The After, a Pittsburgh House Flip

So remember when my boyfriend bought another house (check out my post from the first surprise house here)? He’s really getting into the business of flipping small outdated homes and revitalizing them for rental. The Pittsburgh rental market is very active.

He has been working hard on the property since buying it in January 2017, with myself helping on any small projects that I can. I mostly contribute to design choices, painting and heavy-duty cleaning. Plus providing positive moral, and food & drink supplies for the worker bee of course! Working mostly on the weekends, the projects were slow to show progress, but the house is finally done & rented!

Thought I’d share the after state to show that it just took him a little budget, commitment and hard work to transform a dated, dull house into something livable again. Now it’s rented, providing a home for a family and a sense of accomplishment and future income for the investor. I’m proud of his accomplishments, and admire his commitment and drive towards something more. I know we have both been learning about a lot more than house flipping along the way, especially about how to balance projects, time management and communicating. It’s definitely a challenge to flip a property at 26 with a full time job and limited experience – it’s especially wearing on a personal relationship.

I recently became infatuated with another local couple, successful and established in the house-flipping business the Bennetts of K Bennett Development Group. You may have heard of them from their HGTV pilot show Steel City Rehab. I LOVED the show not just because of the Pittsburgh setting (so awesome to see the city shine), but also because of the couple’s fun, positive energy. They have been through the hard times of starting a house-flipping business, and continue to face serious challenges, but still (appear, I don’t actually know them lol) to have their kind, fun-loving, respectful relationship set as a priority. After their episode aired they posted to their Facebook thanking viewers and welcoming questions. I took the opportunity to ask something personal, looking for perspective for my own relationship during flipping struggles. I asked two questions and really appreciate that Kris and Tara answered with their thoughtful responses.

I’m curious about the beginning of your house-flipping journey. How did you prioritize getting your business off the ground while still taking care of your personal relationships?

TB: There came a time when we knew we needed to buckle down and give our careers some major attention. Kris had been used to getting checks in the mail for riding his bike for so long, so it was definitely a challenge for us at first. We had a lot of conversations about the business — how we need to do what it takes and make sacrifices to get on our feet. We had our daughter and another baby on the way at the time, and we were having a hard time making ends meet. We didn’t see each other a lot during the first flip. Kris would work until he couldn’t keep his eyes open, then he’d go back as soon as he woke up. That went on for at least six months. I did most of the kid and home duties on my own. It was extremely hard, but getting through that first house and watching the process succeed — even though it came with major challenges — was enough for us to want to do it again. That year was a major marriage victory for us. We realized that we make an awesome team, even when things get tough. We learned how beneficial we are to each other when it comes to encouragement and motivation. There were some days we felt like we couldn’t do it anymore, but we helped one another stay positive.

Any advice on the work-life-balance struggle as a young couple flipping in Pittsburgh?

TB: Balancing the different parts of your life takes a real effort. Kris and I will sit down and plan our weeks out at the beginning of each month. What are our work hours? When do the kids have activities? When does the gym fit in? When do we want date nights, time with friends, family days, etc.? If we don’t schedule, we will go weeks without a date night and months without seeing some of our best friends.

KB: Work does take up a lot of our time, but we’re good at prioritizing the other parts of our lives as well. If we feel like something is slipping, we re-evaluate and adjust the calendar. It’s an ongoing thing, but we try to be super-honest with each other about what we need.

Kitchen Before

House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE

Kitchen After

For the walls I selected the same paint color from our own kitchen. It was inspired by what else other than an episode of Fixer Upper of course! I picked a PPG Voice of Color paint color called Silent Storm, a pale green gray 6 months before I realized it actually truly is the PPG crossover for Joanna’s color Americana Egg in the Magnolia Homes paint line! A crossover means that Silent Storm is the closest tint formula in the PPG color palette, to the other brand’s color Americana Egg. This is discovered based on tint and formula data.

silent storm

For more PPG Paint colors similar to those used on Fixer Upper check out this Pinterest board full of Modern Farmhouse collection colors.

pittsburgh house flip after

pittsburgh house flip after

pittsburgh house flip after

 

Bathroom Before

House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE

 

Bathroom After

In the bathroom (and bedrooms) we picked a very light grey color called Elusion PPG1005-2. He decided to use the same tile we have in our own bathroom across the shower and floor.

