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The OG Portland Project House Was For Sale Again (And Sold Fast) + Some 3 Year Later Reflections…And Real Budget Numbers

Oh, I received the most fun DM last month where I learned that the original (OG) Portland Project, the “flip” (ha) that my brother and I did and sold 3 years ago was going on the market, and them BOOM it went pending (listed at 2.8 mil WOW sold for far more… keep reading). I LOVE this house, and yet have such conflicting feelings about the 2 years leading up to it. You see this house is where I made the most mistakes on a much larger scale than ever before – mistakes in managing budgets, managing timelines, managing people, knowing what you should splurge on, and mostly learning what really adds up in a renovation (CUTS, it’s CUTS – every time you cut something it takes time and labor and is really the budget-busting culprit – not materials). It was renovation grad school and my book that comes out in the spring was inspired by the frustrations of that year. But I learned SO MUCH and can easily say that it has made me far more confident in every other project since. Funny how getting on the other side of failures and mistakes does that. I never really broke down or wrote about how we “profited” so I thought it would be fun 3 years later to show you how they styled/shot it for the latest real estate listing and what I learned from it. I love a good reflection post…

The Entry

real estate photo
from: the entry & staircase reveal

I love those stairs so incredibly much. And still so proud of that newell post that I OBSESSED over. Thanks again to Base Modern for executing the design. I love seeing the real estate photos next to the shots art directed by Sara and I. This was the same with our house in LA – the real estate photos are always more pulled back showing a sense of space, making everything look bigger, while our photos are meant to feel more intimate and tell a story. Both certainly have a purpose.

The Living Room

from: the living room reveal

My goodness, I love that room (thanks to Brady and Julie for their large hand in this project – I miss you guys!!!). Real estate photos also always have all the lights on (see below), our photos never do and instead rely on natural light (it’s not lying it’s making it feel how it actually does in the room, which is hard for a camera to always get). By the way, this was Sara’s first big photography project. She trained herself and did such an incredible job. Just want to give her a big shout out here (and working with her last month shooting at the mountain house for Target was, as always, VERY FUN).

real estate photo

I think it looks so cute! And probably more livable for a family than what we did.

The Dining Room

Our shot is on the right, obviously. The flow of this house was/is so good and the natural light everywhere is just stunning.

real estate photo

This shot reminded me of how awesome those dining chairs are – so comfortable, ergonomic back, padding on the seat, nice scale… I’m shopping now and looking mostly for vintage but I remember sitting in these for long periods of time and loving them (from Room & Board)

The Kitchen

real estate photo
from: all the what’s, why’s & how much’s of the portland kitchen (+ big reveal)

I think I under-styled that shot. We needed a rug in that kitchen! Fun fact is that my brother and his wife were THIS CLOSE to not selling this house at the end and moving in instead. And I get it. It is such a great house for a family and I would imagine during Covid having that 5k of square feet and almost an acre property would just be wonderful with kids.

The Family Room

real estate photo
from: how to design a pass-through room – reveal – the portland family room
real estate photo

It’s just so fun to see. I actually LOVE their rug in that family room.

The Primary Bedroom

from: portland master bedroom reveal (and how to pull together your own dreamy suite)

Ugh. I love that shot. And WHY didn’t we turn the fire on when we shot it??? Silly us.

real estate photo

The Primary Bathroom

real estate photo

I love how they put plants in there. I feel like having them in a bathroom is the only way I might remember to actually water them.

real estate photo

An Upstairs Bedroom

real estate photo
from: 14 rules for how we style the perfect bedroom (+ 3 new reveals)

The Upstairs Hall Bathroom

real estate photo

I still love those french gold gooseneck faucets (Kohler but sadly discontinued!) and that Pratt + Larson tile. And if I could go back in time and hoard more of that stone for the farm from Bedrosians I would – it’s still my favorite and haven’t been able to find it since.

The Media Room

real estate photo

I miss that basement!! It turned out to be such a great family/media room.

The Upper Deck

real estate photo

I’m sure the family spent a LOT of time here during quarantine. Such a dream, overlooking the yard that is now fully grown in (all plants and design were Monrovia, BTW). Our shot below.

from: two reveals, one post: the portland outdoor living spaces and a lot of styling tips

The Lower Patio

real estate photo
from: two reveals, one post: the portland outdoor living spaces and a lot of styling tips

Now onto the juicy stuff.

