On the HGTV show “Renovation Impossible,” contractor Russell Holmes proves himself time and again to be the king of resourcefulness as he renovates homes in a matter of days with unthinkably low budgets.
“I’m setting out to help homeowners who have steak and lobster taste on a fast-food budget,” he claims.
However, in the episode “Diamond in the Rough,” he fears that clients Chris and Brandy Diamond might have overreached.
At first, their bank says it would loan the couple $100,000 to redo their living room, dining room, family room, kitchen, atrium, and primary bath. So Holmes comes up with a fabulous plan that he says can be accomplished in 10 days.
But when push comes to shove, the Diamonds are informed the bank will lend them only $50,000. So Holmes has to completely rework his plans, remove a few features, and accomplish it all in only eight days.
It certainly sounds like a renovation impossible, but the tweaks and tips Holmes and his team give along the way are so smart, simple, and inexpensive, they may send you running to the hardware store to try them around your own abode, too.
Expand your kitchen outdoors
The Diamonds have a ridiculously tight galley kitchen, and they need all the extra space they can get, but they don’t have the budget to build an addition to the house.
Holmes comes up with a plan to extend the new quartz countertop outside, accessible via a window they can slide wide open.
“This creates an outside bar area,” Holmes explains. “This way they can serve inside and outside. We’ve actually made the kitchen twice as big by opening it up to the backyard. Beautiful!”
Check what your mirrors reflect
Although the bathroom renovation is one of the things that has to be cut from the plans, Holmes gives the Diamonds a tip that will make the bathroom feel more spacious—and it won’t cost a dime.
There are mirrors covering most of the walls in the primary bath, because, as Chris explains, “I aways thought mirrors make a space look bigger.”
“Mirrors make the bathroom look bigger. They also make it look like you have twice as much crap on the counter,” Holmes responds, noting the bottles, tubes, and other items reflected in the mirrors.
He has them remove all their stuff from the countertops and store them in a caddy under the sink, where they can be easily retrieved and put away. This alone makes the bathroom feel more spacious than any mirror could ever pull off.
Check with the insurance company to see if it’ll cover any costs
As Holmes’ crew starts removing walls and installing windows, they find a big problem.
“We started to notice that there were some issues with the roof,” Holmes says. “There was some hail damage, there was some freeze damage. So we called the insurance company, and they said, ‘Yeah, we’ll get it replaced for you.’ So it’s not coming out of the Diamonds’ budget.”
But won’t that wreck the timeline?
“It’s just another thing I have to juggle,” Holmes adds. “I got my roofers to come in and do the job quickly.”
The insurance company paid his crew, and they got it done in a matter of days.
Soundproof a room for cheap
Chris and Brandy live in a house on the corner of two very busy streets, and the traffic noise makes it untenable for Brandy to do her podcast from home. What she’d really like is a soundproof studio of her own, but she has pretty much resigned herself to that never happening.
But Holmes finds a way. He saves the studs from the walls they removed in the front of the house, and builds a room in the corner of the massive living room they’ve created.
He then visits a friend with a recording studio and finds out he can soundproof the space by putting a heavy curtain over the window, applying thick felt squares to the wall, and laying carpeting on the floor.
All this, including construction, costs only $5,000. Brandy is overwhelmed when she sees it, because it is completely unexpected. The look on her face is priceless.
Artificial plants are low-maintenance
One of the weirdest features of the Diamond home is an empty atrium built right in the middle. There’s not much they can do with it other than removing it, but the budget won’t allow that.
So to make it an attractive part of the home, designer Paige Poupart helps Holmes turn it into an indoor-outdoor garden oasis and hangout.
But the Diamonds have always been concerned about plant maintenance in that strange room. Watering, sunshine, temperature, what’s a homeowner to do?
Poupart decks the room with realistic-looking artificial plants.
“They will not die, they will always look beautiful,” she says. “And they can add real plants to it as they have time to maintain them.”
How does this renovation impossible end up?
Spending $50,000 on a major renovation in only eight days does sound like folly, but Holmes is able to give the Diamonds even more than they’d asked for—and for less than $50,000.
They are able to come in at $49,500, he says, “through their sweat equity, repurposing materials, and buying salvaged items.”
“Whatever you did, it worked,” marvels Chris.
“Now it’s our home,” says Brandy through tears. “It’s so gorgeous!”