PPG Paints Speedhide

pittsburgh house flip after bathroom

 

Pink Bedroom

House Flipping Pittsburgh BEFORE

 

Updated Bedroom

pittsburgh house flip after

Updated Living Room

pittsburgh house flip after

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House Flipping in Pittsburgh

So my boyfriend bought another house, actually two (check out my post from the first surprise house here). He’s really getting into the business of flipping small outdated homes and revitalizing them for the active Pittsburgh rental market. He’s been working hard on each property since January 2017, with myself helping on any small projects that I can. Mostly just painting and design choices, plus food & drink supplies for the worker bee of course! Working mostly on the weekends, the projects are starting show great progress! Thought I’d share the before state of one of the projects and a bit of the progress he’s made to show that it just takes a little, budget, commitment and hard work to transforms a dated, dull house!

The Before…

A dated green kitchen!

A pink bedroom!

A bedroom covered in Pittsburgh’s favorite faux wood paneling!

And last, but not least, a colorful basic bathroom!

This is a standalone single family home located just north of the city of Pittsburgh. It’s 3 stories with 3 bedrooms and one full bath. The unfinished basement features a Pittsburgh toilet, workshop and laundry area. A lot of progress has been made so far! I am not involved in everything going on, but I do know that the home has received a bathroom overall, all new appliances (kitchen& laundry), new flooring throughout, expanded electric wiring, new paint and lighting; among many other updates. These simple updates have proved to significantly refresh the space.

 

I’ve been spending a lot of time painting lately and per usual have gotten a lot of paint in my hair! I need to learn to always wear a hat when painting.

paint in hair

We’ve used a very strong odor killing, stain concealing and mold killing/preventing primer, as well as Pittsburgh’s hometown paint brand’s PPG Paints Manor Hall, and Glidden Premium.

If you’re interested in trying PPG Paints products here’s a Friends & Family Discount!

PPG Paints friends & family discount 2017

 

 

Paint-Splattered Jean Trend

If you’ve seen my BF or I on the weekends in the past few months, we were probably covered in paint. I just want it to be known that we started this whole paint-covered jean trend, that’s in store now. Seriously go to the mall, multiple brands are selling paint-splattered jeans, from NY& Company to Armani Men’s. Ridiculous.  If you want paint-splattered jeans, come help us paint!

Alice + Olivia paint splattered skinny jeans

paint splattered jean trend

Seven7 paint splattered jeans

paint splattered jean trend

Target’s paint splattered skinny jeans

paint splattered jean trend

Rag & Bone Paint-Splattered Skinny Jean

paint splattered jean trend

Giuliana Rancic’s Splattered Denim

paint splattered jean trend

Free People Paint Splattered Boyfriend Jean

paint splattered jean trend

New York & Company Painted Boyfriend Jean

paint splattered jean trend

Armani Exchange Men’s Paint-Splattered Jeans

paint splattered jean trend

Gap Girlfriend Splatter Jean

paint splattered jean trend

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Living Room Flip Project Before & After

Picking out a paint color for the living room flip project was the hardest choice thus far in this tiny Pittsburgh rental flip. I wanted a neutral gray and that was all I knew.  The paint color and the flooring was all we had budgeted to change in the living room, so the color was a big decision. I started with about 50 paint swatches and narrowed these down to 8 paint colors, all on the cooler gray side. I then took advantage of a 99 cent paint sample jar sale at Lowe’s Home Improvement (this sale happens about once a quarter) and got a sample for each of the 8 colors. I really recommend testing your color on the wall with a sample size before you buy it. Seeing the color in your space makes a huge difference. Take the time to paint a sample of the colors you think you like, and check the test area throughout the day, as the lighting shifts.

Simple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my Mantra Simple Living Room Makeover

Even if you have 8 colors you’re stuck on like I did, the picking a paint color process is so much easier when the paint is actually on the wall. Once I had the grays on the wall I could really see the undertones. I didn’t want something purple or brown, so those undertones were immediately eliminated. My BF wanted something darker, and I wanted a gray-blue, so we went with the darkest bluish gray paint color.