How Did The Partnership Work With My Brother And SIL?

Ok. When my brother and SIL wanted to go in on a project with me we worked it out so that they would make the investment, take all the financial risk, pay for the renovation with construction loans and I would do the design for the blog/fun, splitting the net profit 70/30, after everything was paid for. I would of course try to leverage the blog for product trade, ensuring editorial and photography coverage, to help keep the budget down knowing that in this neighborhood it had to be a high-end, not builder grade flip. But what I did was not typical for a “flip” and even though many of the materials were traded for editorial coverage (not free, nothing is “free”). Here is the biggest warning I have for you:

Warning: I Designed The House In A VERY “Labor Expensive” Way

from: two reveals, one post: the portland outdoor living spaces and a lot of styling tips

This was my biggest lesson, not that you shouldn’t do special things but you should KNOW that doing these things will cost a ton more. Example #1: The back patio – that Cle tile – it’s incredible, but cost SO MUCH MORE than a wood deck would have. Sure the tile was traded in exchange for coverage and photos, but the labor to put it down was 10 times that of wood (and wood at the time was so cheap!). If it were my house I would do this again in a second, but for a ‘flip’ the labor certainly added up.

from: the entry & staircase reveal

Example #2: For the front patio I wanted the tile herringboned with a border instead of a normal running bond field. The cost was easily 5 times more in labor because of that little decision (it took 3 weeks to tile, btw). I didn’t know that and my brother thought it was that important to me so he didn’t question it. Do I love it so much? YES! And I would do that for my own home, but for an investment property, it didn’t make sense and didn’t get the ROI back on that decision.

Example #3: The amount of paneling we installed, instead of just drywall took WEEKS to install and so. many. cuts.

Do I Regret Any Of These Expensive Choices?

If it were my house, of course not – they made a massive difference in it looking so beautiful and special, but for a project that was meant to be an investment? It wasn’t wise financially. My design decisions ate up the profits quickly.

from: the living room reveal

Miscommunication Costs Money

Because I was slammed and trying to do this from LA while doing the mountain house, I couldn’t properly oversee it at the beginning. I outsourced the electrical plan (aka didn’t have my team on the project…yet) and frankly didn’t understand what I was looking at when I approved it. My brother trusted that the plan reflected exactly my choices but it was RIDDLED with mistakes. Issues like the sconce placements were all off, and there were so many rooms with no overhead lighting because my “I don’t really like canned lighting” was interpreted as just NONE. J-boxes had to be moved and drywall then repaired, over and over and over. Could we have just left them? NO. Not when you are showing the whole world your “work” and there’s a sconce 1″ away from a door casing. Besides when you are working with partners it’s your job to make the rooms look AMAZING so that their product looks good. So the sconce that is 4″ too high or the wall-mount faucets that are far too high off the vanity have to be moved. I couldn’t spend so much time (and money) on a project and also be embarrassed by it. It was highly stressful knowing that I was the one driving up the cost of the renovation and that my bro/SIL would suffer financially because of my high-end labor choices and my mistakes.

So How Much Did The Total Renovation Cost?

All in all the renovation cost (and the expenses surrounding it including the mortgage, real estate fees, loan interest, etc) were around 1.1 million (supported through construction loans). The house originally cost $790K I believe and it sold for 2.39 mil in 2018. So, essentially we were left with $400K “profit”, with my cut being 30% of that (around $125K). Sounds like a great investment, right? Well, it would have been…

How Much Did I Spend?

So right after we closed on it I thought it would be smart to try to track the EHD expenses – while I didn’t pay for the contractor or anything, I had a whole team of people working on this for over a year, and then when we styled and staged it we spent a ton on furniture and decor (far more than a normal stager would obviously). So I started tallying it up and stopped when I was over $140K without putting in any of Brady’s time and none of my time. WHOOPS. Where did that budget go? Three freelancers that were easy to track, and then of course flights/hotel, and furniture/decor. But a lot of my team’s full-time salaries weren’t even included because we didn’t track it throughout the project unless we were actually in Portland working on it. But we also styled it out to such extremes. It took two weeks to install, style, and shoot with my whole team – which typically wouldn’t happen. We had it SO DIALED IN, with beautiful pencils in the pencil cups, $12 toothbrushes in the bathrooms, $40 beautiful body wash on the tub – you get it. But that kind of styling and shooting is beyond the normal scope of work on a flip investment, obviously. I knew that and was prepared to pay more to ensure the best photography.

