Rehab for Resell - Become an Interior Decorator?

17 Replies

Hi.

I'm doing my research before taking on any Rehab projetcs by going to the Home Depots as well as learning all I can about costs and how things are done. BUT, here is what might seem like a "Mr Obvious" question. Would I be selecting all the items myself? Mainly, style and type of cabinets, rugs, paint, light fixtures (easy for me since I sell those)?

I simply have never thought about it before.

Thanks,

Philip

If you are rehabbing the property yourself then yes you would be picking out all of that stuff yourself. I know some associates of mine who have hired a team to do that sort of thing but it all depends on the type of money you want to spend and how quickly you need it done. I would say you should first determine what you want to use the property for (ie. rental, resell, etc...) and that should give you a better direction on what to purchase. That and what your budget is.

You would be selecting them all yourself.

You have a few options:
1. hire an interior designer to consult on a few interior design packages, where they can help you find a coordinating cabinet/counter/paint/hardware/fixtures/tile, etc. I know a few guys who have 1-3 templates of coordinating items, and choose a template for a project and go with it. I have 2 templates, one with lighter cabinets/floors, one with darker. All of the corresponding items match based on that. Sometimes I deviate with tile/accent choices, but usually stick to my proven formula.
2. hire a designer for each house, I think J Scott does this, I may be wrong.
3. watch alot of HGTV, walk alot of rehabbed flips in your price range, and above (I like to take little details out of $500k plus houses and apply them down at my level), take alot of notes and walk home depot and get to know their inventory very well.

I wouldnt become an interior decorator, when you can just hire one. Better use of your time.

Thanks Rene and Anson for your feedback.

I know a few guys who have 1-3 templates of coordinating items, and choose a template for a project and go with it. I have 2 templates, one with lighter cabinets/floors, one with darker. All of the corresponding items match based on that. Sometimes I deviate with tile/accent choices, but usually stick to my proven formula.

I like the templates idea, Anson. I could certainly do that. Thanks so much.

If you are married you might want to think about getting a woman's eye, Stuff like kitchen and bathroom sell a home and women purchasing are the one that you need to sell the dream most of the time. I look at rehab pictures and I automatically think GOT TO BE A GUY, who would think that looks good!
I'm not saying that every woman has a good eye for style or what looks good but the majority of them know what appeals to them as a a great kitchen or great bathroom.
Anson if I'm not mistake J Scott's wife does the decorating.

Ophelia:

Stuff like kitchen and bathroom sell a home and women purchasing are the one that you need to sell the dream most of the time. I look at rehab pictures and I automatically think GOT TO BE A GUY, who would think that looks good!
I'm not saying that every woman has a good eye for style or what looks good but the majority of them know what appeals to them as a a great kitchen or great bathroom.

Brilliantly spoken! You are so on target. Not married, but dating seriously. Plus, as I sell lighting, I work with a number of designers whom I'm sure could help me for a discount (as I do for them).

I see guys do rehabs and put the "Hollywood Dressing Room" strips in the bathroom; how ugly and dated. That's one area (lighting) where I believe many rehabbers try to save money and are actually losing it.

Originally posted by Ophelia Nicholson:
Anson if I'm not mistake J Scott's wife does the decorating.

Yup, she's the designer in the family...

When we first started rehabbing, she spent several days picking out finishes -- everything from light fixtures to plumbing fixtures to cabinets/countertops to paint colors -- and we use all the same finishes in every house we do.

This provides several benefits:

1. Our contractors always know what materials to use;

2. We don't spend a lot of time ordering materials;

3. We can buy extra materials when they're on sale;

4. We never have to wonder if a set of finishes go with other finishes in the house (they've all be pre-selected and matched);

5. I can rehab a house without any input on the design at this point, since all the decisions have been made.

The only thing that changes from house to house is the exterior paint color, as my wife likes getting to try different combinations of colors.

We essentially did the same thing for the staging. My wife bought several sets of furniture and accessories, each with a different color scheme. When we stage, she decides which color scheme to use, and then -- in theory, at least -- she doesn't even need to be involved, as the layout is pretty much the same in every house.

I highly recommend doing things this way -- figure out designs that work and then repeat them in every house. If you aren't good at picking finishes, colors, furniture, etc, find someone who is, and pay that person to help you do it one time. After that, repeat, repeat, repeat...

I would start visiting new spec house "Open Houses"... You will quickly notice recurring themes that work.

Most builders know what works, so just follow a successful lead. I'm a big fan of neutral colors Light tan walls/ Creme Trim. Oil Rub bronze goes really well with that color scheme.

If it's a smaller cottage type home, I like to throw in some color to brighten up the small spaces.

I agree with Ophelia and J Scott. Have a woman who is up on these things choose items, styles, and colors for you. And then just reuse the same stuff on each house (unless it really just doesn't match the style of the home).

I am appreciating all the intelligent feedback here.

Regarding paint color, it seems so many here in Pittsburgh just do white, or white or perhaps...WHITE in the rooms. I can see tans and creams feeling so much warmer and "home."

