Brenna Brooks and her dad, Barlow Brooks, always talked about flipping houses together. They’d drive around Louisville, Ky., pointing out eyesore after eyesore to each other and watch home improvement shows on the weekends. And then one day, they finally just … did it.
That first renovation was a lesson in sweat equity. Brenna was a graduate student in business school at the University of Louisville—in addition a project manager at a digital marketing agency. Barlow, who has a background in engineering and mechanics, was keeping busy with consulting projects. “My dad is supposed to be retired, but he’s one of those people who will never sit around and play golf,” Brenna says.
They squeezed the project in on nights and weekends and did all of the work themselves. It took them a year to finish, but once they were done, they sold it for a profit. “In a lot of ways, we got paid to learn,” Brenna says.
The No. 1 thing they learned: They can’t do it alone. Now when they take on a project, they hire help. They’ve also clearly defined their own roles. Brenna handles design, while Brooks—whom Brenna calls a cross between Yoda and MacGyver—is the logistics guy. He handles the workflow and budget and gets hands-on when necessary.
Now the dynamic father-daughter duo—officially, Brenlow Properties—is fresh off its eighth house, which is also the third the company has done on Louisville’s Daleview Lane. The ranch home had been in the same family for 50 years and hadn’t been updated in 30. And nowhere did the home’s age show better than in the bathroom.
“The footprint was great, so we didn’t want to change the layout at all,” Brenna says. “It has the double vanity, the tub/shower combo—important for a bathroom kids might share—but it was so outdated.” The light-pink cabinetry and tile were just the beginning: The floral wallpaper, gauzy shower drapery and ruffled toilet skirt (!) were just … gross. So Brenna and Barlow jackhammered the whole thing and started fresh.
They knew from past flips to begin with the tile. “We start with non-negotiables, the big things that are harder to change, and tile is a big part of the budget—both buying it and the labor to install it,” Brenna says. She selected a breezy gray ceramic for the floors and an oversize subway tile (about 4 inches by 10) for the bath/shower stall.
All that ethereal tile—not to mention the window’s ever-streaming sunlight—inspired Brenna to keep the space light and airy. Gray paint with a green-blue tint went onto the walls, and a white shaker vanity slid into the spot where its pink predecessor had lived. The last item Brenna chose was the contrasting dark gray granite countertop—a favorite from a previous flip. She topped the bathroom off with stainless steel accents: sleek cabinet pulls, light sconces, a Delta Olmsted faucet and framed mirrors. In the end, nothing but the bathroom’s layout resembles the old ’80s nightmare.
But the best part of this flip? Brenna and Barlow sold it at its open house.
“We work well together—better than most relatives! The older I get, the more I learn from him,” Brenna says. “The only hard part is, my mom and sister get annoyed because whenever we’re around each other, we start talking about houses!”
“After” image by: RealTourCast | Tim Furlong Jr. | realtourcast.com