Downsizing Help: Color and Scale Ideas

Considering downsizing? Call us. We’d love to help you make your next move.

Ellen and Kate Walsh
612.220.3304
Coldwell Banker Burnet

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Sculpture Adds to Curb Appeal

Fluid Movement Against a Brick Wall

I came across this scene in a neighborhood composed mainly of modern architecture and design. I love this sculpture outside the front of the home where it can be enjoyed by passersby. It adds an artistic element to the home’s exterior as well as providing fluid lines and movement amongst the more angular lines of the home.

Bethesda Dancing CoupleDo you have any sculpture outside your home?

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A Minnetonka Makeover

Painting the front door of your home a different color than the rest of your home makes a statement and draws attention to your entry. Here’s a Cape Cod style home in Minnetonka.

I’ve tweaked the front door with Photoshop to show the difference with a door painted another color. An actual paint job would retain the depth of the panels on the door. See how the eye is drawn to the front door?

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Boosting Your Home Appeal at Low Cost

There are plenty of good tips in this article from The Associated Press. If you want tips specific to your home and getting it ready for selling, give us a call. Our background in antiques and interior design has paid off for our sellers with faster than average sale times.

Low-Cost Things
Homeowners Can Do to Spruce Up Property

When times are tough, women who can’t afford a new dress often purchase a new accessory or lipstick to recharge their wardrobes. Known as the “lipstick effect,” the tendency applies to homeowners too.

Barry Culkin, CEO of Questech Corp., a tile manufacturer in Rutland, Vt., noticed sales of his $5 cast stone and marble switch plate covers rose whenever the economy faltered. Last year, sales of their covers at major retailers were up 15 to 20 percent.

As homeowners rein in spending, more opt for small indulgences and postpone major renovations. Whether the goal is a new look for a worn kitchen or simply an injection of color in a room, here’s a list of some of the best ways to give a space a quick uplift. Many cost much less than a designer lipstick and a few don’t require any financial outlay.

“I am seeing quite a bit of Yankee ingenuity in my customers. They are getting pretty smart about using and repurposing items to add some zip to their living spaces,” says Shirley Walsh, owner of Kalembar Dune, a vintage home decor shop in Boston.

Simply moving furniture and accessories around and borrowing from other areas of the home can give a room a whole new look. If you want to splurge, consider hiring a designer who specializes in redesign.

The instant gratification of having it all accomplished in a day is hard to resist but “it’s also low stress because it uses familiar furnishings,” observes Pam Faulkner, owner of Faulkner House Redesign in Oak Hill, Va. The cost to have Faulkner make over a room ranges from $400 and $700 depending on the space.

A little elbow grease also can go a long way. Sparkling windows bring in light and make the entire house shine. Often, all carpets and rugs need is a thorough cleaning and they will feel almost new. The same holds true for wood floors and trim.

Nothing is a better quick-change artist than paint. But you don’t have to go all out. Rather than entire room, paint an accent wall, trim or piece of furniture. “Never underestimate the power of paint and pillows, always the best lipstick for your home in any shade,” advises Marcia Richards, a Phoenix, Ariz., interior designer.

Give a living room or bedroom a facelift by shifting the color scheme. Pillows add instant color, but to complete the look, mix in color keyed accessories, such as a throw and new lamp or lampshade. If your budget allows, go a step further and add a rug and/or slipcovers.

Orders for fabric by the yard are up, says David Petersen owner of Maine Cottage Furniture in Yarmouth, Maine. He notes that more consumers are re-covering rather than replacing worn furnishings.

Small luxuries can have a big impact on our moods and our homes. Flowers and new plants inject new life and color to any space. Try replacing regular light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs which are more like sunlight.

Sometimes all it takes to spark up an entire room is a unique accessory or piece of individual art.

New hardware is traditionally a quick fix for dated kitchen cabinets. But elsewhere, exchanging old doorknobs for polished bronze or nickel can give an entire house an up-to-date look. Using levered handles also increases a home’s universal design quotient.

