‘Windy City Rehab’ Returns With Its Riskiest Renovation Yet

With home renovation shows happening in towns and cities across the U.S., it was only a matter of time before Chicago got its own. “Windy City Rehab” has just returned for Season 2.

This may come as a surprise to some followers, since the HGTV show’s stars—designer Alison Victoria and contractor Donovan Eckhardt—are mired in legal trouble. Two couples who’d bought their homes in Season 1 have filed lawsuits claiming shoddy construction and demanding their money back. (The court cases are currently unresolved.)

Meanwhile, Victoria claims to have unearthed some shady budgeting moves by Eckhardt, which may explain why he barely makes an appearance in the Season 2 premiere, “Spend More to Make More.” On this episode, Victoria now seems to be muddling through her renovation solo—and with a budget that’s already been blown.

Victoria and Eckhardt had originally purchased the house for $678,000, but then knocked down the existing structure in favor of a new build. The expenses quickly mounted, and by now, Victoria is scrambling to just break even on this house.

Her solution? In a desperate Hail Mary, she decides to blow even more money, adding high-end features and amenities with the hopes that spending a little more money during the renovation will help her get $2 million on the house, rather than the $1.7 million she’d hoped for originally.

Read on to find out what changes she makes to get a higher sale price, and learn which home upgrades will give you the most bang for your buck.

A waterfall counter gives the kitchen a luxe look

This waterfall edge gives the kitchen a sleek, dramatic look.


Victoria knows that buyers will pay extra for a fabulous kitchen, so she makes sure to give the kitchen in this house all the upscale bells and whistles.

From the custom vent hood to the beautiful backsplash, this space is lovely. But there’s one feature that really makes it stand out: the dramatic waterfall edge on the island.

To enhance this feature, Victoria chooses a marble countertop with elegant veining. The countertop is beautiful and works perfectly with the waterfall edge.

“Continuing an island this size, flowing down those edges, and seeing the veining, that is when you go, ‘I can see why this is a $2 million home,’” she says.

Use the budget in the bathroom

This bathroom has all the high-end features.


Victoria may have upgraded the kitchen, but she knows that if the master bathroom isn’t impressive, she is not going to get top dollar for the house.

“You’ve got to put the money in where it matters,” Victoria says, “and the master bathroom and en suite is exactly where people want to see money spent.”

So she adds all the luxurious upgrades a buyer could want, including a soaking tub with heated bubbles and a rainfall showerhead.

While these fancy features would probably be an unnecessary cost in a normal flip, this isn’t a typical house. In such a grand home, these added luxuries will increase the home’s value beyond the cost of these upgrades.

Upgrade with a wine room

wine room
A wine room will add a lot of value for the right buyer.


Victoria knows that in order to go from a $1.7 million price to $2 million, she has to add some fabulous amenities. Cue the wine room!

The house has five bedrooms, and Victoria knows that potential buyers might not need them all. So she decides to turn one room, located in the basement, into a wine room with bottle storage and a bar area. She points out that it’s easy to turn this space back into a bedroom, or use it as an office, if needed.

“Ultimately I feel like this is a huge added value for a house this size,” Victoria says.

A coffee bar brings extra value

coffee bar
Who wouldn’t love a coffee bar in the kitchen?


Another amenity Victoria decides to add is a coffee bar. She knows that it will add value to the home without requiring a lot of money to do.

Victoria pulls the doors off of one cabinet and adds a built-in coffee maker. For design, she installs two old corbels to either side of the opening.

“I feel like they add that architectural detail,” she says of the corbels.

In the end, Victoria is thrilled with the feature. It looks great and will certainly be attractive to the right buyer.

Custom features will increase a home’s value

Alison Victoria’s custom built-in looks modern yet classic.


In order to get the higher price she’s hoping for, Victoria knows that she needs to add some unique features to help the home stand out. So she goes shopping for antique finishes that will give the home charm.

“Those specialty pieces are where your biggest bang for your buck is,” Victoria says.

One piece Victoria chooses is a 200-year-old cabinet that she knows will be perfect in one particular niche in her home’s living room. The cabinet fits the space perfectly, but the color is a little off. To match the home, she paints the piece black.

Victoria admits it’s a shame painting such an old piece, but with the changed color, the cabinet looks much better in the space. The dark color gives it a modern look, while still adding some history to the room. It’s a special piece that makes the room unique and, hopefully, more attractive to buyers.

How does this ‘Windy City Rehab’ turn out?

After purchasing the property for $678,000, Victoria spends an additional $1,387,945 on a new build. This brings her total expenses up to $2,065,945. In other words, Victoria is really in the red, and will need to fetch a sky-high price at sale.

In the end, she sells this place at a loss, for $1,975,000. Is this an omen of even bigger money troubles to come? Tune in next week to find out.

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