5 Tips Your Realtor May Be Afraid to Mention

March 25, 2013 § 4 Comments

I’ll be blunt. The first thing a prospective buyer will notice upon entering your home is … (drumroll please)… the smell. If any peculiar odor is detected, it can kill a deal in the first minute. Or at least knock thousands off the price. So if you have carpets and plan to keep them and if you have pets, here’s my Number 1 tsaleip:

Hire a professional carpet and floor cleaner. It will make a huge difference. Not only will it rid your house of much of the odor, it will make one of the biggest selling features (your floors) look ready for buyers. Some other important tips:

Don’t burn fragrant candles or use air fresheners. A dead giveaway that you’re trying to mask some mysterious odors in the house. The best way to combat the smell is to clean from top to bottom and inside out, freshen the rooms with paint, and remove old carpets if possible.

Dehumidify your basement. Unless you have a completely dry basement with windows and doors that walk out into the yard, your basement will smell musty. Even if you’re not featuring a Man Cave, the basement needs to show itself to best advantage. Make sure it smells neutral.

Find a pet sitter for your animals. Whether it’s a litter box or a giant dog crate, the animal equipment detracts from the selling features of the house. And some people are actually allergic to cats. (Pet owners will not like this tip — but I’m just telling it like it is.) Move the animals to a friend’s house while you’re on the market — or at least for the Open House and the week following it.

Get rid of the dirty old furniture. This is a tough one for realtors as homeowners can take offense. But listen. Would you buy a house with a living room full of ragged recliners and tray tables? No. Remove the old furniture and let a home stager set up your living room to attract the most number of buyers. Your house will sell quicker if you stage it properly.

Tough love means a quick sale. You heard it here.

Furniture Arrangement Challenges May Call for Different Furniture

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

When it comes to furniture placement, some rooms just will not cooperate. With bay windows, bow windows, niches, dormers, and other odd architectural challenges, where on earth do you put your sofa? One solution is to forget the sofa altogether and replace it with a circular arrangement of very comfortable chairs, either all matching for a formal look or all mismatched for a casual eclectic look.

Either way, the arrangement gives you an instant, inviting seating area where you can sit down with others and have a cup of coffee or read the paper. In this photo, the designers put a round coffee table for holding popcorn, drinks, books, and just about anything else. But as you know, I’m a big fan of the big overstuffed ottoman– what I consider to be the perfect piece of versatile furniture– so that would be my choice for the center.

If you simply cannot figure out where to place your living room sofa, consider moving it to the family room or wherever the TV is. Replace the sofa/loveseat/chair concept with four comfy upholstered chairs. You’ll love the change.

What’s All the Buzz about Undertones?

December 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

Determining a beige color undertone (defined by color expert Maria Killam as “a colour applied under or seen through another colour”) can be tricky. Beige can have one of several undertones: pink, yellow, or green are the basics. If you have dining room furniture with a decidedly yellow/orange hue and walls with a pink undertone like Benjamin Moore’s Georgetown Pink Beige HC-56, then yikes, you have a problem. Off to the paint store.

Bottom Line: Mixing pink-beige with yellow-beige (or yellow/orange) is a big no-no. Fix: Choose a paint with a different (non-pink) undertone like Benjamin Moore’s Monroe Bisque HC-26 that has a yellow undertone and looks great with the golden oak.

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goldenoakMonroeBisque

If you avoid the mistake of mixing pink and yellow undertones, you’re on your way to understanding them. The other nuances of what undertones to mix and not to mix will come much easier. Note: Mixing pink and yellow vibrant hues is perfectly okay. It’s just the dreaded undertones that can trip you up. Beware.

Brick House Trim Colors

December 26, 2012 § 338 Comments

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Creamy white trim with black shutters (and door) give brick houses like these on historic Nantucket Island in Massachusetts a classic traditional look that is timeless.  But for a more contemporary look, use the brick itself for your trim color inspiration. Choose a color that you see in the brick or the grout– tan or taupe or another earthen color. If you select a color from the brick, it will blend with the brick and provide less contrast than the white. The overall effect will be soothing and contemporary but it will call less attention to the architectural details. The Boston building below is hardly contemporary, but the color scheme is taken from the brick and grout and is one example of using coordinating trim colors instead of contrasting trim.

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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.

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http://www.lampsplus.com/products/crystorama-luxo-collection-antique-brass-30-inch-wide-chandelier__p9693.html

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 Paint Colors for House Trim and Doors

November 29, 2012 § 448 Comments

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The front door is the focal point of your house and it can make a big splash. (Even though Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly changed his 10 Downing Street door color from conservative black to Labour Party red as seen in this photo from the Daily Mail, evidently it was all an April Fool’s joke — see the full story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8677004.stm)

Doubtful that changing your own front door color will create as much of a stir in the neighborhood, but you’ll want to give it considerable thought anyway.

But first, what about the trim color?