And maybe you can’t afford to change the tub or the tiles, but a dated bath can get a quick uplift simply by altering a few elements. Instead of remodeling, Michelle Samuels spent about $150 to give a bath in her Mill Valley, Calif., home an update. She replaced her antique gold towel racks and faucets with updated brushed silver versions. She painted the frame around the mirror a soft silver with craft paint and completed the effect with new door handles.

Removing old fluorescent lights and replacing them with pendants or a more contemporary fixture also has a big impact.

Don’t wait until you can renovate to give your kitchen a new look. Sometimes changing only one facet can refocus the entire space. New hardware and light fixtures are quick and inexpensive. Don’t forget refacing or painting cabinets if new is beyond your budget. If the countertops are in good shape, consider tiling the backsplash. Reorganize cabinets so the space works better. Add new accessories or update countertop appliances so they coordinate.

Increasing curb appeal is traditional advice for anyone selling their home. But nothing is more akin to applying lipstick than revamping the entry. Replace a worn front door if the budget permits. Otherwise give the old door a new look with paint. Seasonal plants, new house numbers, a new doormat and trimmed walkway will make you feel like you are coming to a new house.

Shop thrift and consignment stores for some unique finds; then polish and paint. Also think about creating your own artwork in colors that will make a room pop. You will save a bundle and possibly discover an inner artist you didn’t know existed.

© 2010 Camilla McLaughlin, Associated Press

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Ellen Walsh | 612.220.3304 | emwalsh@cbburnet.com

Kate Walsh | 612.220.3309 | info@designhouse9.com

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Adding Artistic Color to a Room

Pillows That Double as Art

The other day I wrote a post about getting inspired and adding color to your home. One way to do this is to add colorful pillows. Here are some that are not only colorful, but artistic.

Some of these pillows can be found at Three Rooms at the Galleria in Edina, Minnesota. Here’s information on the shop Three Rooms:

“A gallery devoted to the ingenuity of American artists and craftsmen, Three Rooms, with its 38-year history, is an art institution in the Twin Cities where you’ll find fine art, unique lighting, furniture, decorative accessories and hand-crafted jewelry.”

Three Rooms is one of my favorite shops in the Twin Cities. It appeals to the artist in me. Here is a link to the hours and directions to Galleria.

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Decorating for the Holidays

Finding the Unexpected

Photo of the Day
December 15, 2011

Here’s an example of a home with attractive holiday curb appeal. Lighted trees flank the front door, a lit wreath hangs on the chimney, and a lit shrub on the left side balances the trees by the door.

I came home and looked at the photo on my computer’s large screen. I noticed a surprise element in the photo. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) Can you find it? Does it put a smile on your face?  Happy holidays!

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Increasing Curb Appeal with Landscaping

Bringing Nature to Your Home Brings Beauty and Tranquility


Guest author: Neal Klabunde, owner of Gardening at the Crossroads

Folks selling their home have a lot on their mind. Prices, agents, open houses, etc. In the midst of all this, it’s easy to overlook some simple steps that can improve the curb appeal of your home. Some steps are pretty obvious such as painting or cleaning the exterior of the house, or replacing the front door.

The point of this article, however, is to focus on the landscape improvements that you can make. There are a lot of little things that when added together can give you a healthy return on your investment. The American Nursery and Landscape Association’s research has shown that landscape improvements can increase a home’s value by 7 to 15 percent and that a well-designed landscape can raise the selling price by almost 7 percent.

The best place to start is to look at your house as if you’re visiting it for the first time. Look for problems or issues and note what you saw and why it bothered you. We asked Lisa Ciofani Basham, a Certified Professional Home Stager in NE Ohio, if the impressions formed as a potential buyer walks to the front door for the first time are important. “Absolutely. The walk to the front door is where opinions are formed. Look at your home through the eyes of a buyer and take a critical look at your homes outside as you walk to the front door. It’s that first impression that is so important.”

Look at your lawn first. Is it tired looking and full of weeds? Renovating a lawn is one of the items that you can do and realize a good return on investment. Keep the lawn cut to the proper height for the season and make sure that the sidewalks and driveway are edged.

