Real Estate

Before and After: See How House Flippers Completely Transformed an Outdated Iowa Kitchen

published Dec 7, 2020
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Before: Outdated kitchen with white cabinetry and appliances
Credit: Justin Meyer Photography

In Beaverdale, a Des Moines neighborhood known for its historic homes and quirky character, one two-story home in particular was decidedly lacking it. 

So when Capital City Investors decided to flip the circa 1927 house—with four bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms—they tapped Jessica Rae Lemmo of Jessica Rae Interiors to redesign and stage it. Infusing the 1,778-square-foot space with personality was a big priority.

“Beaverdale and its residents take great pride in maintaining that character and originality within their homes,” Lemmo says. “Over the past few renovations, this home was slipping away from its unique design qualities, and restoring that charm with appropriate updates was our main goal.”

The kitchen presented both a functional and aesthetic problem. “It was visually underwhelming and outdated,” Lemmo says. More than finishes, the kitchen’s biggest downfall was its layout.”

The island was undersized and underutilized, and lacked pull-up seating and working counter space. It also featured an inconveniently placed cooktop right in the middle of it. Plus, heavy cabinets loomed over the window and blocked natural light, while pendant lights were poorly placed and ineffective, she says.

Credit: Justin Meyer Photography

“Our number one goal was to make it more functional layout-wise. It’s not a large kitchen. We had four walls that had to stay put due to the doorways and windows, so making it more functional needed to be taken into consideration first,” she says.

Her solution included relocating the exposed cooktop from the island to the exterior wall and installing an undermount sink in its place.

“The sink in this location doubled the countertop prep area in both the front and back of the kitchen and allowed for a pleasant seating arrangement for guests at the island,” Lemmo explains.

Next, a stainless steel range with a microwave it above helps free up more room on the counters and contributes to the clutter-free look Lemmo and her team desired. A stainless steel fridge with French doors replaced the dated white one and contributes to the modern vibe. 

Small, inconvenient cabinets with scalloped trim high above the sink were removed to open up the window area and let in more light. Then, it was time to update the kitchen “with current trends but keeping the style and age of the home in mind,” she says. “Undesirable tile flooring, laminate countertops, and varying textures and colors of yellowed white were among obvious finish updates to be addressed.”

They replaced the beige tile flooring with a medium-tone wood laminate and painted the sky blue walls a fresh white. Over the island, white pendant lights with black cords provide task lighting.

Credit: Justin Meyer Photography

With the addition of white granite countertops, a white herringbone-tile backsplash, and white shaker cabinets, the kitchen became a blank canvas. But Lemmo “felt like it was falling flat,” she says.

She found inspiration in the living room, where original built-in cabinets and the fireplace mantle were painted a “bold yet sweet green,” she says, which was the Sherwin Williams shade Basil 6194. 

“So we made the call that green needed to be in the kitchen as well,” she says, noting that the team painted the body of the kitchen island in the verdant hue and placed three black stools at the counter. “The black fixtures and hardware really pop off the white and added in another needed dimension to help balance the green and white. It really helped tie the home together in the end.”

Credit: Justin Meyer Photography

Thanks to this drastic transformation, the home received an immediate offer. However, it fell through due to financial issues. Then, at just under 40 days on the market, it sold for $280,000—$14,500 short of asking price.

“The challenge in this home was there was only one bathroom upstairs,” Lemmo says. “For a larger home, this was a major drawback. For us, it was either sacrifice a bedroom upstairs and create another bathroom or keep the bedroom count the same, which we chose.”

Credit: Justin Meyer Photography

All in all, given the lackluster appearance of the home to begin with, we call this a job very well done.