J and Mrs J, thanks also. So, you have several sets of furniture that you use for staging? How extensive? What styling?

I may start another thread or find one regarding kitchens. Even if I was selling at 60-80K, I am thinking that extra care and pizazz in the kitchen will pay off. If there is room, how about islands?

Become a student of design or be ready to pay someone out the yin-yang to do it for you.

A hot date for me and my wife is going to Borders, buying a cup of coffee, and reading every home/building/renovating journal on the shelf. American Bungalow is my favorite by far... my wife and I often agree on design, and she's been accused of having a 'man's taste in design'... meaning that she's very well happy with large oak posts and heavy woodwork on fireplace mantles. (Geez, that sounds weird.)

Houzz.com is a tremendous resource as well. It's like a giant photoshare for builders and renovators, and we've had great luck in blending styles from various builders and coming up with a few ideas all our own (I can spend way, way too much money on granite in places where most people wouldn't think granite should go)

View other houses in your target area. I've wholesale ganked staging and design ideas from my competition, and I am absolutely not ashamed to admit it. If it is awesome and sells, I'm happy to steal it and use it myself.

I wish I could say that I have a single design, or set A-B-C that I use with every house. Sadly, I don't. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I draw from much older design models than many renovators... the houses I work on are either older (1950's) or designed to look older (Neo-bungalow/victorian crossovers).

All that means is that while I have certain design modes I try to follow (No horizontal tile surfaces, for example), the houses I work on generally each tend to require something unique to the house.

Example, the neo-bungalow we built most recently has a craftsman/early Victorian crossover trim package that incorporates both simple door and window casing with very craftsman-looking pediments, and cove molding which is a very early-Victorian thing to do. We did it that way because it emulates a specific style and era that we were trying to project in order to fit with the area (Which is dominated by 1920-1950 designs)

Another house, which is a post-war build Bungalow, we opted for baby-howe trim casing for the doors and windows... an 'older' look than you get with modern window casing, but very much in keeping with the style of the house.

I guess in terms of color palette, we tend towards the neutral. The walls are usually biscuit or some other variety of builder-beige, and the trim is either white or vanilla. I prefer light colored hardwood floors in small houses, and darker floors in larger houses. Often, though, the condition of the existing floor with dictate shade (Dark enough to cover all blemishes)

This is a really time consuming way to do things and I don't recommend it unless you want to spend a lot of anguish worrying about every little detail of a rehab. If I wasn't such a tightwad who was obsessed with design perfection I'd just hire a danged decorator to tell my crews what to do, then gnash my teeth in silence when it bothered the heck out of me but sold anyway.

(Don't get me started on the sheer heck I put my floor plans through to ensure that they come out right...)

If there is room, how about islands?

I am actually a big fan of islands, the rehab we have now- (pictures coming soon we just put granite in yesterday) when we originally bought it had a wall framed and I thought if we took it down and put in a island would open up the space. Now all the neighbors comment that they wish they had an island.
Granted the place was down to the studs when we purchased so you may need to make sure taking down walls and putting in islands that you have permits if required.

I think when rehabbing that it helps greatly if you aren't doing it alone. What I mean by this is sometimes you cannot see everything, you cannot envision everything. So sometimes you think that looks good and someone comes in and goes HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND! That would look horrible.

You may not need someone forever but starting out I think definately helps.

I think I have good taste so I pick my own finish. Remember you want to apeal to the market not only to yourself. I have never tried this product but it might help...

http://www.nelsondesigngroup.com/DPC/designcan.php

Thanks Ophelia. As I sell lighting for homes, literally everyone who is building has an island and we see 4-5 people a day who now have an island and are trying to light it. I know that even in the under 100K more blue-collar neighborhoods the island will give that kitchen fantastic "pop." The sizzle sells and it's even more than sizzle.

What you said here:

What I mean by this is sometimes you cannot see everything, you cannot envision everything. So sometimes you think that looks good and someone comes in and goes HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND! That would look horrible.

Great advice.

Jeffrey, that product looks amazing. To think that it has levels for the type of houses is so focused. I may very well use that. I really don't have a good eye for color. I know good and bad when I see it, but am not sure how to get there!

Thanks so much.

Ditto the wife is the decorator. I could do the cookie cutter thing if she was not involved. I get in trouble when I venture off into her area of expertise. But, it is perfectly alright for her input on plumbing, electrical, foundation,ETC.
Don

Originally posted by Philip Bourdon:

J and Mrs J, thanks also. So, you have several sets of furniture that you use for staging? How extensive? What styling?

It's probably easier if you just take a look at the "House Pics" section of my blog...you'll notice that for the more recent houses, we've gone to less bulky, more lightweight furniture. This is important when you're moving it around a lot...

Originally posted by Aaron McGinnis:

Houzz.com is a tremendous resource as well.

A friend of mine co-founded that site. I've been meaning to mention it here on BP but hadn't gotten around to it...

I agree that it's great for helping those who don't have an eye for design (I'm in that group!).