How to Flip a House & Get Married: One Couple’s Before & After Renovation

By: Matilda Davies
Emily Chidester

Jonathan and Laura Beck were just three months away from their wedding when they closed on a little house in a neighborhood near downtown Charlotte, NC—a house they had once thought was out of their reach. The house needed serious updates, but Jonathan saw the potential and convinced Laura to give it a second look.

Just weeks before their wedding, a months-long renovation project began, which meant they spent the first four months of their marriage living in an extended-stay hotel while they did the work of taking the house down to the studs and making an addition—a complete house flip.

Now, Laura and Jonathan are expecting a little girl in January and their household is ready to grow. They let us into their beautifully renovated home to give us a sneak peak of the flip before and after and gave us an idea of just how much blood, sweat, and tears when into the project—and how it was all completely worth it.

Emily Chidester

The couple Laura and Jonathan Beck bought their fixer upper in March of 2015, just three months before their wedding

Syle The living room is contemporary meets transitional in muted grays and blues

Reno A winder staircase in the home's original flooring, which was restored in the renovation

Details Little details throughout the home bring warmth and personality

Kitchen An open peninsula kitchen flows seamlessly between living spaces

Dining This dining table is the same that was in Laura's childhood home

Details The dining table's centerpiece brings playful personality to the room

Island The kitchen's slate-topped island houses a built-in wine fridge

Details Little signs of a little one's upcoming arrival dapple the house

Touches A sliding barn door adorns the space between living rooms

Living A living space in soft coastal blues and sandy creams

Details A wooden tray anchors the front living space

Living A shabby chic sideboard for tucking away electronics

Laundry This magnificent laundry room uses slate flooring and white subway tiles for a clean, fresh feel

Laundry The deep sink and wooden countertops make this a perfect laundry prep station

Master The master suite was an addition the couple made during their down-to-the-studs renovation

Master Closet Also added was this impressive walk-in closet

Master Just through the master suite's walk-in is this classic open bathroom in cerused wood floors

Baby's suite This nursery was also added in the renovation, and the couple is working to prepare this space for their little girl due in January

Baby's Suite The flooring in the addition was painstakingly matched to the original hardwoods for a seamless look

Guest A peaceful guest bedroom in gentle grays and whites

Details Guest bedroom pillows in paisley and gingham

Guest Another guest bedroom in shabby chic

Guest This shabby chic headboard is a reclaimed mantel

Porch The screened-in back porch makes the perfect backyard oasis

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A brief history of the home

As told by Laura

We purchased our house in March of 2015 while we were still engaged. When we purchased it, it was a simple two-story 1940s colonial. We gutted about 75% of the house and built an upstairs addition, which includes our master bedroom, bath, and walk-in closet, a laundry room, and a nursery.

We did as much of the demo ourselves as possible. We ripped up carpet and engineered hardwood that didn’t match the original flooring, scraped popcorn ceilings, took down layers (and layers!) of wallpaper, ripped out the kitchen cabinetry, demo-ed several walls, took out a shower…the list goes on.

When it came to putting everything back together, Jonathan and his dad built all of the cabinets in the house and made all the baseboards and trim. Jonathan re-did the porch ceiling entirely on his own. It was definitely a labor of love.

We did hire a general contractor to take on the major projects like building a new porch and adding a second floor to the back of the house. And because we were renovating over 50% of the home, all of the plumbing and electrical had to be brought to code, which definitely required us to bring in the pros.

Why did you choose this home?

When we were still just dating, we had a habit of grabbing coffee on Sunday afternoons and driving around town looking at houses. Our favorite neighborhood to drive through, Chantilly, is situated just a few miles outside of Uptown and within walking distance of several of our favorite restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. All of the houses are unique and it’s completely charming. It was definitely our dream neighborhood, but we never imagined we could actually live there, as most of the houses far exceeded our budget.

One day, when we had become more serious about house hunting, Jonathan sent me the link to the listing of a house in Chantilly. It was old, outdated, and full of knick-knacks—much different than the move-in ready homes we had been looking. I told him that he was welcome to go see it, but I wasn’t interested in going with him!

He came back from the showing on cloud nine, buzzing from seeing the potential in an old house in our favorite neighborhood. I’m so glad he saw what I couldn’t see and had the vision to turn a fixer upper into the house of our dreams!

House flip Before and after

You chose to start flipping your home while planning a wedding at the same time. Any horror stories?

We closed on the house in March and were married in June. We were hoping to be finished with renovations by the time we returned from our honeymoon, but that didn’t happen and we ended up living in an extended stay hotel for the first four months of marriage! Thinking back, it was a really sweet time in our life and I wouldn’t change it.

There were horror stories! Lots of them in fact, but the two that come to mind are:

1. We chose to hire several sub-contractors ourselves to save money, rather than just using the companies that our general contractor usually recommended. When it came time to lay our hardwood floors, we ended up hiring the handyman that we had been using for electrical work—don’t laugh! (Side note: around 50% of the house had the original 1.5-inch hardwood floors, and we decided to have them matched, patched, and refinished to preserve character.)

