On the HGTV show “Good Bones,” Mina Starsiak Hawk not only renovates houses around Indianapolis but often builds them from the ground up. Yet the project on the latest episode strikes some of her crew as a head-scratcher.
In “Little but Luxurious,” project manager Cory Miller surveys a piece of land that Starsiak Hawk has purchased for only $10,000.
“This lot looks like a driveway,” Miller declares.
“It’s a baby lot,” Starsiak Hawk confirms. “It’s only 20 feet wide, but goes back 100 feet. It’s a really skinny lot, but I think we could squeeze about a 1,500-square-foot house on it.”
Her plan is to spend $195,000 to build a luxe, long, narrow, two-story home, then sell it for about $285,000, aiming for an $80,000 profit. But will her plans pan out? Find out what happens to Starsiak Hawk’s skinny house, and learn some clever lessons for making small spaces seem much bigger than they are.
Tall ceilings make small rooms feel more spaciousA high ceiling makes a long, narrow room look bigger.
“We’ve got superhigh ceilings going in here, which I’m very excited about,” says Starsiak Hawk, speaking of her design for both the first and second floors.
She’s got sort of a long, narrow shotgun style going on, so they need to make all rooms feel larger any way they can.
“These 10-foot ceilings make what could feel like a very small space feel much larger,” she says. And she’s right!
Faux beams make a room look widerFaux beams being applied
Designer MJ suggests accessorizing those tall ceilings with faux wood beams, to make the room look wider.
He says since the beams aren’t there for support, they don’t need to be made of solid wood and can be done inexpensively. The whole project costs around $300.
“The addition of the beams really takes this place to the next level and actually gives the illusion of the house being wider than it really is,” says Starsiak Hawk. “They’re not actually structural; they’re just pretty.”
Paper the powder roomGrass-cloth wallpaper in a flower print
“I would say, do a wallpaper on the powder room,” says Starsiak Hawk as she considers the small space on the main floor off the kitchen. “We don’t usually do powder rooms, but because it’s small, we need to make it pop as much as we can.”
Although Starsiak Hawk is in love with some garish peacock prints, MJ persuades her to tone it down. Together they decide on grass cloth with a subtle flower pattern.
“The grass cloth really makes it look higher end, because it gives it some texture along with the pattern and the colors,” says Starsiak Hawk.
Save room with sliding barn doorsA vintage sliding barn door helps save space.
Since the house is so narrow, there isn’t a lot of room for doors to swing open and shut. So the crew make sliding barn doors out of vintage doors they already have in their warehouse.
They also use fancy brass hardware for a “luxury look,” says Starsiak Hawk. That way, they take the door up a notch without giving the place a farmhouse feel.
The crew put sliding barn doors in front of the powder room, the upstairs primary bathroom, and the laundry closet. They sure beat those awkward, old accordion doors that often leap off track!
The rule of thumb for planting a treeThe right-sized hole for planting a tree
These days, Starsiak Hawk’s mom and partner, Karen Laine, pops in every now and then to work on the landscaping and put the finishing touches on a home.
Today she’s planting a giant pine in front of the house, as well as roses and inkberry. She passes along some smart guidelines for planting a tree or even small shrubs.
“The hole should be twice the diameter of the [root] ball, and the depth of the hole should be such that the top of the root is just above grade,” she says.
How does this ‘Good Bones’ home turn out?The finished home
“We bought this property for $10,000 and were hoping to stay under $200,000 for construction,” says Starsiak Hawk. “But because it’s a newer neighborhood, we really wanted to put some ‘wow’ factor into this house. So we added some more high-end finishes that we would normally not do for a starter home, to really draw in buyers. We went a bit over budget, knowing it’s going to be a loss leader for us.”
In the end, they spend $245,000 on the build, for a total cost of $255,000. With a list price of $279,000, which is what the comps allow, she estimates a low potential profit of $24,000.
At the time this episode airs, it remains unsold, which begs the question: Are skinny homes hard to sell? Perhaps; more unusual homes do tend to take more time to find the right buyer.
“I’m hoping someone will snap it up soon,” says Starsiak Hawk, who remains optimistic.