Top Three Tips for Selling Your House Fast

August 4, 2010 § 1 Comment

This house sold with multiple offers at the Open House. (Incredible in this picky buyer’s market.) What made this house stand out and what can we all take home from this experience? Here are three top tips:

1. When in doubt, move it out. Although this property had some big things going for it (location, location, location), the family had lived in the house for twenty-plus years and had accumulated not only their own trappings but also lots of odd furniture and artifacts from deceased relatives. This happens to many of us. What do we do with all that stuff? The answer is clear when you’re trying to sell your house: move it all out.

At the first visit, we tagged items that needed to go — things like extra side chairs and small tables, worn furniture, family photos, large area rugs, antiques and breakables — and we left each room with furniture that would identify the room’s function to buyers. The reasonable and highly motivated homeowners then made many trips to a storage facility to clear the decks and let the house “breathe.”

2. Open the door, fix your floor. Remember that old adage, something like, if you want to know if a fellow is well-dressed, look down? Well just like polished shoes, the first thing buyers notice when they open the front door is the floor, and if yours is covered by old, worn or stained carpeting, uh-oh. In general, carpeting is out. Buyers are looking for hardwood floors and tile, both of which provide easy maintenance and no safe haven for dust allergens. If you have hardwoods covered by large area rugs (like these homeowners did), congratulations! Simply roll up the rugs, buff up the floors and go “Cha-ching!” If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, don’t panic. Have it professionally cleaned, and that will help.

3. Make it sunny, welcome the money. You’ve undoubtedly heard this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. The message here is lighten and brighten. This house had dark rooms with rich wall color and heavy window treatments. We lightened the wall color and opened up the windows by removing the heavy drapes and replacing them with airy sheer panels that framed the windows but did not block the light. The result in this family room? An ahhhh feeling.

If you are overwhelmed by the prospects of preparing your house for the market, talk to your realtor. He or she will find you the help you need to get the job done quickly so you can have that “Ahhhh feeling” too!

A Window to Paris

July 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

The windows in Paris are almost as intriguing as the doors! First of all, the shutters actually work, the windows have no screens, and there are no bugs! Plus the shutters are fabulous soft colors of whites and taupes and light blues. The soft colors against the stucco and stone are simply spectacular. Not a black shutter anywhere to be found. I’m thinking that there may be room for more shutter colors in the palette — even on this side of the pond! Why limit ourselves to dark colors!

For stucco and stone homes, consider the subtle sensibilities of French architecture and the superb use of color on shutters. Tres bien!

Details Make the Difference at the Front Door

April 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Say nothing of the new Arts & Crafts windows, textured roof, earthy natural taupe siding color, crisp white trim, and fresh landscaping, the entryway of this renovated colonial is a knock-out.

The homeowners took their time to get all the details right. The enlarged portico with dry-stacked stone porch and columns, the tapered pillars above, the arched wood ceiling, wide chunk white contrasting trim, a period pendant light fixture, and the solid wood door with period wrought-iron hardware. There’s even a little black door-bell (with undoubtedly a charming ring on the inside).

What can I say…  there goes the neighborhood…

House Color, Trim, Shutters: Gold Medal Combo

April 7, 2010 § 2 Comments

The unexpected color combination on this historic home (now a B&B in Sackets Harbor, NY) really pops off the street. Whether it’s the hint of green in the gold siding, the Jamaican rum-like warmth of the shutters, or simply the combination, I’m not sure. But coupled with cream trim and accents of black, this combination is a winner.

The house color looks like Ben Moore’s Marblehead Gold (HC-11), and the shutters look like a slightly darker version of Copper Kettle (1218). I should have rung the doorbell to ask (I’ve been known to do that).

The stone steps unfold seamlessly from the foundation right onto the sidewalk and the delicate scrollwork in the iron railing ties in beautifully with the sign and even the shutter “dogs.”  And for those of you who have asked about using cream window trim with white windows, here’s a great example of how nicely it works.

Good Design Learns from History

February 4, 2010 § 2 Comments

This historic New England barn is original to the property, and its characteristic beauty helps to define the classic regional style. Owning an historic property can be a real joy for those whose passion is preserving the beauty of the past, but don’t think you have to own a historic treasure to enjoy the pleasures of a striking outbuilding. 

If you need more space for a workroom or your vehicles, you can add a lot of character to your property by incorporating  the unmatched elements, colors, and materials used in previous centuries to make your own history, whether it’s a barn, a large work shed, or simply your garage. 

I get lots of questions about how to match exterior colors and blend materials between house and garage, but as you can see from this photo, there’s absolutely nothing matching between this barn and the accompanying house. From the unpainted board-and-batten style siding,  brass lighting, and  farm-style scale, this barn stands on its own. The colonial house has traditional, painted,  horizontal lap siding and white windows. The bridge color between house and barn is black — the black windows on the barn carry over to the accent color on the house (note the black shutters and lighting as well as the black pergola and fence next to the driveway). By painting the wood accessories on the house black instead of leaving them natural, the unpainted barn takes center stage.

Even if you have no plans to build a major additional structure in your yard, keep this basic design principle in mind when you’re working on your exterior. Colors and materials do not have to match.

Contemporary Color Scheme

January 7, 2010 § 5 Comments

This contemporary home maintains its warm curb appeal even in the snowy winter months. It looks like the homeowner started with the fabulous stonework on the chimney and gable area and selected the siding and trim colors out of that. The dark rich chestnut shade is perfect for the body of this large contemporary home. When you are selecting a color for your home, don’t shy away from strong colors, especially if your home is large. Just make sure you choose a color that appears somewhere in nature so that the house fits into the neighborhood. With new construction, you can also work in the window color and the deck stain so that everything coordinates. Even the post light style picks up the pattern in the windows. Nice job! Let’s hope these homeowners have a sizeable snowblower! Yikes.

Do My Windows Need Shutters? What color?

October 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

salemhouseMost of our homes do not have as many windows as this beautiful historic Federal style house, but some windows just call out for shutters. If your house is a colonial or ranch style with double-hung windows (“six-over-six” panes of glass separated by “grids” or mullions), then you should consider investing in shutters to add a finishing touch to your house. Of course, if you live in an area threatened by periodic hurricanes, then shutters are required for protection. But I’m speaking to those of you who, just like putting up curtains in the living room, might add shutters to “dress” the windows.

If you have a modern or contemporary home with a variety of window styles, shapes, and sizes including casement (“open-out”) windows, then shutters might be more of a distraction than an asset to your curb appeal. Also, if there is no room to put in properly sized shutters, then forget it. Don’t opt for the mini-sized version just to cram the shutters into the facade. It’s not worth it.

As for color, white works in only limited palettes; it is best to pick an accent color. I prefer dark shutters with a dark roof; however, there’s more to dark than just your standard black shutters. Various shades of Midnight blue and shutters1Charleston green can add enough color to make the house interesting yet enough contrast to make the house stunning from the street. Adding dark shutters is like adding a touch of black to your interior palette. It just dresses up the house.

For those of you choosing from standard off-the-shelf shutter colors, your options are more limited, but remember that black always works. One note: if the shutter color is in your house somewhere (in the brick tones, for example), then that shutter color will work. However, if you have a rusty red brick, beware of clashing red-maroon shutters. I see them everywhere, just slightly off.

There are so many shutter styles to choose from these days that you can make a real design statement just by adding shutters. If you have a question about your own house and whether or not to add shutters (or what color), just click on the If I Can Help You page and we’ll work together.

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