10 Qualities to Look for in a Fixer Upper

What makes a house flip-worthy?

Related To:

Curb Appeal

BEFORE

Sarah Busby

AFTER

Up-To-Date Look
Robert Peterson; Rustic White Photography

The front exterior before renovations to HGTV Urban Oasis 2017 located in Knoxville, TN.

Photo By: Sarah Busby

Up-To-Date Look

The combination of a striking color scheme and improved landscaping give this Craftsman home an up-to-date look that still respects the architecture and history of the house.

Photo By: Robert Peterson; Rustic White Photography

Let this once-dusty and deserted Craftsman be your inspiration to look past any lackluster, curbside first impressions. Instead of dialing in on the crusty-coated details, focus on the design and shape of the structure itself. You’d be surprised what some modern-day fine tuning, a little imagination and a lot of elbow grease can accomplish.

Can It Be Fixed With Paint?

BEFORE

Before: Living Room
Ashley Ausland

AFTER

Welcoming Family Room is Comfortable and Stylish
Marisa Vitale

Before: Living Room

The living room is dark and cramped. It needs a complete makeover for this modern family of five.

Photo By: Ashley Ausland

Welcoming Family Room is Comfortable and Stylish

Designed to be a family room area where all the neighborhood kids will gather on movie night, this space needed to be durable and beautiful. The window seat with its easy-to-clean laminated fabric creates a cozy and sunny reading area and allows for additional movie viewing. The custom-made media cabinet hides all the kids toys, board games and AV equipment.

Dark and dreary… and that’s putting it lightly. Not exactly ideal for your family movie night. Still, this isn't a lost cause. The large windows offer up loads of natural light and what better way to play that up than with some bright-white paint? A coat here, a coat there, a little rearranging and a built-in window bench turns this sad space into something spectacular

Outdoor Space Galore

BEFORE

Before: Patio
Lexi Grace Design

AFTER

Chic, Welcoming Patio
Rennai Hoefer

Before: Patio

This outdated patio needs a complete makeover to make it family-friendly space.

Photo By: Lexi Grace Design

Chic, Welcoming Patio

Gray pavers ground this outdoor living space, while exposed beams bring in architectural charm. A comfortable sofa pairs with a sleek coffee table to create a cozy seating area.

Photo By: Rennai Hoefer

For those of you who consider hosting an art form, this tip is for you. Set your sights on properties with large outdoor spaces — yes, even ones that are a little (a lot) rough around the edges. Look at it this way, the more square-footage, the more you can play to create a space you’ll be proud of. Case and point? This prettified porch that went from scary to sophisticated, leaving the resident social butterfly itching to host an event. 

A Solid Build

BEFORE

Rachel Whyte

AFTER

Rachel Whyte

Chip and Joanna Gaines purchased a "fixer upper" bed and breakfast that's in a great location, but has peeling paint and a lack-luster appearance, as seen on Fixer Upper. (Before #17)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The newly renovated Magnolia House bed and breakfast has been transformed from the inside out. The exterior has a new brick skirt, updated paint, metal roof, and landscaping, as seen on Fixer Upper. (After #17)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Cliché though it may be, there’s some truth in saying “they just don’t build ‘em like they used to.” We think that the Magnolia House, flipped by Chip and Jo, is the perfect example of a timeless-meets-unique exterior to aim for when searching for the perfect flip.

A Lovely Layout

BEFORE

Neutral Traditional Kitchen With Blinds
Marie Flanigan Interiors

AFTER

Blue and White Transitional Kitchen With Shades
Julie Soefer Photography

Neutral Traditional Kitchen With Blinds

This big kitchen features lots of cabinets, a central island, double ovens and plenty of space to move around easily.

Photo By: Marie Flanigan Interiors

Blue and White Transitional Kitchen With Shades

This formerly dark and uninteresting kitchen gets a whole new life with beautiful blue cabinetry, delicate pendants and roman shades with a subtle graphic print. The backsplash is the star of the room: gray tiles in a herringbone pattern.

This kitchen project proves that flip properties do not have to be haunting and horrific to qualify for dramatic before-and-afters. Love the layout of a space? Keep it. Then, coat it with paint to fit your style. This traditional, wood-clad kitchen got a major wow-worthy update with a cool blue hue and brass finishes.

Loads of Character

BEFORE

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

AFTER

Contemporary Neutral Dining Room with Exposed Wood Ceiling
Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

As seen on Fixer Upper, the dining room of the Flip-House needs new paint, floors and wainscoting on the walls to create more character in the room. There will be french doors added to the archway. (Before #9)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Contemporary Neutral Dining Room with Exposed Wood Ceiling

As seen on Fixer Upper, this dining room now has the original exposed wood ceiling, hardwood floors and new light fixtures.

