Thursday, December 6, 2018

Home Improvements that Increase the Curb Appeal

~ This is a featured post.~

When it comes to renovating your house, there are numerous things you can do to increase its value. However, there are other projects you can undertake that aren’t worth the extra expense unless you’re not planning on selling your property ever.

If you can see yourself putting your house on the market sometime in the future, here are the top home improvements that give a good return on your investment.

Upgrades

One thing you should think about before spending a substantial amount of money on any home improvement is to address the basics:
  • Make sure the attic is well insulated
  • There are no leaking taps
  • Your gutters and downpipes aren’t rusty
  • There are no leaky windows

You might have become accustomed to all these niggly jobs, but it’s very likely a potential buyer will notice them first.

Essential renovations
The kitchen is the heart of any home, and it’s often the first place any potential buyers will look. It’s also the room where families spend a lot of their time together, but when you look around your kitchen, it can be confusing to know where to start. Installing granite worktops and stainless steel appliances will immediately improve the aesthetics of the room. In a kitchen, there are also lots of opportunities for adding unique details such as a shiny new faucet or unusual knobs on your cabinets.

The bathroom is another room that is ripe for improvements. If your toilet and vanity are looking decidedly tired and worn, change them for something that’s more eye-catching. Bathrooms are often damp and dingy, so consider adding a window to allow more natural light to enter the room. Bathroom improvements often require the help of an expert, as there are plumbing and electrical issues to contend with. Luckily, Focus Development is a Chicago real estate development company who can help. 

Not all properties will have a cellar or basement,  but if you’re lucky enough to have one, invest in transforming it into a living or storage space. It’s not that difficult an improvement to make either!

Think Energy Saving
A major selling point for anyone looking to sell their home will be whether it’s “energy-efficient.” We’ve all become very conscious of the effect we’re having on our environment, and not only that, an energy-efficient home is going to save money on energy bills. A house needs to be correctly insulated, and the windows should have low-E coatings. Changing your water heating system for a more up to date one is also a good improvement to make.

Aesthetic Upgrades

Landscape the Front and Backyard
An increasing number of people are appreciating the benefit of having a garden. Not only is it something nice to look at from your living room window, but it’s also very enjoyable to spend time outside. You don’t need to spend a vast amount of money on the landscaping, but it can potentially bring a return of as much as four times what you pay.
Many of the repairs and maintenance that need doing only cost a few dollars but have the potential to increase the value of your home by a few hundred. It’s a buyer’s market when it comes to selling your house; only those in the best condition get a second look. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

6 Ways To Prepare Your Home For Renovation

~ This is a featured post. ~

Now that winter is most definitely here; it is the perfect time to plan out some home renovations for the new year. You can take the time to sit down and scour the magazines and websites that will give you inspiration, or you might find that you are more easily able to get in touch with professionals who can come and appraise your property and give you a cost for the job or jobs that you want to get done. Book them in for the spring, and you have plenty of time to save up the money and increase your budget if need be, plus you will be able to prepare your home in advance for the renovation work that is to come. 

Although this might not seem like something that you need to think about, it is essential. Without the proper planning, you can become stressed, your budget might run out, and your home may be much more of a mess than you ever thought it would be. Preparing your home for a renovation is vital for everyone’s comfort and happiness; here are six ways to do it.

1. Work Out Your Budget
Yes, financial budgeting can be dull, and it certainly isn’t everyone’s forte, but without a budget in place, how will you know how much you can spend on your home renovations? How will you know whether or not to accept a quote from a builder or craftsman if you don’t know if you can afford it or not?

The size of your budget is less important than having one, to begin with. Even a small budget can be enough for some excellent renovation work, depending on what you have done, who you hire, or whether you do the work yourself. The key, though, no matter what size your budget might be, is to have one in place and not to deviate from it. Once you start to think that a little extra here and there won’t hurt, you’ll soon find that you’ve added a big chunk of money to your budget that you can’t afford.

2. Research Costs
Once you have your budget in place, you can then start looking at how much different items might cost you. Start by looking at home improvement websites to get some idea of the kinds of styles and looks you like, and then, when you know what it is you are looking for, work out how much it would cost you in terms of both materials and labor (your own or someone else’s) to get it done.