It turned out that we picked a paint color from a brand that we didn’t intend on buying product from. I don’t know what happened, but once we got our gallons tinted at Lowe’s into Olympic ONE, and painted the full wall space, the paint color appeared a lot more blue than gray. A bit of an upset to the BF, but I may or may not have intended it to be more blue than he was expecting 😉 We still only have one overhead light fixture in the space, so I apologize for the quality of the following photos, but below is our humble space post paint job. Plus, check out the post sharing on our flooring project.

Simple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my Mantra Simple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my Mantra

Our living room space is actually the only common area in our tiny Pittsburgh rental unit. We use the space as a living room and office, as this is the only place we had floor room for a desk and chair. Our furniture is mismatched, with pieces coming from both my own & my BF’s collection. Being 25 we’ve inherited most of our furniture, still working with what was scrounged up from our college apartment days. My bedroom set, the Derbyshire from Value City Furniture is the only furniture I’ve bought myself as an adult (I cried when I saw how cheap it is now versus when I bought it 2 years ago). The dresser is actually our TV stand now because this large furniture piece did not fit in the bedroom. I just couldn’t sacrifice the storage space, thus my clothes are in the living room. I’ll keep holding onto dreams of a walk in closet (or a closet at all) in the bedroom and separate living rooms & office spaces. Sigh. For now, home is where the wine is 🍷

Simple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my Mantra Simple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my MantraSimple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my MantraSimple Living Room Makeover Moscato is my Mantra

Compared to the before the simple update of new flooring, trim and paint color is a huge improvement. The before was terrible. Gross carpet, wood paneling AND lace curtains!?

Pittsburgh Home before renovation Pittsburgh Home before renovation

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Kitchen Renew Reveal

This post is titled with the word “renew” and not “renovation” because for this rental unit project not much was done to the kitchen, just a quick kitchen flip including a fresh coat of paint and flooring, for a total of $152. But from the state that this place was in, these two small tasks made a world of difference aesthetically.

For the kitchen flooring we used a solid vinyl stick tile in a simple, neutral pattern from The Home Depot. Cheap and easy to install, does the job quite well. Probably about $60 total in tile was all it took to make a difference!

stick vinyl flooring

For the walls I choose a paint color inspired by what else other than an episode of Fixer Upper of course! I picked a PPG Voice of Color paint color called Silent Storm, a pale green gray 6 months before I realized it actually truly is the PPG crossover for Joanna’s color Americana Egg in the Magnolia Homes paint line! A crossover means that Silent Storm is the closest tint formula in the PPG color palette, to the other brand’s color Americana Egg. This is discovered based on tint and formula data.

silent storm

For more PPG Paint colors similar to those used on Fixer Upper check out this Pinterest board full of Modern Farmhouse collection colors.

modern_farmhouse_colors_pin

I had silent storm tinted into Olympic One at Lowe’s, simply because the PPG Paints store was closed when I had time to run and get the paint. The paint is of great quality, after a coat of primer Olympic One for less than $25, went on the wall easily and covered well. We used a satin sheen to brighten up the space with a slight bit of reflectance and for easy clean-up in the kitchen. We used the same semi-gloss paint from the previous trim project. We used Speedhide Interior Enamel Latex by PPG Paints, to repaint the existing trim, door and pantry door in the kitchen.

If you’re in the market to paint I would encourage you to shop with the experts at your local PPG Paints store, here’s the 2017 PPG Paints Friends and Family coupon.

Olympic Paint

By no fault of the paints, but in the midst of a crazy late night painting session, I ended up with paint in my hair. Sometimes you’re so tired that all you can do is laugh!

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So remember the before…

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Here is the after, with a fresh coat of paint and new flooring, we haven’t even changed the lighting yet. The goal was just quick, simple, easy and CHEAP refresh.

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Yes we are having to store all my wine on top of the cabinets classy college style. We simply don’t have a ton of storage space in this tiny apartment. I’ve had to cleanse a lot of my kitchen items, flatware and etc..

