Reality TV stars Drew and Jonathan Scott aren't magicians, but they do have a way of conjuring up miracles for homeowners. As proof, just watch the latest episode of "Property Brothers: Buying & Selling," where they meet a growing family who need more space but can't afford higher mortgage payments. What to do?
In this episode, "A Lateral Move," Julie, Paul, and baby Maya are nearly bursting out of their small home in a suburb of New York City. It's up to the brothers to figure out how to make their current home feel more spacious without adding square footage—that way, the family can choose between happily staying put or selling for top dollar and moving into a bigger home.
While this request seems downright impossible, the Scott brothers prevail—and teach us some pretty slick moves on how to open up a space even when there's no room to expand. Here's how you can use this info to your own advantage.
Declutter the entryway
Jonathan and Drew walk into Julie and Paul's house, and the first thing that greets them is a rickety shoe rack piled high with shoes. The entryway into the living room has a chin-up bar mounted across the top of it.
"This is our home gym," Julie says with a laugh.
What they really need is a mudroom or closet, but there is no room for it, so Jonathan cleverly places an attractive coat rack in the corner. It might not work for Julie, Paul and Maya, but it will be just fine for a single person or a couple, and they are the target buyers for this starter home.
Remove half of a wall
Any space-expanding home renovation these days usually requires tearing down walls. Unfortunately, there is often ductwork, support pillars, and plumbing in the walls that make them expensive to remove, if not downright impossible. Yet no one said you have to remove the whole wall, right?
Jonathan finds a way to open up the entryway by eliminating about 6 feet of wall and leaving half of it in place—and this makes all the difference.
Open a small hole in the wall before hitting it with a sledgehammer
"Alway bust a hole in the wall and inspect it before you demo a wall," instructs Jonathan as Julie, goggles and gloves in place, is about to take her first swing with a sledgehammer.
It's a good thing Jonathan is supervising, because a small hole in the wall reveals the interior contains asbestos.
"You're not allowed to touch that," exclaims Jonathan. "You have to bring in a remediation company to handle it!" That will cost a couple of thousand dollars extra, but in order to pass inspection, the couple have no choice.
Use consistent flooring to tie rooms together
The house was broken up into many small rooms that each had distinct flooring, so once the lower level is opened up and some of the walls are gone, Jonathan covers every surface in wide-plank oak to tie the space together. He even gets matching oak for the treads on the staircase, which helps the downstairs flow to the upstairs.
Remove what you don't use
There's an original plate rail along the top of the wall in the dining room, and while some might think it's a charming design feature, Jonathan disagrees.
"That was nice in older houses when they had higher ceilings—and displayed their plate collections—but something like this, where you have low ceilings? It doesn't really do anything in here," he explains. Bye-bye, plate rails.
Consider a home's extra income potential
Meanwhile, Drew shows the family a few homes for sale, including one with tons of space—but it's outside their price range at $750,000. Yet it also has an apartment suite with a separate entrance in the basement. The current owners are getting $1,000 a month for it, which could help with the higher monthly mortgage payments.
After doing some research and crunching the numbers, Julie and Paul learn that the extra rental income can enable them to afford the house. They offer the full asking price, which is accepted. Even better? They are stunned to find out that their little old home, with renovations, gets an offer over asking, at $725,000. Now, who said a little house can't fetch a big price?