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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Alison Martin

Good-bye Chicago, hello, LA! ‘Windy City Rehab’ goes coastal

In an effort to escape the cold Chicago winter, “Windy City Rehab” host Alison Victoria heads for sunny Los Angeles where a realtor friend needs help rehabbing a rundown home in need of new life.

To date, this is the first time the show has featured a home outside of Chicago, but it won’t be the last. A preview for next week’s episode revealed that Victoria will be heading to Atlanta next to work on a loft.

Spoilers ahead!

Here’s what happened on this week’s episode.

The home

“I’m just at a crossroads,” Victoria told her viewers at the top of the episode. “I don’t know where I want to be.”

Who wouldn’t trade snow shoveling for sunbathing in January? Even if she’s not certain about where her career is heading, Victoria revealed she had planned to spend part of the winter in LA, and contacted her realtor friend Michaela about a rental property, Michaela also presented her with a business opportunity.

The realtor and her husband, landscape designer Luis, purchased the Spanish revival-styled home at 2307 N. Glower St. in Hollywood Hills for $1 million, and they planned to rehab it.

“I want you to do what you do in Chicago and come do this with me in LA,” he told Victoria.

Built in 1926 (or 1929, two dates are given), the home fell into disrepair after the previous owner died. At one point, Michaela explained, squatters lived in the house. The stairs leading up to the front door had fallen apart, and termites ate through much of the wood throughout the home. Water damage caused serious structural problems and rotted the floors.

“It needs love and it needs to be restored completely,” Michaela said.

The rehab

Victoria met Michaela at the home for a tour of the property, which is now structurally sound and ready for renovations. Right away, the designer noticed the beautiful but wobbling railing on the front steps, hinting at work to be done.

Inside, the two noticed the arched ceilings throughout the home and envisioned a spiral staircase in the empty entryway, where there was also room for a tiled water fountain. Neither the kitchen nor living room offered adequate space, so Victoria said she would be relocating both spaces to open them up. The fireplace in the living room needed to be partially disassembled, but Victoria planned a stucco design for it.

Tall trees in the front yard obstructed the view of the home, offering privacy, so Victoria imagined adding a terrace with a cedar hot tub, a private patio around the back of the house and a deck upstairs with a nice, albeit slightly obstructed, view of downtown LA.

“This is a dream project, not to mention that it gets me out of Chicago, which is why I called Michaela in the first place,” Victoria said.

The host headed back to Chicago as crews in LA took down the siding and reconfigured the walls to widen the living room and kitchen. Michaela and her contractor friend Frank uncovered more termite damage in the wood under a bathroom on the main floor. Repairs cost the team almost $10,000.

Meanwhile, the LA team experienced breakdowns in communication leading to confusion and delays in work. Victoria flew back to help recenter the team and start shopping for tile.

“When you’re not there on a job site daily, it gets away from you,” the designer explained. “I think schedules get away from everybody and I tend to keep people and hold them accountable.”

While the crew at the house installed new windows and finished the framing, Victoria stopped by Badia Design in LA to look for Spanish- and Moroccan-inspired light fixtures and tile. The host picked brass fixtures for the house and a muted white tile for the fountain in the entryway.

Victoria returned to Chicago and then went to Wisconsin to meet with designer Ari whose now living on a farm, and working on a new door for the LA property featuring some of the repurposed iron railings from the home’s front steps.

Now with the stucco and drywall complete, Victoria returned to LA to monitor the progress and start planning for the front yard design. Luis had not turned in a landscape plan, and it delayed the work. She and Michaela decided not to wait and sketched out an idea of their own.

“We’ve been waiting six months for this,” Victoria said.

“We did it in two minutes,” Michaela answered.

Work wrapped up as Ari’s door arrived and an iron staircase brought in from England was installed in the entryway. Despite the delay, the landscaping finished on time.

The results

Because the team decided not to list the home right away, Victoria invited two friends to tour the home.

The front yard overflowed with leafy plants and plenty of flower beds. Walkways and patios now had outdoor tables and plenty of space for lounging. The two friends awed over the cedar hot tub and the beautiful views.

Inside, the white walls brightened the space, and the fountain and staircase immediately grabbed the two guests’ eyes. Arched doorways led from room to room, creating an easy sightline from the entryway to the kitchen.

“Everything’s a picture frame to the next room,” Victoria explained to her guests. “Each room is a piece of art, and each arch leads you into it.”

On top of the $1 million purchase price, the team invested $550,000 in the renovation and planned to list it for $2.6 million, though Michaela and Luis decided to rent it out for the time being. Victoria revealed she invested $47,000 of her own money in the project and made 25% profit, though it is unclear how she did it.

When asked what she would take away from the experience, Victoria gushed about the new experience, business relationships and “just a new perspective.”

“Our homes are precious to us,” one of Victoria’s friends explains. “This is a house I would like to be in, and I think Alison and Michaela have nailed it 100%.”

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