Really Crappy Kitchens

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My heart sank when I saw it. 

This kitchen.

It was pretty bad. I am not going to lie.

Rehabbed by an fix and flip investor.

I saw this kitchen on the MLS the other day while searching for unstaged properties. (We'll get into why you should be staging all of your properties above $300k ARV in another blog post)

I was mad and sad all at the same time. I wanted to yell at someone...

"WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL ME!?!?!  Why didn't you call someone who could help you before you put this monstrosity you call a kitchen together and try to turn around and sell it on the retail market as a "improved property"???? Why???"  

Investor friends. 

Please hear me out. 

Aside from the money, I know one of the reasons why some of you got into flipping houses was because it is "fun" to remake an old run down, dated, ungodly property into the darling of the neighborhood. 

And I get that.

It is fun!  

That is why I have spent 20 years of my life and career doing just that.

Some of you have a bit of vision and can actually make that happen in a respectable way.  But many of you can't and don't.  Some of you know it but insist on doing it anyway...rehabbing homes "your" way because a designer is "too expensive". 

And these properties sell. 


And sometimes investors hold on to them too long and wonder why because they just don't know they are failing at one crucial aspect of rehabbing houses. 


I am just going to be really frank with you all. I think a lot of fix and flip investors think that design is something anyone can do.  Especially kitchen design. It seems that many of them don't even consider that real humans are going to be buying their properties because they are not designed with real life in mind. 

And don't get me started on using the same stinking finishes house after house after house. (I will get into that next month when we talk about finishes but I digress.)

Many investors care ONLY for their bottom line and as a result put out pure crap for rehabs and you know what....they are on to you! 

The buyers. 

They aren't stupid. Have you ever wondered why inspections and subsequent repair requests during the option period are over the top? It's because the investor didn't care enough to do the right thing and rehab the property correctly to begin with. So buyers are suspect going into the transaction if they know it was an investment property. 

The first sign that it's crap? 

Bad design. 

An article in Elle Deco a couple years ago was warning their readers about purchasing flip properties.  

"But jumping on the house flipping bandwagon is not necessarily a good thing.

Enter the crappy flip.

Perhaps it's because the flippers didn't know what they were doing. Or maybe they just didn't care.

Flipper aren't designers Ok, so this one isn't a universal rule, but it's a good one to remember: the vast majority of flippers are not designers. If you're lucky enough to find a flip that HAS been rehabbed by a designer, you've got yourself a unicorn. You win."

That is why I am writing this and why I am being kind of harsh. 

I want to shake the tree. 

It's time to really educate people that design is not something just anyone can do and should not be assumed that you know what it takes to put out a well designed product because at the end of the day,

you are selling a product and if want to be known for crappy rehabs, that is your choice.

However, I am here to tell you that it takes education, training, and years of learning from experience and even from mistakes if you want to design and rehab and do it well.

I have designed hundreds of kitchens and bathrooms and moved my fair share of walls to know what works and what doesn't.  I have enough real estate investing knowledge and experience up my sleeve to know where you can save money and where you should spend money to get the property sold. 

My motto is "don't buy any cabinets or move any walls until you've called me!"

I am serious.  

So serious about real estate investors putting out quality product that I am offering FREE design consultation, phone call or email, to anyone who wants to be sure they are doing the right thing with their next flip property! 

Send me pictures, drawings, call me, whatever!  Let's chat because I want your REI business to be a success!

To your success,


To Your Success


As I sat in the registrars office, my heart was filled with so much hope and anticipation. 

I was finally going to have a career and see all of the dreams of a wistful teenage girl come true. 

This was my chance. 

"Don't blow this again, Christine" I said to myself.  (I had dropped out several months prior to pursue a dead end relationship...stupid.  But hey, love...right?)  

Fast forward 1 year later and I pulled that yellow braided rope over my head and laid it gently on my shoulders and let both ends drop down the front of my blue satin graduation gown. 

This was a big deal.

Graduating college with honors? Wow. I can't believe I did it. (I barely walked the isle in high school - I think largely in part due to the being a dreamy teenage girl).  Sufficed to say there I was. Graduated and on my way to be a HUGE success in life. 


Right? Well....that was 1997 and this December I will be celebrating 20 years since acquiring my degree in interior design from Montana State University.  Wow.


So let's talk about that word. Success. What does it mean to be successful? Do you have an answer?  I really don't.

Here's the deal.  Everyone's definition of success is different. 

I spent the last 20 years refining my craft and have had many ups and downs in the field of interior design. There were times in my career where I didn't feel very successful.  For much of the first part of those 20 years I was barely getting by as a single mom of two boys. 

However, I would say that those years were VERY successful in that they caused me to grow, learn and get good at what I do.

The last 10 years I have focused on different aspects of success in my life.  I have been married to a wonderful man. We have a sweet daughter together and have a fantastic marriage. 