Even in the bleak before photo, it’s easy to be charmed by the oversized arches connecting this living and dining room. Work with the darling quirks and charming features of a home that led you to fall head-over-heels with it in the first place. The arches shine just as brightly in the after shot, don’t you think? 

Good Bones

Search for stylish bones. The trio of tall, handsome windows at the end of this living room fill an otherwise drab space with loads of natural sunlight. Bonus: the windows are gorgeous even before the first coat of paint. Find a flip that offers a beautiful, albeit grimy, blank canvas and use them to inspire the design of the space. What do you think inspired the ultra-charming coffered ceilings seen in the after shot?

BEFORE

Sarah Busby

AFTER

Robert Peterson/Rustic White Pho

The living room before renovations to the HGTV Urban Oasis 2017 located in Knoxville, TN.

Photo By: Sarah Busby

HGTV Urban Oasis 2017 in Knoxville, TN

Photo By: Robert Peterson/Rustic White Pho

Potential Statement Pieces

BEFORE

AFTER

Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

The original stairs were unsafe and falling apart and the low ceiling created a difficult entrance to the stairway, as seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper. (Before 19) Before

The stairway way modified to fit the room better. The old drop ceiling was removed, adding height to the room, and wooden support beams were added. The wall between the entryway and living room was taken down to create an open concept feel, as seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper. (After 19) After

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

If you’re totally creeped out by the before photo of these stairs, that’s okay. You’re in good company. But, friends, the after shot of this swoon-worthy staircase? If this doesn’t prove that even the scariest of scary stairways a second glance, I don’t know what will. If you come face to face with a similar space, rub your eyes a couple of times and take a step back. Maybe take two. Then, envision the statement-making potential just waiting to be brought to life.

Extra Square Footage

BEFORE

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

AFTER

Contemporary Attic Nook with Built-In Bench
Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

As seen on Fixer Upper, the office in the Flip House will have newly painted walls and flooring. (Before #15)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Contemporary Attic Nook with Built-In Bench

Joanna used attic's existing features to create a fun study with built-in reading nooks.

Older homes often treat homebuyers with loads of little, unused spaces to play with. And play, you should. View every little nook and cranny as an opportunity to make your home more livable, more stylish and ultimately more "you." This flip by Chip and Jo transformed a quirky, unused attic space into a double home office complete with a bench for the occasional afternoon siesta. Transforming every square inch into usable space also increases the value later on.

Vertical Possibility

BEFORE

AFTER

Tackling 'The Beast' Bight Spacious Kitchen
Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

The kitchen in the Harp's house was a disaster. There were holes in the ceiling and the floors, and it was full of trash and mouse droppings, as seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper. (Before 8) Befores

Tackling 'The Beast' Bight Spacious Kitchen

As seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper, Chip and Jo turned the old space into a bright, clean kitchen with new cabinets, wood floors, Carrera marble countertops and light gray paint with white trim. The old drop ceiling was removed, adding height to the room, and a wooden support beam was added. A subway tile backsplash, floating wood shelves, and stainless steel appliances were also installed.

Tags: 
  1. kitchens

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Believe me when I say that I understand the initial reaction of wanting to run far, far away from this chaotic kitchen and never look back. But when shopping for a flip, search for the positives, then capitalize, capitalize, capitalize. The pros here? Sky-high ceilings serve as the perfect excuse to create a floor-to-ceiling wall of cabinetry. If you're finding it hard to see the possibilities in a place, simply look up for inspiration. 

Our Favorite Kitchen Remodels

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Keep Reading

Next Up

Income Property Flips to Sell

See how some motivated home sellers renovated a kitchen and bathroom in less than three weeks. 

The 10 Best Cities to Purchase a Fixer Upper

New data reveals the top places where home buyers can get the most bang for their buck.

5 Projects With a Big Return on Investment

Discover the top five projects that have the highest return on investment when selling your home.

Remodel Your Way to Tax Deductions

Make sure to do value-enhancing projects, and hold on to those receipts.

The Downlow on Construction Loans

Looking for a bargain? Consider turning a fixer-upper into your dream home with a construction loan.

Should We Buy a Fixer-Upper?

Your guy thinks it's a great idea; you're not so sure. Here's how to know if buying a fixer-upper home is the best choice for you.

Introducing HGTV's Fixer Upper Star Joanna Gaines

Get to know the star of HGTV's hit show.

Waterfront Buying: Top 10 Tips from Agents

Before purchasing that dream home, master these tips from the experts.

Drama-Free Real Estate: Top 10 Ways to Sell a Home Without All the Drama

It's easy to get caught up in all the drama of selling a home. Minimize the stress with these 10 action steps, strategies and insider secrets, from real estate expert Tara-Nicholle Nelson.

"Skinnylap" + More Hints of What's to Come in Fixer Upper Season 4

Fixer Upper's fourth season is shooting now and, as reported by Joanna in a filming update from the Magnolia Market blog, you can expect some new and different things in the coming episodes.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.