It was enough of a headache getting the floors laid correctly, but then one day, after they were installed, we came to check on the house and found a giant mess of dark floor stain spilled and smudged all over the brand new (unfinished) hardwoods. The can of stain had been knocked off the stairs and onto the floor. It also spilled into a large vent on the floor and dripped down to the basement, covering the carpet. The worst part is that none of our contractors would admit to it or take ownership for the accident.

2. As I mentioned above, we were living in a hotel while finishing up renovations. We took the bare essentials with us to the hotel and stored the rest of our possessions in the basement of the house since we weren’t making any changes to the basement.

That summer was extremely hot and rainy. One day I went down into the basement looking for something I had stored. I opened a box and all of its contents were covered in mold. Covered. I opened another box…same thing. Call me dramatic, but when I opened the box that housed my Frye boots and found them covered in a layer of green sludge, I sat down and started crying right away! Thankfully our mold problem was remedied once we had power to run the AC and a dehumidifier, but we had to toss a lot of clothes, shoes, and wedding gifts.

Tell us about your architectural/decorating style.

Architecturally, we wanted to preserve a lot of the character of a home built in the ‘40s. For example, we picked extra-thick baseboards, five-panel craftsman style doors, and crystal doorknobs. We also restored the home’s original 1.5-inch hardwoods.

I’d say my decorating style is kind of a mix of Pottery Barn meets Anthropologie. I’m pretty traditional in that I like nice, classic pieces but they’re matched with an equal amount of vintage and antique finds. I love any piece that has an interesting history, so I’ve spent a lot of time browsing antique shops, flea markets, and even junkyards. I like finding things for my home that none of my friends will have in theirs.

Do you have a favorite memory in this home?

1. The day we closed on the house we picked up dinner from our favorite local Mexican joint and ate enchiladas on the living room floor. It was surreal knowing that it was actually our home!

2. Our first night sleeping in the house was Halloween night. We didn’t have any furniture yet—just a mattress on the bedroom floor—but we did have two rocking chairs on the front porch. That night we sat out on the porch, ordered pizza, and met all of our neighbors as they brought their kids by trick-or-treating. We’ve made pizza on the front porch a tradition that we now do every Halloween!

Before Laura and Jonathan in 2015 just after closing on their 1940s fixer upper

After A front gable with craftsman piers update the home's facade

Before Here, the second floor is pictured during new roofing installation

Before The Becks took the house down to the studs in order to bring the plumbing and electrical up to code

After The Becks created an open-format ground floor that flows easily between kitchen, dining, and living spaces

Before Laura and Jonathan took on much of the renovation work themselves

Before The Becks performed major updates to every room of the house

After The result is a beautifully contemporary home, here—a sage bathroom with marble countertops

Before A can of wood stain was knocked off the stairs during renovation, discoloring the home's original hardwoods

After With a little elbow grease, the flooring was able to be perfectly restored

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Do you have a favorite piece of furniture in the home?

It’s funny, we finished the renovation and thought, “Phew, we’re finished!” But then you’re like, “Wait… I don’t have any furniture for this place!” Since we moved in as newlyweds, we both only had a few pieces of furniture to contribute. The house itself had pretty much wiped out our funds, so it wasn’t like we could go out and furnish the place right away.

I love hunting for a deal, so I’ve really enjoyed slowly finding the things we need, piece by piece. I’ve spent hours scouring Craigslist, the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, Facebook yard sale groups, and had even snagged quite a few things off the side of the road. That said, many pieces are special to me because almost all of them have a great story. However, I love our kitchen table the most. It’s the table from my childhood home and it’s so special knowing that my children will grow up eating dinner around the same table my siblings and I ate around.

Do you have a favorite room in the home?

Right now, the kitchen. It has come so far and definitely had the most dramatic transformation. I really love the marble countertops and the fact that it’s open to the rest of the house. It really feels like the heart of the home. However, I’m just now starting to work on our baby’s nursery, so I have a feeling that may take a close second place!

What has been your favorite DIY project in the home?

Jonathan did an amazing job renovating our back porch. He changed the entire ceiling to expose and finish the beams and trusses, re-worked all the electrical wiring, and painted the ugly orange tile floors. He didn’t have any professional help, and it looks 100 times better now than it did the day we bought it. We love spending time out there!

What is one project you will always outsource?

Tiling! It’s much too precise of a task for me.

What part of the home is your biggest indulgence?

The kitchen sink! It seems silly but I had my heart set on a big, apron-front farmhouse sink. We hunted for a good deal and ordered it off Amazon, but it was still a splurge. We cut back in other areas so that we could make it work in our budget. I love the way it looks and we plan to use it to bathe our future children, so to me, it was worth it.

What advice would you give to others looking to renovate?

Our best advice when it comes to renovations is to always budget for more time and money than you’re told. It always takes longer and costs more than expected!


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