Clear Knick-Knacks Before Buyers Knock-Knock

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

ImageAttention Homeowners:

1) Are you planning to put your house on the market anytime soon?

2) Are you a collector?

If you answered YES to both questions, then I’m here to help.

Whether it’s a massive book collection in the living room, a rock collection in the study, or a porcelain collection in the corner curio cabinet, the very first step in preparing your home for the market is to

  • Box up your collections.

You may think your treasures are carefully tucked away on high shelves away from onlookers, but collections, plain and simple, represent clutter and add to the perceived age of the house. Collections also draw the eye of the potential buyers away from the architectural features of the house (what you want them to see) and focus the buyer’s attention on your hobbies. What they most likely will remember about your house will be the collections and not the house.

Another even more practical reason to box up your collections is so that nothing will get broken. Potential buyers and their children wander through your house unaccompanied during an Open House, and a toy car collection will stimulate lots of interest, but not the good kind.

You do not have to strip the shelves completely bare. Empty shelves do not sell houses any better than over-stuffed ones. You can keep some books and larger accessories. As a rule of thumb, shelves should be about 2/5ths full. In other words, if you have a bookshelf with 5 shelves, 3 of them should be emptied and the remainder of the items redistributed. If you empty the entire bookshelf, then remove it from the room completely.

Hope that gets you started. Happy Selling!

Front Door Personality

August 28, 2013 § 6 Comments

FrontDoorAfterAs much as I love eggplant, both as a vegetable and a paint color, it just didn’t work on my house. With the eave creating a shadow, the beautiful, rich purple color only lit up in the late afternoon when the sun hit it just right. For those few moments, the Caponata (Ben Moore AF-650) looked spectacular. Then it went back to black.FrontDoorBefore

So… inspired by some fabric I saw awhile ago with golds and light blues, I ventured into a rarely seen color combination — hey, why not, it’s just paint! The new door and bench are Yarmouth Blue (Ben Moore HC- 150) and although the neighbors have not commented yet, I love it. The house color is Richmond Gold (HC-41) and the trim is Cameo White. I may paint the trim a less-yellow hue in the spring, but for now, it’s fine.

If your front door is in the shadow of a porch or a big tree in the front yard, consider a light front door color, something even (dare I say?) pastel. You may be really pleased with how the lighter door color can change the personality of the house from stodgy traditional to young and perky. See what you think!

Painting Over Tradition But Maintaining the Soul

August 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

ImageMake no mistake. This is my mother’s kitchen. She painted it this bright yellow probably 60 years ago, and up until this past summer, it stayed that way.

With my mother’s passing and the rebirth of the cottage as a rental property, I decided to tone down the walls in the kitchen a bit. I considered sea foam greens, light ocean blues, and beach sand beiges, but I ended up with a light peachy cream-yellow (Windham Cream HC-6, Ben Moore) as it kept the cheerful sunny aura of the space but took some of the harshness away.

I brought the blue in with the window treatment, kept all the old furnishings like the metal paper towel dispenser and bottle opener, and the yellow tub that we all took baths in as kids. I think Mother would be pleased. And that’s important to me.

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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.

Do You Have Two Front Doors?

March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

2doorMany of us have more than one entrance on the front of the house, and sometimes one is rarely used. How do you indicate which door you want visitors to enter? Do you paint both doors an accent color or just one?

If you use the main front door as your guest entrance — if you’re having a party, say,  and don’t want people traipsing through the kitchen — then paint that front door an accent color (red in this case) and all other doors a color that coordinates with your siding (maybe a shade or two darker or just the trim color). If you paint both front doors red, we are not only left with two focal points but we’re confused as to which door is preferable. Painting only one red door will announce which one is open for guests. In this photo example, the homeowners painted both doors red but distinguished the front door from the porch entrance with a wreath. Not quite as clear as using color, but it works.

Now here is where it gets tricky. If you NEVER want anyone to go to the front door, then paint that door a neutral color that coordinates with the siding and paint the porch door red. It’s okay. The same applies to all the various side doors, garage doors, and shed doors. Paint them all a coordinating color but not the same as your main door. That guest entrance is special.

Just a guideline if you’re struggling with too many doors and what to paint them.