So Was It A “Success” Or A Failure?

At a certain point, I could sense that I was overspending, and like I said, that’s not what it was about for me anyway – which I fully realize is a huge privilege, so I made the mental shift to just make it SO BEAUTIFUL, a portfolio piece, and of course content for the blog and press. And listen, it made the cover of Portland Monthly and a year later it was on the cover of Real Simple, y’all!!!! I was SO HAPPY when that happened.

I made some really solid partnership connections and proved even more that we can design and style with our partner’s product beautifully – broadening our business in a big way for the future. We built a lot of trust with our partners and that feels really, really good. I learned so much more about the “business” of content creation from this project that has made all future projects run far more smoothly. We took the data and learned how to properly budget for content creation, which has shifted how we negotiate and has given us some leverage as proof of the ROI. Yes, I say ROI a lot now. Creating quality content is very very very expensive and time-consuming, and after that project, we were able to properly budget in order to profit and simply make smarter decisions for future room makeovers and collaborations.

I was SO PROUD of the project and have never, not once thought it was a failure. I also realize how privileged I am to have this particular career and not have that loss devastate me financially.

It was an absolute success in my book. So yes, technically I lost money on it 3 years ago, but throughout it, I also knew that every blog post about the project, both process and reveals (including this one) drives revenue, and continues to do so. I haven’t added those up, but it’s not nothing. I also sold a lot of the pieces to the buyer so was able to make some money back there.

But most importantly it was a success because frankly the lessons I learned (in design, budget, business, and management) HAD to be learned, and now I know them. It was VERY HARD in many ways, but it was huge for my personal growth. I learned that I can only do one major renovation at a time, and not be far from it. I simply couldn’t be on top of the project in the early stages when a lot of the bad decisions were made, because I had zero bandwidth and didn’t have an in-house design-only team yet. I learned pushing myself and my team beyond my limits and saying yes to too many projects at the same time creates a lot of mistakes and waste. And I didn’t have the right kind of help early on – so I learned what type of team I need to execute something of this scale. A huge thank you especially to Julie for her hard work on this once she was hired, then Grace and Velinda joined her, and of course, Brady and Emily Bowser to help me decorate and style – many hands make light the work. 🙂 This project also introduced me to Priscilla who is an incredible local designer now whom I’m working with on my friend’s basement and I LOVE HER.

Also, this is the project where I started releasing the shame I felt when I made a mistake publicly and instead was like “OK. GOOD TO KNOW, LET’S FIX IT, MOVE ON AND NOT DO THAT AGAIN”. It’s also when I resigned myself that every project is full of mistakes no matter how experienced you are. Every single one. Only now we make mistakes or change our minds early on, hopefully avoiding the expensive changes and big mistakes when it’s almost too late. Now I KNOW that herringboning a tile will cost so much more than a regular running bond. Now I can make a “choice,” not a “mistake”. I guess it’s also why I felt compelled to write this book that comes out in the spring (a handbook for renovation). I felt so frustrated with myself, dumb, and stupid throughout the whole design process that year, and wished so badly for a resource like this. So I have that house to thank for this next endeavor.

It also reconfirmed to only enter huge projects with people you trust and who you enjoy being around. Despite the overspending on my end and racking up the labor budget with my mistakes and design choices on Ken’s (my bother) budget, there was not one second of weirdness in our family. We both own mistakes well, are extremely upfront and honest and talked very openly about the whole thing both during and after. And we both believe in fairness and common sense.

Once it was all styled and done, and we had that huge awesome party, it really was SO FUN. We were all so proud of the home, it was very fulfilling as a designer and I was so proud of my team’s hard work. I truly did enjoy most of the design process and the parts that I didn’t were super valuable lessons that I needed to learn. Would I warn others about doing a high-end flip without a lot of experience with a family member if you aren’t a design blogger? YOU BET. But it worked out. And the reason I never talked about this before was because I didn’t want anything to taint the sale or the experience of the family living in the home. She’s a follower, so I didn’t want her to know that this house was a source of stress. But now that they have sold it and we have 3 years of distance from it, it’s fun to share all the lessons learned from that renovation process.

How Much Did It Finally Sell For??

