Light Up Your Front Door

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Why wait for the holidays to light up your front door? You spent enough time choosing the color — show it off all year with a boost in your exterior lighting.

Choose properly spaced recessed fixtures that will wash light down on the door color and other parts of the porch as in this photo (lighting by IlluminationImages, Inc.). Or add a large pendant over the door and sconces on either side. Make sure the lighting fixtures are big enough that they don’t look skimpy from the street. Bigger is usually better when it comes to lighting.

While you’re choosing your new light fixtures, take advantage of all the different metal color options you have now. Don’t settle for wrought iron if another color would update your house and make it look fabulous.

So when the holidays are over and you take down the hanging twinkle lights and box up the spot light from the front door, take a close look at what lighting is left. Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

Let there be light!

Getting Down to Brass Tacks about Brass

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

What a difference a decade makes. What used to be the lighting Imagefixture of choice in upscale homes is now (still, even after several years out of favor) being tossed in a dumpster by young home owners who view the shiny yellow metal as the equivalent of how we viewed our grandmother’s dark brown paneling. Of no value.

Instead there are dozens of metal choices and finishes for lighting and other home accessories like light switch covers and doorknobs. So anti-shiny-brass are today’s home buyers that some are just shy of insisting that even all shiny brass door hinges be switched out to something else.

Note: these design trends may be regional and they don’t apply to historic homes so don’t panic if you love your brass chandelier and it fits your home’s decor perfectly. But If you are not happy with your shiny traditional yellow brass chandelier in your dining room or kitchen, you have three options:

1) Thumb your nose at metal color trends and simply wait for shiny yellow brass to come back in style. Kind of like you kept your go-go boots and bell bottoms from junior high. Yes, both trends came back around but not quite the way they looked in the late 60s. But still,  doing nothing is always a design option.

2) Paint the shiny brass chandelier a different color. I once stood on a ladder, leaned over the dining table and painted my client’s brass chandelier first with a base coat of matte black to cover all the sheen and then a faux finish of browns and oranges to simulate a rustic bronze finish. It worked. The house sold.

3) Replace the old chandelier with a more current brass option like this one. The metal is toned down (antiqued) and the candelabra bulbs are covered with contemporary silk drum shades — a traditional yet updated look. Honestly, the antique brass has been around forever, and it went through a period of disfavor right around the time the shiny metal took over. But the muted finish, with updated shades, is back and looking good.


Neutral but Never Boring

December 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Does your home scream 1972 when you enter the front door? Are you stuck with metallic wallpaper on the ceiling in the guest bath, orange shag carpet in the basement, or an avocado bathtub? Then maybe it’s time to update. But this time, instead of hopping on the latest hot new trend (I could name a few here, but I’ll resist), how about giving your home a classic re-do. Something that will stand the test of time, or at least a decade or two, without branding your home with a particular year. For that kind of longevity, we turn to a neutral palette, but neutral does not have to mean beige and it’s hardly ever boring.

-The key to a neutral palette is texture. You could have an all-white living room but if that white includes fuzzy white pillows, a shiny white marble table top, and some warm white chenille upholstery, then the room will have plenty of interest.

-Neutral does not have to mean just one color either. In this room, the walls are a latte color, the sofa is dark brown leather, and there is plenty of color in the books and objects on the white bookshelves. What makes this room work so well is that the stonework on the fireplace is a feature and because the other furnishings do not stomp all over the subtle colors in the stones, the room’s palette includes peaches and golds and grays and tans and taupes — more than enough colors.

-Neutral allows you to bring in color in the art, pillows, and other more temporary furnishings and accessories without clashing with a strong wall color and a brightly colored sofa.

-Neutral allows you to change your accessories with the seasons and the holidays without overpowering the existing color palette or the holiday decorations.

-And when you’re selling your house, neutral allows potential buyers to see themselves in your home and that is critical for a successful sale.

So as you choose tile and furnishings and paint for your newly updated space, consider neutral because neutral does not have to be boring.

Choosing House Colors: Gray-Blue?

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

You do not have to look very far in nature to find a palette of coordinating colors from which to pluck your house paint chips. This time we’re looking at a glassy pond reflecting the blue of the sky. This blue, however, is not a primary saturated hue but rather a complex shade that has grays and greens in it as well.

So going to the paint store, you’ll want to move toward the muddy gray part of the fan deck and find your blue there. Stay away from the clear Crayola blues or you will end up with a house color that may in fact glow in the dark.

Look carefully at the colors around the pond and you will find your accent colors. Autumn red for the door, dark woody brown for the front step treads, crisp cloud white for the trim, and pops of golden yellow for your flower pots.

With nature as your color palette, you cannot make a mistake.

Selling Your House? Restore Rooms to their Original Function

November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Is your living room a Man Cave? Many of us have reconfigured our rooms at home to reflect our lifestyles: dining rooms may be home offices; family rooms may have movie theater seating and 60″ televisions; and master bedrooms may have more exercise equipment than your local health club. All that is fine and probably a good use of space… until you decide to put your house on the market.

When called upon to stage this home, we couldn’t help notice the elephant in the room. The pool table and its well appointed overhead lighting had to go. We needed to return the living room to its original function with a conversation area that would welcome prospective buyers coming in the front door. (Note: some of you might love a pool table in your living room, but majority rules when it comes to staging!)

With the pool table gone and the rug rolled up to expose the beautiful hardwood floor, we moved the sofa from the other side of the room and brought in two slipper chairs, a cozy rug, and some accessories. The result? A more conventional living room and an easier sale. 

