While homeowners, and the designers who work for them, are focused on designing spaces that they love, real estate investors have completely different goals in mind. Our latest project is a full gut renovation of a 3 story row house in Columbia Heights in Washington, DC. My husband and I are serving as design consultants on the project as well as investors.
The general contractor and investment group have done a fantastic job of buying the home "right" with lots of room for improvements that will boost the bottomline. Now that the framing is in, it's time to begin the design process for the kitchen and bathrooms.
Where do we start? With inspiration, of course! Because this home needs to appeal to the average buyer of higher end real estate, we need to ensure that the design selections are luxurious with mass appeal.
Our design inspiration comes from 3 sources -
1. Existing and recent home sales in the immediate area - We pulled all of the comparable MLS listings in the Columbia Heights community. In addition to an in-depth online review, we visited 3 open houses and evaluated their floor plan, amenities, wall color, ceiling, lighting fixtures, flooring and, of course, the kitchen and bathrooms. This enabled us to discern key similarities in the area listings which speak to what buyers want in this market. We took lots of photos and kept track of which houses sold and at what price.
2. Houzz - I love Houzz. I just might be addicted. I don't embark on any project with creating an inspiration folder on Houzz. Selecting just 2 or 3 inspiration rooms provides a basis for a custom design that better conforms to my needs. It's such an awesome start to the process. You can also share your Houzz folder with your team to refine the design inspiration.
3. Our portfolio - While we are designing for the high end Columbia Heights buyer, there are underpinnings in our own style and relationships with vendors and/or products that factor into the final design. As an example, I love Porcelanosa, the tile company. We used their Brunei Blanco tile on all of our bathroom walls in our home. We are familiar with their product. It is high quality and it works well. We will likely use the tile for this project, too.
Design inspiration is everywhere! Just keep in mind who you are designing for and find design solutions and ideas that your target market will love. And, if you flip homes regularly, I highly suggest that you develop a formula that works for most situations with a bit of customization based on the home and the potential buyer.
Happy house flipping!