Look at the shrubs around the foundation. Are they neat and compact or overgrown? Trimming the shrubs and trees is an easy task.

Speaking of trees and shrubs, there is an old proverb that says-“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” If selling your home is three or more years down the road, planting shrubs and perennials sooner rather than later will help them get settled in and blooming. Have any branches that overhang the roof trimmed back.

Make sure that the landscape beds are weed free and have fresh mulch on them. Fresh mulch will make the plants stand out.

Entryway with Planters and Seating

Containers such as urns, hanging baskets, and large pots can be a versatile way to add spots of color to your home. These can be purchased relatively inexpensively. Hanging baskets will do fine as a planter if you remove the hook. If necessary, place the basket inside another, more decorative, container. You don’t even need to get your hands dirty!

Seasonal annuals add an instant pop of color. Pansies in the spring, petunias and zinnias in the summer, or asters and mums in the fall give the house a lived in, cared for appearance. Add a wreath with seasonal flowers or colors to the front door for a special touch.

Adding landscape lights are another inexpensive way to spruce-up the exterior of the house. These are fairly inexpensive and easy for the home owner to install, especially if you get the solar variety.

Window boxes add views from both outside and inside.

Another landscaping design issue that is often overlooked is how the landscape vistas are framed in the major windows of the house. Home owners spend a lot of time looking at the outside from the inside. Think of your windows as a canvas and plant a lovely view.

All things considered, a well maintained landscape shows the potential buyer that the house is well cared for; more than an overgrown, unkempt one. You don’t want to overdo it, though. Stay main-stream in your landscape choices. While you may enjoy a large rose garden, a dozen or so roses or a water feature might scream “high maintenance” to a potential buyer.

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Neal Klabunde and his wife Catherine live in North Eastern Ohio and are avid gardeners. They are the owners of Gardening at the Crossroads, a gardening website that covers all aspects of gardening and is geared towards gardeners of all skill levels.

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All photos ©Kate Walsh/designhouse9.com

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Star Quality Front Entry

Colors and Details That Work

The front of your home is known as “curb appeal” in real estate terms. Here’s how to make a positive first impression with your home. Paint the front door a color that is different from the wall and trim colors of  your home. Here we have a rich and not overly bright red door, mustard-gold walls and white trim. Add good door hardware if it’s not already there.  Hardware is used every day and is not a place to skimp. My interior designer advises buying the best hardware you can afford. (This applies to kitchen and bath fixtures as well as interior and exterior doors.)

A door embellishment like the star here provides a point of added interest. Note the thoughtful trim detail which suggests a higher level of quality. The two decorative urns with flowers and greens add yet another layer of both detail and color and enhance the overall appeal. Other items of note are the light fixture, the door design and the house numbers. All of this makes coming home a true pleasure.

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“How To” Staging Video with Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran discusses how to stage a home.

Barbara Corcoran is the real estate contributor to NBC’s Today Show. She operated a multi-billion dollar real estate business in New York City for many years. This video was made in 2007 and much of what she says is still valid today in our current marketplace.

Staging Tips Summary:

