treasure hunting

Flip House Hunting

I keep getting asked what the next flip is and you know what?  I don't know yet!  Now that Dori finally sold just about 2 weeks ago, I'm officially back to flip house hunting.  In the past 2 weeks, I've checked out 6 properties with my Realtor and need to run a bunch of numbers to see if any are feasible as money-makers.  We touched a little on the hunting/buying process last year in my Flipping Q&A series, but I figured today I'd open up a little window into my head and share what my thought process is and what I'm thinking when I walk through houses that I'm considering to flip. Exhibit A- A current 2 family/potential one family in a great historic area on a corner lot.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-1

It looks promising from the outside.  While it would be so easy to focus on how cute it is and that I want to fall in love with it, I have to look at it through $$ shaped sunglasses.  Right off the bat I see it needs a paint job, some exterior wood repair, most likely new windows, and a bit of landscaping.  As I walk through each house, I keep a running tally in my head for what I estimate the renovations to be.  So far on this one, my reno estimate is around $30k and we're not even inside yet.  Even with that work that I see it needs, I'm starting to wonder why the house is priced so low for the area.  Then we step inside and find out why.

This was a rare property for us to walk through and was actually occupied.  Most of the houses we walk through are foreclosures, short sales, or estate sales and some haven't seen occupants in many many years.  This one has 2 renters currently, so out of respect for them, my interior shots are of specific elements of the house and not wide overall shots.

The first room we walked in was apartment #1's kitchen and the low price started to make sense.  This house was built in 1782.  This kitchen is straight out of 1982.  My favorite feature is the swoosh of linoleum by the cabinets and the carpet everywhere else.   With cabinets, flooring (!), appliances, drywall work, plumbing, etc, this kitchen could run 15-20k as part of the overall reno.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-2

And the bathroom.... with carpet on the floor and a mint green tub and sink.....  While I actually kinda dig the mint green fixtures for a fun retro bathroom- this is not the house or area for that kind of design risk.  Carpet on the floor of  bathroom always give me the heebie jeebies.... It's a small bathroom, so I mentally add 5k to my tally.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-4

The ceilings throughout are very low, but the home does have a few neat original features still intact.

Flip House Hunting

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-6

Throughout the entire first floor unit, pretty much every room needs wallpaper removal, floor installation or refinishing, and drywall repair.

The entryway that connects the 2 units is kind to the budget and just needs cosmetics and repairing or replacing the stair treads up to the second floor.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-3

So we head up to see the second unit.  Even smaller size-wise with the same cosmetic issues throughout, although not as much original character.  The kitchen up here, however is a HUGE problem.  If you look past the current tenants stuff (and the pee pad for the 2 little pups that were kept in the room), the kitchen is barely functional.  There was not a single full-size appliance to be seen.  I've been in cheap hotel rooms with better cooking space.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-7

The bathroom was just as bad if not worse.  It only made sense if you knocked down the wall between and connected the 2.

But that's where my agent, Amy and I start discussing the feasibility of this being a single family or staying a 2 family.  The layout really isn't ideal for either, but it has potential.  Even more potential if I move around walls and really change it up.  Not out of the picture if the $s work, but in order to figure that out, we need to see the basement and utilities.  This could always make or break a reno budget.  Can you imagine which this one was?

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-8

Let's just say the image below is what you DON'T want to see in a basement.  Knob and tube wiring and sills that have both termite damage and rot.  When I say sills, I mean the wood pieces that sit directly on the foundation that the entire house sits on....  Those 2 problems right there are a MIN $20k fix right there, maybe more depending on if the sills can be repaired and how.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-9

But the basement's joy didn't end there.  To get to the other half of the basement you had literally go down the rabbit hole.  We were not having that.  But we had yet to find the electrical panel which is normally in the basement, so instead we prayed it was hiding elsewhere.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-10

Luckily we were right and the electrical panel was hidden in a cabinet in the first floor laundry room.  Unluckily it was ancient and a dangerous brand of fuses.  More $.

Flip House Hunting potential-flip-11

When we were all finished with the walk-through, my mental tally was up to a min $110k renovation budget and probably more since we always like to add on at least 10% for 'sh*t we forgot.'  While the cosmetics of 2 kitchens, 2 bathrooms, floor refinishing, etc adds up fast, the real cost here is electrical, structural repair, windows, plumbing- aka the not so pretty stuff.