House trim color: If you have a small house and you want it to look bigger, consider painting the edge trim the same color as the house or just a shade lighter. This will blend the corners of the house in with the body and draw your eye to color — hopefully, the front door. If you want to show off the trim in a more contemporary way, consider painting the edge trim two shades darker than the house color. To accent your trim in a traditional way, choose contrast by using either white or cream. If you have a stone house, the grout color is a great trim color.

The message here is to avoid too many different hues (different colors) when painting the house, trim, doors and shutters. Unless you have an architectural masterpiece, I would avoid choosing trim colors that are unrelated to the house color (for example, painting a gray house with navy blue trim, red shutters and red garage doors). Not only will you draw attention to all the different colors themselves and away from the front door (regardless of what color IT is), but you will have visual chaos!

Exception: If you have an old Victorian home, you may want to accent all the different architectural elements with paint in many different colors.

Trim around windows: To keep the windows looking as large as possible, paint the trim around the windows the same as the window frames, either white or cream or whatever color the window frames are. Matching the trim to the actual windows will make them look bigger than if you break up the color by painting a dark trim around a white window or a white trim around a dark window.

Garage door color: Unless you want to broadcast to your neighbors that you have a three-car garage, you probably don’t want to highlight your garage doors. Standard garage doors should usually be painted either the color of the house or a couple of shades darker to “anchor” them. Plus, by painting the garage doors the house color or a little darker, your house will look bigger and less chopped up. The focus is reserved for the front door. Note: yes, metal garage doors can be painted even if they’re white when installed. Just clean the doors very well and use a good primer.

Exceptions: Garage doors associated with brick homes are often painted either the trim color, the grout color, or the shutter color — black or dark green, for example. No need to try and match a paint color to the brick. The other exception is the new carriage-style garage doors, designed to be the focal point on the front of a home. If you have fancy garage doors, it’s okay to show them off! Even keeping them white or the trim color is okay.

Shutter color: For a traditional look, match your shutters to the roof color. If you have a dark gray or black roof, black shutters look terrific. It’s like adding a touch of black to a living room to dress it up a bit. Matching the shutters to the roof makes it look like you planned your roof color as part of the overall house palette. Dark brown shutters with a brown roof color give a similar, traditional look as black shutters with a gray/black roof. And brown is supposedly the new black. But for a classic home, black will never go out of style.

If you have lots of really small windows or don’t want dark shutters, consider choosing a color that blends with the house color. Here’s one strategy: choose your house color in the medium range. Then go lighter for the trim and a shade or two darker for the shutters (or remove the shutters altogether). And choose a completely different hue for the front door. This contemporary look focuses attention on the front door. There are no distracting colors anywhere else on the house.

Front door color: It’s time to create your focal point, the front door. This is the area you want guests to find when they pull in the driveway. Color is the way to do it although a shiny black door with a brass kickplate, brass door handle, and big colorful wreath is a classic. If you don’t want black, consider a rich dark red in a semi-gloss finish. Dark red (not cherry) seems to work with almost all house colors.

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Light green house. Traditional: Dark purple door (especially nice if you have lilacs and other purple flowers in your landscape) and white door trim. For a modern look: Rusty red.
  • Dark green house. Traditional: Rusty red door or natural wood and cream door trim. Modern: Turquoise.
  • Light blue house. Traditional: Dark red door or navy blue door with white door trim. Modern: Dark olive green.
  • Dark blue house. Traditional: Maroon door (play up the nautical look) with cream door trim. Modern: Lime green.
  • Red house (or brick). Traditional: Black door with brass accents  (classic) and white door trim. Modern: Grass green.
  • Brick house. Traditional: Mahogany door with light grout color door trim. Modern: Dark purple.
  • Pink house. In the North, a charcoal or black door. In the South, anything punchy. White door trim.
  • Gray house. Traditional: Navy blue or red door with white door trim. Modern: Bright lemon yellow.
  • Brown or tan house. Traditional: Dark green door with white door trim. Modern: Robin’s Egg Blue.
  • Yellow house. Black door, black shutters, white door trim (a classic look). Modern: Dark red.
  • White house. Traditional: Black, red or other dark rich color. Modern (or in warmer climates): Any bright, cheerful color that works with your landscape plantings. White trim everywhere.

One woman I read about paints her front door for every season. It might be cranberry red during the winter, purple in the spring, raspberry during the summer, and rust during the fall. Every year it’s different.

Don’t forget the roof: Consider the roof color when you’re making your house color choices and if you’re getting a new roof, choose something that coordinates with your house color. There are many choices in roof colors these days particularly in the brown family– many more choices than just slate gray or black. Don’t pass up the opportunity to finish the job with a well-coordinated roof.

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!

Do You Love Citrus? Adding happy color to your home

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just wrote a piece for Joelle Spear’s “Life in Metrowest”  blog about how to add warm, bright colors to your home. Thought you might like to check it out.

http://homesmetrowestma.com/2011/bring-warm-colors-home-written-by-guest-blogger-barbara-meglis

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.

 

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