If you plan to put your house on the market, start your prep by returning rooms to their original function. Move excess furniture and equipment to storage. You will get a quicker sale!

Choosing a House Paint Color: Look at your roof first

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The dark blue and white color scheme on this house (below right) created a contrast that brought out the less-than-attractive features: the stained roof (not being replaced), the dirty garage doors, and the foundation latticework originally designed to camouflage, not stand out.

With the roof in mind, we chose a color that would blend instead of highlight. Although the homeowners would have preferred any number of brighter, lighter colors, the green-gray of Benjamin Moore’s Duxbury Gray HC-163 accomplished the task of incorporating the roof and the other features into a unified whole. We kept the slightly off-white trim the same as well as the shutters. But the finished look is very different. The house now appears bigger and cleaner. And the white trim highlights the windows, doors, and porch. And that’s it. The homeowners can now add colorful landscaping, pots of flowers, and other seasonal decorations.

What I tell homeowners is when you are selecting a color for your house, you really have to determine what the house wants to be. It sounds strange, but you need to look at the entire house: the roof color, the foundation color, the garden, the stonework, and yes, even the neighbors’ homes. If you simply paint the house your favorite color, you will end up with a complete disaster and an expensive mistake to fix.

Grabbing Attention at the Front Door: How to Pick a Door Color

July 25, 2011 § 12 Comments

Red, yellow, and blue are primary colors that attract attention. Used alone or in combination, they will definitely grab your eye. So it’s no great surprise that this house with its pale yellow siding, royal blue door, and red foundation plantings made me slam on the brakes for a quick photo.

The first color you notice is the royal blue. That shade is what many would consider to be the definition of “blue” and with the white trim around the door, it pops. And that is precisely what a front door should do. There should be no mistaking the front door for the service entrance (I just love saying that… you know what I mean … usually the door into the garage).

The front door does not have to be a primary color, for sure, but it should stand out significantly enough from the rest of the house to be a welcoming entrance, and there should be a clearly defined path leading up to it. Front doors that, despite their color, are obscured from view behind a large bush just do not function well. I’ve been to some houses that were so confusing that I ended up walking around the house into the back yard looking for the way in… (this happens primarily when there is no sidewalk or stone pathway to follow — the subject of another post). 

If you have two doors on the front of your house, be sure to let people know which door is preferable. Plantings, lights, and a visible doorbell or knocker will guide your guests to the preferred entrance and prevent your greeting partygoers in the mudroom. I suggest painting your main entry door the accent color and the other “service” doors the siding color. Then your guests will not be forced to choose between red doors, numbers 1, 2, or 3.

These are little points in the grand scheme of curb appeal, but I just thought I’d mention them anyway.


Staging: Before & After Photos

July 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Staging (in the mid-range of home prices — not the very high end) is often referred to as “undecorating.” We take great pains to remove all the homeowner’s treasured collections, family photos, and personalized sense of style and substitute a more generic brand of “decor” that is most likely to appeal to a broad range of potential home buyers. Sometimes the job entails de-cluttering and a little rearranging of the furniture. Other times, we strip wallpaper, repaint, and rejuvenate a house that hasn’t seen any upgrades in… ahem… awhile.

For those of you who are curious, I just posted some Before & After photos of some recent projects to give you an idea of what happens with staging. Most of the homes pictured sold within 2 weeks of going on the market (with the help of superb real estate agents, of course, setting an appropriate price for each property, and very motivated and cooperative sellers who were willing to go the extra mile– it’s a partnership!).

Here’s the link:

Update Your Backsplash to Sell

June 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

Honey onyx mosaic tiles — love ’em! We switched out the old ceramic backsplash in a “modern” kitchen (still had Formica counters with oak trim) and updated the look of the whole room (okay, we changed the cabinet knobs too). The white melamine cabinets, Formica counter tops, and linoleum floor all stayed! It was a wonderful transformation for a minimal cost to the homeowners who were updating to sell.

We chose the onyx for its variety of warm colors (would blend the oak trim nicely), its scale (the small tiles would add interest to the plain white cabinets), and its ease of installation (mosaics require fewer cuts!). The biggest benefit? These tiles came from one of our prominent “big box” stores so the homeowners did not pay a lot for materials. A bonus when you’re preparing your home for the market!

Vacant Home Not Selling? Stage It

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Home buyers these days have no imagination! No offense intended, but let’s just say that home buyers are not in the mood for trying to figure out how a room is intended for use. If they walk into a house with no furniture anywhere, potential buyers are likely to say, “Oh, forget it!” and move on to the next property.  Since the market is flooded with perfectly nice properties that are  furnished, selling a vacant one is risky and maybe a tad foolish. Only because there’s a reasonable solution.

Stage it.

And here’s how: If you are a seller about ready to pack up and head for your new home, hold the movers at bay for one more minute. Go through the house (with your realtor or a professional stager) and tag the furniture that will stay in the property while it’s on the market. Things like a table and chairs for the dining room — under the chandelier — and maybe the breakfast nook, a couple of comfortable chairs for the living room or family room, a sofa if possible, an area rug in decent shape, some dishes and glassware for the tables, and at least one piece of “generic” art (something that will appeal to ALL buyers, not just some). The rest of the furnishings can go!

Then at least when the potential buyers open the front door, they will see an uncluttered yet welcoming arrangement of furniture in the appropriate rooms and get the idea of where their own furnishings might go. You’re on your way to selling!!

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