Renovating a Home? Donovan Thomas Offers Some Great Lessons for Flippers

Renovating a Home?  Donovan Thomas Offers Some Great Lessons for Flippers

As a result of working with several regular fix & flip clients, I'm constantly looking at different rehab projects.  In most cases the before and after comparisons are quite dramatic.  What I've come to realize, however, is that much of the time the dramatic "improvement" has less to do with what the rehabber has added, and more to do with what the rehabber has removed.  Take away an old pink toilet, avocado green appliances, shag rug and wood panelling and it seems you have instant improvement, even when you replace those things with generic items right off the shelf of Home Depot.  It's new, it's clean, it looks much better.  But what about rehabbing homes that aren't complete dumps to begin with?  This is where a skilled rehabber with an eye for design can really shine.

I've come to appreciate  rehabbers who can take an ordinary home (not just a total dump) and make it extraordinary by adding (or keeping) just the right elements. Donovan Thomas, with Property Lion, Inc.,  is a great example.  Donovan just completed his most recent project at 2301 Forest Street, in Park Hill.  It's a beauty!

When Donovan acquired Forest, it was not an ugly home.  The home had an updated kitchen (granite countertops even) as well as fairly updated bathrooms. The home, while ordinary for Park Hill, was a nice property that many buyers would be happy to own in its existing state.  Most rehabbers would have kept the kitchen as is, spent a little money on the bathrooms, and then simply spruced the place up with some fresh paint.  

The main focus of Donovan's rehab was the kitchen.  By rearranging the placement of the fridge, Donovan was able to open about two feet of the entry to create an open concept kitchen with a small bar area.   Although the existing cabinets were updated, Donovan replaced them with custom high-end cabinets. He also replaced the existing slab granite and added a coordinating tile backsplash.  

What sets this rehab apart from many others I see is Donovan's attention to  details.  When he rearranged the kitchen layout, he noticed that the brick chimney chase from the old furnace was concealed by drywall.  Donovan removed the casing to add a fantastic exposed brick feature.  He also focused on the tiny details, like drawer pulls and cabinet nobs.  They coordinate perfectly with the custom slow-close cabinets.  I can't tell you how many rehabs I've seen where the rehabber doesn't even add the nobs and pulls, or they just add the builder special nobs from the big box store.

  • Exposed Brick

Donovan's design detail carried into the main bathroom and living room as well.  He replaced the ordinary bath tile with classic subway tiles, and he ensured the sink and tub/shower fixtures were high-end ---- again, avoiding the off the shelf sink and vanity from the big box store.  In the living room Donovan elected to keep the the two leaded glass windows over the fireplace, which, along with the exposed brick, gives you a glimpse of this home's original 1920's character.  I think it's the small details and the features bridging old with new that make this property so special.  
Everything is new, but unlike many rehabs, the home still has a ton of personality. 



  1. Great Job Donavon! It looks awesome!

  2. Barbara Stribling /

    Loved the remodel especially of kitchen and living room. You have a great eye and I like that you are unafraid to use high end products–the neighborhood warrants it.

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