You are going to die – I almost did. It went on the market in October for 2.8 (remember “we” sold it for 2.4ML 3 years ago), it went pending real quick so I was dying to find out what the final sale was. 3.2ML – that’s right, 400k over asking, already 400K over what they paid just a few years before. What is this world?????? Caitlin wrote about the real estate market last week in a highly entertaining but wildly different post. It’s insanity out there. And the last homeowners didn’t do much to do, so the new buyers essentially bought the house we designed, just in a MUCH BETTER MARKET. HAHAHA (funny, not funny).

So there you have it – a much overdue recap with some numbers that might make us uncomfortable, but I think it’s helpful for people to know what really goes into huge renovations like that and how much time, effort, and labor goes into simply designing them well. Again a huge thanks to my incredible design team who helped see it through (Julie, Grace, Velinda, Brady, Priscilla, Emily Bowser, and all shot by always lovely, Sara Tramp). I feel honestly so lucky to have done that project, with my brother for this blog. Thanks to, of course, all of you who watched along and supported throughout the way, and thanks to all the lovely partners who helped make it look beautiful. Ok, that’s all. 🙂

All EHD After Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp


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76 thoughts on “The OG Portland Project House Was For Sale Again (And Sold Fast) + Some 3 Year Later Reflections…And Real Budget Numbers

  1. Wow Emily what an engaging and uplifting post!
    It’s so fun to see the real estate photos beside yours. I can’t believe those shots were Sara’s first big project. They are stunning and timeless. I refer back to them often.
    I’m so happy that all is well between you and your bro/SIL. In other posts you’ve said that your decisions “ate profit” so I’ve nervously wondered if they lost money. I’m relieved they stayed in the green! And yes, your losses are offset by all the hard-to-quantify business benefits. Phew!
    It’s very kind that you waited until the buyers were moving, so they could just enjoy their home.
    Thank you for being so open. Your perspective is healthy and refreshing!

  2. Thank you for being so transparent. This was very enjoyable to read and obviously heartfelt. Renovating is messy and rarely goes as planned.

  3. Wowza! Crikey! Wot the?!?😳
    That’s totally mental!

    No wonder you were inspired and moved to write the new book (coming out in spting – hehehe).
    The Portland House is gorg-e-ous!!! No question. It’s a house to dream about.
    I prefer your photos for the most part. They look more snuggle-worthy and hygge.

    That’s living life on the edge.
    Thank goodness for your amazing relationship with your darling brother!

    We live, we make mistakes, we learn, we grow, we evolve.
    Thanx for bringing us along for the journey. 🤗

  4. Sara’s photos and the team’s original styling was beautiful. I love love the feeling of the real estate photos — much cozier with warm lighting.

    Emily, how do you think your use of lighting will change in Portland vs. L.A.? Pacific NW light is often very cool toned compared to L.A.

  5. Thanks for sharing all this fascinating behind-the-scenes!

    Since you brought up several times the cost of a non-standard tile layout, I thought I’d mention… this is totally dependent on your area and the particular tile setter you use. For the tile setter we’ve worked with, the base labor price is $16/sqft for subway layout, and $18/sqft for herringbone. (We are lucky to have him for sure, every other bid we’ve gotten for a project has been higher.) Of course you also have to budget 5-10% more in materials to account for more waste in the herringbone cuts.

    Just wanted to share in case someone had their heart set on herringbone but is scared of the cost. It is not necessarily going to be five times more in labor costs in your situation! Get a couple bids and see where you stand 🙂

    1. I think adding a border to herringbone significantly increases the labor cost. Emily mentions a border. We did a herringbone stone patio. I wanted a border to make it more special but the labor costs made it out of reach.

  6. I wonder if in a future flip you could do one or two rooms in your brothers project – I’d love to see more of this kind of work but understand that flip economics and design content economics are so different!

  7. Thanks for sharing. Love your openness
    The faux (virtual furniture) in the real estate photos is very distracting (pet peeve)😂

  8. My take away from this is that you have an amazing family. That you could get through this kind of stress, own up mistakes, and still be kind and loving to each other. Not many would make it through like this. Your parents raised you beautifully!

  9. Thank you for your honesty! $1.1M really highlights how the home reno shows will just full on make stuff up. Plus – how straightforward you are about your product partnerships, promos, and things you get as a designer / influencer is so, so refreshing. All I ever want to know is the nitty-gritty, and it’s so hard to find anywhere else. And you’re right – nothing teaches you more than mistakes (man, the paneling and tile points really hit home for me – I made some of these same decisions and wish I hadn’t on past projects). Posts like this are why I love this blog!