My take-away from this house:  It's not stricken from the possibilities list just yet, but probably.  Before I write it off completely, my agent Amy is checking into a few things (like if the termite damage has been treated or if it's an ongoing problem....).  With a reno budget realistically around $120k and asking price of currently $225k, it's just not feasible.  Resale is potentially around $350k, making the room for profit here approximately zero.  Zero profit does not make for a good flip, you know.  As much as I love old houses and want to save every single one, unless I partner with a rich benefactor that just wants to throw money at restoring old houses, I need to make sure there's room for profit.  C'est la vie flipping.  Guess I'll keep hunting!

Craigslist Treasure Hunting

I'm in dire need of a basement clean-out over here (when am I not?), so I've been trying really hard to put a thrift spending embargo on anything larger than a book.  That's easier to do when it's not tag sale season, but I've been seeing everyone else posting their amazing thrift finds, making it tough lately.  The struggle is real.  So instead of really torturing myself and hitting the thrift stores, let's go virtually treasure hunting together- it's been too long. If this George Nelson-style expandable coffee table really is in excellent condition as they say, it could be an awesome piece.  Not a steal at $250, but not a bad deal either.  Polish it up with some tung oil and enjoy!

00c0c_2w9hz1b6iMs_600x450 00p0p_6Vo9aRj48Ky_600x450

Emily Henderson could work MAGIC with this quirky portrait for $150.


Don't believe me?  This gentleman would fit right in on one of her rooms.  She always seems to make weird and almost creepy portraits look chic.  It's a gift.

Emily Henderson photos from

The runner up for find of the day that one of you should rush out to Halifax MA and purchase is this mid century credenza and hutch for $110.  In the right space, this would be AMAZING, especially for $110!  Seriously someone please buy it so I can live vicariously through you.


And the find of the day is a chrome and brass vintage chandelier for $99.  I'm trying really hard to rack my brain and see if any of my client projects, present or future, need this.  I think they might.  Or I might.  We'll see....


When I'm in the mood for a bit of Craigslist entertainment, I'll do a search for items for sale with the key word "beautiful" or "gorgeous."  If you recall from last year's Craigslist PSA, the items usually aren't....  This time, "beautiful" was the jackpot.  Don't you want a "Solid, Reliable, Beautiful Cream Color Fridge"?  (*spoiler alert- it's not beautiful*) But it's only $150!  My "beautiful" search wasn't all bad, though.  I see tons of potential in this "Beautiful Teak Grandfather Clock."  If you could get them down from their asking price of $200 it could be a really neat character piece!


Apparently I had mid century modern on the brain today.  I hope you've enjoyed treasure hunting with me!

Have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday!

Copper Accents

I may be slightly biased, considering that my design business is called Copper Dot Interiors, but copper accents are such a fun element to bring into your home!  It's like gold, but quirkier.  With so many stores jumping on the copper train, I love the options that are out there!!  Here are a few of my favorite copper accessories currently available: Copper Accents- via Year of Serendipity

1. Copper Woven Iron Orb Hanging Basket, World Market.  A creative way to clear up counter space by floating your standard fruit bowl

2. Copper Wall Clock, CB2.  So neutral yet so chic- who cares if it's a bit tough to actually tell the time

3. Threshold Whitewash Wooden Hexagon Mirror with Copper Metal Inset, Target.  This one's on my own shopping list- so modern but still classic.  Target's decor game has been on point lately

4. Skyer Gem Pendant, Lulu and Georgia.  I'd love to see these used in lieu of bedside lamps

5. 4 Square Carrara Marble Coasters- Copper Nest, Marble & Metal, Etsy.  Yes please.

6. Copper Flatware, West Elm.  I've seen copper flatware at a few places lately and they just make me want to host a dinner party

7. Threshold Copper Task Lamp with White Marble Base, Target.  Class up any desk area with this

8. Star Metallic Napkin with Copper Stars, Canvas Home.  Speaking of that dinner party....

9. Sayulita White Chair, CB2.  A bit less of a chameleon than the other pieces, this would need just the right space to call home.  But oh what a space that would be!