Compare that cost against your budget and see if you can afford it. If not, you will need to compromise. The granite countertops may need to be changed to tile or wood, or something even less expensive. Your roll-top bathtub may need to become a standard corner bath. Make little changes and adjustments until your shopping list matches your budget.

3. Know What You Want
You have a budget to work to, and you know what materials you can afford. Plus you know whether you can use a professional or whether you should do some of the work. Now you need to determine the look that you want.

This is the fun part, as long as you stick to your budget and your skills. There are many different styles that you can choose from, and each one will offer you something wonderful. You can pick something classic and comfortable, or something wild and wacky. The choice is yours, but you should know what you want before you get started otherwise you may find the job takes a lot longer than it should do.

4. What Can You Do Yourself?
Now you know what design you want and how much it is going to cost you, but is there anything you can do yourself? Some of it will be possible to DIY in some cases, and this, of course, will reduce your budget (you may even be able to switch back to granite in the kitchen after all). Working backward like this means that your budget is only going to reduce, and that’s a positive thing, giving you more leeway in what you can choose or who you can use to do the work, or saving you money.

Jobs such as painting, tiling, or even putting furniture together if need be can usually be done yourself, but larger or more complicated jobs such as plumbing and electrics should only ever be handled by a professional.

5. Speak To The Professionals
Once you have determined what it is you are going to need a professional to help you with, it’s time to speak to at least three to get an idea not only of price but of what they are like to work with as well. This is particularly important if the job is a long one, where they will be on site (in your home) for many days or even weeks. You need to be able to get on with them as well as afford them, and this is why interviewing more than one is essential.

Find the professional that you like and whose estimate fits with your budget, and you will have a much easier time when it comes to having the work done and feeling less stressed about the situation. Of course, you should also look at testimonials and reviews to make your final choice, but a gut feeling, although not scientific or quantifiable, can often be a help.

6. Declutter
Once you have booked in your home renovations, you have the perfect opportunity to declutter your home. Whichever room the work is going to be carried out in, it will ideally need to be cleared and tidied to make it easier to get the job done in a timely, professional way. Take a good look at what you have in the room and place it into three piles. One pile is to keep, one is to take to Goodwill or to sell online or even at a garage sale, and the final pile is to put in the trash.

The items that you want to keep will need to be kept elsewhere during the renovations, and if many rooms are being worked on at once, a storage facility may be your best option. Paying a little for this for a month or so will save you a lot of worry and is well worth the money.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Holiday Tablescape with Brian Gluckstein by Lenox

It still felt like yesterday when I was contemplating on the style of my holiday table setting last year. And just like that, Halloween was already over and we are now in 2018 holiday homestretch. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'd know winter holidays and Christmas are my favourite to decorate, and I often started early just so I had extra time to enjoy and appreciate the fruits of my labour. 

Below is my 2018 holiday design board. The jumping off point was this Winston durable bone china place setting from Brian Gluckstein by Lenox. If you think "hygge" was only a phase of my design journey then you would be wrong. My pursuit for "hyppe" is growing ever stronger, so my holiday decorating is all about simplicity, warmth and nature. Wood beads, amber glass, greenery, linen, Kraft wrapping paper, and black and white dinnerware all contribute to this organic yet sophisticated look. 




So this was my Thanksgiving table setting based on the Brian Gluckstein by Lenox Winston dinnerware. I love the simplistic, clean and a touch of masculine design patterns and the basic black, white and platinum colour combination. And the fact that it's made of durable bone china but dishwasher-safe is just icing on the cake. This table setting is so versatile that once I replace fall branches with Christmas greenery, it will be all set for hosting festive feasts. 


Bonus for you is that you also get a sneak peek of my newly designed dining room. Be sure to come back in a few weeks to check out my 2018 Christmas decor - my plans are ambitious this year. 




Disclaimer: All the Brian Gluckstein by Lenox Winston dinnerware sets were generously gifted to me but all the opinions are my own. 