  10. Emily, I have followed you for many years and it’s refreshing to know that even the pros make mistakes. I can’t wait till your new book comes out. Can you get on a waitlist for it?

    My husband and I just finished building our dream home. I like to call the house California Cool meets Don Draper with some antiques thrown in. The entire back of our house is floor to ceiling windows and doors with some ceilings soaring 25’.

    Although I’m not a professional designer, I chose all the materials and lighting. My builder says “I have an eye for design” and would like me to consult with some of his clients that are struggling in their design. I love design and have also designed have done previous home but all for myself.

    I would love to take this on at 63 years old! What advice or resources would you suggest I look at?

    Thank you,
    Susan Krulikowski

    1. I love that your builder has figured out that clients need advice and tried to find a win-win way to get it to them!

    2. The Expert is a website that lets you pay for one-hour (or 30 min, or 80 min) sessions with designers, and several of them have noted they will discuss the industry/give career advice as well. That might be a starting point, although you would have to pay for it

  11. The transformation of that house was amazing and your reflections on what a learning experience it was really make me want to read your next book. But we’re hoping to never renovate again so I would also like a time machine to send it to myself in 2008, when we were gut-renovating parts of a 1928 bungalow.

    Your openness, especially with your mistakes, is the best. Perfect *is* boring, honesty is awesome. I’m so glad your relationship with your brother stayed strong throughout all the stress.

  12. Thanks you so much for this post! I appreciate the transparency and vulnerability you frequently share on here. I am considering a kitchen reno and will definitely grab your book when available. I don’t even know where to start – hire a designer first? Let contractor provide designer? And I am not sure what direction to go and how to work through the big decisions. Ugh. Can’t wait to see how your book can help educate me!

    1. As someone who recently completed a kitchen reno, my one big piece of advice is to talk to a kitchen designer. Not a person who sells cabinets, but an actual designer who will know to take into account things like hinge clearances, where filler strips are helpful, crown molding profiles, etc. Our kitchen turned out lovely, but there are a few tweaks in the design that I wish we’d known to make, and the cabinet rep either didn’t know or didn’t tell us.
      Also, a designer may be able to recommend a great contractor, perhaps even moreso than the opposite. Good luck!

  13. This is pretty amazing. Collaborations like this can sometimes ruin families or friendships. Very impressive! Another big lesson is that it is really difficult to do a renovation remotely. I really think you need to be there. In the end, the result is beautiful, I drooled over this house while you were doing it and during the reveals!

  14. Thank you thank you thank you Emily for sharing not just the valuable info and gorgeous pics, but your incredibly positive and humble spirit! You, and this blog, and your team, are truly so special and greatly appreciated!!!

  15. I think this is my very favorite of all your work <3 incredibly inspiring design work!!! Well done 👏🏻

  16. As someone who bought a house in the Portland area in the last year, unfortunately, I can absolutely understand how this went for $800k more than it did a few years ago.

    I’m really loving how you and other designers I follow are starting to produce more content that is open and maybe a little bit less focused on perfection. I live for progress photos, write ups about the pros and cons of the design approach, mistakes made, etc.

    1. Real estate in my area (Sydney, Australia), went up $500k AUD / $360k USD in just 6 months! A gut job house next door, single level 3 bed 1 bath, sold for AUD$2.3m about 4 months ago. Small block, no views. Real Estate is cray cray

  17. I love everything about this post! The Portland house is stunning and it is so cool to hear more BTS and see the real estate photos.

  18. Ugh, that book can’t come fast enough! I have it on pre order but I’m living through my first house reno right NOW, hoping to move in late Feb. There will still be projects to finish, though, so hurry up that publication! 😉

  19. beautiful! Is there a post that details the furniture, etc that you used in the house? I love it!

  20. Emily, you are a class act. From start to finish your thoughtfulness and care is impressive. You are not just in it for yourself, and that is very admirable. To be honest, it made me cringe to see the new staging in your stunning house, but you are nothing but gracious in your comments. <3

  21. Are the real estate photos virtually staged? They seem off.
    Loved this post and your transparency. Encouraging to think how much we can gain from “mistakes”.

