KEYS TO FIX AND FLIP SUCCESS: The Case of the Cursed Kitchen


This is the Halloween Edition of What the FLIP Live aired on the day of Tricks & Treats on Facebook Live. I recorded the episode from one of my favorite kitchens that I designed for a Houston fix and flip investor and it turned out amazing! This kitchen is NOT cursed….see for yourself!


So, back to the cursed kitchen. I struggled with whether I should use the images of this case study as the investor may recognize the kitchen and be upset with me, however I really want to help others avoid the pitfalls that this investor encountered and knowing their character, I am sure they would want to help others avoid these same mistakes as well. So here’s more about the Case of the Cursed Kitchen…

You see, several months back we were asked to stage a property that had been flooded. It was bought and rehabbed by a local investor and when the rehab was done, the list price was somewhere in the mid $700k and where the story really starts to get scary is how low they had to drop the price to finally sell. More on that later.

As soon as I walked the property in preparation to stage it, I had a strong feeling that it was likely not going to move fast.  There were several issues with this property but by far, the determining factor for the demise of a profitable resale of this property was the CURSED KITCHEN.

So today I am going to walk you through the 5 things that cursed this kitchen and if you avoid these, I PROMISE, your kitchens will be a HIT with buyers!

 Ok let’s get into it!



This may seem like an odd curse but let me tell you…I work with homeowners and the last thing they want to see when the walk into their “dream kitchen”, is short squatty uppers.  They make a kitchen look cheap and buyers know intuitively there will not be enough storage. In addition to aesthetics, home buyers are looking for storage and lots of it!!

Now, the cursed kitchen did have taller than 30” uppers but as you can see in the image, they did leave the fur down over the sink. Friends, let’s not leave the fur downs in the kitchen…EVER. You’ll thank me for it later. Today’s buyers are looking for an open look and large bright windows. By leaving the fur downs, they made the kitchen look small and even though it was rehabbed, it still looked dated.



I have seen countless kitchens where there was hardly any countertop space even though they could have created more by designing a better layout.  For example, in the cursed kitchen, you see in the image to the right, they cut out a huge opening from the kitchen into the dining which severely reduced the wall space to install cabinets. Had they made the opening into the dining room smaller and moved it over to the right more, they would have had a nice long run of countertop to the right of the dishwasher as well as additional upper cabinet storage. And they would still have had a nice opening into the dining room.  Creating an open concept should never take precedence over cabinet and countertop space.



Another term for this is the working triangle. If your working triangle is less than ideal, it will be obvious to a discerning buyer.  You don’t want tight corners, with the dishwasher and oven perpendicular to each other without any space in the corner between them. You don’t want to put a range on the end of a run with little or no counter to the right or left, and the last thing you want to do is isolate the refrigerator with no countertop space on either side. That is what happened in this kitchen and any discerning cook looking for their dream kitchen would spot that deficiency immediately.



Often, when I see a property rehabbed by an investor, I can tell there was very little if any understanding of good kitchen design and best use of space.  From this shot in the dining room looking into the kitchen, you will notice that this particular kitchen has a wide-open space but only had cabinets on the usable walls.  There was plenty of room in this kitchen for an island and yet they didn’t install one and I believe this was the biggest curse of all.  Ask your local kitchen designer to take a look at your proposed kitchen layout and give you feed back. Or better yet, give us a call here at REI Design Solutions. Spend the money on the front end so you don’t lose thousands of dollars on holding costs on the back end. I assure you no one wants to buy your poorly designed property for the price you want to sell it for.



Lastly the appliances play a HUGE role in how your kitchen is perceived by buyers as to whether they can see themselves living in this home. If you cheap out on the appliance and put a free standing range and a microhood in black finish in a $400+ ARV property, you are wrong.  I am just going to put it to you plainly. 

The one thing the cursed kitchen did have going for it, was that they were wise enough to put in decent appliances, however, the appliances couldn’t make up for the other deficiencies. Perhaps the investor could have sweetened the deal by fitting the bill for a good refrigerator. I leave the decision to put in a refrigerator to the investor’s discretion as that is not a deal-breaker but sometimes can be a deal-maker so use your best judgement on that matter, especially in higher end homes.

This property ended up finally selling 6 months after listing for $150k less than originally listed. That is a significant chunk of cash left on the table, AND months in holding costs. YIKES! That is the worst curse for an investor. Don’t let this be you.

I believe that had this investor called me or any other designer, they would have been advised against many of these mistakes. I am convinced that the mistakes would never have happened had REI Design Solutions been involved in the beginning.

At REI Design Solutions, we make sure that not only are you rehabbing your properties with designs that sell, but we also have a knack for letting you know if you’re going to perform unnecessary repairs that won’t give you an ROI on your rehab dollar.

And just for good measure, here are a few honorable mentions…

  • back splash- don’t cheap out on the tile- make a SPLASH to attract design conscious buyers,

  • countertops…don’t use the lowest grade granite on the market- discerning buyers are into quartz these days!

  • And lastly, for cabinets…get as many bells and whistles as you can without breaking the bank. 

SO there you have it! 


Easy right?! Well, not always for someone without the 20 years of expertise we have in this area but we promise you if you are conscientious of these 5 things, you will have a super spiffy kitchen and buyers will be clamoring to buy your house. 

If you have any doubt that you are designing your rehabs to sell, PLEASE feel free to schedule a call or schedule an on-site consultation…we can help! If you want to explore more about our design services, click here!

That’s all for now and hey guys, I just want to thank you so much taking the time to read my blog. I know you’re busy and have other things you could be reading so I hope get a lot of value out of it, and please leave a comment below!

To your success,


Christine Heartsill