This Homewood property was scheduled to be torn down when Leigh and Kevin Misso of River Brook Design & Construction made an offer. “The home obviously hadn’t been taken care of,” Leigh says. “The inside was filled with piles of bottles, personal belongings, and trash. But we saw the potential that the structure had and took advantage of the location.” The couple closed on the property within a week, had it removed from the city’s demolition list, and began work.
Before they could start the renovation, the Missos had to tackle a cleanup that required eight dumpsters just to remove the junk from the property. “When you first opened the door, you were immediately stepping on probably six to ten inches of stuff,” Leigh says. The home also needed major mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and flooring improvements. Since the Missos own their own design and construction firm, they handled all the construction, designs, and décor in-house. Kevin and his team took the house down to the studs, waterproofed the ground floor, and completely reframed the interior. The couple reimagined the main level to be modern and open, removing walls between the kitchen and living room and creating a larger master bathroom with ample closet space. On the lower level, they turned what was just basement storage into an in-law suite and playroom for their growing family’s future needs.
Once construction was finished, Leigh dressed the home in her personal style. “I created a contemporary blend of modern lines and monochromatic spaces, but I also incorporated heirloom antiques,” she says. For example, antique doors from Charles Phillips Antiques in Theodore, Alabama, bring history and patina to the house and ensure that modernizations feel new but not sterile. Sleeker pieces, such as the custom cabinet on the ground level that hides toys and the television, maintain a clean feel.
Was the complete overhaul worth it? Leigh emphatically says yes and mentions that they’ve considered selling the property because of the added value. But for now, she says they’re staying put. “We are expecting baby number two in July, and this house has given us plenty of room to expand.”
Is it worth saving? Things to consider:
Look for structural issues. Evaluate the bones of the house. Particularly assess the condition of the foundation and four perimeter walls. Before committing to a renovation instead of a new build, be sure that you’re working with a strong foundation. Have a professional inspection to check for any sort of water or insect damage.
Evaluate marketability. Compare the current value of the property or listing price to the price for the lot. If the value of the property (lot + structure) is more than the value of the lot alone, tearing down the structure means you would immediately lose money. “Try to maximize on the value or equity that’s already in the property,” Leigh says.
Consider the lot. Is there room for a larger house? How is the house positioned on the lot? Is the lot big enough to build two houses? “If the lot is large and could be subdivided into two lots instead of one, you could potentially have two properties for resale,” says Leigh. (Always be sure to check neighborhood variances.)
Builder, interior design, landscape: River Brook Construction and River Brook Interior Design, riverbrook.construction Kitchen: Hardware: Brandino Brass, brandinobrass.com Appliances: Allsouth Appliances, allsouthappliance.net Lighting fixtures: Mayer Lighting, mayerlighting.com Countertops: Maranatha, maranathagranite.com Flooring: Morton Flooring, mortonflooringllc.com Bathroom hardware: Brandino Brass Bathroom tile/backsplash: Floor & Decor, flooranddecor.com Furniture, accessories, art, fabrics: Stock & Trade, stockandtrade.com; Table Matters, table-matters.com; Suite Dreams, suitedreamsal.com Paint: White Dove and Collingwood, benjaminmoore.com