      1. There is one chair in the basement that I’m suspicious of, but otherwise I think the real estate photos are just HIgh Dynamic Range (HDR). They shoot multiple photos, exposed for different areas, then layer them together so that you can see inside and outside the windows. It’s useful information for homebuyers, but our brains definitely recognize that something isn’t right

        1. I was thinking they looked HEAVILY photoshopped and the multiple photos layered together would explain it.

  22. Love this post! It is indeed refreshing to see some honesty and transparency. Sometimes in blogland, everything seems so perfect that it can be a bit of bummer to watch for us normal folk with very imperfect homes.
    The Portland is one of my favorite on all of the Internet. I look at the reveal posts way more than I should (esp when I don’t want to work, like rn!). The layout, the style, the fixtures, everything is just so great!
    It would be interesting to see a similar post on the Mountain House, even though you haven’t sold it, would you do anything differently? Spend less, more?

  23. Great post! I love this house and always go back to these pictures when looking for inspiration. Glad that it didn’t ruin your relationship with your brother — people always say not to go into business with relatives. Although in the post (paragraph right before the party pictures), you wrote “Ken’s (my bother) ….” — Freudian slip? (just teasing)

  24. That was a great post. The Portland house was so inspirational for me, as we just purchased a new build home and I studied those photos, your details, and the EHD rules from previous posts and I am so happy with how my humble house turned out. I also basically copied your basement wet bar with some budget modifications and it turned out so well. Many thanks for the follow up! Now please can we have an update on the River House project? I don’t think we’ve heard anything more than the intro post… looking forward to all your projects!

  25. I love these types of posts. I enjoy the design aspect, but adding the financial component is really important to me. Yes, I can look at photos for inspiration but, realistically, I need to acknowledge that perhaps some of the fixtures/materials used are way above my budget. In the back of my mind (even though I only work on my home) I have to be very cognizant that the ROI is practical and if I sell, I’m not kicking myself because I was influenced to go with custom vs big box.

    I sold and bought in Portland last year, it seems literally weeks before prices started going crazy. My little house sold within the first weekend with three offers all above asking. Shortly after, several houses in my neighborhood were put on the market and it was completely eye-opening what the new prices were; a similar home went for $80K more than ours just in a matter of weeks. I feel so bad for the younger crowd, first time buyers, who must feel that buying property just keeps getting further and further away from.

  26. Sara’s photography is so so much better than the real estate photos. It sounds like you learned a lot from this experience and that is probably priceless. This is definitely one of my favorite houses you’ve done. I think it’s because so much of the details were custom designed vs standard out of box solutions. No way would anyone put tiles outdoors for a flip job! The real estate in the Bay Area is nuts these days and a house like this would have easily gone over $1M asking. If you want to make bank you should seriously consider a flip here in the Bay Area.

  27. Would Sara consider writing a post about photography? I would love to hear more about her preferred equipment, angles, lighting tricks, etc. Her work is stunning!

  28. This home is one of my all-time favorites and my #1 EHD designed home with the mountain house coming in at #2. Can’t wait to see the new place! Also, what a testament to you and your brother that you came through such a stressful experience (all flips are stressful no matter what) and are still totally intact! xo

  29. Gorgeous home! What neighborhood is this in? I live in IL and would love to live somewhere like this, with all those trees!

  30. Thank you so much for the transparency and humility. I appreciate it so much as a reader & as someone who has renovated multiple homes, I RELATE 😂

  31. Holy Moly! The house looks great and I really appreciate your honesty and being upfront about it all, and your consideration of the buyers by not posting this info until now. (And they came out well because of your incredible design.) For me, it helps me to realize that aspirational houses and design are WAY out of my budget range and that of my family and most people I know, even in blogs and magazines that are not catering to the wealthiest clientele. With housing costs going crazy, it’s even more so now. I used to work in high end design (worker bee, not owner) and have always been acutely aware of the differences between what I could afford and what clients could. I appreciate good design and enjoy seeing house renovations and interiors, but it seems to be getting less accessible to mere middle class folks. I suppose it’s always been thus.

  32. That house is stunning. I love newel post, it is so unique and simple yet makes a statement. It reminds me of a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Genious!

  33. Absolutely LOVED this post. This project was incredible and timeless, and I loved hearing the nitty gritty details on the renovation.