  • The first impression of your home is from the curb. Spruce up your exterior: landscaping, doors, mailbox, hardware, paint, etc. Use three colors for the exterior of your home: one color for the walls, a second color for the trim and a third color for your front door. This provides depth and interest to the exterior.
  • Buyers form an impression upon entering the home. What do they see? Too much stuff or just enough? Or perhaps too little stuff that leaves the room feeling cold and uninviting? I’ve had buyers look at the living room and kitchen and decide they don’t need to see the rest of the house.
  • People respond positively to natural light. Open or remove curtains, trim hedges, use light paint colors on walls if need be. Light sells homes. During fall and winter when it gets dark earlier, make sure you use the brightest possible wattage in your fixtures and that all the bulbs work. Use multiple light sources if possible, especially in bedrooms (ceiling fixtures and lamps).
  • The kitchen is the most important room in a house. Barbara says there’s no reason to make major improvements because you’ll never get the money back. I think this depends on the house, the kitchen and other factors such as desirability of neighborhood and how the rest of the house stacks up. Clearing counters of too much stuff works here just as it does throughout the rest of the house. A fresh coat of paint on the cabinets might be a good thing depending on your cabinets and the condition of the rest of your kitchen.
  • The bathroom can be the second most important room. Both the kitchen and bath tend to be big expense items when it comes to remodeling. A clean and uncluttered bath is, in most cases, all that is needed for selling.
  • Bedrooms should look peaceful and clean. New bedding might be in order to freshen the space. This can be an inexpensive update and you can take the bedding to your new place.
  • Yes, buyers look in your linen closet. A clean and organized linen closet goes a long way. It’s worth the time spent on it.
  • Barbara says to stop smoking. This might be something a smoker can do (smoke outdoors) but if the smoke has permeated the walls and furnishings, more will need to be done. Most sellers aren’t likely to remove pets. The best bet is to keep your house clean and to open the windows (weather permitting). I personally do not care for air fresheners and potpourri. These create an artificial smell and make me wonder what smell the owner is trying to mask. A clean house is best and does not smell. When it comes to air quality, no odor is best.
  • The arrangement of your furniture can make your spaces more or less appealing. This is best addressed on a house by house basis rather than here in this post. I work with my sellers to create inviting rooms using the furnishings they already have. This works most of the time.
  • When in doubt, think these three things for your home: Neutral, clean, and classic.

Do you have more questions about staging or preparing your home for the market? Feel free to give me a call for a consultation.

Kate Walsh
Lakes Area Realty
612.220.3309
info@designhouse9.com

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A Garden Full of Curb Appeal


This garden caught my eye as I walked down a street in Hopkins. It offers the perfect blend of flowers, shrubs, chairs, lawn, and the charming, white picket fence. The array of plants with their numerous colors and shapes are a sight to admire. Everything looked healthy and well-tended. It was clear that the owner put time, energy and love into this space.

Plantings are located both inside and outside the fencing.
The curb appeal is greatly enhance by this garden.

Roses on arbor
Cluster of Roses

These bright roses were in abundance along the fence and the arbor.

Pink Roses

These pink roses peek out from around other greenery in the garden.

Blooming beauty all along the fence.

(I used my cell phone camera so the photos in this post aren’t the best.)

Windowbox

The window boxes extend the garden to the exterior of the home.

The trimmed shrubbery next to the house
bring an architectural aspect to the garden.
Note the exposed branches on the underside of the shrubs.

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Frugal or Inspired Wallpaper?

Inspired:

Illustrated covers from The New Yorker magazine get a second life in a Twin Cities home.

Some years ago I marketed a home here in the Twin Cities where the owners had decorated their small bath with old covers of The New Yorker magazine. It brought plenty of color, art and charm to an otherwise unattractive, lower-level bath.

The New Yorker is known for their funny cartoons.  I think I’d have added some of the cartoons into this mix, either as part of the wallpaper itself or framed and hung on the walls, to add a dash of humor to an otherwise mundane part of life.

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Found Treasures and Garage Sales

Garage sales are both opportunities to make money and to find a bargain and/or a bibelot. A bibelot is defined as “a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity”. Here is one of my garage sale bibelot finds:
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Astor Paris Tray

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The color and glazing on this small tray is really beautiful. There is a French name stamped on the backside, leading me to believe its first home was Paris, France. Perhaps there was a hotel named Astor at one time in the “City of Light” and this tray formerly resided there.

Many Parisians live in charming yet modest apartments with small spaces and few closets. They often don’t have room for a lot of stuff and pare down to the essentials and a few bibelots and antiques. Still, if a person finds a treasure at a garage sale, flea market, or antique shop, he or she will likely find room for it.

Here’s another example of someone else’s cast-off that became one of my finds. I treasure these “coins” for their Feng Shui symbolism, detailing and colors.
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More unusual pieces found at a garage sale.

