Almost all extreme makeovers require one thing: creativity.

How creative you can ultimately be determines whether you can pull off a project as large and as complex as an extreme makeover! Getting creative means more than coming up with great designs, however. It also means being able to work outside your comfort zone, which some people may not be able to tolerate. But, if you can push yourself through and stay creative, you’ll inevitably realize a greater profit.

Let’s look at the particulars of one extreme makeover.

Addressing the Glaring Issues

This home was a drug house for more than 10 years. On the positive side, it was located in a neighborhood of newer custom-built homes. You could say it was a diamond in the rough.

But with only two bedrooms and one bathroom, the first issue that needed to be addressed was the square footage. Adding more bedrooms and more bathrooms would help justify investing large sums of money to make the home pencil out on paper for a profit.

The home’s construction materials sent up some definite red flags as well. Because the house was built out of cinder block, making changes to it would be difficult and more costly.

Then there was the overall appearance of the home. It had absolutely no curb appeal and lacked style of any kind. It was going to take some serious creativity to overcome this hurdle.

Houses with as many issues as this one are perfect for an extreme makeover. Because of their many issues, these homes sit on the market longer and offer an opportunity to be purchased for a much lower price. Given the number of things wrong with the home, buyers and investors stayed away from purchasing it.

Put Your Ideas on Paper First

Taking on any extreme makeover almost always starts on paper. Seeing the additions on paper first will help you visualize the possibilities. It is much easier to erase a bad idea on paper than it is to stand back, see it in full form, and realize you really just made an expensive mistake! By putting your ideas on paper, you’ll be able to better determine whether you can realistically carry them out.

Your creative juices will flow as you apply your ideas to paper. Seeing them in front of you will help you in the overall creative process. The more hands on and involved you are, the better chance you’ll have of turning out a beautiful product. Don’t worry that you’re not a drafter or a talented artist. You just have to be able to play with and get creative with some ideas on paper. Once you come up with a floor plan you think will work, you can have it professionally drafted and engineered, if needed.

Bringing the Ideas to Life

With extreme makeovers there is no cutting corners. If you are not all in, you shouldn’t take the project on.

Increasing the square footage. A big part of getting a return on your investment on a property like this rests with increasing the home’s square footage. Increasing the size, even if it’s only 500 square feet, will benefit you.

To bring in more buyers to justify the work and effort for this project, the home needed at least three bedrooms with two bathrooms. It also needed a laundry room to compete with other homes for sale in the area.

Trying to find this additional square footage required some creativity. A large walk-through breezeway connected the garage to the house and led to a creative solution. The garage was on the smaller side and the breezeway served no real purpose, so they were the perfect areas to rework. The two areas had ample square footage for adding a large laundry room and an extra-large master suite with a giant master bathroom and walk-in closet. Because the home sits on more than two acres, there was plenty of room to add a separate garage to the side of the house.

Working around the cinder blocks. With the square footage problem solved, the cinder block issue needed to be addressed—there’s always concern when renovating a home built out of cinder block. There’s an even greater concern if you’re planning to do an extreme makeover on the home.

Every kind of work you need to do to renovate a home built out of cinder block is much harder. Think about adding new electrical, new plumbing, drywall, moving walls, or adding a window with cinder blocks as your walls. Even hanging a picture becomes that much harder! Anything is possible with a little ingenuity, and this is where creativity plays a role. Working around and through all these hurdles takes thinking outside the box to do the renovation and to keep costs down. Being creative is not just about coming up with a good design, it’s about finding a way to make that design work within reason.

Creating curb appeal. Curb appeal has a big impact on buyers these days. An extreme makeover such as this one needed to be eye-catching, memorable, and a must see!

This home had a low-pitched roof, cinder block walls, and outdated aspects all around. Real creativity was needed to come up with an exterior to entice people to want to come visit this home in person. With a new higher-pitched roof and a porch, this lifeless, styleless cinder block home quickly became a country chic dream home. The higher-pitched roof added interest and made a more distinct statement. The porch gave the home a welcoming, country feel. The paint’s brownish-red tones made the home memorable and warm, lending it an almost barn-type feel. Defining the style of a home in this way helps give it an identity buyers can relate to and fall in love with!

Batt and board siding was used to address the cinder block on the exterior, enhance the overall look and feel, and play up the “country chic.” Because of the cinder block, there was no way to attach the siding in the typical way, nearly creating a dead end to the whole design idea. However, where there’s a will there’s a way. With some ingenuity and help from a local hardware store, the contractors were able to apply the siding quickly and with no struggle at all! Remember, getting creative comes in different forms, not just with design. Adding shutters and exterior lighting added detail and helped to create a designer look and highlighted the “country chic” look even more.

Not all homes are candidates for an extreme makeover. Finding the perfect house that checks all the boxes is not as easy as it seems. But taking on such a project is a thrilling adventure for anyone willing to let themselves go and be creative!

From beginning to end, every step of the way, an extreme makeover is a creative adventure with a new challenge every day. It offers a grand opportunity for any home renovator willing to face those challenges, brave the unknown, and sacrifice sleepless nights to pull off the project! An extreme home makeover will take you on an incredibly rewarding and creative ride—one you’re sure to never forget!

Michele Van Der Veen is host of Good Day segments, including Flip It, Decorate Like a Designer, and Stage to Sell. She started her career in real estate investing more than 30 years ago.

A published author, Van Der Veen has been recognized and featured in international magazines for her unique approach to interior design. Acquiring a formal education from the Interior Designers Institute of California, her experience stems from building custom homes to flipping more than 100 homes and working in commercial real estate development alongside her father at a young age. Not afraid to push the limit on her own designs and investments, Van Der Veen will often be heard reassuring her team about her decisions by saying “Don’t worry, we are the comps!”

For more on Van Der Veen’s work or to contact her, visit

  • Michele Van der Veen

    Michele Van Der Veen, host of Good Day segments including Flip It, Decorate Like A Designer and Stage To Sell, started her career in real estate investing over 30 years ago. A published author herself, she has also been recognized and featured in international magazines for her unique approach to interior design. Acquiring a formal education from the Interior Designers Institute of California, Michele’s experience stems from building custom homes to flipping over 100 homes and working in commercial real estate development alongside her father at a young age. Not afraid to push the limit on her own designs/investments, she will often be heard reassuring her team about her decisions by saying “Don’t worry we are the comps!” For more on Michele’s work or to contact her go to

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