How To Depersonalize A Home

~ This is a featured post. ~

Although when we live in a home, it’s great to have our own personality stamped across it, there will be times when that is not appropriate anymore. When we move out, for example, whether the property is a rental or a home that we own, it is a good idea to depersonalize the space. Doing so will make it easier for the next people who live there to enjoy it, and it will mean that it is not left empty for long, and nor will it take a long time to sell.

The idea is to make the property as tempting to the next people as possible, as this keeps everyone happy and ensures the smooth transition from one home to the next. Therefore, here are some ways to depersonalize your home when you need to.

Don’t Get Emotional
No matter whether you loved or hated the home you are moving from, there will always be some emotions associated with leaving it. You will come across things as you are packing that you had forgotten about, but that stir up specific memories, some good, some bad. Or you will start to worry about whether you are doing the right thing, which will also make you feel emotional. Add to that how tired people can be when they are in the midst of moving house or renovating, and it all means that you can let your emotions get the better of you.

If it means stepping out of the property for a short walk around the block, or a longer break away then that is important to do. If it means drafting in help so that you can have someone to talk you through the difficult times, do that too. Do whatever is necessary to get the job done because it will need to be completed.

Clean
It is essential that, when depersonalizing a home either as a tenant, landlord, or owner, you ensure it has a deep down clean at the same time. For the new people moving in, having a clean home will help them to adjust more easily, and it means that they have one less job to do which, if they have just come from cleaning their last property, they really will be glad of.

The clean should certainly be a deep one. Move all the furniture so that you can get beneath it, and really scrub the floors. Hire a carpet cleaner to make sure that all the muck and grime is gone from the carpet too. If you are short on time, it might be worth hiring a professional cleaner to get the job done for you. They will be quicker and do a thorough, expert job, and it can save you a lot of time and effort too. If you rent a property, this cleaning might even be part of your free lease agreement, so it is a good idea to check this out.

Declutter
If you are getting your home ready to sell, decluttering is even more important than if you are leaving a rented property, but in both cases, it is a job that needs to be done. By decluttering, you can remove as many personal items as possible. This is an excellent idea for when prospective buyers come to your home as they will more easily be able to imagine their own belongings in there, and won’t be distracted by photos of your family, or interesting ornaments and so on. They can focus on the house itself, which will enable them to get a much better sense of whether they want to live there or not.

You should declutter areas that can’t be seen at first glance as well as the rooms themselves. You may think that closets and cupboards can be left as they are, but any serious prospective buyer is sure to want to look inside so you need to ensure that they can see how much space they would be getting – and you need to ensure that nothing is going to topple out onto them as well!

When you know you are going to be leaving a property, whether you are moving to a new rental or selling the property you own, it is a good idea to start the decluttering process. You need to move the items anyway, so why not start packing up the non-essentials as early as you can? You will probably find that some of it can be thrown in the trash, and more can be donated to Goodwill, which means you will have less to take with you when you do finally move.

Neutralize
When you live in a property you can, within reason, paint the walls whatever color you want. You may need to check your lease or ask your landlord, but generally, it is your choice since you are living there. However, when you move out, it is a good idea to put everything back how it was when you moved in, and neutralize the walls. This is a relatively quick and easy way to depersonalize a property so that, again, people can envisage their own colors on the wall or their own furniture in a room.

Neutral colors include various forms of cream or beige, for example. Or you might pick a white tone with a slight hint of pink or blue which is just enough to be interesting but not enough to put people off.

The important thing to take into account is that the job needs to be done to a high standard because poorly painted walls are almost as bad as walls that are brightly colored and haven’t been neutralized at all. If you are cutting corners, then you are making more work for the landlord or the new owners, and that means the process will be a lot slower. If need be, hire a home decorator of ask for help from friends and family, and the job will be done to a good standard all round

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Magazine Feature and 2018 Christmas Design

Christmas is my favourite holiday to celebrate and decorate. It took me a whole second to say Yes when the chief editor at the Victorian Homes Magazine approached me to do a feature of my Christmas decor. The Winter 2018 issue came out around October 9. 





To re-cap, this was my 2017 Christmas tree, my favourite to-date. 

Below is my 2018 Christmas design board, which is still largely based on the "hygge", simplicity and back to basics theme. What do you think? 


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