I call that success!   

Not only that, he supports me pursing my lifelong dream of being a successful business owner. 

And that is where I am today. Having 20 years of design experience, a sweet family and OWING MY OWN BUSINESS!  

So where do my clients land on this 'success' continuum? 

What I love most about my business, REI Design Solutions, is that I get to help others be SUCCESSFUL!!  My whole goal with REI is to see my clients make huge strides in their real estate investing business with or without my help.  It makes me so happy when I see them excel.


This blurry old picture is one of my fondest memories. 


It was from an article in 2007 a local online publication about a family owned business in Portland OR.  (That's me in the green shirt in front) I was in sales; essentially whole house remodeling. 

I was responsible for every aspect of the job.  From working with the client, interior space planning and design, estimating, and project management. 

Truth be told, until I started my own business, I considered this my dream job.  I still have fond memories of working for and with this wonderful team of people. 

That "dream job" was the culmination of all of the stepping stone jobs prior.  Without those, I would not have been able to do my job at City Home Improvement or even now as the Owner and Principle Designer for REI Design Solutions!  

My humble beginnings were in furniture sales and then I moved into being an office manager for a cabinet shop. I told him I would file for him, if he taught me everything he knew about designing kitchens and bathrooms. 

He did. 

And so I filed.

But not forever because I spent the next several years getting good at kitchen and bathroom design until I could do the job of a contractor in full service remodeling.


After my husband and I had been married a few years, I finally convinced him to let me start flipping houses. 

He did. 

And I loved it.

But not as much as I love design so I decided to pivot back to what I know and love.

And now here I am.  Doing kitchen design, bathroom design, space planning, finish selections, staging and project management for real estate investors! It doesn't get much better than that!


Why does my success path matter to you, you ask?


Because, I bring my experience in Real Estate Investing and couple it with my 20 years of remodeling and design and you have the PERFECT recipe for success!  YOUR SUCCESS!!!!

I would love to hear about your success journey.  Please feel free to comment below and share!

To your success,


Managing Your Rehabs and Still Buying Houses?


Are you managing your rehabs and still buying houses?

I pose that question because if you are the only one in your Fix and Flip Real Estate business doing both of these things successfully, I want to meet you!  I want to take you to coffee and pick your brain on how you do it because that is an amazing acheivement.  I say that because, truth of the matter is that, very few fix and flip investors are able to keep up with buying houses while they are in the process of flipping one or two properties.  At least not on their own.

If you've attended any real estate investing education, you know that most educators, worth their salt in this industry, teach "scaling".  Every business owner who wants to grow knows the importance of this vital strategic growth concept.  In order to scale, you MUST put the right people in the right seats. Meaning, you have to get away from doing things that you are not good at and get someone in place to fill that void in your business or you won't have a business for long.  The same thing applies to growing your fix and flip real estate business.

So what are you good at in your business?  Are you a great closer but find it hard to make it out to your job sites because of your overloaded schedule, meeting with sellers, private money lenders etc?  Or are you good at wielding the hammer and making sure the rehab gets done on time and on budget but find it hard to get your marketing campaigns dialed in and sellers closed at the dining room table? I would venture to say that not many of you would profess to be good at both of these at the same time.  Where are the empty seats in your business?  What areas do you need someone to step in and make sure the job gets done?  Let's explore the first of the two scenarios -because I really can't help you with buying houses...Call Tom and Jason at Right Path Real Estate for help with that! Where I can provide valuable information is with regards to managing the rehab so let's take a look at what you can do if your strength lies in marketing and buying deals and not in managing the flips. 


This choice makes the most sense.  Hiring a reputable general contractor will make your life much easier! They have the resources and expertise to ensure the work is done on time and on budget.  There are pitfalls to this choice as well and I will address those toward the end of this blog post.


If you are good at buying houses, but need someone to oversee the construction side of the business, why not partner with someone in the industry who's strength is in project management and general contracting?  You don't have to form a full business partnership but perhaps partner with them on a project by project basis. This is often the least favorite of the options but it is a very viable one.  First of all, make sure they are reputable, do your due diligence prior to forming the partnership.  Layout firm financial boundaries as well as scheduling requirements and have those drafted in a legally binding contract and then each of you go to work doing what you do best...making money!


If you feel you are at a juncture in your business where it makes sense to have someone in-house take care of your project management for you, this might be the route for you to go.  J. Scott from 1-2-3 Flip on his blog wrote about this in a blog post How I Manage My Rehabs"I hired a full-time project manager to be my eyes and ears for all my rehabs. His job is to interview contractors, get bids, negotiate prices, schedule work, verify that quality is maintained, ensure that we stay on budget, write checks for completed work, procure materials and basically keep me informed about everything that I might need to know without me having to visit the property every day"

A project manager can take the myriad of project management tasks off your plate and free up your time.

