Home Sweet Home – Part 27 – Preparing Your House For Resale – To Renovate or Not?

I was having a conversation with my hairdresser who said they were going to sell their house in the next couple of years. But as he looked around, he noticed there were several things that would need to be updated or repaired. And like many homeowners, he is a procrastinator – and wasn’t going to start the projects until they were ready to sell.

Sorry – but that makes no sense to me. Why spend all that money for the benefit of an unknown buyer (who might have different tastes to begin with) with the alleged promise of a faster sale or higher selling price? Why not make a list of all the home improvements and start implementing them now? That way, he and his wife could enjoy their improvements now and hopefully reap the benefits when they do eventually sell.

The four areas I would recommend making improvements to would be:

Outdoor living
Owner’s Bath
Work from Home space

Let’s start outside. What can be done to improve or expand our outdoor living?
A few improvement suggestions:
• Can the flooring be upgraded with tile?
• Can you add an outdoor TV or electric fireplace?
• How about the ceiling? Is it old, yellowing, sagging vinyl? A new, bead board looking ceiling would be a nice improvement.
• While you’re looking at the ceiling – you could add speakers. What about the lighting? Is it adjustable for evening ambiance?

As for expanding the outdoor living, consider living beyond the drip line of the house:
• Can you add a patio that visually expands the outdoor living experience into the backyard?
• What about adding pavers into the yard and add a built-in grill.
• Perhaps you could add a fire pit or fire table. While the idea of keeping it wood burning may have some appeal to keep the cost down, I recommended gas (natural or propane) to minimize the smoke.

Talk about the black hole of remodeling. To keep it affordable, I would see if the current layout of the kitchen can be maintained. Many homeowners are stuck with the super dated, bat-wing island or peninsula with the 42” raised countertop surrounding it.

At a minimum, I would get new countertops and drop the countertop to 36”. A one-level island will expand the space dramatically and there are so many solid surface materials available that would give the kitchen a fresh clean look. Complete the transformation with some fun new pendant fixtures above the bar and you’ve made it out unscathed!

But what about the appliances? So much for keeping it affordable… If there is one appliance I would recommend replacing, it is the microwave that sits over the cooktop or stove. Instead, try to relocate the microwave to the walk-in pantry if you have one.

You know that grand “Roman” tub that eats into half of your bathroom and never gets used? So, put your dollars towards an awesome shower! Without the big bathtub, perhaps a private toilet room could be added. Splurge on a frameless shower enclosure and don’t forget to include a seat in the shower and niches for shampoo and body wash. Consider large format tile for the walls – even if the budget dictates a shower pan. This is a home improvement that will be enjoyed daily, and it’s so worth it. Can’t live without the tub? I would still recommend a sleek and beautiful vessel tub that requires less square footage and creates a soothing ambiance.

If the house has unused formal rooms, can one of them be converted into a work from home space? I recently saw someone take their formal dining room and make it into their home office. These spaces need acoustical privacy so adding doors is a must – just don’t waste your money on acoustically-worthless barn doors.

I hear there are several real estate companies that will give you a guaranteed cash offer without the expense of repairs or hassle of showings. Let’s face it, houses will inevitably become dated and living through a remodel – especially the kitchen – is a pain. Small improvements like paint and countertops can go a long way. However, at some point you have to ask yourself, are you really making up the difference? Is the stress really worth it?

Adapted from Housing Design Matters Blog

Home Sweet Home – Part 26 – TV Trays and The Evolution of Where We Eat In The Home

Today, watching TV and eating seem to go hand in hand. Whether just snacking while watching the Super Bowl or consuming the evening meal in front of your favorite show. But so much has changed in the design of our homes and our TVs since the 1950s.

Raise your hand if you remember TV trays. Chances are that the younger crowd hasn’t seen one outside of a sitcom or perhaps in their grandparents’ living room. TV trays have been around since the fifties. This coincides closely with the introduction of the “TV Dinner,” the catchy name that Swanson had for their frozen food dinners.

TV Dinners

Houses in the fifties and early sixties had only one black and white TV. It was often small and was in either the living room or family room. Indeed, some even called that room the TV room. Early TVs were small and sat on top of furniture. They were so small that you had to sit close to watch them. Luxury models were encased like a piece of furniture to match the décor of the living room.

Eating In Front of the TV

Decades ago, there were mainly two places to eat in the home – the formal dining room or the table in the kitchen. Both rooms were closed off to other rooms. This made eating while watching TV challenging, as food balanced on one’s lap often doesn’t end well – especially with kids. Spilling an entire dinner in the living room was grounds for punishment or going to bed without dinner. The invention of the TV tray was brilliant and offered a third dining option in the home.

Many argue that dining should be time to interact with family and friends. Fair enough! Fortunately, today with on-demand viewing, it lets us pause our favorite shows so we can have our cake, eat it, and watch TV too.

TV Over Mantle

It’s an age-old debate – where do you put the TV when there is a fireplace? Once upon a time, when TV screens were small, but the “box” was big, TVs were placed in a built-in on either side of the fireplace. As TV screens kept getting bigger, the “box” got smaller and ultimately went away. Today, the TV is a flat screen that can hang on the wall. But should the TV be the focal point of the family room? Or should the fireplace take precedent? Many opt to put the TV over the fireplace – but you want to be careful not to place it too high or viewers will get a stiff neck trying to watch it. Most folks like the TV front and center for the best viewing. The fireplace creates ambiance and doesn’t have to be viewed straight on.