It’s the House Color, Not Your Dining Room Curtains

February 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

brownhouseSometimes the best house color is one you might skip right over in the fan deck. Like this one: most likely Ben Moore’s Livingston Gold HC-16, a dark mustard-like brown with a definite green undertone. The kind of color you don’t want to see if you’re feeling queazy.

Although you probably would not choose this color for an interior room (for the reasons mentioned above), what a great house color for this old farmhouse with attached garage in natural cedar shakes. The combo is terrific — earthy, aged, and plucked from nature’s rock and wood palette of colors.

I slammed on the brakes to take a photo.

Kitchen Cabinet Color: Move over Back Splash

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kitchen cabinet color is in. From yellow to navy to this refreshing mint, cabinets and kitchen islands are getting a paint job. And it’s not just old cabinets that are being refreshed. New kitchen designs are showing painted cabinets in colors that were once reserved for bathrooms and laundry areas. And it’s a bold move because, unlike wall color, you are unlikely to re-do cabinet paint color anytime soon. Call it confidence or general optimism (or a craving for it) but cabinet color will be here to stay for some time.

If you’re a little unsure of painting all your cabinets a particular color, try painting the back of an open cabinet or the center island first. That’s what I did. And I was hooked from that point on. (My cabinets have had two color transformations since discovering color in the kitchen.)

One suggstion for choosing a paint color for your cabinets: take a look at the colors in adjoining rooms and pick a color that will pull the public areas together. A pillow color in the adjoining family room might make a terrific cabinet color in the kitchen. You are limited only by…hmmmm… nothing really. Enjoy!

Choosing a Color Palette for Your House: It’s a Natural

January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

wall1Another drive-by sighting of some curb appeal. This time, the stone wall pops out partly because of its mix of natural stones (and not just one kind) but also because the house color is drawn from the wall’s palette of natural hues. Even the front steps coordinate nicely with the wall.

Any of the wall’s creams, beiges, browns, and grays would have worked for a paint color, but the builders chose a light creamy yellow for the siding with a beige shingle on the portico. White trim pulls the house together and the black door makes the dramatic statement.

It’s so easy to choose your house color from nature. You cannot make a mistake.

Two Rules for Choosing a Roof for your House

January 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

OCMaxDefThe roof — any roof — is a big-ticket item on the house so choosing it can be a little unsettling. There are so many colorful options available that it’s easy to get wowed by the prospect of something other than the traditional charcoal.

When choosing your roof, make sure you follow these two rules to insure a good result you can live with for, say, 40 years:

1) Get large samples of your roof options. Do not choose a roof from a photo on the computer or a little brochure. Make sure you hold the roof sample up against the side of your house to test for color coordination and to see how busy the two are when side-by-side. Stand back at the curb and take a good look. If possible, get the address of a home that has the roof already installed so you can see how the roof looks over a large area. Does it get lighter or darker? Good to know ahead of time.

2) Avoid the clash of the Maximum Definition shingles with the house. If your house is a busy colorful mixture of bricks or stones, avoid the busy “max def” roof as you will create a combination worthy of a major migraine. The photo above (from Owens Corning) is a good example of pairing a busy max def roof style (with its multiple colors) with a house siding that is neutral, painted brick and neutral siding. There is a good balance between the busy roof and the plain, calm siding materials. There’s no doubt that the roof takes center stage. Make sure it doesn’t fight with the siding “understudy.”

If you follow these two rules, you will narrow your options down to two or three reasonable choices and avoid any major, expensive roof mistakes.

Stone and Brick Reveal Your Exterior Color Palette

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

hamstoneYes, it’s winter and the roof in this photo is covered with snow, but now we can focus on the rest of the house, particularly the stone. What works on this house is the color palette that is taken directly from the numerous available hues in the stonework itself.

The bricks are a monochromatic rusty red color that complements the stone without competing with it — a challenge when you have multiple materials on the house. The siding is a gray neutral, also in the stone. The trim is pulled from some of the darker taupe stones. How easy is that? Job done.

If you are building a home with different materials, use the busy one with the most colors (stone or brick) to make the rest of your color decisions. That way, the whole house will come together in a harmonious cornucopia of color.

The alternative? Choosing a color that is not in the palette at all. The result? A disjointed effect that divides the house into sections and makes it seem smaller. Can be done, but it’s tricky and needs a professional colorist to pull off. Do yourself a favor and stick with the natural palette that presents itself to you from your building materials.

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