Underground Unit Upgrade

See how the experts upgrade an underground unit on a limited budget.

Their House Awaits

Stephanie and Jim Sims need to sell their condo and move as soon as possible. Jim has accepted a job in another town, and they're already in contract to purchase another home near the new job. With a second mortgage coming upon them, the couple is very motivated to sell. They have lived in this spacious, 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home for nearly six years. Although many people may not like being in a semi-underground, garden unit, these homeowners find it very convenient not having to walk upstairs with their small children.

Real estate expert Brandie Malay arrives to get to the root of the selling issues. She loves the vintage building and its massive courtyard, so far, it is a good opening. Once inside she sees the perils of an underground garden unit, noting that it feels like a dungeon. The great room is dark, the furniture layout is awkward, and the fireplace is dirty. Malay thinks the master bedroom is in good shape, but the son's bedroom is another story. There are so many cabinets it looks like a kitchen. The cabinet theme continues in the dining room. Malay finds the built-in cabinets bulky, the dining table too small and the curtains just plain droopy. Overall, though, she is impressed by the amount of square footage and the location.

Designer Monica Pedersen agrees with Malay's critique and concocts a plan to transform this home's flaws into selling features.

Step 1: Lose the kitchen-style cabinets in the bedroom, and stage it as a spacious guest room.

Step 2: Brighten up the great room with new lighting, rearrange the furniture to show off the space, and turn the fireplace into a focal point.

Step 3: Remove the cumbersome cabinets in the dining room, and bring in a grownup-size dining table.

Carpenters Robert North and Chad Lopez are charged up and ready to get to work.

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