    Also, I’m dying to get my hands on your new book!! I’ve already pre-ordered, but we are planning a kitchen renovation this spring and I’m terrified I will read the book immediately AFTER making mistakes and realizing regrets. Please move the date up or send me a pre-release?! 😄🤞🙏

  34. Thank you for being so transparent about this project. I could really relate to it as my husband and I used to flip houses–and finding the right balance of making a beautiful home and making a decent profit is such a tough line to find! I found that most of the ‘successful’ flippers were the ones who did the renovations in the most economical way (i.e. cheaply done) and those houses ended up with such cheap finishes and were, frankly, boring. We decided that we didn’t want to be known for cheap work so we are taking a break from it right now. Not sure if we’ll get back into it. . . I do miss the work though. It’s so gratifying to see your vision come to life!

  35. I, too, love all of this helpful info. It’s difficult to picture actual numbers for a project this size, and I could never imagine asking someone (not my husband though, he asks people about money stuff all the time???), so thanks for giving it freely! The intangibles are impossible to pin down, but I’m glad that it led to lots of future (that are now past/present) knowledge and opportunities for you, and I’m sure all of those profit-eating decisions also continue to contribute to the day to day enjoyment of the families living in the home, so basically you’re working towards world peace and who can argue with that?

  36. I took a lot of inspiration from this house when we did our renovation and I’d still LOVE A FULL POST ABOUT THE STAIRS in the entryway. So good!

  37. Loved this post! Learning from, and embracing, our mistakes = happy adulting! Can’t wait for the book!

  38. Thank you, Emily, for having the courage to tell your followers that you made mistakes. I look at my own path, and often think of how foolish and careless I was with my designs. It has been a good teacher, but an expensive one. Knowing that someone so creative and smart and amazing made mistakes has made me feel so much better about myself. You are a gift!

  39. Thank you for being so transparent about the mistakes process. I am a new designer and whew!!… so much to learn. Your work is gorgeous, and your posts and contributions to the design world are so appreciated!!! Thank you Team Emily!!! Woot! Woot!

  40. Your pics are so much nicer than the listing pics, I always love editorial pics. This house was such a stunner. I remember asking at the time in the comments if you were sure you didn’t want to move into it yourself to be closer to your families? I think I was picking up on something 🙂 Regardless of cost, that house was spectacular, perfectly done, and a credit to you and your team, your brother, and your builders. Well done, everyone!

  41. I never comment, but just wanted to say how grateful I am for your transparency and how amazing you have been about learning from your mistakes. Your attitude is incredible as is your integrity. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Wow!!! Thank you so much for being so transparent about the purchase price, your investment, and the real costs! It’s all pretty on TV and I think most of us are a little naïve about what it takes to create a home like this. So excited for the homeowners who just sold it in the homeowners who just bought it! Beautiful place.

  43. I’m actually able to relive the moment by seeing these pics. Such a beautifully written post Emily. Thanks for sharing.

  44. The best thing I’ve learned to do from renovating four homes is to tell any partners—architect, designer, or contractors—that I’m always willing to hear them push back on my ideas and present other options if I am making a choice that will be labor intensive, excessively expensive in other ways, or have unanticipated consequences that I might not realize. It has always saved me money and generally has led to better design or product choices.

    1. I 100% agree with this comment, using the knowledge of those experts around you leads to much better decisions (even if you still keep your original design plan, at least you have made a call with all the info). I ask all trades and suppliers all the time for their opinion and other ways to do it. Also the trades take more ownership when they fee heard and respected which in turn leads to better outcomes on a project

  45. Emily, bless you for sharing all this — it’s so, so helpful to learn from. I really admire people putting their mistakes out there, especially because I get the sense of shame we can all feel (so intensely!) about our own mistakes. It’s such a gift that you’ve given us all, design-obsessed readers, to help us with our own projects. And also with inspiration to share our mistakes – and let go of shame about them – too. And now I can’t wait to read your next book!