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Here in America we have plenty of big homes and lots of stuff. Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter — and earn a little extra cash — anytime but especially before you sell your home. Getting rid of clutter is one part of staging a home. Just make sure the timing is right.

Conducting a garage sale takes a lot of time and energy. These sales can take on a life of their own, and it might not be the best use of your energy right before putting your home on the market. If you’re planning a garage sale at your home, on your block or in your neighborhood, use these tips for a successful sale:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute. You don’t want to be scrambling to hold a garage sale the week before an open house. Depending on how long you’ve lived in the home and how much stuff you have to sell, planning a garage sale can demand a lot of time and energy.

2. Get a permit. Most municipalities will require you to obtain a special permit or license in order to hold a garage sale. The permits are often free or very inexpensive, but still require you to register with the city.

3. See if neighbors want to join in. You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers if you team up with neighbors. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.

4. Schedule the sale. Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early, 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. is best, and be prepared for early birds.

5. Advertise. Place an ad in free classified papers and Web sites, and in your local newspapers. Include the dates, time, and address. Let the public know if certain types of items will be sold, such as baby clothes, furniture, or weightlifting equipment. On the day of the sale, balloons and signs with prominent arrows will help to grab the attention of passersby.

6. Price your goods. Lay out everything that you plan to sell, and attach prices with removable stickers. Remember, garage sales are supposed to be bargains, so try to be objective as you set prices. Assign simple prices to your goods: 50 cents, 3 for $1, $5, $10, etc.

7. If it’s really junk, don’t sell it. Decide what’s worth selling and what’s not. If it’s really garbage, then throw it away. Broken appliances, for example, should be tossed. (Know where a nearby electrical outlet is, in case a customer wants to make sure something works.)

8. Check for mistakes. Make sure that items you want to keep don’t accidentally end up in the garage sale pile.

9. Create an organized display. Lay out your items by category, and display neatly so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.

10. Stock up on bags and newspapers. People who buy many small items will appreciate a bag to carry their goods. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile items.

11. Manage your money. Make a trip to the bank to get ample change for your cash box. Throughout the sale, keep a close eye on your cash; never leave the cash box unattended. It’s smart to have one person who manages the money throughout the day, keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much. Keep a calculator nearby.

12. Prepare for your home sale. Donate the remaining stuff or sell it to a resale shop. Now that all of your clutter is cleared out, it’s time to focus on preparing your house for a successful sale!

Download this list of tips here:  12 Tips on How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

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Bonus Tip: Consider having a refreshment available for your visitors. If you have children, they could set up their own money-making enterprise with a lemonade stand. People enjoying a cool drink are more likely to linger at your sale and find things they might otherwise have overlooked. Here’s a post on how to make your own fresh lemonade:

Cool Lemonade for a Hot Day
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Kate Walsh, Realtor
Lakes Area Realty
612.220.3309

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Front Door and Color

Feng Shui Tip: Front Door Color

Bring more opportunity into your life by using color on your front door. Use three colors for the exterior of your home: one color for the walls, a second color for the trim and a third color for the front door.

The front door is considered the “mouth of chi” —the place energy enters your home. It is also known as the “mouth of opportunity”. By painting your front door a contrasting color from the walls and trim colors, you invite more energy, and hence opportunity, into your home and life. Below are beautiful examples of a colored front door working to support the homeowners.

Many people seem hesitant to paint their front door a color. Drive or walk around your neighborhood and look at homes that have a colored front door. See how pleasing and inviting it looks to the eye.

If you’re concerned you’ll choose the wrong color, seek the advice of a color consultant or an interior designer (check my Resources page for contact information for color consultant Steve Kleinpaste). You might also ask a friend who exhibits style and flair. If you plan to sell your home, I provide color consultation as part of my listing and staging services.

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Tips for Curb Appeal

See great ideas for improving the curb appeal of your own home!

This Old House magazine offers up great home improvement advice. I love the Before and After photos shown and discussed in this article about curb appeal!

Secrets to Great Curb Appeal