How a House Flip Turned Personal

Custom Dry Bar

The Party Never Ends


The Details:

Investment: $350,000-$500,000

Designer: Erin Gross of EGI Design Inc.

Photographer: Rayne Troxell

Location: Albany Park, Chicago



House flipping is a very common practice these days, and it’s something that Areté President and Vice President, Igor, and Davor, enjoy doing in their spare time. During their next hunt for a flippable property, they stumbled across a fixer-upper located in Albany Park. The house had great bones, but the interior needed a lot of updating if they were going to be able to make a profit off of it. They called their trusted interior designer and good friend, Erin Gross, to come in and design a modern space with a neutral palette that would appeal to the general buyer.

After some much-needed upgrades, the house sat on the market for three months before Davor decided it would be a good idea to keep the property for himself and his growing family. Once this decision was made, he began to add some custom features to make the place feel more like home. Knowing he loves to host, we were able to create a space that is perfect for both socializing and family weeknight dinners.

We installed brand-new hardwood flooring throughout the house along with a brand-new kitchen island, cabinets, backsplash, and appliances. We built a custom dry bar for him to display his impressive bourbon collection that leads out to a private deck equipped with a grill and outdoor television perfect for entertaining guests. Below, Davor walks us through his decision to keep the house for himself and other updates he added to make the place feel more like home.

How did you come about this property? 

Originally, Igor and I purchased this home to flip it. We remodeled the entire home with no specific buyer in mind. It stayed on the market for about three months until we realized that a lot of buyers weren’t interested in the location of the home. The backyard was bordered with a large parking lot to a local grocery store. The lack of privacy made many potential buyers feel insecure with their purchase. However, everything else about this home was great. My wife and I were looking for a home at the time, and I figured this would be a good opportunity to move into a bigger space. All I had to do was add some trees along our fence line for more privacy. 

From an investment standpoint, what parts of the home were you looking to remodel first?

The first question we needed to answer was whether we wanted to remodel the current layout or scrap it and start from the studs. Ultimately, we decided to demolish the interior and turn a 1500 square foot single story home into a 2700 square foot two story home. We figured adding a couple extra bedrooms and bathrooms in an upstairs addition would be good to increase profit. We also kept the front porch and added a back dack to extend the living space to the outdoors. 

How would you categorize the look of your home?

I would say it’s contemporary. We didn’t want to go too modern or too unique with the design when we were planning to flip it, so we kept it safe with a contemporary look. There aren’t a lot of colors or patterns throughout the home, but it has a timeless look with a simple, luxurious feel. 

Did you run into any problems with the remodel?

There weren’t any major problems with the remodel itself, however, we did have a tough time designing the place while trying to completely change the layout simultaneously. It is difficult to design the look of a space without being able to walk through it and understand the physical aspects of the home. You really can’t order your materials for your kitchen until you frame it, and even then, you will still probably have to make some adjustments with the remodeling and design. We were really trying to coordinate what could fit and what could not fit in the space. We also had to decide how much we wanted to update the exterior. From the outside, the home looked really traditional, and we knew that the inside wouldn’t exactly match the traditional feel the outside gives. Ultimately, we kept the traditional look with the front porch while the inside turned contemporary. 

Once you decided to keep the home for yourself, did you customize any parts of the design to your liking?

My wife has always wanted to have a fireplace in the home. That was her design “must have” when we decided to keep it. Before, we had a really big open family room, but we partially closed it off by adding a half wall with a recessed fireplace. We wanted the warm, welcoming fireplace to be the first thing you see when you walk into our home. We also wanted to create two separate family rooms with two separate vibes. The front room is supposed to be a relaxing, chill space where you can sit and read a book, play the guitar, or enjoy the fireplace.

Whereas, the back room was for watching TV, couch surfing, and playing with our son. Additionally, my design “must have” was a custom bar that would really wow people when they saw it. I have a pretty extensive bourbon collection, and I needed a designated area to showcase all of the bottles. It also leads out to the back deck that we customized with a privacy fence, outdoor TV, and grill area. We wanted the look of a pergola while still being able to enjoy each other’s company within the privacy of our own backyard. 

If you had to do it all over again, are there any aspects of the design that you would change?

Well, for starters, I would pick a home that I didn’t want to originally flip. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic home, I just really wish a lot of it was more customized to me and my family’s needs. I would’ve liked to have added more pops of color and texture with our bathroom tile selection, as well as unique finishes in both the bathrooms and kitchen. I also think I would’ve chosen a different cabinet color for our kitchen. White was just the safe choice at the time. I also would’ve added more color with the kitchen island and backsplash. However, overall, I really love the layout of the space. The only change it needed was a half wall for the recessed fireplace, but that was only a minor addition. All in all, keeping this home was a great decision for me and my family.