I love fireplaces. They’re cozy and warm, and buyers love them, especially when they’re updated, beautiful, and super convenient to use. So, whenever we have a fireplace in a rehab, I always have a fun design challenge ahead of me. Basically, I have to figure out what the fireplace actually needs to be attractive and functional and what we have in our house flipping rehab budget to make that happen. If you get into this business, you’re going to run into some pretty gross looking fireplaces in your flips, so here are my best fireplace rehab tips for real estate investments.
Figure Out if Functional Updates Are Feasible
Most buyers aren’t going to want to go buy or chop wood every time they want to use the fireplace, and they’re definitely not going to want to deal with cleaning up all of the ash of a wood-burning fireplace. So, if your old fireplace isn’t already gas-powered, look into what it will take to convert it. If it’s not in the budget, it’s not in the budget, but it’s a good upgrade that will attract buyers, especially in places with cold winters.
Scale Your Rehab to Match the Room
Sometimes I walk into a house and the fireplace is huge and totally overpowers the whole room. Other times, you could almost completely miss that there’s a fireplace at all. When you start redesigning your fireplace, consider what else you’re doing in the room and how you can optimize the space. Adding a mantel and trim around a smaller fireplace can give it a bigger, more open feel. On the other hand, you might have too much mantel and trim on a big fireplace, and you might want to tear a bunch of that out and go with a simpler, more modern design.
Hearth or No Hearth?
If you’re working with a big, wide-open room, a sitting hearth can be a great detail. If the space is smaller, though, a big hearth can make it feel cramped. There’s no rule that you need a hearth at all for your fireplace, so if there’s not enough space, go ahead and knock it out and refinish the floor.
Is It the Focal Point of the Room?
If your fireplace is the living room’s focal point, you’ll want to leave space above the mantel to mount a flat-screen TV. This design element is very popular right now, and it can give the living room a really stylish mix of traditional and modern details.
If the fireplace isn’t the room’s focal point and probably won’t be used very often, look at how it complements the room’s design and go from there. You’ll probably want to make your design decisions a little bit more subtle if this is the case.
Consider the Style of the House
Finally, when you’re designing your new fireplace, keep the style of the whole house in mind. You might be in love with modern, sleek styles with stainless steel fittings and fixtures, but those aren’t going to go so well with a mid-century house unless you’re completely modernizing the whole design. If you’re not sure about what to do with your fireplace, take a look at some design magazines and websites to get inspiration.
So there you go—my five tips for rehabbing old fireplaces in your real estate investments. With these tips, I think fireplaces can be one of the most enjoyable redesign projects in your house flipping business. Get creative and have fun with them, and you’ll get really great results.