Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to Be a Top Chef on a Budget

One of the best renovations to make to your home for return on investment is updating your kitchen.

If you watch HGTV even people who don't cook like to have stylish kitchens to house their microwaves! After all who doesn't harbor some deep desire to be an accomplished cook? Again with all the media exposure on cooking these days, from Top Chef to Kitchen Nightmares, cooking has become cool again. May Julia rest in peace.

So what is the right amount to spend on a kitchen renovation? Never assume that you will get a dollar for dollar return on your remodeling investment when you go to sell your home.

The right amount is what your budget can comfortably handle and what your neighborhood supports. Don't put a $50K kitchen into a $200,000 home unless the homes in your neighborhood support prices up to $300K or more. Don't make a huge investment in a kitchen remodel while leaving the rest of the house "as is". The kitchen remodel should fit the rest of the home. In style, in finishes and in scale.

Style means let the architecture of your home dictate the predominant style of the kitchen. If you have a traditional Cape Cod home in New England don't put a very modern contemporary kitchen in. By all means update but leave enough traditional elements so that future Buyers feel they are getting the best of the old and new. You can still have the WOW factor without leaving Buyers with the feeling they've lost the character they expect to find in an older home.

Finishes in a kitchen can range from Formica to granite, from laminate to custom cabinets or vinyl to real wood flooring. It's important to match finishes. Don't put granite countertops in a kitchen with vinyl floors and laminate cabinets or you will confuse Buyers. Your biggest dollar expense is likely to be your cabinets and this is where you should start when planning your kitchen remodel. Pick the best cabinets you can afford but time your purchase to take advantage of any sales, promotions or offers.

Scale refers to size and proportion. There are a wide variety of cabinet styles available and you don't necessarily have to stick with the standard upper and lower cabinet configuration. If you have a very small kitchen or low ceilings you may opt for base or lower cabinets with shelves above instead of upper wall cabinets. If you have very high ceilings you may choose a taller wall cabinet to keep the scale of the kitchen in proportion to the height of the room. Dark cabinets whether wood or painted tend to feel larger and take up more visual space than light cabinets.

For example, I'm currently designing a kitchen remodel in a home with a galley kitchen space and low ceilings. I've chosen white cabinets, with a light granite or stone countertop to brighten and make it feel larger and darker floors to "ground" the space. I'll update with photos as the remodel progresses!

Your local big box home remodel store can be very helpful when planning your kitchen. I personally like the orange aprons! Head to the kitchen and bath department and find a kitchen planner to help you lay out your design with cabinets and appliances in place. Just be sure to keep an eye on the budget!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Buyers make better Sellers

Once you've decided to sell your home, the best first step you can take is to be a buyer. That's right. Go out and start looking at homes for sale BEFORE you list your home.

Tell your real estate agent you'd like to start looking at homes in your own neighborhood and price range. While you're walking through each home ask yourself:

• Is the home updated or dated?

• Does the house have great flow? Easy to entertain in?

• What about color. Do the paint colors appeal to you?

• Can you see yourself living in the home as it is?

• What was your first impression as you drove up to the home?

• Does the storage space feel adequate for your needs?

• Can you see how your furniture would work in each room?

• Is the purpose of each room clear?

• Is it nice and clean. Does it smell inviting?

After you've toured a few homes, how does it feel walking now into your own?

Because once your home is on the market, every buyer who walks through it is going to be asking themselves the same questions? How does your home pass the

Does the front entry say welcome?
Is there plenty of room to have a dining room table and seat the family for the holidays?
Do you have closet space to spare?

Moving out of your home emotionally, connecting with how a buyer thinks, is the best first step you can take towards getting your home sold quickly and for top dollar.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Great New Paint Products for Renovating

I love paint. It's one of the least expensive ways to change the look of any room. A can of paint goes a long way to creating a mood and a new paint job always gives a home a fresh new perspective.

So you can imagine how excited I was to read about Rustoleum's new products!
These are especially useful to give your kitchen a face lift and kitchens are so important to the resale value of your home. If you want to make some quick and easy changes before putting your home up for sale, these are worth a try.

Stainless Steel
The timeless and modern look and feel of stainless steel is now available in a single application! Specialty Stainless Steel paint contains real stainless steel pigments to create a rich, metallic finish. Great for refinishing the exterior of appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and other household items such as tabletops, picture frames, accessories and more!
• Easy roll on application gives a smooth washable surface and resists fingerprints

Countertop Paint
Tired of looking at that old Countertop? With Rust-Oleum Countertop coating, you can renew laminate countertops, cabinets and furniture. In addition, it contains HomeShield(TM) Antimicrobial Protection which will protect the painted surface by inhibiting the growth of mold and mildew and other odor or stain causing microbes.
• No primer needed for laminate surfaces!

Can't wait to try these new products!

Don't Try This at Home

Have you ever tried to stage your own home? I did.

As an experiment I tried to stage my own home. The goal was to remove the design personality I've created over the past several years and try to view it as a potential clients' home. Open up the space, remove unnecessary furniture and clutter. Right? Rearrange the remaining furniture to make a better seating arrangement.

Do you know what I discovered? It's not easy. In fact it's almost impossible to look at your own possessions objectively and decide which can stay and which can go. Oh you can remove the personal photos and make that fireplace mantel a work of art, but at the end of the day, it's hard to know where your style ends and the staging begins. Once you've lived with your stuff for a while it takes on a mystical quality. It's part of how you see yourself and how others see you.