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We thought about painting the cabinets, but decided not to as they are not real wood and in bad condition. Just not worth painting. My BF’s aka the owner’s plan is to actually renovate the kitchen before it is rented out. As in do all the real work after we move out, so that someone else can benefit. Not my idea, but hey this isn’t my investment project.

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Yes that’s my Keurig, espresso machine and fancy Kitchen Aid Architect all stacked on top of the fridge… again there’s no counter space here to sacrifice. We created a much needed over the stove shelf with a random piece of wood we had and brackets for about $10.

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There are also NO drawers in this entire kitchen. As in none.  Instead of using something that takes up more space on the counter, like a traditional flat silverware holder, I found this desk organizer at Home Goods to hold our silverware. I love the colors and the shape of Moroccan-inspired cutouts.

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Living with this kitchen is definitely the one of biggest challenges I’ve had to face day in, day out. I hate to be so negative, but there is just limited functionality with numerous frustrations. There is no fan or ventilation system, no dishwasher, limited storage space, even less counter space, as in no space for even a microwave. Yes, that’s right we don’t own a microwave. Not only is there no dishwasher, the sink is tiny and shallow, there is no disposal and the sprayer hose does not work. Not the best place to tackle dishes.

I LOVE cooking and baking its therapeutic, challenging and even fun to me. So this less than ideal situation really frustrates me daily, and even sometimes discourages me from wanting to cook </3 This situation also constantly challenges our relationship, as one of us is always having to clean up and keep everything in its place in such a small nonfunctional space. It is just maddening at times to deal with.

Anyways, I am very happy with the paint color and the flooring choice. They really do serve the purpose of updating and freshening the space. On the positive side this kitchen does have a gas stove, which I have never worked with before. I now know why house hunters on HGTV insist on a gas stove, the difference in heat time is amazing.

In the area above the kitchen sink I’ve hung a sweet reminder for us to know that no matter how frustrating standing at that sink and attempting to clean dishes without causing a flood throughout the kitchen is – this is the kitchen we share together. No matter the functionally of  this kitchen, its our home for the time being, our first space together.

Oh and that flower is sitting in a random inch-wide hole in the wall, covering the eyesore 🙂

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Total Project Costs: $152.99

  • Primer $15
  • Paint $25
  • Flooring $60
  • New light bulbs $9
  • Silverware holder aka desk organizer: $12.99 at Home Goods
  • “Recipe for a Happy Home” decor sign : $6 from Kirkland’s
  • Curtains: $0 sewed them myself out of curtains I acquired from a previous apartment
  • Curtain Brackets: $25 from Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • Butcher block kitchen cart: $0 BF has had since college
  • Kitchen table & chairs : $0 saved from my college apartment cellar, it was just hiding in there so I kept it when I moved out 🙂

 

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Small Bathroom Renovation AFTER Reveal

Small Bathroom renovation

The only full bathroom renovation is the biggest project we’ve taken on in this tiny apartment, and it is proving to have the biggest impact! With the neutral tile we selected, I wanted to have a little fun with the paint color. I picked Spruce Shade by PPG Paints from the Voice of Color palette. I was drawn to this color having really been inspired by the 2016 paint color of the year, Paradise Found. This Spruce Shade paint color is a just a bit lighter and brighter than Paradise Found, which is a bit more of an army and natural green.

By the way if you’re in the market for paint here is a 25% off coupon for PPG Paints paints and 25% off sundries like brushes & other supplies.

I seriously love the color. It is a fun color, but still a subtle & soft backdrop for such a small space. The neutral tile, white trim and natural light in the space really bring everything together.

spruce-shade-ppg-paints

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Finding the perfect shower curtain ties the color scheme all together at Home Goods by Cynthia Rowley.

The most trying DIY project of this entire flip as been installing this bathroom storage cabinet. I was insistent on installing one as there is ZERO storage space in the entire apartment, and you always need storage in the bathroom, right? It was awful. Seriously beware, you think this project is simple and straight forward, but it wasn’t. Finding a stud proved to be impossible, so instead we had to use screws with anchors to secure it to the wall.

