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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Treasure Hunting

A Spokane Renovation Reality

         After sitting on the market for more than a year, the little vintage 1937 Cape Cod at the edge of the park didn’t suffer from a lack of attention.

     A lot of people looked at it. They noticed the prime location across the street from the upper end of Manito Park. They took note of the neighborhood of well-kept homes. They looked at the pre-war charm and loads of potential.

     What they couldn’t see was the best way to open up tiny, cramped rooms. Or to bring light to a dark interior. Or to best utilize the basement for an expansion.

      Enter Josh Hissong. After a quick tour of the little house, Hissong was hooked.

     “I wasn’t sure how I would do it, exactly,” Hissong says. “But I knew the house had a lot of potential.”

     After the seller accepted his offer - he closed on the property on Halloween - he sent an email to HGTV, the home and garden television network.

     “I went online and contacted producers,” he says. “I told them I was about to do a remodel and sent them some information asking if they were interested.”
The answer was an immediate yes. Hissong was asked to send photos.
    Producers of HGTV's sister network, DIY, called and said they would be taping Hissong’s project.

     “I thought, ‘OK, well, now you’ve got to do it,’” he says.

      While Hissong plowed into the renovation, the first time he’s done such an in-depth project, a crew from DIY Renovation Realities flew to Spokane and followed his progress.

    “It was an adventure,” Hissong says. “My friend and I did the entire first-floor demo by hand. No power tools.” When he brought out the power saw, the first thing he did was cut through a live power line.

     “The producer said, ‘Maybe you should go back to using a hammer,’” Hisson says with a laugh.

     There were a few other mishaps and learning opportunities. At one point in the renovation the power was out and they needed to light a fire in the fireplace. 

     “We used the only drawings I had made,” Hissong says. “From then on it was out of my head.”

     The result is stunning. The former dated, dingy and dark interior is now sleek and looks more like a downtown loft than a cottage. Hissong opened up the entire first floor, adding a powder room and frosted glass door to the garage. The kitchen, now a contemporary and user-friendly room, features stainless steel appliances, stone-tile accent walls and custom cabinetry. French doors lead to the new deck and landscaped back yard. Modern light fixtures both illuminate and decorate the main floor.

     “I found them on for $108.00 per fixture with free shipping,” he says, estimating he saved hundreds on each fixture by ordering online.

     Upstairs, the two bedrooms and small bonus room were updated and new carpet installed. The bathroom, once a simple washroom tucked under the eaves is now a glossy stone-tiled space. In the basement, Hissong installed another large bathroom and two more bedrooms. The original  1,800 square foot interior is now almost 2,700 feet of elegant, urban living space

     “I have replaced pretty much every finish in the entire home,” Hissong says. “I spent every lunch break and free moment I could, researching pricing on finishes.”

     The renovation and restoration work paid off. Dark wood, modern tile and smooth stone update the rooms. Neutral walls lend a serene atmosphere.

     After all was said and done, Hissong managed to finish the project on time and within the budget. No small feat. He credits good help from friends like Brian Brumfield, and and his background as the area’s leading restaurant designer.

     “A good contractor helps,” Hissong says.  “But hiring a real designer that has money saving ideas and can control your labor, help with the design and finish choices will go further than anything else.”

      “The long and short of it is I learned, again, that you have to take control of a remodel,” he says. “Or it will take control of you and your pocket book.”  

       Hissong has put the finished home up for sale, but admits it will be hard to let go of all his hard work.

     When Hissong gathers with friends on Saturday night to watch the first airing of his project on DIY Television’s Renovation Realities, he’s looking forward to celebrating a job well done and lessons learned.

    “What drew me to the house was the fact that it sat so long and that there were over 120 realtor cards in one of the drawers in the kitchen,” he says.“People loved the location and the style of the home, they just did not have the vision to transform it.”

     Hissong had the vision. And, now, so do television viewers across the country.

(Click Continue Reading to see more photos of Josh Hissong's renovation)

Stonework: Mario and Sons Fine Stone
Cabinetry: Davis Custom Woodworking
Electrical: Charged Electrical
Construction: Wells Construction
Renovation Realities can be seen on DIY Television. Find air dates here. Check local listings for times.
Appliances were purchased at Fred’s Appliance

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. She can be reached at

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."