House Flipping 101

Recently I helped a client in east LA design their first flip. That sounds normal but it really went a little something like this:
Ring Ring. (client’s wife on the other end, sounding stressed): “Can you help us? We’re working on a flip, my husband is running around just buying stuff because he’s freaking out. We don’t have a plan.”

Cue siren. When the emergency designer call sounds, I come running. Because I know that I know, you can screw up a flip like this in a hot minute. And if there’s one thing a flipper desperately needs above all else (besides barrels of money) it’s a plan.

So, I came into the project late in the game, after they had already purchased the house and done all the inspections, only to find they were WELL into the 6-figures to get the house structurally sound and up to code. Which made the situation even MORE desperate and panicky.
Preferrably, I like to be involved from the get-go. With my real estate experience I can give sound advice on whether a property is a good deal or to run for the hills. In this case, even though the home looked like an amazing bargain, when the dust settled it was far from it. 
Since it cost a pretty bundle just to fix all the things you can’t see, that meant we had to be extra diligent about keeping the costs WAY down on the design elements you can see, all while making the home look luxe and appealing to buyers. Not an easy task.

Spoiler Alert: This home received multiple offers and is in escrow currently for well above ask, all in under a week. This home is not in a “hot” neighborhood, so I’d like to believe it was our collaboration as a team that sold this house.
Here are my notes from this project, room by room, complete with the “Before” pics!

Before pic of the walkway from the front of the house.
After Remodel! You want to give your buyers a reason to get out of their car.
Notice how the walkway is clean, open and inviting, with new flowers and plants.

Curb Appeal

I mention this one SO OFTEN to homeowners and flippers looking to sell. You need to give people a reason to get out of their car. Make sure your walkway is open, clean, and inviting. Plant fresh flowers and foliage for color, and make sure your grass is impeccable, with no weeds in sight.

With this house, I did suggest some other design ideas for this walkway and entry, but due to time and monetary constraints the owners decided to go for simple instead.
The end result is still stunning!

Entryway + Living Space

Before the remodel, the living area is dark and disjointed, with no cohesive design plan.
Almost unrecognizable, walls were removed and the open living space is now much more modern.
The open living space is decorated with minimal staging to bring atmosphere and definition to the room.

Here we added skylights to this mid-century home, as well as plenty of recessed lighting to bring plenty of natural and artificial light to this space. 
Decorators White by Benjamin Moore was used throughout the home, creating a blank canvas for the next owner to embellish or leave as-is.
The floors throughout the home were finished with a beachy, mid-greige Luxury Vinyl Plank. Although some colder climates prefer carpet in the bedrooms, many Angelinos prefer the look of hardwood instead. 

The sun-drenched master bedroom, with great views and lots of natural light.

The Kitchen

The kitchen before, is cramped and dated. 
After the remodel, the kitchen is lighter and brighter, designed for modern living.
The dining room before feels dated, cramped and dirty.
Lots of natural light via the skylights makes for a welcoming dining space.

I fought for some things in this kitchen that in the end, the owner just wouldn’t spend on.

I wanted to add some color in the kitchen, since the rest of the home is so neutral. My vote was for a unique backspash and a rich green or navy island color. I also wanted the countertops to vary in the kitchen, with a colored or gray quartz on the white cabinets and white quartz on the island. 

I won the white quartz on the island. 🙂

I lost on all other counts, but I was gracious about it. I’ll push to a point, but if the client is resolute in their decision, I’ll help them work with it. It’s their budget and their project. 

Initially the owner wanted to do all open shelving, but I explained that as much as people LOVE this look in magazines and Pinterest, it doesn’t necessarily translate well to real life. Buyers want places to store their stuff, without it looking perfect all the time. 
SOME open shelving = A-ok
ALL open shelving = beautiful but not practical for most

I did suggest going with matte black hardware, which ends up grounding this white kitchen and creating a nice contrast.

The Bathrooms

The master bathroom before was dark, dingy and overwrought with pink.
After the pink! Tip: great master bathrooms will ALWAYS help you sell your flip.

The master bath in this house turned out to be my favorite room. With the new skylights, it’s like a spa retreat!
The guest bathrooms were kept simple, with a clean finish. 

Outdoor Living

Before, the outdoor area needed SERIOUS help!
Now this is a home and yard anyone could be proud to own. 

One of the VERY best things about this home has nothing to do with the home itself, it’s the size of the yard, almost 18k square feet. In LA, this is akin to a gold mine of beautiful outdoor, SoCal living.

Here my client did an excellent job of creating an inviting, outdoor space that matched the tone and mood of the home.


“Jill Laine at We Design You Sell has been absolutely integral in the process of helping us flip our house. The house we bought to flip needed a complete overhaul, it was a total renovation, so every aspect of the design needed to be considered and Jill knew exactly what to do.

She had so much knowledge about what people are looking for when they are buying a house. Her taste and her judgment are impeccable. She was also very smart about allowing for our budget and understanding where to spend money and where we could afford to let it be more thrifty.

Importantly, she was also very patient with us, as my husband and I have totally different tastes! We were really not agreeing on what we liked and what we think would be most buyer-friendly, and Jill was able to help us combine our style and streamline the aesthetic into what would actually look most appealing and be best for the sale of the house.

All in all, I truly cannot imagine that wewould have gotten the outcome we did without the assistance and knowledge of Jill at We Design You Sell.

I would recommend these services to anyone looking to sell an appealing buyer-friendly house with more ease and less stress.”

Lessons Learned

This client did an AMAZING job at navigating their first flip. I’ve known people that have taken years and hundreds of thousands in the red with their first remodel. It’s easy to do in LA. As one of the hottest markets in the country, you’re running with the big boys and girls now, and the margins are super slim. 

That being said, it can be done. Flipping can be incredibly fun, stressful, exhilirating, challenging and SO rewarding. Not to mention lucrative.

Just like my client in this scenario, who is selling this home to a single Dad. I get goosebumps when I think of the memories and moments that will be created here with his kids, friends and family. 

Perhaps you’d like to invest in a flip, and learn how to get it right….well….

I highly recommend having a team. Good people that are experts, and can also put things into perspective when you are having a meltdown because you’re convinced that you picked the wrong backsplash for the kitchen and NOW EVERYTHING IS IMPLODING.

Things go wrong on flips, ALWAYS. Things went left, sideways, up and around on this flip. We worked it out. It’s never as easy as they make it look on TV.

Breathe. Then call me, because this is what I do best! Not only can I design the flip out of your flip, I can also offer sage real estate advice, no matter where you live in the US of A. 

I can be reached at With Flipping Formula, where I design your remodel, top to bottom, with all the finishes, real estate advice, design support and collaboration is a mere $1995! Even better, we can get started right away on your flipping empire.