Image result for how do screws with toggle anchors work

It was frightening the size of the hole we had to screw into our old and thin walls to get the spring fasteners through. The mounting process calls for putting the screws first through the cabinet then through the hole in the wall, which left us blind to seeing what was going on during installation. This was combined with the struggle of trying to hold the heavy cabinet steady and in its level place. There was a bit of shrill shrieking involved in the mounting process. I thought the whole thing was going to come crashing down with half of the wall at one point. But alas we did it! It is still (knock on wood) hanging and serves exactly the function and purpose we need in the space.

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I incorporated a few pieces of silver mercury glass, a unique soap dispenser from Home Goods, and a vintage turquoise Ball mason jar for accessories.

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If the light fixture looks like it is upside down to you, it is. Remember that contractor I wrote about before, yeah he didn’t account for enough room to hang it the right way, with the bulbs down. When I hunted him down to (politely, with serious restraint) ask him why it was like that.  He tried to convince me that the light is designed to be hung either way. Ahh yeah, okay mister! There’s nothing we can do about it now. Acceptance at the time was a struggle. Again this isn’t a home it’s a rental unit, perspective is key.

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All in all I am pleased with the bathroom. Remember the before?

Feeling accomplished this Friday night 🛠🚽🚿🛁 bathroom renovation before & after ✅ time for 🍷

A post shared by Moscato Is My Mantra (@moscatoismymantra) on

Looking back now, I do wish there could have been budget to select a vanity with a counter top other than generic builder grade white. Did I mention that my BF + I are living in this apartment for the time being? The white shows dirt and hair easily, and is impossible to keep visually clean. This apparently causes a lot of frustration for my BF because my hair “Is everywhere”. Doesn’t bother me so much, as I am used to it. This is one of many joys of living in a very basic, TINY apartment with a significant other 🙂 Perspective is key to move past these tiny annoyances of everyday life.

Speaking of budgets, here is an estimated list of costs involved in flipping this tiny Pittsburgh bathroom:
$2,765

  • Contractor fees : $2,000
  • Paint: $20
  • Hardiebacker: $50
  • Tile & grout : $100
  • Vanity $139  – Glacier Bay package from the Home Depot included the cabinet, sink counter top, fixture and plumbing!  Similar to this package
  • Medicine Cabinet : $60 – extremely basic version from the Home Depot (I did NOT get to pick it)
  • Toilet: $150 – middle of the range from the Home Depot
  • Light – $65 – extremely basic version from the Home Depot
  • Over the toilet storage cabinet – $79 from the Home Depot
  • Toilet Roll Holder : $15
  • Soap Dispenser: $12
  • Shower Curtain: $25
  • Our sanity, free time ( sometimes hours making purchase decisions at the Home Depot) and labor: $PRICELESS

Here is proof that I am an amazing DIYer (haha). I installed the sink plumbing myself, because the contractors left without doing it (of course) and BF’s hands were too big for the tiny space.

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Overall, yes this is a very basic, straightforward, budget bathroom update. But it’s the journey into the unknown realm of renovation we took together as a couple – that is the story. We did it. That’s why we are so proud of this bathroom. It might not be grand, but hey for now, home is where the wine is!

Words of Wisdom: Breathe. It will all work out! 

Tackling a first ever flip or renovation project as a 25 year old couple is hard. Make sure to have an open mind and agreement on the scope and costs of the project. Keep in mind what you need in the finished project, and use that to help you make decisions that fit in scope and budget. We knew we had limited space and budget, so we enhanced the tiny space filled with cheap materials with a beautiful paint color and fun shower curtain.

We learned that a good contractor is a must. We’d suggest asking around until you settle on a contractor that has that great word of mouth street cred. We tried to motivate the contractor by saying we were hoping this project turns out great because we’d love to work on future projects together and refer them to our network. We’d suggested having a list of names of people wanting to see the work on your project, as they prepare to hire for their own. Direct referrals are a contractor’s golden ticket. Communicating proactively and clearly, plus having a paper trail of directions and decisions is a must to fall back on, in the case of anything going differently than planned.

Pin this project inspiration now!

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Small Bathroom Renovation AFTER Reveal

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