Now, let's talk about the cons of these choices real quick and then wrap this up with a solution we have come up with.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: They tend to be more expensive than if you were to manage the project yourself. You have to be sure you have a iron clad contract with timelines and milestones. They often lack the ability to finish strong and deal with all issues to compete the project.

PARTNERSHIP: You have to share more of the proceeds of each project, however they can potentially save you money in the long haul. You have to be sure you have a iron clad contract with timelines and milestones.

PROJECT MANAGER: This person will need to be added to payroll.  For some small businesses that is an accounting task they would rather not deal with. Good project managers are hard to find and when you do, generous compensation is a must to keep them.

REI Design Solution!

So here is a solution we have come up with and it is gaining momentum. We have found that even with the above options, the workload of a Real Estate investor, when it comes to their rehabs, is still too heavy.  Even if you choose to use general contractors. Mike Simmons, a coach with House Flipping HQ, in this blog post perfectly summed up just one of the draw backs you are up against when dealing with general contractors.  "Your biggest job as the investor is to monitor and manage your general contractor without getting in the way or impeding their ability to get the job done on time and within budget. Making sure that the subcontractors are on the job site when they’re supposed to be is important. Too often contractors have many projects going at the same time, and if they get in trouble or behind on another job, they may decide to pull the workers from your job and move them on to a different project. This is not okay, and cannot be allowed. If you allow this to happen, before you know it your project is behind schedule."

What we have found is that there are still many tasks that are required of you which take you away from your important "house buying" tasks. Even with a GC, you still have to answer the myriad of calls, order and pick up your fixtures and finish materials, check on the job progress and chase after last minute punch list items that "weren't in the contract" etc. 

What we found helpful to many investors is hiring a firm who can provide "Project Oversight".  Who can be your eyes and ears for your projects, who will ensure that everyone is doing what they say the will do.  Who will track down materials, fixtures, specialty trades etc. Who can fill that gap and make it possible for you to focus on what you are best at--------> buying houses!

And of course, REI Design Solutions provides such a service.  If you'd like to learn more about our Project Oversight Services click here.

to your success,

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For Such a Time as This...

Drone Footage Of Hurricane Harvey Flooding In Houston 2017 (Video Credit: Bored At Work)

Hurricane Harvey really did a number on our great city of Houston. I was sitting in awe, in my dry home, watching the mayhem and disaster unfold before my eyes. We were a little concerned about our pool overflowing and water pouring into our home so we kept it low throughout the majority of the rain, we watched our street drain pretty quickly and knew that because of the grade of our house from the street we were in pretty good shape...but others thought that too.

Now, days after Harvey has passed over us, some are still in fear of losing their homes and belongings due to continued overflow from the reservoirs and bayous. Not to mention the thousands who already have lost everything. I write this because I can only imagine what that is like. I am not living it. I am dry and comfortable in my home as I type. So because of that, I feel I have even more of a duty and responsibility to help my fellow Houstonians during this difficult time. My skills are perfectly suited for the rebuilding of this great city I call home!

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Ok, I am not Esther by any stretch, but this verse is often used to reveal that God ordains all which comes to pass... including our special situation and position in life....and yes even hurricanes, and though we can't fathom why, (“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways ...”" Isaiah 55:8-9) natural disasters have far more impact for good than for evil (just watch the news and all the people helping their neighbors). Therefore, we need to look around and figure out how we have come to our 'royal position' "for such a time as this".

Real Estate investors, you are in a perfect position right now to have a major impact for good. You are the ones who are going to play a paramount role in rebuilding this city of ours!

You know I have an affinity for the Real Estate Investing community here in Houston. I have niched my services to this industry as there is such a need for what I do. Especially now. So if you are ramping up to start buying 10x the properties you usually buy or if you were hit hard and need to restore and rebuild your portfolio to get them ready for new tenants or folks who need a new home, you do not have to tackle it alone! LET US HELP YOU REBUILD...

Click the link below for more information on our project oversight services. You will be inundated with tasks and decisions in the upcoming weeks. Let us take some of that burden off of your shoulders. We have 20 property slots available at this discounted rate, they will go fast!

**********Click below to reserve your slot now!************

Also, you will have very little time to run around town shopping for your interior finishes (tile, plumbing fixtures, flooring, lighting etc). I have already put together Designer Finishes Packages and provide pricing and links for ease of ordering and am slashing my prices on those from $199 to $99!!!  I will send another email with the link to those soon. 

Call Christine with questions: 713-484-9210


Lastly and most importantly, I will be donating 10% of all of our proceeds during the months of September and October to the JJ Watt Foundation Hurricane Flood Relief Fund.  

Houston investors...for such as time as this...You're up!