How Young Couple Renovated a 'Really Old House' [Video]

A young couple's casual stroll through their Cincinnati neighborhood turned into a home-remodeling odyssey when they came across a historic house that started giving them "ideas." Brad Kihnke and Allison Erwin lived only a couple of blocks away from a row house built in 1829 and Kihnke's first look inside, in the company of a real estate agent, made the couple (pictured below) wonder if the house had been condemned, since it was in such rough shape.

home renovators Allison Erwin, Brad Kihnke
"I only saw the first floor," Kihnke said. "And just a peek at the second floor, because we were afraid to go to the third floor.: But even though Kihnke found the house to be "really kind of bare" and needing "a lot of work," he decided to buy it because, he said, he could see "the potential behind all of the chaos that was going on."

"The history of the house has revealed itself to us over time," said Erwin, and among the most interesting finds were what the couple describe as "ghost doors" -- bricked-up entries to the adjoining home, a modification to the original structure that they believe dates to the late 1800s.

But turning the house into a livable dwelling wasn't the only challenge. "Brad and I did struggle a little bit with: How do we balance the age of the house with some of the modern amenities?" said Erwin. View their solutions in the video above.

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How Young Couple Renovated a 'Really Old House' [Video]
Laying stone or bricks for your patio can instantly upgrade the look of your backyard. But so could giving your deck a makeover. "Use composite decking with hidden fasteners," suggests John DeSilvia. "It costs more for composite, but you never have to maintain it. Which will pay for itself over the life of the deck."

"You will always build the most equity with a kitchen renovation," says John DeSilvia. "I always recommend doing your own demo. You can save as much as 20 percent from your total cost."

This particular dated kitchen pictured has dark wood cabinets and laminate counter surfaces that can make the room feel drab. And the original appliances just makes everything feel old.  In the next slide, see the "after" photo for how the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott updated this dreary space.

This after photo from The Property Brothers shows how bright new cabinets, a tile backsplash and granite countertops can transform a room.

One great way to save when remodeling your kitchen is to use ready-to-assemble cabinets, says John DeSilvia of Rescue My Renovation. "These cabinets can save you 75 percent over custom and semi-custom. There made much better than they used to be and will stand the test of time."

Drew Scott says, "If you save money on the cabinets, you may have a little extra to splurge on, say, the commercial grade double wide kitchen sink."

"Large bulky appliances like coffee makers and can openers take up precious space and takeaway from the ‘wow’ factor of a beautifully designed kitchen," says Designer Robin Wilson, president and CEO of Robin Wilson Home.  "An appliance garage is a great solution because it‘s seamless and built to match the cabinets."

Granite was hailed as the king of the countertops after the turn of the century.  "While no doubt a beautiful natural stone material that is still very popular," says Designer Robin Wilson, president and CEO of Robin Wilson Homethe newest trend in kitchen countertops is now composite materials with bacteriostatic protection." 

She also recommends designing cabinets with more pull-out drawers. "Our firm designs a lot of kitchens with slide-out pot drawers.  It’s the perfect solution for the multigenerational home, someone with back problems or anyone who doesn’t want to always bend down to access heavy pots and pans."

This master bathroom was completely gutted by the Property Brothers. Terrazzo tile floors were put in, as was a custom-tile vanity. White subway tile never gets old, unlike wallpaper, which can become dated.

"We all want a high-end look for less," says Jonathan Scott. "You can achieve this by mixing low-cost, products with certain higher-end finishes or features."

This dated master bathroom with a corner toilet, was further hampered by old fixtures and wallpaper.  In the next slide, see how the Property Brothers transformed the space with some higher-end finishes.

If you want to be eco-friendly, that doesn't have to entail ripping out all of your drywall or replacing floor boards. "You can make your home more sustainable and green in easier ways than you think," says Drew Scott of the Property Brothers. "One of the easiest ways is by upgrading your old appliances for new, energy efficient ones. These models come in a variety of grades and prices, and will save you money on your monthly utility bill."

Before you make any purchase, be aware of a few other options. "You may be able to find a better deal online, from a warehouse, or even at a consignment store," says Jonathan Scott of the Property Brothers. "If you plan ahead, you might be able to purchase certain products off-season while they are on sale - outdoor furniture and appliances, for example, sometimes tend to be less expensive during the colder months."

John DeSilvia of "Rescue My Renovation," says that once you know some of the items you want you can often save by negotiating the price, especially on bathroom renovations. "Try and buy all fixtures and tile from one place. The more you purchase from one place the more buying power you have," he says. "You should get all prices first then ask for a 10 to 15 percent discount."

He reiterates: "It is very important to get prices first!!"

"We encourage DIY whenever possible," says the Jonathan Scott, the contractor among the Property Brothers, who also have another HGTV show called "Brother vs Brother." "But know your limits and understand that certain aspects of a renovation will require the work of a certified professional."

Adds brother Drew, the real estate agent: "If you plan on this being your forever home then your design choices should reflect that. You can create a safe, accessible and comfortable home without compromising on modern, fresh designs."


More about home improvement projects:
Top 5 Home Improvement Projects With Winter in Mind
Don't Move -- Improve: How to Rethink Space in Your Home
Home Improvements That Get Your House Sold

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