Designers wear many hats… and sometimes that can even include a hard hat! Many times I work with client’s who are considering purchasing a fixer property in need of a major overhaul. They will often have me go with them to scout the property to layout design options, identify potential issues if any, and to determine if the existing structure can lend itself to a modern day makeover. Obviously there are a lot of steps to evaluating and identifying whether a property has potential. Buyers can often write off a diamond in the rough because the renovations and unknowns can seem overwhelming. That’s where I come in and help my clients navigate the space to see if we can ultimately construct the home of their dreams from a fixer. Since I’m a professional fixer upper of sorts, I can’t seem to turn off the “fix it” switch when it comes to scouting for properties with potential. The other day I was cruising the neighborhood with my little dude and came across this Spanish Colonial gem for sale.
This home is located in the historic Prospect Park District of Pasadena. It’s walking distance to the Rosebowl and just a short drive from Old Town Pasadena which makes the location superb! At 4,000 sq ft, and with 6 bedrooms and 4 baths, it’s quite spacious too. However, though lovingly maintained, being that it’s a historic property built in 1922, it is in need of some modern day updating. Let’s take a closer look shall we? With quintessential markings of a Spanish Colonial home, the living room features beamed ceilings and saltillo tile. The french doors give the space a very indoor outdoor feel, which is esssential for SoCal living. The kitchen has an awkward layout and is clearly in need of demo. Paging the Incredible Hulk…. yeah, um, we need you to do that “HULK SMASH” thing you do… thanks! And in more demo news…. I present to you vintage bathrooms complete with original tile. Sometimes vintage tile can be downright amazing and preserve-worthy, but in this case I would replace it with something fresh but timeless so that it feels straight out of the period of the house.
The master bedroom, is spartan, but that’s ok, because I view it as a blank slate. We can probably get by with cosmetic improvements and enhancements without ripping out walls, and perhaps keep the existing floor which looks like it’s been well maintained. Ohhh how I’d love to soak in this pool right now! I could do some serious outdoor decorating damage right here. I love that the lush grounds make it feel very private.
Check if the house has ‘good bones’. Look at the architectural style and floorplan and consider the potential for the layout. Does the layout need to be changed? If it feels choppy, can you easily create a more open or flowing space by eliminating a wall? Ideal fixers are homes that primarily need cosmetic changes – paint, drywall, refinishing flooring, and even kitchen or bath updates. But, if the location is amazing, the home has character, the lot and space have potential, and the comps are right, sometimes a huge overhaul can be the perfect way to get exactly what you want in a home.
Lastly, consider that sometimes that dream fixer does not necessarily mean dream budget. Often remodels can exceed the cost of new construction if you are creating something that is very specific, detailed, and luxurious. But, I firmly believe the devil is in the details and like most things in this world, you get what you pay for!
But before I go, here is my vision for our sweet Spanish space. I would keep some of the original elements that reflect the period, such as the beamed ceilings, but would update the space into a modern Spanish retreat. Here is this property’s potential…..
One of my hugest pet peeves as a designer are homes that are what I call ‘contractor specials’. You’ve seen them – the house has been flipped by someone who has gone to Home Depot and bought everything on clearance and then thrown it together in the house. Then they list the house way overpriced because it has been ‘newly updated’. Ugh! It’s such a travesty because it undermines the architectural integrity and period of the home.
Personally, I love the challenge of finding that little gem that is the most dated looking house in the best neighborhood and doing it the justice that it deserves! If you’re on the house hunt, don’t overlook these hidden treasures! Open your mind and creatively visualize what the home could be with the right kind of finishing touches. Give it a chance, give it a life, and make it a part of yours!