The trick to successfully staging an occupied home for sale is to be able to view it with a buyer's eyes. Buyers look at your stuff and see your personality and your lifestyle. It's hard for them to see your home as theirs when all they see is you.

The look you want to acheive is a clean palette - one where anyone who walks through the door can viusally paint themselves into the picture!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Top 10 Tips to Love it or Let It Go

Get Ready to Sell Your Home by Letting Go!

So you have decided to put your house up for sale. Maybe you're moving for a new job, you're getting divorced and the house is only big enough for one, you're pregnant and you just realized you've run out of bedrooms or you're empty nesters, ready to down size or up size. So what is the first thing you should do?

#1. Before you call the real estate agent, look around. Take inventory of your stuff and think about whether or not it still works for you. Are you holding onto it because you always have? Do you need the thing to remind you of the memories it holds?

photo frameYou'll always have your memories. Let go of all except your most adored photos and momentos. If it makes you smile and feel good, keep it. Put it out where you can see it every day. If it doesn't make you happy, toss, sell or donate.

#2 Do you save things in case you might need them someday?

If you dig it out and you forgot you even had it stored away, toss, sell or donate.

#3 Do you keep things packed in boxes and move them from house to house, never unpacking them?

Those boxes are sucking the energy out of you. Open the boxes and consider the fact you haven't used or needed the stuff in the boxes or it wouldn't still be in the boxes.
Toss, sell or donate. Then throw away the box!

#4 What about your collections? Yes it's fun to hunt for those new additions, but couldn't you instead make your life about the passion driving your collecting?
toy car
Take a hard look at your collections, discover what inspired you to start collecting and then let your collection go. Got a train set? Donate to a children's group. Barbies? Sell on ebay. Let it go and find another way to be a kid again instead.

#5 Are your closets stuffed with clothes you don't wear... or even like?

Let go of the guilt for buying them, not fitting into them, or for not having the lifestyle you bought them for. Sell, donate or toss.

#6 Do you have project stuff stashed away in closets? Sweaters you're going to knit, jewelry you're going to bead, lumber destined to be shelves one day?yarn

It's great to have projects. Just know which ones you are really committed to. If your time is better spent buying that sweater or you just can't seem to get around to learning how to knit, let the yarn go. And the needles.

#7 Is it hard to find wall space in your home? Has the furniture gradually multiplied until you have to squeeze past it in some rooms?

Unless you love it or it has real function, let it go. If you aren't using it regularly, or if its main function is attracting dust, sell it, toss it or donate it. Let someone else find your new treasure on craigslist or ebay or at Goodwill.

#8 If you are thinking of getting your home staged before you put it on the market - great decision!

You know other people are going to be coming through your home, looking at your stuff and you've already decided to move, so start packing it! Before you put it in a box though, ask yourself if you love it. If yes, in it goes, if no, you know the drill.

#9 One of the best places to practice your new discipline of letting go is the outside of your home. First impressions are SO important.
Clean up those flower pots, toss the old plastic ones and toss the dead plants along with them. Worn out hoses and lawn decor. Toss. Outdoor furniture that's broken or sad looking. Toss. The plastic gnome may have been cute at the time you bought it but now it just looks sad. Toss or donate.

#10 The most important love it or leave it tip? It's about You.

Love yourself and lovingly release your home as you are leaving it for a new one. Be willing to let go of it so you can move easily into your new life. Get excited about what is coming and know that everything will work out for the best. It's okay to move forward!

craigslist the classified ad site with local listings in almost every major metro area. Good place to put furniture or multiple items

ebay if you have an account you already know how this works but there are multiple companies that will sell on ebay for you or ask a friend and give them a cut - use for items of value that are easily searchable by keyword "Barbie 1967 Blonde" for example.

Consignment Stores - google Furniture or Clothing consignment in your metro area and find a local consignment store that will take your furniture or clothing on consignment. Most consignment stores keep 50 - 60% of the proceeds of the sale and many clothing stores will continue to mark your clothing down if it doesn't sell so you may not net as much as you think it's worth. If it's true designer or still has tags on it, try selling it on ebay. Especially good for vintage clothing or footwear.
Most clothing consignment stores only accept clean, brand or designer name pieces. Ask and check around for the best deal. Also good for childrens clothing.

Most local trash pickup has a large pickup day. Go to your town or city web site to find out what day and make your pile! Good for large items such as appliances and furniture you no longer want. Plus there is always the chance someone will drive by and "recycle" it for you right into their vehicle.

From the web site . 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is a full-service junk removal company. "We'll remove almost anything – from old furniture and appliances to garden waste and renovation debris. Plus, we do all the loading and cleanup, wherever the items are – you don't even need to get it to the curb!"

Donate clothing, furniture and household items, including books. Some areas will pick up. Items should be good quality, clean and useable.

Goodwill does not operate a home pick-up service for donations.

Salvation Army
Will pick up furniture

There are many other charitable organizations, these are just a few. Don't forget about that nice tax write off at the end of the year for your charitable donation (if you itemize).

I can't think of a more important step to take, before you put your house on the market. Every square inch counts to your buyers and they want to see the square footage of your home and all the living space it has to offer!

So before you move and stage your home for sale, take a look around. Do you love it? Does it work in the life you have now? Do you find it beautiful?

If not, let it go.