  46. Thnak you. Emily for this very valuable post.
    Flipping is a risky business. I have being doing it for eight years now and I have lost money only once due to overestimating the possible sale price for a particular neighbouhood, Never ever overimprove a property, always keep in mind the realistic price of every neighborhood.
    I started when nine years from the last top had passed, jus when I thought we were at the bottom od the real estate cycle in Madrid, Spain. Fortunately, I was right. First lesson learned: when market is going up, the trend is your friend, whether you keep the house or you remodel before selling. Second lesson learned: you have to buy a property knowing at what price you will be able to sell it after remodeling. also, it is less risky if you sell the house fast, so you also have to know how long it will take the remodeling, and, of coruse, stick tighty to the remodeling budget, which should be higher for better neighborhoods but always under control, Budget has always to be calculated based on size, as real estate prices are based on size.
    If the market trend changes downward, which can happen very fast when the top has been reached, it is better to be able to sell very quickly. The top is usually reached after a very steep increse after several years of upward trend, same as in Stock Exchange, but nobody knows where the top is. In my experience it usually happens when everybody is buying like crazy, and all around you people speak a lo about real estate, but this couldlast forone year before the top is reached. Also, in an inflationary period like we are starting to live now, assets tend to increae in value, so this could make the real estate upward cycle longer than the average.
    I really love this blog and all the beautiful handmade tiles and wonderful details you use, but peopla always like the combination of big white tile with wood or good quality porcelain wood, formerly blond wood now slightly darker wood. In Spain, you have to paint white, never grey.
    Also, spend many hours searching the web until you find your perfect suppliers for details, but big retailers that have materials in stock are priceless suppliers. You cannot store things and you should not wait for materials to arrive. This is very very important.

    I have also preordered Emily¨´s second book. I am anxious for it to hit the market. Her first book brought me here. i really really loved it.

  47. I have a confession– a few years ago, when I would read your posts in which you were very honest about mistakes you made, I was a little internally judgy. Now I’ve gone through / am in the middle of a renovation of my own, and I find it refreshing and comforting that I’m not the only one who, say, makes electrical decisions in a hurry and lives to regret them, or who has miscommunications with builders and contractors!! I really appreciate your openness and am glad this all worked out for you in the end.

  48. I enjoyed this post so much, it is refreshing to talk honestly about mistakes and interactions with family. I read your blog regularly and this is my favorite post ever. Thank you.

  49. This article reminded me of a key learning I had a few years into being an interior designer – mainly problems and mistakes are inevitable in this profession. There are too many decisions and people involved for things to never go wrong no matter how organized you are so I switched my mindset. Instead of staying up late nights worrying about what MIGHT go wrong I just made my new mantra “My job is to be a problem solver.” At the end of the day the majority of my clients are lovely, reasonable people and understand we are all human so if I come to them with a problem and have a solution they are cool. No one expects me to be perfect but they do expect me to own the problem and make it right which I can do. Today I sleep better and am constantly telling my younger staff “Your job is to be a problem solver.”

  50. I’ve come back to this post multiple times already, I just love it. So informative and useful and transparent! And the Portland kitchen has always had my heart, so getting to revisit it in a new post was so great. Just wanted to add that I love seeing the relator photos in comparison to yours. I can completely understand and appreciate the editorial photos, but seeing a pulled-back view gives me a different understanding of the space. And helps satisfy my hunger to examine every single detail of a room from every angle 🙂

  51. This is so interesting to read from a commercial interior design side! I’ve always been a bit jealous reading your Big Design reveals – that you get to move through the project, making decisions as you go. On my side, I choose *everything* that’s not a finishing touch over a few month period, and then a year or two later I get to see it finished.
    But this kind of highlights the pros/cons of that: on the commercial side, our drawings go out and get priced, and then we pull out the things that lower that “ROI” (or are just out of budget). So the contractor would say “hey, that tile install is crazy money” and I’ll scale it back or the engineer will tell me that what I want is adding major cost to the plumbing. Or we’re over budget but the client wants the public-facing spaces to be THE BEST, so we VE (value engineer) and a lower-priority room gets a lot less special.
    I’ve made more mistakes than I can count in my 6 years of doing this. And usually they don’t get fixed because they’d only be noticed by a designer, so they sit there in my portfolio shots, haunting me! But my firms have also often had a “lessons learned” debrief every now and then where designers and architects share our shames. It’s useful. More of this, please!

  52. I really loved this post. Sometimes (okay honestly usually) I feel a bit down (even while loving) amazing designs like this, because I think to myself, why can’t I get my own designs for my house to look this good? It actually gave me SO much perspective to see these numbers, like of course, if you can spend almost 1 mil on renovating and over 140k on furnishings, art, and accessories like duh the end result will be way different than what I can achieve with my budget! Thanks a ton for always being your super honest self. We love it!! p.s. don’t get me wrong I LIVE for your Reno/design reveal posts because I LOVE your creativity and it inspires me to achieve what I can with my own means.

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