TV On porch

Back in the fifties and sixties, there was only one TV in the house. Now it seems they are everywhere. And it is a good thing too if you don’t want to want to watch the same thing as your spouse or kids.

Many say they need a TV to fall asleep at night – so no surprise, you can find them in almost every bedroom in the house. Some folks have gone as far as to install a TVs in the bathroom.

TV In the Bathroom

If you’re feeling retro, you can still buy TV trays at Walmart or online. One advertiser showed a laptop on the TV tray instead of a Swanson dinner. That’s one great way to market and repurpose an old concept in today’s high tech society!

Adapted from Housing Design Matters Blog

Home Sweet Home – Part 25 – The Painted Brick Dilemma

Let’s tackle a hotly-contested argument. Should you paint your brick?
Brick is one of the oldest building materials dating back for centuries. It is durable and considered to be relatively low maintenance. The color of the brick varies based upon a number of factors – but primarily based upon the color of the clay used. This factor used to make brick color indigenous to the area, explaining why we saw red brick in areas of the country with red clay. Continue reading “Home Sweet Home – Part 25 – The Painted Brick Dilemma”

Home Sweet Home – Part 24 – A Pet’s Palace

Plain and simple, Americans love their pets. In a recent survey, millennials listed their pet as the third reason for buying a single-family home, even before kids or marriage. There are numerous studies listing the health benefits of pet ownership for folks 55+. And of course, having a pet is an integral part of raising a family. Bottom line, the number of households that have pets in America is staggering. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of households have at least one pet, with dogs being the most prevalent (naturally followed by cats). Continue reading “Home Sweet Home – Part 24 – A Pet’s Palace”

Home Sweet Home – Part 23 – The Messy Kitchen

Once upon a time, our kitchens were strictly utilitarian spaces. This was back when June Clever (Leave It to Beaver mom for those too young to remember) was in the kitchen all day alone. They were very functional for one cook. The kitchen was isolated from the dining and living room where people gathered, so the finishes didn’t have to be fancy. As a result, these kitchens sported laminate cabinets and countertops, vinyl floors, and avocado green or harvest gold appliances. Continue reading “Home Sweet Home – Part 23 – The Messy Kitchen”

Home Sweet Home – Part 21 – How To Avoid Paint Color Mistakes

Have you ever gotten the urge to paint a room in your home and sent a picture to a friend for advice on a color selection? Recently, a friend emailed me a picture of her primary bathroom. She wanted to repaint it to complement her primary bedroom. She had initially gone to a big box hardware store and selected what she thought would be a good match for her bath. But when she got home, it was all wrong. Continue reading “Home Sweet Home – Part 21 – How To Avoid Paint Color Mistakes”

Home Sweet Home – Part 20 – Is Your House Ready For Some Football?

September signals the end of summer but for many, it has a different, yet significant meaning. It is the start of football.

Both college and NFL football are an obsession with Americans–much like soccer, sorry fútbol–is to the rest of the world. Continue reading “Home Sweet Home – Part 20 – Is Your House Ready For Some Football?”

Home Sweet Home – Part 19 – Barn Doors Reimagined

Barn doors have been around for years, but they have gained considerable popularity in the past decade. Learn about three different barn doors used in the same hotel room and how they provided new twists on this old classic.

When most people think barn doors, they still think of a rustic-looking door with exposed hardware. In recent years, we have seen a plethora of barn door styles and applications. Some applications work better than others since barn doors don’t block sound as well as a traditional swing door.

traditional barn door
But one of the key benefits of a barn-style door is how it operates. Barn doors don’t intrude upon a space the same way a swing door does. This is especially important when you’re trying to allow accessibility in a small space – say, like a hotel bathroom. Big swing doors just get in the way. This is the case in many homes too.

sliding shower door
I was treated to not one, not two, but THREE barn-style doors in my hotel bathroom! The first was my shower enclosure. This door operated just like a barn door, except it was all glass. The exposed track above was polished chrome and naturally matched all the shower fixtures in design and finish.

barn door in hotel room
The next barn-style door separated the toilet and shower compartment from the vanity area. This door was flush with an elongated pull – much like that of the shower door. Very elegant.

sliding barn door with mirrorThe third door closed off the vanity area from the hallway into the room. This door was also clad in a full-length, full-sized mirror. This door would block the light that came from the awesome-lit mirror.

What was unique about these last two bathroom doors was their scale and hardware. These doors were floor-to-ceiling. As such, their tracks were in the ceiling. There is a single pin at the bottom in the floor that the doors slide on, creating a super clean and sophisticated look.

So are they barn doors, sliding doors, or pocket doors without a pocket? No matter what you classify them as, this type of door will continue to exist because of the space-saving functionality they provide; however, styles will undoubtedly continue to evolve. Today you can get them in an array of colors, styles, or materials such as glass or metal. I wonder what the future holds…

Adapted from Housing Design Matters Blog