William’s Snowbound, which is the perfect soft shade of white to help tie in the upstairs and main living areas. We were ecstatic to find out we were able to keep and use these built-ins as we needed. This made sure there was ample storage as this serves as the main bathroom on the upstairs level. Speaking of enough storage, once we were able to determine a better flow for the main bathroom, a tweak in the layout allowed us to include yet another additional custom, built-in linen cabinet inside the actual bathroom as well.
Going from the previous single vanity to a grand double vanity also made such a difference in this space, while still capitalizing on the need for ample storage. Rectangular undermount sinks, quartz countertops and a custom vanity mirror are just a few of the small details that allow this space to be move-in ready.
With neutral paint selections selected throughout this bathroom, we knew we had to select a pop of color to incorporate somewhere. With wanting to keep the spa look and contemporary feel, we knew offering a soft, subtle light blue subway tiled shower would be just the perfect fit! We opted for a light blue-gray tile to help add color and interest while still keeping it neutral enough for anyone to love. And speaking of love, this linen floor tile is the perfect amount of texture and beauty to help tie this entire bathroom together.
Down the Stairs – The Second Bathroom
Keeping with a cohesive look, the contemporary feel transitioned from the main bathroom also into this second bathroom. We started from the very beginning in this space and created a new layout that would allow for better use of space as well as, you guessed it, adding more storage. A strategic move of a door allowed us to utilize prior dead space that we could now use for a custom built-in linen cabinet for additional storage anyone would love.
Moving the location of the original bathroom door not only gained us room for additional storage, but it also allowed us to incorporate a spacious, walk-in shower. Keeping with a subtle and neutral color palette, we chose to tile the shower in a white subway tile and incorporated a pebble stone floor and matching nook for extra detail. We completed the overall light and bright look and feel of the bathroom with a fresh coat of paint, Sherwin William’s Silver Strand, that helped tie this entire room together and made our already featured linen floor tile pop against the subtle use of color.
Added designer details like the spacious single vanity, quartz countertop, custom mirror and subway tiled shower quickly gives this second bathroom that instant “wow” factor by taking things to the next level versus going in a standard direction.
Those of you who have turned off the television and taken a “go” at being Chip or Joanna know that flipping isn’t for everyone. A flip has the end goal of bringing a home back to its glory, yet most importantly it must also be neutral enough to sell to the masses and, of course, be profitable for those willing to roll up their sleeves and do all the heavy lifting. Good luck to anyone taking on any future flips — the reward can be very satisfying!
Interested in the North Fargo Flip? Get on the list to be contacted first once this home becomes available in the coming weeks! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join me on my Instagram & Facebook to see my latest projects and email me your design questions at email@example.com to have the opportunity to have your question answered next month.